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The Grounde of Artes (Anglais) Broché – 26 novembre 2012


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Description du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

The first edition of Robert Recorde's The Grounde of Artes was printed in London, at the sign of the Brazen Serpent, by Reynold Wolfe in 1543. The book teaches the rules and operations of arithmetic and provides many simple examples. It was probably intended as a textbook for the rapidly increasing number of mercantile clerks, but also for mariners engaged in the newly important science of celestial navigation. Recorde first shows how to carry out numerical operations using pen and paper, which in his time was a comparatively new and potentially confusing way of performing calculations. He goes on to demonstrate arithmetic done with counters, the centuries-old method of manipulating tokens on a ruled board. Finally, he shows how to indicate numbers with the hands, a system practised by merchants in market halls and on quaysides since antiquity. In a preliminary discussion Recorde defines the art of arithmetic and claims it to be the basis of all learning, not only of geometry and astronomy but also of music, physic, law, grammar, philosophy and even theology – hence the title, The Grounde of Artes. The book is written in the form of a dialogue between a master and a somewhat precocious scholar. Recorde makes an effort to reproduce the speaking voice, within the limits of his didactic purpose, in the question and answer sessions. To the modern reader his prose is delightfully colloquial, if always straight to the point and never unnecessarily chatty. In places he injects statements of principle, for example this warning of the dangers of rote learning: Scholar. Sir, I thank you: but I think I might the better doe it, if you did shew me the working of it. Master. Yea, but you must prove yourself to doe some things without my aid, or else you shall not be able to doe any more than you are taught: And that were rather to learn by wrote (as they call it) than by reason.

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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