Nicholas of Lynn

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Nicholas of Lynn or Lynne, also known in Latin as Nicolas de Linna, was an English astronomer of the 14th century.

Life[edit]

Nicholas was apparently born in the Norfolk (UK) port town of King's Lynn (then "Bishop's Lynn"), possibly as early as 1330, although the confirmed details of his career suggest that a date closer to 1360 is more likely. According to early 16th century literary historian John Bale, he became a Carmelite friar and moved to the university town of Oxford, where he developed a great reputation for his scientific work. In 1386, at the request of the powerful lord John of Gaunt, he published a Kalendarium of detailed astronomical tables covering the years 1387–1462.[1] It survives in sixteen manuscripts and one printed edition.[2] [1] Designed for use in the astrologically-based science of the time, the tables were very sophisticated, even including rules for synchronising medical treatment with astronomical cycles, such as the right phases of the moon for blood-letting. His contemporary Geoffrey Chaucer wrote very approvingly of Nicholas' work, and made much use of it.[3] [1] Nicholas was also supposedly an excellent musician.[citation needed] Later in life he moved to Cambridge, where he was promoted to subdeacon in 1410 and to deacon in 1411. The date of his death is unknown.[1]

Reputation[edit]

What he was not, as far as any early biographers were concerned, was an explorer. The identification of Nicholas as the Franciscan (Minorite) friar who wrote a text called the Inventio Fortunata, allegedly describing a voyage to Greenland and beyond, was first proposed by Richard Hakluyt, the late 16th-century historian of exploration. Hakluyt based the claim on information from mathematician John Dee who, in turn, relied on information obtained from the Dutch cartographer Gerardus Mercator.[1] [4] Nicholas, however, was a Carmelite, not a Minorite, and if Hakluyt and Dee had read Bale (rather than apparently basing their identification on Chaucer's praise for Nicholas' work with astrolabes), they would have discovered an entry about a Franciscan friar named Hugh of Ireland, who wrote "a certain journey in one volume".[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Eisner, Sigmund (2004). "Lynn, Nicholas (fl. 1386–1411)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 20 Aug 2017.
  2. ^ Kuczynski, Michael P. (1987). "A New Manuscript of Nicholas of Lynn's 'Kalendarium': MS Chapel Hill 522, fols. 159r–202r". Traditio (43): 299–319. doi:10.1017/S0362152900012575.
  3. ^ Benson, C.D. (1984). "The Astrological Medicine of Chaucer's Physician and Nicholas of Lynn's Kalendarium". American Notes and Queries. 22: 62–66.
  4. ^ Oleson, T.J. (1979). "Nicholas of Lynn". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Retrieved 20 Aug 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • "The Kalendarium of Nicholas of Lynn" by Nicholas of Lynn, edited and introduced by Sigmund Eisner. University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia, 1980. ISBN 0-8203-0449-2
  • Sykes, Egerton. Nicolas of Lynn: The Explorer of the Arctic 1330–1390. Markham House, 1969. ISBN 0-900993-06-5.