Seb Falk, “The Light Ages? Reconstructing the Practices of Late Medieval Astronomy”

HOS Colloquium
Event date: 
November 23, 2020 - 12:00pm
Seb Falk
Cambridge University
Seminar Series: 
History of Science Colloquium
Co-Sponsored by: 
Medieval Studies
By Invitation Only

The Light Ages? Reconstructing the Practices of Late Medieval Astronomy

The Middle Ages were a time of wonder. They gave us the first universities, the first eyeglasses and the first mechanical clocks as medieval thinkers sought to understand the world around them, from the passing of the seasons to the stars in the sky.

In this book, we walk the path of medieval science with a real-life guide, a fourteenth-century monk named John of Westwyk - inventor, astrologer, crusader - who was educated in England's grandest monastery and exiled to a clifftop priory. Following the traces of his life, we learn to see the natural world through Brother John's eyes: navigating by the stars, multiplying Roman numerals, curing disease and telling the time with an astrolabe.

An enthralling story of the struggles and successes of an ordinary man and an extraordinary time, The Light Ages conjures up a vivid picture of the medieval world as we have never seen it before.


Seb Falk is a historian, teacher, broadcaster and historical consultant. Seb teaches medieval history and history of science at Cambridge University, where he was a Fellow of Girton College from 2016 to 2019. He specialises in the history of astronomy, navigation and mathematics - theories and technologies - from their ancient origins to modern developments.

Seb received his B.A. in History and Spanish from Oxford University, and an M.Phil. in History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge.  He stayed at Cambridge for a Ph.D., completing his thesis on late medieval astronomical instruments in 2016. (

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