The adjective 'medieval' is now a synonym for superstition and
ignorance. Yet without the work of medieval scholars there could
have been no Galileo, no Newton and no Scientific Revolution. In
"God's Philosophers", James Hannam traces the neglected roots of
modern science in the medieval world. He debunks many of the myths
about the Middle Ages, showing that medieval people did not think
the earth was flat, nor did Columbus 'prove' that it is a sphere.
Contrary to common belief, the Inquisition burnt nobody for their
science, nor was Copernicus afraid of persecution. No Pope tried to
ban human dissection or the number zero. On the contrary, as Hannam
reveals, the Middle Ages gave rise to staggering achievements in
both science and technology: for instance, spectacles and the
mechanical clock were both invented in thirteenth-century Europe.
Ideas from the Far East, like printing, gunpowder and the compass,
were taken further by Europeans than the Chinese had imagined
possible. The compass helped Columbus to discover the New World in
1492 while printing allowed an incredible 20 million books to be
produced in the first 50 years after Gutenberg published his Bible
in 1455. And Hannam argues that scientific progress was often made
thanks to, rather than in spite of, the influence of Christianity.
Charting an epic journey through six centuries of history, "God's
Philosophers" brings back to light the discoveries of neglected
geniuses like John Buridan, Nicole Oresme and Thomas Bradwardine,
as well as putting into context the contributions of more familiar
figures like Roger Bacon, William of Ockham and St Thomas Aquinas.
Besides being a thrilling history of a period of surprising
invention and innovation, "God's Philosophers" reveals the debt
modern science and technology owe to the supposedly 'dark' ages of