When the yellow's on the broom
The new industries generated traffic on the roads, as did the activities of the medieval church, with its promotion of the pilgrimage – 'intended to be a microcosm of the journey through life', according to the cultural historian Christopher Frayling. But also on the roads were the scholars, travelling to access the writings of the Greeks and Romans which were emerging from the Muslim world, along with the texts of Muslim scholars.
"Scholars all over Europe were desperate to make all known scientific and technical books available in translation," writes Jean Gimpel. "At Toledo, in Spain, translators were organized into teams that included Christians, Jews, and Moslems They produced Latin translations not only of Greek works but also of original works by Arab scholars, particularly in the fields of medicine, astronomy, arithmetic, algebra, and trigonometry."
"I hastened there to listen to the teachings of the wisest philosophers of this world," wrote one scholar of the time, Daniel de Morley. Among the travellers to Toledo was a young Scot called Michael, who had studied at Durham, Oxford and Paris. At Toledo he translated some of the works of Aristotle into Latin, and enabled them to be brought back again into circulation after a period of many hundreds of years. Michael Scot (as he was known) had a reputation in his native land for wizardry, and appears in Scottish Borders legends as the man who cleft the Eildon Hills in three. But part of the wizardry that he took back from Toledo was the system of formal logic of Aristotle.
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