Welcome to Bartholomew's World!

Bartholomew Who?

Bartholomew, or Bartholomeus Anglicus, was a thirteenth-century, English Franciscan who designed an incredibly popular encyclopedia for the simple, the unpolished, and the poor people like himself -- so that they could find what they were looking for quickly.

Bartholomew's De rerum proprietatibus (On the properties of things) covered all there was to know for people who could not manage to read all the seemingly infinite books on every particular subject. It was a short cut with brief introductions to lots of subjects.

Like Bartholomew's encyclopedia, "Bartholomew's World" is an introduction: an introduction to the world of medieval scholasticism with articles on many of the same topics Bartholomew covered.

What authors are introduced?

Here you'll meet not just Bartholomew, but Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon, Bonaventure, Robert Grosseteste, Richard Rufus, and John Duns Scotus: the principal thirteenth-century scholastic authors. 

Sadly this splendid group is restricted to men, so we have included a few women. Brigid of Sweden, Hildegard of Bingen, and Gertrude the Great are not scholastics, but reading about them and their works helps to illuminate the scholastic world.

Islam and Aristotle: the Foundations of Scholasticism

From the great world of medieval Islam, without which the medieval Christian scholastic tradition could not have flourished, we have borrowed Avicenna, Averroes, Alfarabi, and Algazel.

Also from the Islamic world is a great Jewish philosopher to whom Western scholasticism is greatly indebted: Maimonides.

Missing but most important of all is Aristotle, the classical Greek author whose works shaped medieval scholasticism. Read more about who is here and who is not.

Latin Scholastic Texts: Translated and Untranslated

Many of the works of our fabulous thirteenth-century scholastic authors are only available in Latin. In our materials, you will find hundreds of texts to read, some translated and some untranslated. A few are totally wacky. Others are deep and philosophically challenging. Some texts are very difficult, such as those by Duns Scotus. Others will seem, at least at first, transparently clear, such as those by Thomas Aquinas. Every text is exciting in itself and for the insights it offers into the medieval world.

What you'll learn

Studying medieval scholasticism is an important part of the path to understanding the foundations of modern thought and modern science.

It will help you develop skills in grammar, logic, Latin all skills that Bartholomew's poor, simple, unpolished friends worked hard to acquire.

If you consult the paleography (old handwriting) lessons, you will even learn something about medieval scripts.

Perhaps surprisingly, your English vocabulary will also improve by using the Etymology exercises offered with each lesson.

The World of Thirteenth-Century Scholasticsm

You will see fabulous manuscripts, and you will get some idea of how thirteenth-century Europeans thought the world worked:

  • Why angels fell
  • What happens when chameleons are cut up
  • Why gold is made of sulphur
  • Much, much more!

We hope you will enjoy exploring Bartholomew's World and that it will lead you to learn more about this fascinating subject on your own and in class.