This is the fourth set of studies in the Variorum series by David King, a leading authority on the history of astronomy in Islamic civilization and on medieval astronomical instruments, European as well as Islamic. The first of the eleven studies collected here deals with medieval instruments in general, as precious historical sources. The following papers focus on individual astrolabes from the European Middle Ages and early Renaissance that are of singular historical importance. Two look at the origins of the simple universal horary quadrant and the complicated universal horary dial (navicula). The collection concludes with a list of all known medieval European astrolabes, ordered chronologically by region. Three "landmark" astrolabes are discussed: (1) the earliest known European astrolabe from 10th-century Catalonia, that milieu in which the astrolabe first became known to Europeans; (2) an astrolabe from 14th-century Picardy bearing numerals written in monastic ciphers as well as a later dedication mentioning two friends of Erasmus; (3) the splendid astrolabe presented in 1462 by the German astronomer Regiomontanus to his patron Cardinal Bessarion, with its enigmatic angel and Latin dedication, here presented in the context of other astrolabes of similar design from 15th-century Vienna.
David A. King is Emeritus Professor of History of Science, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Contents: Preface; Part I General: Astronomical instruments between East and West. Part II The Earliest European Astrolabe: The earliest known European astrolabe in the light of other early astrolabes. Part III An Astrolabe Featuring a Remarkable Number Notation: Rewriting history through instruments: the secrets of a medieval astrolabe from Picardy. Part IV More Individual European Astrolabes: The medieval Catalan astrolabe of the Society of Antiquaries, London (co-authored with Kurt Maier); A remarkable Italian astrolabe from ca. 1300 - witness to an ingenious tradition of non-standard astrolabes; An astrolabe from Einbeck datable ca. 1330. Part V Astrolabe Stars: The star-names on three 14th-century astrolabes from Spain, France and Italy. Part VI Universal Horary Devices: A vetustissimus Arabic text on the quadrans vetus; 14th-century England or 9th-century Baghdad? New insights on the elusive astronomical instrument called the Navicula de Venetiis. Part VII Two Renaissance Astrolabes: The astrolabe depicted in the intarsia of the studiolo of Archduke Frederico in Urbino; The astrolabe presented by Regiomontanus to Cardinal Bessarion in 1462 (co-authored with Gerard L'E. Turner). Part VIII An Aid to Future Research: An ordered list of European astrolabes up to ca. 1500; Index.