De sphaera mundi

Heavily annotated copy of De Sphaera of Sacrobosco.

De sphaera mundi (Latin meaning On the Sphere of the World, sometimes rendered The Sphere of the Cosmos; the Latin title is also given as Tractatus de sphaera, or simply De sphaera) is a medieval introduction to the basic elements of astronomy written by Johannes de Sacrobosco c. 1230. Based heavily on Ptolemy’s Almagest, and drawing additional ideas from Islamic astronomy, it was one of the most influential works of pre-Copernican astronomy in Europe.

Sacrobosco's De sphaera mundi was the most successful of several competing thirteenth-century textbooks on this topic. It was used in universities for hundreds of years and the manuscript copied many times before the invention of the printing press; hundreds of manuscript copies have survived. The first printed edition appeared in 1472 in Ferrara, and over 90 editions were printed in the next two hundred years. The work was frequently supplemented with commentaries on the original text. The number of copies and commentaries reflects its importance as a university text.[1]


1. ^ Olaf Pedersen, "In Quest of Sacrobosco", Journal for the History of Astronomy, 16(1985): 175-221. Pedersen identifies 35 printings in Venice, another 35 in Paris, and more in 14 other cities throughout Europe.


* Pedersen, Olaf. "The Corpus Astronomicum and the Traditions of Medieval Latin Astronomy: A Tentative Interpretation. Pp. 59-76 in Owen Gingerich and Jerzy Dobrzycki, eds., Colloquia Copernicana III. Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 1975.

* Thorndike, Lynn. The Sphere of Sacrobosco and its Commentators. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Pr., 1949.


* Summary of the contents of each chapter

* List of printed editions of De sphaera mundi

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