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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2020/21 Dr. Philipp Nothaft

Dr. Philipp Nothaft

University of Freiburg
Medieval History, History of Science
External Senior Fellow
September 2020 - January 2021


C. Philipp E. Nothaft studied modern and ancient history and philosophy at the University of Munich, where he obtained a PhD in history in 2011. He has since held positions at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities), University College London (research associate at the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies), and the Warburg Institute (Frances A. Yates Long-term Fellow). In 2015, he became a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. His principal research topic are the intertwined histories of mathematical astronomy, chronology, and time-reckoning in medieval and early modern Europe. A major component of his work in these fields consists in the analysis and critical editing of unpublished sources in medieval Latin manuscripts.

Publications (Selection)

  • “‘With utmost certainty’: Two Late Medieval Pioneers of Technical Chronology.” Journal of Medieval History 46 (2020): 335–349.

  • “Medieval Europe’s Satanic Ciphers: On the Genesis of a Modern Myth.” British Journal for the History of Mathematics 35 (2020): 107–136.

  • “The Liber Theoreumacie (1214) and the Early History of the Quadrans Vetus.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 51 (2020): 51–74.

  • “An Alfonsine Universe: Nicolò Conti and Georg Peurbach on the Threefold Motion of the Fixed Stars.” Centaurus 61 (2019): 91–110.

  • (with Shlomo Sela, Carlos Steel, David Juste, and Charles Burnett) “A Newly Discovered Treatise by Abraham Ibn Ezra and Two Treatises Attributed to Al-Kindī in a Latin Translation by Henry Bate.” Mediterranea: International Journal on the Transfer of Knowledge 5 (2020): 193–305.


Transformations of Medieval Astronomy, 1000–1250

The project aims at a thorough re-evaluation of the development of medieval Latin astronomy in the watershed period from 1000 to 1250, which is characterized by the assimilation of new knowledge from Islamic sources. Based on the analysis of unstudied or neglected source texts, the project seeks to provide fresh insights concerning two closely interlocking themes: (a) the role of observation and empirical modes of thinking in the mathematical astronomy practiced in this period and (b) the ways in which Latin astronomers assimilated new forms of knowledge from Islamic sources and their motivations for doing so. Many of the sources relevant to addressing these issues remain unknown and unedited, which is why an integral part of the project will be devoted to the examination of neglected manuscripts from European libraries and to the production of critical editions of sources of major significance. These editions will ultimately support a synthetic book-length study of the history of astronomy in Latin Europe in the early and high Middle Ages.