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The Abacus and the Cross: The Story of the Pope Who Brought the Light of Science to the Dark Ages

Basic Books / 2012 / Paperback

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The popular picture of the dark ages is wrong. People knew the earth wasn't flat. They weren't terrified that teh world would end at the turn of the millennium. And the Medieval Catholic church was not intolerant or anti-science. In fact, the Pope, who was reigning in 1000AD was leading mathematician and astronomer of his day.

Called "the scientist-pope" during his lifetime, Gerbert of Aurillac was born a peasant, but ascended to the pinnacle of the Christian world to become Pope Sylvester II. In The Abacus and the Cross acclaimed science writer Nancy Marie Brown nimbly follows Gerbert through scientific exploration and political scheming as he rose from peasant to Pope. Using Medieval letters and modern reportage to transport her reader to Gerbert's world, Brown shows how science was central to the lives of Monks, kings, and even Popes a thousand years ago.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 310
Vendor: Basic Books
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 0465031447
ISBN-13: 9780465031443
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

The medieval Catholic Church, widely considered a source of intolerance and inquisitorial fervor, was not anti-science during the Dark Ages—in fact, the pope in the year 1000 was the leading mathematician and astronomer of his day. Called “The Scientist Pope,” Gerbert of Aurillac rose from peasant beginnings to lead the church. By turns a teacher, traitor, kingmaker, and visionary, Gerbert is the first Christian known to teach math using the nine Arabic numerals and zero.

In The Abacus and the Cross, Nancy Marie Brown skillfully explores the new learning Gerbert brought to Europe. A fascinating narrative of one remarkable math teacher, The Abacus and the Cross will captivate readers of history, science, and religion alike.

Author Bio

Nancy Marie Brown is the author of The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman and Mendel in the Kitchen, named one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2004 by Library Journal. She lives in Vermont.

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