Luke Demaitre – Archanum de reductione geomancie ad orbem: Another Side of Bernard de Gordon?


Event Date: 26 May 2012
Royal Holloway, University of London
11 Bedford Sq
London WC1E 6DP

The Department of History Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Medical Prognosis in the Middle Ages

Luke Demaitre (University of Virginia)
Archanum de reductione geomancie ad orbem: Another Side of Bernard de Gordon?

By virtue of its calibre and reputation, Bernard’s Liber pronosticorum seu de diebus criticis not only eclipses most of his acknowledged writings, but it also casts doubt on some minor works which have been attributed to him.  One of these is identified in the explicit as ‘the translation of Bernard of Gourdon, physician’, and it bears the title, Archanum or, The Secret of Almighty God revealed to Ptolemy.  It is easy to ignore or undervalue this text on geomancy because it lacks a known source and cross references and, most significantly, because it seems foreign to the ‘conventional’ astrology in Bernard’s computation of critical days.
The aim of this paper is to confirm the authenticity of the attribution, to sketch the context of the translation, to suggest that the effort may reveal a hitherto unseen side of Bernard, and to argue that he chose the Archanum as a complement to the Liber pronosticorum.  A careful comparison of both texts enables us to identify the overlaps as well as the differences between, respectively, divining a fortuna and predicting the course of a fever.  Indeed, the collation illuminates two sides of Bernard’s teaching (and/or practice), and it invites further discussion about the moment and manner in which he and other physicians changed hats.



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