World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Byrhtferth of Ramsey

Article Id: WHEBN0005483364
Reproduction Date:

Title: Byrhtferth of Ramsey  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Æthelred the Unready, Old English literature, 1011, Ælfgifu, wife of Eadwig, Atom (time), Historia Regum
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Byrhtferth of Ramsey

Byrhtferth (c. 970 – c. 1020) was a priest and monk who lived at Ramsey Abbey. He had a deep impact on the intellectual life of later Anglo-Saxon England and wrote many computistic, hagiographic, and historical works.[1][2] He was a leading man of science and best known as the author of many different works (although he may not have written many of them).[3] His Manual (Enchiridion), a scientific textbook, is Byrhtferth's best known work.[4]

He studied with Abbo of Fleury, who was invited to Ramsey Abbey by Oswald of Worcester to help teach. Abbo was there during the period 985-987, and became a large influence on Byhrtferth who was interested in the same studies, such as history, logic, astronomy, and mathematics.[5] We do not have contemporary biographies of Byrhtferth, and the only information we have is the one in his Manual and his Preface.


Byrhtferth's signature appears on only two unpublished works, his Latin and Old English Manual, and Latin Preface. He also composed a Latin life of St. Egwin, compiled a chronicle of Northumbrian history in the 990's, wrote a Latin life of Oswald of Worcester (the Vita Oswaldi) about the year 1000, and it is suggested that he is responsible for the early sections of the Historia regum, or History of the Kings, attributed to Simeon of Durham. This last attribution is based on the similarity of the style between Simeon and Byrhtferth.[2][5] The last of Byrhtferth's works is an unsigned fragment of Old English text on computus in the Manuscript BL Cotton Caligula A.xv, fols. MS 142v-143r. It is attributed to him because of the stylistic similarity to the Old English that he wrote in Manual.[2]

Byrhtferth has also been credited with Latin commentaries on Bede's De natura rerum and De temporum ratione (first attributed to him by John Herwagen) and a Vita S. Dunstani signed "B" (first attributed to him by Jean Mabillon).[3] However, many scholars argue that these works were not written by Byrhtferth, but instead were a compilation of material by several writers in the late ninth and early tenth centuries. This is argued because of the smooth, polished style of these works in comparison with the styles of the only signed works Manual and Preface.[3]



Bodl. Ashmole MS 328 preserves Byrhtferth's Latin Enchiridion, or Manual. It is written in Latin and Old English and the largest part is that of a computus similar to the one in Preface. It touches on the belief that the divine order of the universe can be perceived through the study of numbers and can be of great reference for the study of medieval number symbolism.[2] It also contains treatises on rhetorical and grammatical subjects, a table of weights and measures and three theological tracts on the ages of the world, the loosing of Satan and the eight capital sins.[6]


External links

  • Anonymous life of Oswald (in Latin), pg. 399 ff.

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.