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The Castle of Knowledge (Anglais) Broché – 28 août 2012


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Description du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

The first edition of Robert Recorde's The Castle of Knowledge was printed at London by Reginalde Wolfe in 1556. The work is a treatise on the celestial sphere, written in the form of a dialogue between a master and a scholar. It is an original and exhaustive study intended to modernise Proclus and Sacrobosco. It deals chiefly with Ptolemaic astronomy but also includes some geographical information as understood in Recorde’s time. In the preface to the reader he extols the heavens as God’s handiwork and consequently meet for study. He also praises the rare wisdom and practical knowledge that astronomy bestows, thereby soliciting approval of both the old heaven and the new earth. Recorde’s writings reflect the strong traditions which he, in common with most educated people of his time, found difficult to discard. These Aristotelian and Ptolemaic traditions postulated that the sub-lunary realm, the seat of the base elements, was subject to change and corruption; in contrast, the heavenly or celestial realm was necessarily pure, immutable and eternal. However, in this book Recorde provides the English reading public with the first significant reference to the heliocentric theories of Nicholas Copernicus. In the guise of the master he briefly mentions the theories to his scholar, explaining that according to Copernicus the sun is at the centre of the world and not the earth, and that the earth moves. This elicits the response from the scholar: ‘I desire not to heare such vaine phantasies, so farre against common reason… and therefore lette it passe for ever, and a daye longer’. At which the master reacts by admonishing him, telling him that he was ‘to yonge to be a good iudge in so greate a matter : it passeth farre your learning… therefore you were best to condemne no thinge that you do not well vnderstand’. The Castle of Knowledge was reprinted in 1596, forty years after the first edition, by which time it was already outdated by later works on Copernican astronomy.

Biographie de l'auteur

Robert Recorde was born circa 1510 in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales. He entered Oxford University in 1525 aged about 15 years. He graduated with a B.A. in 1531 and was elected a Fellow of All Souls College in the same year. At some time he moved from Oxford to Cambridge, where he studied for an M.D. and graduated in 1545 at the age of 35. He then moved to London, where for a few years he practised medicine. In later years he was always to describe himself as 'physician' and was judged as a very learned scholar. A defining moment in his life occurred in 1549 when he was appointed Controller of the Bristol Mint. It was during his time there that he made a very powerful and ruthless enemy. Sir William Herbert was sent by Edward VI to help suppress a revolt by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, in the west country. Herbert demanded that Recorde divert funds from the mint to pay and support his army, but Recorde refused on the grounds that the order did not come from the king. Herbert countered and accused Recorde of treason. He was lucky to incur the mild penalty of confinement to court for 60 days. However, apparently all was later forgiven because in 1551 he was appointed general surveyor of Mines and Monies in Ireland. He was placed in charge of the Wexford silver mines and also became the technical supervisor of the Dublin mint. In the meantime, Sir William Herbert was created Earl of Pembroke for his services to the crown during the rebellion, and there was continued animosity between him and Recorde. Upon the accession to the throne of Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII, Pembroke was made a privy councillor for his support of Mary's claim to the throne. For some strange reason, Recorde chose the moment when Pembroke was strongest to try and get his revenge, charging him with misconduct in gaining his court positions. The allegation was probably true, but Pembroke was in favour with the monarchy and so had almost perfect immunity. He responded by suing Recorde for libel. There was a hearing in January 1557 and Recorde was ordered to pay the huge sum of £1000 compensation. He either could not or would not pay and so was sentenced to imprisonment in the King's Bench Prison in Southwark, for debt. Whilst in prison he made his will, leaving small sums of money to various people, including £20 to his mother. The date of his death is not known with any certainty, but is generally supposed to have been in the later part of 1558, only a short time after making his will.

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