Book Series Alfonsine Astronomy, vol. 1

Alfonsine Astronomy: The Written Record

Richard Kremer, Mathieu Husson, José Chabás (eds)

  • Pages: 426 p.
  • Size:178 x 254 mm
  • Illustrations:56 col., 15 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2022

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59520-7
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59521-4
  • E-book
  • Available

For more than two centuries, the Alfonsine Tables circulated widely in late medieval Europe. This resulted in a significant number of new works, now extant in more than 600 manuscript codices. This written record of Alfonsine astronomy is the focus of the volume. Essays examine manuscripts and the collection and transmission of individual works. They problematize notions of authorship agency and scribal practice, the critical edition, the challenges offered by digital humanities. They thus open new vistas to the material and intellectual history of Alfonsine astronomy.


“Its editors deserve our gratitude for spearheading this groundbreaking research.” (C. Philipp E. Nothaft, in the Journal for the History of Astronomy, 54/1, 2023, p. 117)


Richard Kremer is emeritus professor of history at Dartmouth College and associate and reviews editor of the Journal for the History of Astronomy.

Matthieu Husson is a researcher in the history of late medieval astronomy in Europe and is the PI of the ERC project ALFA based at the Paris Observatory.

José Chabás is emeritus professor at Pompeu Fabra Universitat , Barcelona, and has authored several monographs on the history of astronomy


Compiled between 1262 and 1272 in Toledo under the patronage of Alfonso X, the Castilian Alfonsine Tables were recast in Paris in the 1320s, resulting in what we now call the Parisian Alfonsine Tables. These materials circulated widely and fostered astronomical activities throughout Europe. This resulted in a significant number of new works, of which there are a few hundred, extant in more than 600 manuscript codices and dozens of printed editions. These manuscripts and imprints, broadly contemporary to the works they witness, comprise the written record of Alfonsine astronomy and provide the focus of this volume.

A first series of essays examines individual manuscripts containing Alfonsine works. The authors seek to reconstruct, from the manuscript evidence, the cultural, astronomical and mathematical worlds in which the manuscripts were initially copied, compiled, used and collected. A second series of essays turns from the particular codex to the individual work or author. These contributions ask how particular works have been transmitted in surviving manuscript witnesses and how broader manuscript cultures shaped the diffusion, over two centuries, of Alfonsine astronomy across Europe. A final essay reflects on the challenges and opportunities offered by digital humanities approaches in such collective studies of a large manuscript corpus.


Richard L. Kremer, Matthieu Husson and José Chabás, Introduction

Part I

Laura Fernández, The Libro de las tablas alfonsies: New Documentary and Material Source

Jean-Patrice Boudet, Laure Miolo, Alfonsine Astronomy and Astrology in Fourteenth-Century Oxford: The Case of MS Bodleian Library Digby 176

Richard L. Kremer, Exploring a Later Fifteenth-Century Astrologer’s Toolbox: British Library Add Ms 34603

Alexandre Tur, From Computus Material to Preacher’s Toolbox: Manufacturing a Bat-Book Almanac in the Fifteenth Century

Eric Ramírez-Weaver, Bohemian King Wenceslas IV’s Copy of the Alfonsine Tables and Their Place within his Astronomical and Astrological Corpus

Part II

José Chabás, Marie-Madeleine Saby, Editing the Tables of 1322 of John Lignères

Alena Hadravová, Petr Hadrava, John of Lignères Quia ad inveniendum loca planetarum: An Edition and Translation

José Chabás, New Texts and Tables Attributed to John of Lignères: Context and Analysis

Mathieu Husson, Work Cohesion as a Test of Manuscript Transmission: The Case of John of Lignères’ Tabule magne

Laure Miolo, Retracing the Tradition of John of Genoa’s Opus astronomicum through Extant Manuscripts

Glen Van Brummelen, All In: Manuscripts of the Works of Giovanni Bianchini in the Fifteenth Century

Galla Topalian, Mathieu Husson, From Document to Data: The Digital Projects of ALFA