Getting Hands-on with Medieval Science

Poster for Keynote - Dublin 2

News of the next public talk from the Ordered Universe, which takes place in Dublin, at the Trinity College Long Room Hub, Neill Lecture Theatre: Tuesday 18th September 2018, 18.00-19.15. The talk, ‘Getting Hands-on with Medieval Science’ will be delivered by Professor Giles Gasper (Durham University) and Dr Seb Falk (University of Cambridge). Giles will introduce the Ordered Universe project, its blend of medieval studies and Continue reading

Heaven’s Above: Medieval Time Reckoning


philipp-nothaft-being-human-poster-2016Philipp Nothaft will deliver a public lecture on ‘Medieval Time Reckoning and the Dating of Easter’ at Durham Cathedral as part of the Being Human National Festival of the Humanities, 2016. Full details are on the poster above – please spread the word! Philipp is a world expert on medieval dating systems and the history of astronomy, and an important contributor to the Ordered Universe project. No better place to start the Durham events for the Being Human Festival.

Grosseteste on Space and Place


The latest in the series of Ordered Universe symposia took place last week, between 1st and 3rd September. We gathered in Durham once more, in the hospitable surroundings of St John’s College, to examine two of Grosseteste’s treatises, and review progress on those now in the publication roster (on which more soon). The meeting was, formally, for the 17th collaborative reading symposium of the project. The experience from those meetings showed in the way that the team were able to move between texts, editions, translations Continue reading

Astronomy in Medieval Scandinavia

The Ordered Universe project is very pleased to announce a research seminar, to be delivered by Christian Etheridge, currently undertaking a PhD in the Department of History, Centre for Medieval Literature, University of Southern Denmark. The research seminar takes place on Tuesday 28th June, next week. Christian, who participated in the Ordered Universe sessions and collaborative reading symposia in Porto, in June 2013, has continued to develop his research interests in scientific knowledge and culture in the northern medieval world. Continue reading

Back to the roots

During the most recent of the Ordered Universe Symposia, medieval specialists and modern scientists applied their minds to Robert Grosseteste’s De sphera (On the sphere). In this early treatise of his, Grosseteste describes the movements of the heavenly bodies in the firmament according to the observer’s position on earth. The astronomical knowledge available during the supposedly so dark Middle Ages is of impressive accuracy Continue reading

O Roma nobilis

O Roma nobilis orbis et domina (O noble Rome, mistress of the world), as the anonymous poet from Verona in the late ninth or early tenth century put it. The next Ordered Universe symposium starts today, in the eternal city, bi-located at the University of Notre Dame du Lac, Rome Global Gateway and Università di Roma, Tor Vergata. Continue reading

Wonders of the Universe

Rome Public Lecture Poster 3

‘Wonders of the Universe’ is a public lecture from the Ordered Universe Research Project, an interdisciplinary encounter between medieval and modern science: 7th April, 2016, 18.00 in Rome, at the University of Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway (Via Ostilia, 15). The lecture is given in two parts, each of 30 minutes, by Dr Cecilia Panti, an expert on medieval philosophy, and Professor Tom McLeish FRS, an expert on physics, rheology and a keen astronomer. Between the two of them they will explore the intricacies and delights of medieval and modern thought on astronomy and planetary systems.

Cecilia will introduce one of the most famous texts on astronomy inherited by the medieval west from the ancient world, and its medieval Arabic commentators, and the fascinating story of its complex reception:

‘The Almagest of the ancient Alexandrian Ptolemy was by the end of the 12th century known to the Latin world, as was its large corpus of explanatory treatises. Robert Grosseteste was one of the first western scholars to study the Almagest, an encounter which seems to have left him more questions than answers. In his cosmological writings Grosseteste did not engage with the quantitive aspects of the Almagest, and, although appearing to reject the complexities of Ptolemy’s mathematical approach to astronomy, used other models which were even more obscure. Only with the emergence of new techniques in practical astronomy, championed by Campanus of Nova and William of Wallingford was it possible to verify and understand the approach of the Almagest, almost a century after it first appeared on the conceptual horizon of western scholars.’

Changes in practical astronomy and observation altered, radically, understanding of past texts, and the heavens. Tom takes this story on to explore the marvellous diversity of planetary bodies within the solar system:

‘Just over 400 years ago, in 1609 or 1610, Galileo identified the four largest satellites of Jupiter as true moons of the giant planet.  Since then, both earth and space-based exploration of the solar system have revealed dozens of rocky worlds in orbit around the planets.  These are the true occupiers of the imagined ‘epicycles’ of old rather than the planets themselves.  One of the greatest surprises to emerge in this great epoch of exploration is that  no two are alike.  We will survey briefly ice-moons, clouded moons, volcanic moons, two-faced moons and more, in a tour of the solar system’s rich family of worlds’.

All are welcome to join us for this journey into space and time. The University of Notre Dame du Lac Rome Global Gateway, Via Ostilia 15, is found here:

The lectures will be followed by a wine reception. Entrance is free but places are limited and must be registered by email to:

Ordered Universe Symposium: The Appliance of Science: Astronomy and the Calendar

The next in the Ordered Universe Symposium series takes place in April, 5th-8th, in Rome. Co-sponsored by the Università di Roma Tor Vergata, and hosted in the University of Notre Dame du Lac, Rome Global Gateway, the symposium will focus on Grussetestes’s treatise De spheraOn the Sphere and his treatise on time-reckoning and the calendar the Compotus correctorius. The programme is embedded below, and includes details of a half-day conference at Tor Vergata, on Wednesday 6th April (with papers by Richard Bower, Anne Lawrence Mathers, Philipp Nothaft and Neil Lewis) and the Symposium Public Lecture to be delivered on Thursday 7th April at the Notre Dame Global Gateway (Via Ostilia 15) at 18.00 by Tom McLeish and Cecilia Panti. Any inquires should be directed to The symposium will include regular Ordered Universe participants and some for whom this is their first time: we look forward to three days of interdisciplinary engagement and exploration. Time, space, stars, planets, zodiac and the relationship of the earth to the cosmos, of humanity to creation, are some amongst the topics and questions which Grosseteste opens and to which he addresses his treatises.

Images courtesy of wiki commons and Giles Gasper.