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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2020/21 Prof. Dr. Immo Warntjes

Prof. Dr. Immo Warntjes

Trinity College Dublin
External Senior Fellow (Marie S. Curie FCFP)
January - June 2017


Immo Warntjes studied history and mathematics at the universities of Oldenburg (Germany), Galway (Ireland), and Göttingen, graduating from Göttingen University in both subjects in 2003 (1. Staatsexamen). In 2007 he completed his Ph.D. in Medieval History in Galway and became Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Greifswald (Germany). In 2012-2013, he was research fellow at the German Historical Institute (London) and the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Munich). He joined Queen’s University Belfast in 2013, and in September 2016 he will take up the Ussher Assistant Professorship in Early Medieval Irish History at Trinity College, Dublin.

His research falls into four categories: His primary field of interest is early medieval scientific thought; he has explored the Irish intellectual milieus of the seventh and early eighth centuries that shaped Bede’s mind and prepared the Carolingian Renaissance; also, the question of continuity of late antique learning in the early middle ages is part of this research; more recently, he is involved in research on Visigothic scientifica and the transition period from Latin to Arabic science of the eleventh and the twelfth centuries. Second, he analyses the use of the vernacular in monastic teaching and intellectual debate in the early medieval Latin West. Third, early medieval Irish history features prominently in his research, with a special interest on Irish kingship and succession, as well as the Easter controversy. Fourth, he has turned his attention to cultural history in the form of high and late medieval burial practises, especially heart and intestine burial.

Selected Publications

  • The Munich Computus: Text & Translation. Irish computistics between Isidore of Seville and the Venerable Bede and its reception in Carolingian times (Stuttgart 2010).

  • ‘An Irish eclipse prediction of AD 754: the earliest in the Latin West’, Peritia 24–25 (2013–2014), 108–15.

  • ‘Victorius vs Dionysius: the Irish Easter controversy of AD 689’, in Pádraic Moran & Immo Warntjes (eds.), Early medieval Ireland and Europe: chronology, contacts, scholarship (Turnhout 2015), 40–96.

  • ‘Hermann der Lahme und die Zeitrechnung. Bedeutung seiner Computistica und Forschungsperspektiven’, in Felix Heinzer & Thomas Zotz, Hermann der Lahme: Reichenauer Mönch und Universalgelehrter des 11. Jh. (Stuttgart 2016), 277–316.

  • ‘Computus as scientific thought in Ireland and the Continent in the early medieval West’, in Roy Flechner & Sven Meeder, The Irish in early medieval Europe: identity, culture and religion (New York 2016),158–78.

FRIAS Project

Scientific thought in early medieval Iberia

In the history of science of western Europe, c.AD 500-1100 is generally considered a ‘Dark Age’: The Fall of the Roman Empire led to the loss of the principal language of learning, Greek, and with this of fundamental Greek texts; these were only recovered in the Renaissance of the 12th century, marking the beginning of a critical-analytical, if not modern approach to science. The intervening centuries, on the other hand, were clouded by a religious perspective on science, which made innovation and progress impossible. This reading makes it very difficult to explain that there appears to have been virtually no transition process; the same monks whose minds were clouded with ignorance suddenly had no problems understanding and improving advanced scientific concepts which they received only in writing. Arno Borst (Konstanz) fundamentally challenged this view and changed our understanding of this transition process by preparing for print. For the first time, the scientific works of one of the most competent western intellectuals of the 11th century, Hermann of Reichenau. Hermann was ideally situated at the geographic and intellectual crossroad between a five-century old Latin tradition of calendrical science (computus) and the newly emerging Arabic texts on the astrolabe and abacus. Unfortunately, Borst died before he had a chance to make Hermann’s scientific texts available to the scholarly community and a wider public. By finishing Borst’s project and firmly placing Hermann’s ideas into their scientific contexts, this project provides a fundamental insight into the crucial transition process of the 11th century from old (Latin) to new (Greek and Arabic) science.