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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).>br>Volume I. From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance.

VIII. The Norman Conquest

§ 3. The Wisdom of the East

In a less obvious way, it gained by the consequent intercourse with the continent that brought our wandering scholars into connection with the wisdom of the east. It is not to be forgotten, for instance, that, for three or four hundred years, that is to say, from about the ninth to about the twelfth century, Mohammadism, under the rule of enlightened caliphs in the east and in the west, fostered learning and promoted the study of the liberal arts at a time when many of the Christian kingdoms of Europe were in intellectual darkness. Harun ar-Rashid was a contemporary of Alcuin, and he and his successors made Baghdad and the cities of Spain centres of knowledge and storehouses of books. The Aristotelian philosophy, which had so commanding an influence over the whole of the religious thought of the west during the Middle Ages, was known prior to the middle of the thirteenth century, chiefly through Latin translations based upon Arabic versions of Aristotle; and the attachment of the Arabs to the study of mathematics and astronomy is too well known to call for comment. Our own connection with Mohammadan learning during the period of its European predominance is exemplified in the persons of Michael Scot; of Robert the Englishman or Robert de Retines who first translated the Coran into Latin; of Daniel of Morley, East Anglian astronomer, scholar of Toledo and importer of books; and of Adelard or Aethelard of Bath, who, in many wanderings through eastern and western lands, acquired learning from Greek and Arab, who translated Euclid and who showed his love of the quest for knowledge in other than purely mathematical ways in his philosophical treatise De Eodem et Diverso, an allegory in which Philocosmia, or the Lust of the World, disputes with Philosophia for the body and soul of the narrator.