First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Avicenna, of all doctors of medicine the most celebrated, and a man of enlightenment, was at this time universally known. He was a nobleman of the city of Cordova, in Spain, a prince there, and assiduously devoted to medicine. As I have learned from the ancients, he caused a hospital to be built in his city, and in it he accommodated many patients and personally attended them. He was a happy and wonderful man, and wrote a book of songs. It is said that he died young, not having attained the age of fifty years. He not only wrote on medicine, but on all the arts, as the learned well know. By nobility he was a prince; by profession, a physician. He was versed in all forms of learning and literature, although many authors fail to state when he lived. It is certain that he was not a contemporary of the Blessed Augustine, as some erroneously state; for the Blessed Augustine lived fully 1010 years before this. It is impossible that they lived in the same times, although some say that letters have been discovered which they wrote one another. This, however, is incredible, in view of the difference in time, as already noted. Being a highly learned and experienced man, Avicenna wrote an extraordinary book. He also compiled a work in five volumes on medicine, comprehending the observations of all physicians. He wrote about the strength of the heart, as well as many other things.

Avicenna (979-1037), the greatest of Arabian philosophers in the east, and a physician in whom Arabian medicine reached its culmination, was born in the Province of Bukhara, and at the age of ten was acquainted with the Koran and Arabic classics. During the next six years he acquired knowledge of philosophy, mathematics, astronomy and medicine. At 17 his medical knowledge enabled him to cure the Samani ruler, Nuh ibn Mansur, from a dangerous illness. His chief reward was access to the royal library.

With the ending of the Samanid dynasty in 1044, Avicenna appears to have spent a short time in the service of the ruler of Khwarazm or Khiva, and then to have wandered about until he began his lecturing on logic and astronomy at Jurjan, near the Caspian. From there he passed on to Hamadan, where he occupied the office of dizzier to Shams Addaula. When the ruler of Ispahan captured Hamadan in 1024, Avicenna passed in to his service as physician and general literary and scientific adviser. In this capacity he spent the remaining thirteen years of his life, combining hard work with frequent bouts of excessive pleasure. While marking with the army against Hamadan, he was seized with severe colic, and died in 1037 at the age of fifty-eight.

About 100 treatises are ascribed to Avicenna, and of these, the most influential was his Canon of Medicine. Although this work, like all other Arabic medical treatises, presents the doctrines of Galen and Hippocrates, modified by those of Aristotle, it was able to eclipse the Summary of Rhazes, who, on account of his clinical observations, was one of the most original Muslim physicians, because of its greater method and its treatment of medical science as well as practical medicine. The Canon is in five books: The first and second treat of physiology, pathology and hygiene; the third and fourth deal with the methods of treating disease, and fifth describes the composition and preparation of remedies, and includes Avicenna’s personal observations. It was badly translated into Latin by Jerard of Cremona, but the translation remained the standard textbook of medicine even until about 1650, when it was still used in the universities of Louvain and Montpellier.

The second most influential work of Avicenna was his al-Shifa (the book of recovery), which includes long treatises on Logic, Physics, Mathematics, and Metaphysics. He also wrote a Book of Theorems, and his famous poem on the soul has been translated into English.

The last sentence in this paragaph is not in the German edition of the Chronicle.

Averroes (Averrois), a physician and a lover of wisdom, flourished at Cordova, in Spain, at this time, as appears by one of his own books. He made a collection of manuscripts in the Year After the Nativity of Christ 1150 (as he states). Egidius, a teacher at Rome, states that he saw the sons of Averroes at the court of the emperor Frederick. He wrote much, particularly on the works of Aristotle, earning for himself the surname of commentator. He also wrote a good book on medicine, and left behind many other worthy and able manuscripts.

Averroes (Abdul-Walid Mohammed ibn-Ahmad Ibn-Mohammed ibn-Rushd) (1126 - 1198), the greatest Arabian philosopher in the west, and the famous commentator on Aristotle, was born at Cordova. His early life was occupied in mastering theology, jurisprudence, mathematics, medicine and philosophy. Through Ibn-Tofail he became acquainted with Yusuf, a prince famous for his patronage of learning. Yusuf helped to secure for him so many important posts, such as that of judge of Seville (1169) and later of Cordova, that Averroes complained of having no time left for study. Yusuf’s successor, al-Mansur, at first equally well disposed toward Averroes, was incited in 1195 by the growing popular distrust in speculative studies to confine the suspected philosopher as a prisoner at Elisana, near Cordova. Later, Averroes was summoned to Morocco, where he died before al-Mansur with whom (in 1199) the political power of the Muslims in the West came to an end as did the Arabian culture of liberal science with Averroes.

The works of Averroes include treatises on jurisprudence, grammar, astronomy, medicine and philosophy, many of which still exist in manuscript. Some have been published in Arabic or in German translations. By the end of the 12th century, the most important works were translated into Latin, and are found frequently in early printed editions of the works of Aristotle; they include the Colliget, a summary of medicine, the Destructio Destructionis (against Algazel), the De Substantia Orbis, two treatises on the union of the active intellect with man, and the commentaries on Aristotle, for whom Averroes had a profound admiration. The best edition of the Latin translations of Averroes’ works is that by Juntas (Venice, 1552).

Soar, also a physician, and surnamed the Wise, who was called Avenzoar, lived at this time (as is evidenced by his own books), and was held in great esteem. Having become highly learned and experienced in medicine, he wrote a book, called Teisir, which he dedicated and sent to a king. He also formulated and gave various advice, and included the whole subject of medicine in a large book.[Avenzoar, or Abumeron (Abu Merwan Abdal-Malik ibn Zuhr), was an Arabian physician. He was born at Seville where he exercised his profession with great reputation. He was a contemporary of Averroes, who heard his lectures and learned medicine from him. He belonged, in many respects, to the Dogmatists or Rational School, rather than to the Empirics. He was a great admirer of Galen; and, in his writings, he protests against quackery and the superstitious remedies of the astrologers. His was translated into Hebrew in 1280 and from there into Latin by Paravicius (Venice, 1490).]

Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, was agreeable to all persons in his youth. He left the royal court in England and was received by archbishop Theobald as his archdeacon. Henry (Heinrici), the king of England, appointed him chancellor, so that by means of his wisdom he might mitigate the follies of evil-disposed persons. But when later elected archbishop, he opposed the king, who sought to deprive the churches and the bishopric of their legal rights. Therefore he fell into disfavor with the king, fled from him and absented himself for several years. After he returned home, and had suffered much persecution, he was martyred. Because of his miracles he was enrolled in the number of the saints. His assassins suffered lamentable punishment and death.

Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, was born in 1118 of Norman parentage, his father having been a wealthy merchant. Educated at Merton Priory, and in London, he was trained in knightly exercises, and then studied theology at Paris. On his father’s failure, he took a clerkship for three years in a lawyer’s office. About 1142 he entered the household of Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, who sent him to study canonical jurisprudence at Bologna and Auxerre, heaped preferments on him, including the archdeaconry of Canterbury, and employed him in several important missions. At the papal court, in 1152, he promoted the cause of Henry of Anjou against that of Stephen’s son Eustace. In 1155, the year after Henry’s accession, Henry made him chancellor. So magnificent was his hospitality that Henry himself did not live in a manner more sumptuous. He fought like any knight, and would seem to have regarded himself as a mere layman in all things, though he held deacon’s orders. But a sudden change came upon him in 1162, when he was created archbishop of Canterbury. He resigned the chancellorship and became a rigid ascetic, and as zealous a servitor of the church as ever before of king or archbishop. He soon figured as a champion of her rights against all aggressions of the king and his court, and several nobles and other laymen were excommunicated for their alienation of church property. The relations between the king and his archbishop became strained. The disputes involved questions of principle that had long occupied Henry’s attention, and Becket’s defiant attitude was answered by the famous Constitutions of Clarendon in which the king defined the relations of church and state according to ancient use and custom. To these, curtailing clerical immunities, the primate at first declared he would never consent, but he later reluctantly agreed to them. Henry’s antagonism towards Becket increased, and the archbishop fled to France, where he spent two years at the Cistercian abbey of Pontigny in Burgundy. Then he went to Rome, pleading his own cause, and was reinstated in the see of Canterbury by the pope. From Rome he returned to France, and from there he wrote angry letters to the English bishops threatening excommunication. Efforts to reconcile him with Henry failed; but at length in 1170 they became reconciled. It was a hollow truce, and when Thomas returned to England he did so with the determination of riding roughshod over the king’s supporters. He entered Canterbury among the rejoicings of the people, who regarded him as a shield from the oppressions of nobility. He caused some of the bishops to be excommunicated, and spoke of the constitutions as null and void. Exasperated by these fresh quarrels, Henry, in the presence of some of his knights, exclaimed: “Of the cowards that eat my bread, is there none will rid me of this turbulent priest?” Four knights – Fitzurse, Tracy, Brito, and Morville – overheard these hasty words, and leaving Normandy by separate ways, on the evening of December 29th, 1170 entered Canterbury cathedral and slew the archbishop before the altar of St. Benedict.

Becket was canonized in 1172. Within a short time his shrine at Canterbury became the resort of innumerable pilgrims. Plenary indulgences were given for a visit to the shrine, and an official register was kept to record the miracles wrought by the relics of the saint. The shrine was magnificently adorned with the gold and silver and jewels offered by the pious. It was plundered by Henry VIII, to whom the memory of Becket was specially obnoxious; but the reformers were powerless to expunge the name of the saint from the Roman calendar on which it still remains.

The country of Norway, through the excellent teachings and sermons of the bishop of Albano, again accepted the Christian faith at this time. After the death of Anastasius this bishop was elected pope, and called Adrian (Hadrianus) the Fourth.