De Sacrobosco's 'De Sphera' Manuscript

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This 'Tractatus De Sphera' and other tracts is a parchment manuscript consisting of 33 folios. The main text constitutes one of the most famous fundamental tracts on astronomy and cosmography being circulated from the 13th to the 17th century. It is based on Ptolemy and discusses the terrestrial globe, the rising and setting of stars, and the orbs and movements of planets. It is a partly palimpsest with traces of erased text still visible. The texts are written in various minuscule hands and corrected by later hands. Headings and paragraph marks are in red, and the text is accompanied by diagrams in red or red and black. On the back is written 'Liber Astro/logic / M.S.'

Administrative / Biographical History

Johannes De Sacrobosco (otherwise John of Holywood, or Halifax), is thought to have been born in Yorkshire and he settled in Paris around 1220. He was a mathematician and astronomer. He wrote texts on arithmetic, astronomy and cosmography. He died either in 1244 or in 1256.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to all registered researchers

Acquisition Information

The manuscript was formerly in the Graves collection, no.3496, bequeathed to the Library in 1870.

Other Finding Aids

'A Descriptive Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Library of University College London', by Dorothy K. Coveney, London, 1935.