Adelard of Bath was an important English scholar who studied natural philosophies such as astronomy, astrology, philosophy, and mathematics. He is best known for his translation of many important scientific writings from Arabic writing into Latin. He was influenced by many factors including French learning, Greek culture and philosophy, and Arabic sciences.
Adelard of Bath was born in 1080 C.E. in the city of Bath. Scholars are uncertain on his parents were but some believe Fasterd who worked for the Bishop of Wells is his father.
Adelard is an Anglo-Saxon name which would have placed him in an inferior class of society. As a young man he worked as a steward in the Bishop of Bath’s home.
Adelard of Bath traveled extensively throughout his career as a scholar. He studied in the Loire Valley in western France at the town of Tours. He taught within the Picardie region of northern France in Laon where he took his students to meet the Queen of France.
He left Laon and traveled to Salerno to study at a famous medical school in the region. He then went to Sicily which was under Norman control at the time of his visit.
Adelard continued to travel to places along the northern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea like Greece, present day Turkey, Syria, and Palestine.
During his travels he learned to speak Arabic fluently. He used his power of translation to later turn scientific books written in Arabic to Latin.
One example of his translation expertise is his work with the astronomical elements of al-Khwarizmi which introduced algebra to the world. Another important translating piece completed by Adelard was Euclid’s Elements which was the main stay of geometry in western society for numerous centuries.
Adelard of Bath was instrumental in introducing Arabic sciences to the western world. He was able to introduce the abacus and was one of the first people to use the Arabic number system.
Throughout his travels he was influenced by the work of many incredible scholars such as Plato. His most famous piece of original work was entitled Natural Elements. The book was written in Platonic style which answered questions with another question.
The book brought 76 questions of the natural world into play. These items were atmospheric pressure, the shape of the earth which he believed to be round, and gravity.
Adelard of Bath also believed in many other aspects of science. He thought animals had a soul because they could make judgments. He was also one of the first people to produce a written account of distilling alcohol.
Another important work by Adelard was called De eodem et diverso. In this book he supports philosophy and intellectual reason.
He devoted much of the book to the seven liberal arts. There are discussions on Plato and Aristotle which appear to try to reconcile the differences between the two famous philosophers.
Adelard of Bath played a large part in introducing great Greek philosophers, Arabic scientists, and scientific knowledge to the western world. His translation of books from different languages into Latin influenced education for centuries. He died around 1152 C.E. in his birth town of Bath.