Medieval Diagrams | Edition Topoi

Medieval Diagrams


Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte


History of science, medieval, astronomy, diagrams




Medieval Diagrams, 2016, Gerd Graßhoff, Hans-Christoph Liess, Bruce Eastwood, Domenico Schneider, Edition Topoi, DOI: 10.17171/1-2


Diagrams related to planetary phaenomena in early Medieval manuscripts are found in texts by Calcidius, Capella, Macrobius and Plinius. The collection covers all known diagrams of those authors. The collection contains facsimiles created from the Eastwood microfilm collection.


Manuscripts of four Latin authors – Calcidius, Capella, Macrobius, Plinius – were the only source to a Medieval understanding of planetary motions. They were not influenced by the Ptolemian planetary models which arrived Europe only in the 12th century with the Greek and Arabic copies of the Almagest. However, important and influential theoretical innovations were introduced by the medieval copyists who annotated the Latin sources with comments and diagrams to clarify the meaning of key passages. From the 8th to 14th century these diagrams expose their own dynamical evolution.

During a lifelong collection of microfilms of all available manuscript Bruce Eastwood created an extremely valuable primary source for the history of science. With support of J. Renn from the Max-Planck-Institute für Wissenschaftsgeschichte the Eastwood collection was digitized. This MAPD collection contains all diagrams from the films of the Eastwood collection. Its catalogue was published by Eastwood/Grasshoff 2001.

Further information

Eastwood, Bruce S. The Revival of Planetary Astronomy in Carolingian and Post-Carolingian Europe. Aldershot: Ashgate Variorum, 2002.

Eastwood, Bruce and Graßhoff, Gerd (2003). "Planetary Diagrams - Descriptions, Models, Theories. From Carolingian Deployments to Copernican Debates". The Power of Images in Modern Science. Eds. J. Renn W. Lefèvre, U. Schoepflin. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2003, 197-226.

Eastwood, Bruce, and Gerd Grasshoff (2004). "Planetary diagrams for Roman astronomy in medieval Europe, ca. 800-1500." Philadelphia: Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 94.3, 2004: i-158.

Eastwood, Bruce S. Ordering the Heavens: Roman Astronomy and Cosmology in the Carolingian Renaissance. Leiden/Boston: Brill Academic Pub, 2007.

Liess, Hans-Christoph. Geschichte, Astronomie mit Diagrammen: Geschichte und epistemische Funktion der Planetendiagramme des frühen Mittelalters. Bern: Bern Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, 2012.

Research Group

Gerd Graßhoff, Hans-Christoph Liess, Bruce Eastwood, Domenico Schneider