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Fit for a King: Decoding the Great Sloane Astrolabe and Other English Astrolabes with “Quatrefoil” Retes

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The great Sloane astrolabe in the British Museum is the largest and most important of all medieval English instruments and yet its history is completely lost. In this paper, evidence from its various engravings is used to show that it is likely to have been commissioned, ca. 1326, by Richard de Bury as a teaching tool for Prince Edward of Windsor who was soon to become King Edward III. Comparisons are made with two illuminated manuscripts, the “Milemete Treatise” and a copy of the Secretum Secretorum, which were also used in the Prince’s education. Two other medieval astrolabes, now in Liège and in the London Science Museum, are believed to be closely associated with the Sloane instrument and derived from it.

Affiliations: 1: Independent Scholar, Orchard View, Tye Lane Flowton, Suffolk, ip8 4ldUK


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