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Gerard of Cremona (c. 1114-87)

Gerard was an Italian translator whose Latin translations of Arabic philosophical, mathematical and medical texts were hugely influential in medieval European universities.

Gerard was born in Cremona, Italy, but travelled to Toledo in Spain to continue his studies in mathematics and philosophy. Since 1085, Toledo had no longer been part of the Islamic empire, but it remained a multicultural city, with a large Jewish and Muslim population. When he arrived there (sometime before the 1140s) Gerard learned Arabic in order to access Arabic texts, and became a translator.

Over 80 translations into Latin have been attributed to Gerard, although since many early editions did not name the translator it is possible that he was in charge of a school of translators. Latin versions of encyclopedias by Al-RaziAl-Zahrawi and Ibn Sina all came from Gerard or his school. Together with earlier translations by Constantine the African, these formed the basis for medical education in Europe until the 1500s.

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Bibliography

C H Haskins, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century (Cambridge, Massachuetts: Harvard University Press 1927)

R Lemay, 'Gerrard of Cremona' in C C Gillespie (ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York: Schribner’s Sons, 1978)

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