Flat Earth Myth - More Bogus History
What is the Myth About the
Flat Earth ?
A popular story teller, in this case Washington Irvin (1783-1859), created his own “truth” to make his story more interesting. In this case, his fictionalized history later became accepted as a “Fact.”
Partly due to his influence as well as others, it is now often presupposed that the Medieval Times were the “Dark Ages” and that the Catholic Church suppressed intellectual thought and the sciences. For example, Washington Irving portrayed Christopher Columbus as a simple mariner who had to confront the oppressive hooded Spanish inquisitors of his time.
According to Irving, Columbus had to convince Queen Isabella to go against her religious advisors who, supposedly, thought he would fall of the edge as he sailed into the West because the earth is flat.
This perception that most all of Europe believed that the Earth was flat is totally erroneous. Almost everyone in the Middle Ages believed that the Earth was spherical in shape.
This “Flat Earth” theory was simultaneously established by Washington Irving and a Frenchman, Antoine-Jean Letronne (1787-1848), who had strong antireligious prejudices.
In 1828 Washington Irving published his book, The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus.
However, before the 1828 no one believed in this myth that the Europeans believed the earth was flat.
This theory was enabled to grow in part by the ideas advanced by Auguste Compte (1798-1857). He developed the idea of positivism and the concept of progress, step by step, from superstition to science.
In 1896 Andrew Dickson White, the founder of Cornell University, wrote his “History of the warfare of science with theology in Christendom.” He further advanced this Flat Earth theory. He depicted religion as something that needed to be swept away to make room for “real” science.
Andrew Dickson White promotes this ludicrous falling-off-the-edge theory, which had no basis in fact whatsoever, with his following statement:
By the end of the 1800’s and onward to just recently, practically all secondary school text books erroneously promoted this myth that those in the Medieval Ages believed the earth was flat.
However, even before Columbus most everyone in the Church believed that the earth was globe shaped. Sailors knew that a person positioned in a “crow’s nest” would have a better perspective due to the earth’s curvature. Even Dante’s Divine Comedy portrays Earth as a sphere. And it was written between 1306-1321 AD. Clement, Origen, Ambrose, Augustine, Isodore, Venerable Bede, Albertus Magnus and Aquinas all acknowledged the earth as spherical.
Jeffrey Burton Russell exposed this myth in his book, Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians (New York: Praeger, 1991). He explains:
And thus, a person can perceive the possible motivations that a person might have for wanting to invent or promote this “Flat Earth Myth.”
Notes from Wiki:
Learned Christian authors such as Basil of Caesarea
(died AD 379), Ambrose and Augustine of Hippo (died AD 430) were clearly
aware of the sphericity of the Earth. From the 8th century and the
beginning medieval period, "no cosmographer worthy of note has called
into question the sphericity of the Earth."
Bede the Venerable
The monk Bede (c. 672–735) wrote in his influential treatise on computus, The Reckoning of Time, that the Earth was round. He explained the unequal length of daylight from
Bede was lucid about earth's sphericity, writing
"We call the earth a globe, not as if the shape of a sphere were
expressed in the diversity of plains and mountains, but because, if all
things are included in the outline, the earth's circumference will
represent the figure of a perfect globe... For truly it is an orb placed
in the centre of the universe; in its width it is like a circle, and not
circular like a shield but rather like a ball, and it extends from its
centre with perfect roundness on all sides."
Ælfric of Eynsham paraphrased Bede into Old
English, saying, "Now the Earth's roundness and the Sun's orbit
constitute the obstacle to the day's being equally long in every land."
Saint Hildegard (Hildegard von Bingen, 1098–1179), depicted the spherical earth several times in her work Liber Divinorum Operum.
The Elucidarium of Honorius Augustodunensis (c. 1120), an important manual for the instruction of lesser clergy, which was translated into Middle English, Old French, Middle High German, Old Russian, Middle Dutch, Old Norse, Icelandic, Spanish, and several Italian dialects, explicitly refers to a spherical Earth. Likewise, the fact that Bertold von Regensburg (mid-13th century) used the spherical Earth as an illustration in a sermon shows that he could assume this knowledge among his congregation. The sermon was preached in the vernacular German, and thus was not intended for a learned audience.
A non-exhaustive list of more than a hundred Latin and vernacular writers from Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages who were aware that the earth was spherical, has been compiled by Reinhard Krüger, professor for Romance literature at the University of Stuttgart.
Krüger's list of the 79 authors known by name
Early Middle Ages
Isidore of Seville, Beda Venerabilis, Theodulf of Orléans, Vergilius of Salzburg, Irish monk Dicuil, Rabanus Maurus, King Alfred of England, Remigius of Auxerre, Johannes Scotus Eriugena, Leo of Naples (German), Gerbert d’Aurillac (Pope Sylvester II).
High Middle Ages
Notker the German of Sankt-Gallen, Hermann of Reichenau, Hildegard von Bingen, Petrus Abaelardus, Honorius Augustodunensis, Gautier de Metz, Adam of Bremen, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Berthold of Regensburg, Guillaume de Conches, Philippe de Thaon (French), Abu-Idrisi, Bernardus Silvestris, Petrus Comestor, Thierry de Chartres, Gautier de Châtillon, Alexander Neckam, Alain de Lille, Averroes, Snorri Sturluson, Moshe ben Maimon, Lambert of Saint-Omer, Gervasius of Tilbury, Robert Grosseteste, Johannes de Sacrobosco, Thomas de Cantimpré, Peire de Corbian, Vincent de Beauvais, Robertus Anglicus, Juan Gil de Zámora (Spanish), Ristoro d'Arezzo, Roger Bacon, Jean de Meung, Brunetto Latini, Alfonso X of Castile.
Late Middle AgesMarco Polo, Dante Alighieri, Meister Eckhart, Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Pope Pius II), Perot de Garbalei (divisiones mundi), Cecco d'Ascoli, Fazio degli Uberti (Italian), Levi ben Gershon, Konrad of Megenberg, Nicole Oresme, Petrus Aliacensis, Alfonso de la Torre (German), Toscanelli, Brochard the German (German), Jean de Mandeville, Christine de Pizan, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Caxton, Martin Behaim, Christopher Columbus.