said to have summoned fifty learned men from Toledo, Cordova and Paris to translate into Spanish the works of Ptolemy and other philosophers. Under his patronage the University of Salamanca developed rapidly to become within two hundred years one of the four great universities of Europe—a center for students from all over Europe and the headquarters for new thought, where Columbus was sheltered, and later the Copernican system was accepted and publicly taught at a time when Galileo's views were suppressed.
Popular interest in astronomy was evidently aroused, for Sacrobosco (to give John Holywood his better known Latin name) a Scotch professor at the Sorbonne in Paris in the 13th century, published a small treatise De Sphæri Mundo that was immensely popular for centuries, though it was practically only an abstract of the Almagest. Whewell tells of a French poem of the time of Edward I entitled Ymage du Monde, which gave the Ptolemaic view and was illustrated in the manuscript in the University of Cambridge with a picture of the spherical earth with men upright on it at every point, dropping balls down perforations in the earth to illustrate the tendency of all things toward the center. Of the same period (13th century) is an Arabian compilation in which there is a reference to another work, the book of Hammarmunah the Old, stating that "the earth turns upon itself in the form of a circle, and that some are on top, the others below ... and there are countries in which it is constantly day or in which at least the night continues only some instants." Apparently, however, such advanced views were of no influence, and the Ptolemaic theory remained unshaken down to the close of the 15th century.
Aside from the adequacy of this explanation of the universe for the times, the attitude of the Church Fathers on the matter was to a large degree responsible for this acquiescence. Early in the first century A.D., Philo Judæus emphasized the minor importance of visible objects compared with intellectual matters,—a foundation stone in the Church's theory of an homocentric universe. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 A.D.) calls the heavens solid since what is solid is capable of being perceived by the senses. Origen (c. 185-c. 254.) has recourse to the Holy Scriptures to support his notion that the sun, moon, and stars are living beings obeying God's commands. Then Lactantius thunders against those who discuss the universe as comparable to people discussing "the character of a city they have never seen, and whose name only they know." "Such matters cannot be found out by inquiry." The existence of the antipodes and the rotundity of the earth are "marvelous fictions," and philosophers are "defending one absurd opinion by another" when in explanation why bodies would not fall off a spherical earth, they claim these are borne to the center.
How clearly even this brief review illustrates what Henry Osborn Taylor calls the fundamental principles of patristic faith: that the will of God is the one cause of all things (voluntate Dei immobilis manet et stat in sæculum terra. Ambrose: Hexæmeron.) and that this will is unsearchable. He further points out that Augustine's and Ambrose's sole interest in natural fact is as "confirmatory evidence of Scriptural truth." The great Augustine therefore denies the existence of antipodes since they could not be peopled by Adam's children. He indifferently remarks elsewhere: "What concern is it to me whether the heavens as a sphere enclose the earth in the middle of the world or overhang it on either side?" Augustine does, however, dispute the claims of astrologers accurately to foretell the future by the stars, since the fates of twins or those born at the same moment are so diverse.
Philastrius (d. before 397 A.D.) dealing with various heresies, denounces those who do not believe the stars are fixed in the heavens as "participants in the vanity of pagans and the foolish opinions of philosophers," and refers to the widespread idea of the part the angels play in guiding and impelling the heavenly bodies in their courses.
It would take a brave man to face such attitudes of scornful indifference on the one hand and denunciation on the other, in support of a theory the Church considered