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The Later Middle Ages$
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Isabella Lazzarini

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780198731641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198731641.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 October 2021

Space, time, and the world

Space, time, and the world

(p.137) 5 Space, time, and the world
The Later Middle Ages

Matthew Kempshall

Oxford University Press

Conceptions of space and time have conventionally lent themselves to characterizations of late medieval Europe as an ‘Age of Discovery’. These characterizations underpin an account of historical ‘progress’ which is technological, intellectual, and social. Coupled with other retrospective ‘modern’ projections—Renaissance humanism and the rise of ‘the state’—they present a teleological narrative of empirical, rational, and scientific discovery at the waning, even the end, of ‘the Middle Ages’. By qualifying and revising such a narrative, this chapter invites appreciation of a more complex historical reality, a necessarily plural and fragmented picture of socially and culturally conditioned ways of seeing space, measuring time, and understanding the connections between them. The discoveries of the fifteenth century emerge, as a result, not as the reflection of a brave new vision of the world, a shift from ‘religion’ to ‘science’ or from ‘medieval’ to ‘modern’, but rather as a reconfiguration of representations of what was already known. This was certainly an age of conceptual change and development but one which was characterized as much by refining, re-ordering, and reconnection as it was by innovation and discovery.

Keywords:   time, space, place, measurement, representation, astronomy, astrology, Aristotle, Ptolemy, cosmography, geography, chorography, maps, calendars, clocks

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