Bachelor - Thesis


Concepts of Knowledge as presented in the personal notebook of Albert Behaim in the context of the scientific development at the 13th century papal court

Philipp Winkler
This thesis explores the so-called “Brief- und Memorialbuch” of Albert Behaim, a personal notebook compiled by this 13th century Bavarian cleric. It collects a large number of manifold texts which, besides letters, poems and religious writings, also include notes dealing with scientific topics like stones, minerals, textiles and other natural materials and, above all, medicine, astrology and mantics, fields of knowledge in which Albert Behaim obviously took a great interest. In order to obtain a better understanding of these texts, the concepts of medicine, astrology and mantics that prevailed in the Middle Ages are briefly outlined. Subsequently, the respective notes are inspected and examined individually. This is done against the background of the emergence of a great interest in various natural sciences at the papal court of the 13th century and the fact that Albert Behaim was obviously influenced by as well as forming part of this development. Taking these inquiries into account, one can correct the picture that historiography has painted of Albert Behaim as a fanatic apocalypticist who saw his struggle against Frederick II in the context of an approximate end of the world and rather see him as a person devoted to multifaceted knowledge and science instead. In particular, his preoccupation with prognostic techniques and writings thus seems less of an effort to calculate the imminent end of the world than the passion of a cleric who was utterly fascinated by these mysterious practices.

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