The So-Called ‘Chaucer Astrolabe’ from the Koelliker Collection, Milan

An Account of the Instrument and Its Place in the Tradition of Chaucer-Type Astrolabes

In: Nuncius
Jim Bennett Science Museum, London, U.K.

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Giorgio Strano Museo Galileo, Firenze, Italy

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The so-called “Chaucer Astrolabe” from the Koelliker collection, Milan, is a remarkable 14th-century English instrument. In addition to recounting its recent story and expounding its detailed description, this article offers a multi-sided approach to the object. The instrument is examined in relation to some of the early manuscript copies and to other astrolabes that have most commonly been seen as linked to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Treatise on the Astrolabe. In particular, the article provides stylistic and astronomical analyses through comparisons with the illustrations in the early copies of the Treatise, a selection of very similar instruments, and the data of the Pseudo-Messahalla star table. This multi-sided approach has some implications for existing scholarship on the astrolabes in the Chaucer tradition.

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