The Earliest Mediaeval Manuscripts C12th-C14th
After Aristotle, some 1500 years elapse before we find any further evidence of a handreading tradition within Europe. It was not until the re-emergence of learning began, from around the end of the twelfth century, that we find the next European works on handreading.
The development of chiromancy in this period is very much bound up with the study of physiognomy and astrology, both of which were considered to be essential to the study of medicine and science at that time. It must be remembered that in those days, no distinction was drawn between what we today would call 'science' and what are often referred to now as the 'occult' sciences. For the study of science in the Mediaeval world encompassed the study of astrology, chiromancy and other magical arts such as alchemy, all of which were considered an essential part of a learned man's education.
The re-emergence of the study of these subjects from the twelfth century onwards in Europe seems to owe a great deal to the establishment of contact with the Middle East that was brought about through the crusades in the preceding one hundred years or so. This naturally brought about increased contact with Arabic thought and Muslim culture in general which, at the time, was far in advance of intellectual endeavours in Europe. European thinking had to a large extent lost touch with the intellectual traditions of Ancient Greece, whereas these had been successfully disseminated and preserved within Arabic tradition. It was only through the re-translation of Arabic versions of Greek works that much of the thought of Aristotle and others became known again. Contact with the Middle East opened up many avenues in European intellectual development, not only in philosophy but also in science, mathematics and medicine. For it was contact with Arabic culture that was largely responsible for bringing Europe out of the 'Dark Ages'.Back to Top