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Book description

The practice of weather forecasting underwent a crucial transformation in the Middle Ages. Exploring how scientifically-based meteorology spread and flourished from c.700–c.1600, this study reveals the dramatic changes in forecasting and how the new science of 'astro-meteorology' developed. Both narrower and more practical in its approach than earlier forms of meteorology, this new science claimed to deliver weather forecasts for months and even years ahead, on the premise that weather is caused by the atmospheric effects of the planets and stars, and mediated by local and seasonal climatic conditions. Anne Lawrence-Mathers explores how these forecasts were made and explains the growing practice of recording actual weather. These records were used to support forecasting practices, and their popularity grew from the fourteenth century onwards. Essential reading for anyone interested in medieval science, Medieval Meteorology demonstrates that the roots of scientific forecasting are much deeper than is usually recognized.


'A wonderful, wide-ranging, and comprehensive study of a subject both ubiquitous and particular; the weather. Medieval Meteorology takes a broadly chronological approach in a wide sweep from the ancient world to the end of the European Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The continuities from ancient to medieval understanding of the subject are convincingly shown, alongside the critical difference brought about by the reception of works by Islamicate authors from the twelfth century onwards. There is no better place to start, for specialist scholars or general readers. Conveyed in an accessible manner, it is no less formidable in its learning for ease of style and persuasive arguments. Pick up and read.'

Giles Gasper - Durham University

'In this trail-blazing study, Anne Lawrence-Mathers demonstrates how 'astro-meteorology' emerged as an innovative form of rational weather prognostication out of the medieval convergence of classical, Arab-Islamic and folk knowledge. Her account of astro-meteorology's quest for precise and timely weather forecasting constitutes a deeply significant, and hitherto untold, chapter in the history of European scientific culture.'

Faith Wallis - McGill University, Montreal

‘This excellent study deserves the attention of historians of science and medievalists.’

R. E. Winn Source: Choice

‘Essential reading for anyone interested in medieval science, Medieval Meteorology demonstrates that the roots of scientific forecasting are much deeper than is usually recognized.’

Jana Byars Source: New Books Network

'As a methodical intellectual history, the monograph is impressive and timely.'

Sarah Carson Source: Isis

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