Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

d’Aurillac, Gerbert

  • Ian T. Durham
Reference work entry

Alternate Name

 Pope Sylvester II

BornAurillac, (Cantal), France, circa945

DiedRome, (Italy), 12 May 1003

Gerbert was a man ahead of his time. Europe did not see as great a contribution to science again for several hundred years.

Gerbert was born sometime between 940 and 950 in or near Aurillac, France, to what has often been described politely as “humble parents” or une famille obscure et pauvre. His rise to power was extraordinary in an age when royal blood meant nearly everything in terms of professional advancement. It is a credit to Gerbert’s tremendous intellect, which was, unfortunately at the time, often equated with magic and the devil. The exact year of his birth is unknown, though some give 945. What is certain is that he apprenticed to the Church early, beginning his training at the monastery in Aurillac. In 967, Gerbert was taken to Spain by Boreal, count of Barcelona, to study under the Arabian teachers possibly at Cordova and Seville. In 971, Boreal and Octo (Hatto),...

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The author wishes to acknowledge Alexandria M. Mason of the House of Seven Gables Settlement Association for help in translating the French website.

Selected References

  1. Buddhue, John Davis (1941). “The Origin of Our Numerals.” Scientific Monthly52: 265–267.ADSGoogle Scholar
  2. Darlington, Oscar G. (1936). “Gerbert, ‘Obscuro loco natus.’” Speculum11: 509–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. — (1947). “Gilbert, the Teacher.” American Historical Review52: 456–476.Google Scholar
  4. Pekonen, Osmo (2000). “Gerbert of Aurillac: Mathematician and Pope.” Mathematical Intelligencer22, no. 4: 67–70.MathSciNetzbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Richer, Pierre (1987). Gerbert d’Aurillac, le pape de l’an mil. Paris: Fayard.Google Scholar
  6. Ryan, J. (2000). “Gerbert d’Aurillac: Y1K’s Science Guy.” Sky& Telescope99, no. 2: 38–39.Google Scholar
  7. Smith, David Eugene (1923). History of Mathematics. Vol. 1. Boston: Ginn and Co. (Reprinted in 1958. New York: Dover.)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  8. — (1925). History of Mathematics. Vol. 2. Boston: Ginn and Co. (Reprinted in 1958. New York: Dover.)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint Anselm CollegeManchesterUSA