1st Edition

Fragmented Nature: Medieval Latinate Reasoning on the Natural World and Its Order

Edited By Mattia Cipriani, Nicola Polloni Copyright 2022
    228 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    228 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Latin Middle Ages were characterised by a vast array of different representations of nature. These conceptualisations of the natural world were developed according to the specific requirements of many different disciplines, with the consequent result of producing a fragmentation of images of nature. Despite this plurality, two main tendencies emerged. On the one hand, the natural world was seen as a reflection of God’s perfection, teleologically ordered and structurally harmonious. On the other, it was also considered as a degraded version of the spiritual realm – a world of impeccable ideas, separate substances, and celestial movers.

    This book focuses on this tension between order and randomness, and idealisation and reality of nature in the Middle Ages. It provides a cutting-edge profile of the doctrinal and semantic richness of the medieval idea of nature, and also illustrates the structural interconnection among learned and scientific disciplines in the medieval period, stressing the fundamental bond linking together science and philosophy, on the one hand, and philosophy and theology, on the other.

    This book will appeal to scholars and students alike interested in Medieval European History, Theology, Philosophy, and Science.

    1: Zoological Inconsistency and Confusion in the Physiologus latinus - Emmanuelle Kuhry

    2: Gerald of Wales and Saint Brigid’s Falcon: The Chaste Beast in Medieval and Early Modern Irish Natural History - Bernd Roling

    3: Medieval Universes in Disorder: Primeval Chaos and Its Authoritative Coordinates - Nicola Polloni

    4: Animals under an Encyclopedic Lens: Zoological Misinterpretation in Thomas of Cantimpré’s Liber de Natura Rerum - Mattia Cipriani

    5: Learning from Bees, Wasps, and Ants: Communal Norms, Social Practices, and Contingencies of Nature in Medieval Insect Allegories - Julia Burkhardt

    6: Defining and Picturing Elements and Humours in Medieval Medicine: Text and Images in Bartholomew the Englishman’s De Proprietatibus Rerum - Grégory Clesse

    7: Why Do Animals Have Parts? Organs and Organisation in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-century Latin Commentaries on Aristotle’s De animalibus - Dominic Dold

    8 La reproduction imparfaite: les "gusanes" et l’état larvaire des insectes chez Albert le Grand - Isabelle Draelants

    9: Elixir as Means of Contrasting with Nature in Albert the Great’s Alchemy - Athanasios Rinotas

    10: From Prime Matter to Chaos in Ramon Llull - Carla Compagno



    Mattia Cipriani currently holds an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. His research focuses on Thomas of Cantimpré’s Liber de natura rerum, on medieval encyclopaedism, and on the transmission of naturalistic ideas and texts.


    Nicola Polloni has worked at the universities of Pavia, Durham, and Berlin. Since 2020, he is FWO Senior Research Fellow at KU Leuven, Belgium. His research expands cross-disciplinarily on medieval hylomorphism and theories of matter.