Historians have long recognized that the rebirth of science in twelfth-century Europe flowed from a search for ancient scientific texts. But this search presupposes knowledge and interest; we only seek what we know to be valuable. The emergence of scholarly interest after centuries of apparent stagnation seems paradoxical. This book resolves that seeming contradiction by describing four active traditions of early medieval astronomy: one divided the year by observing the Sun; another computed the date of Easter Full Moon; the third determined the time for monastic prayers by watching the course of the stars; and the classical tradition of geometrical astronomy provided a framework for the cosmos. Most of these astronomies were practical; they sustained the communities in which they flourished and reflected and reinforced the values of those communities. These astronomical traditions motivated the search for ancient learning that led to the Scientific Renaissance of the twelfth century.
' ... an interesting read not only to those with an interest in early medieval astronomy, but also to readers with a more general interest in the history of this period ... Moreover, the copious footnotes make this book a useful source of reference ...'. John Steele, Astronomy Now ' ... very interesting for all those interested in the history and the development of science and especially astronomy in Europe in the very early stages.' Review of Astronomical Tools 'Besides providing a novel view of early-medieval astronomical knowledge in the Latin West, McCluskey furnishes a highly successful example of an approach that integrates the history of scientific knowledge with cultural history ... McCluskey's study ought to serve as an inspiring exemplar for charting the history of other sorts of scientific knowledge and in other periods.' P. M. Rattansi, The Times Higher Education Supplement 'McCluskey's survey provides a fine introduction to early medieval astronomy, astrology, and computus ... This is not another 'progress of science' treatment of its topic. The book begins before the early Middle Ages, actually in prehistory with solar holizon calendars (perhaps Stonehenge) and in classical antiquity with stellar calendars.' Early Medieval Europe