Astrolabes for the King: The Astrolabe of Petrus Raimundi of Barcelona

in Medieval Encounters
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Abstract

The astrolabe of Petrus Raimundi, made in Barcelona in 1375, occupies a significant position in the set of medieval Spanish astrolabes with Latin inscriptions, as it is the only one signed and dated that has survived to the present day. A full description and study of the astrolabe is presented in the context of the support given to the manufacturing of scientific instruments by King Peter iv of Aragon. Although the astronomical and time reckoning features of the astrolabe are fully detailed, special attention is given to its artistic and decorative features. The relationships between Petrus Raimundi’s astrolabe and those manufactured in al-Andalus, the region under Islamic rule within the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages, are highlighted, as well as the links with astrolabe production in other European Christian kingdoms. The role played by astrolabes in medicine is considered and first steps are taken towards discovering the identity of Petrus Raimundi.

Astrolabes for the King: The Astrolabe of Petrus Raimundi of Barcelona

in Medieval Encounters

Sections

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Astrolabe of Petrus Raimundi, front and back.
  • View in gallery
    Rete of the astrolabe of Petrus Raimundi.
  • View in gallery
    Details of the inscription engraved in the edge of the rim of the astrolabe with the name of the author, date, place, latitude and longitude.
  • View in gallery
    Reverse of the rete of astrolabe of Petrus Raimundi with workshop construction marks.
  • View in gallery
    Detail of the plate for latitude 0° with the engraved word EQUINOC CIUM.
  • View in gallery
    Detail of the word VALECIA scratched in the plate for latitude 39 of the astrolabe of Petrus Raimundi.
  • View in gallery
    Detail of decorative circles in Andalusí astrolabes #116 (top left), #2527 (top right), #129 (bottom left) and #136 (bottom-right).
  • View in gallery
    Retes of the astrolabe of Petrus Raimundi (left, photo by the author with the courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston) and of Mamluk astrolabe #4164, Cairo Museum of Islamic Art nr. 15368 (right, photo courtesy of Alain Brieux Paris).
  • View in gallery
    Throne of the astrolabe of Petrus Raimundi compared with the one of the andalusí astrolabe #132 of Aḥmad ibn Ḥusayn ibn Bāṣo.
  • View in gallery
    First folio of Tractatus primus Rosae Philosophiae by Petrus Raimundi.

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