University of Cambridge > > Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars > Computing eclipses at the end of the Wars of the Roses: the life and works of Lewis of Caerleon.

Computing eclipses at the end of the Wars of the Roses: the life and works of Lewis of Caerleon.

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Nebojša Radić .

Lewis of Caerleon was educated in Cambridge (Bachelor of Medicine, 1465–66), and became a Doctor of Medicine in 1481. He served as the physician of Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and her son Henry, future King Henry VII , during the troubled times of the Wars of the Roses. Faithful to the Lancastrian faction, he was incarcerated in the Tower of London by Richard III in 1484. In parallel with his career as a court physician, Lewis of Caerleon devoted a part of his life to the production of astronomical materials. His scientific production is mainly related to a particular astronomical phenomenon: eclipses. During three decisive moments of his career, he created sets of parallax and eclipse tables as well as canons (which are rules to use the tables). These works were likely offered to his wealthy patrons as some extant manuscripts testify. Although he innovated in creating new tools, the physician relied on important earlier sources and authorities. Thankfully, four manuscripts allow to precisely retrace the elaboration of his astronomical production, from the earliest drafts to the presentation copies of his works. Overall, these sources provide an exceptional case study of a late medieval astronomer at work, and I will explore in my talk the development of Lewis of Caerleon’s astronomical agenda and his sources.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars series.

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