, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 185–190 | Cite as

The middle ages and modern science

James Hannam: God’s philosophers: How the medieval world laid the foundations of modern science. London: Icon Books, 2009, xi+435 pp, £17.99 HB
  • Edward GrantEmail author
Essay Review

To the overwhelming majority of its readers, the title of James Hannam’s book will appear to be a contradiction in terms. Whatever their educational backgrounds, most people would have been exposed to such negative descriptions of the Middle Ages that they will very likely regard the terms, or expressions, “medieval world” and “foundations of modern science” as either lacking any possible historical connection, or will assume they are the butt of a literary joke. But James Hannam rightly rejects this grossly distorted interpretation of the Middle Ages and declares (p. 5) that “recent research has shown that the Middle Ages was a period of enormous advances in science, technology and culture.” Although one has to qualify what “advances in science” signifies, there can be no doubt that “enormous advances” were made in technology. As Hannam explains, some of the advances between AD500 and 1500 involved the further development of inventions that originated in the Far East (the compass,...


  1. de Ridder-Symoens, H. 1992. A history of the University in Europe, Vol. 1: Universities in the middle ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Grant, Edward. 1996. The foundations of modern science in the middle ages: Their religious, institutional, and intellectual contexts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Grant, Edward. 2007. A history of natural philosophy: From the ancient world to the nineteenth century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Goodbody HallIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations