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Geography is better than divinity: the Bible and medieval geographical thought.

Towards the end of the fourth century, a Galician woman, likely named Egeria, travelled to the Holy Land. (l) According to the seventh-century hermit Valerius, Egeria undertook this arduous journey after reading the books of the Old and New Testaments. There, he records, she noted all the descriptions of the holy wonders of the world, and compiled a list of the other regions, provinces, cities, mountains, and deserts described in the Sacred Text. (2)

While abroad, Egeria composed an account of her experiences apparently for the edification of her sisters at home. (3) Though the document that has survived is incomplete, it is clear that Egeria did not aspire to represent the places through which she passed according to the standards of geographical reportage advocated by either Strabo at the end of the first century or Ptolemy of Alexandria in the second. Indeed, she shows little interest in the relative location of the places she describes at all: she rarely notes details such as the length of time it took for her to travel between places and only occasionally records the distance of her journeys in Roman miles. Instead, the descriptions she provides of the lands through which she passed are generally superficial. Resolving, for instance, to travel from Jerusalem to Antioch, she states simply "and so this was done, with God willing." (4) Continuing on to the shrine of St. Thomas in Edessa, she notes that having crossed the Euphrates she set out once more, stopping only at various rest stations before coming to the city of Batanis, "then setting out from there once more, we came to Edessa, in the name of Christ, our God." (5) Such sparsely detailed accounts are typical. But it is not just the minutiae of travel that did not interest her. She has little to say about the nature of the topography she traversed, nor does she concern herself with describing any of the people she presumably must have encountered along the way. For her, topography is simply what links one sacred site to another; it needs no elaboration or reflection in itself, for this would detract from her real object: the places where the divine touched the temporal.

Of course, Egeria's experience of the world is conditioned by Scripture; it suggests to her the sites she should visit and furnishes her with a framework into which to assimilate and, later, to relate her particular experience. Coming down from Mount Sinai, for instance, she came to a place she identifies as Horeb, the site to which the prophet Elias came after he had fled from King Achab. There, she records, the Book of Kings states that God spoke to the prophet, saying "What are you doing here, Elias?" (6) After examining the nearby cave where the prophet had apparently lived during this period, Egeria and her party prayed fervently and then sought to understand the nature of their experience more fully by reading the relevant verses from the Sacred Book. This was their usual practice, she notes, "for this was always our greatest hope, that wherever we arrived, the appropriate passage from Scripture would always be read." (7) Quite consciously, then, Egeria and her fellow pilgrims tried to assimilate the various places they visited into the framework of sacred history furnished by the Bible; for them, it was this that endowed places with significance and set them apart from other terrestrial locations. With Scripture as their guidebook, their experience of space was decidedly heterogeneous; it determined what was appropriate to be observed and what was fit to be recounted for posterity. As a result, the narrative of Egeria's journey proceeds from one terrestrial marker of the divine to the next. For Egeria, one foreign place is not as good as any other.

Bur while Egeria's account of her journey through the Holy Land may seem antithetical to the critical standards of modem geographical reportage, the idea of space as qualitatively homogeneous, stretched out evenly on a mathematically derived graticule, is an Enlightenment conceit, forged out of the exigencies of early modem commerce. As such, it is an expression of a decidedly particular set of priorities. Indeed, it is important to keep in mind that there is no inherently correct way to measure, classify, and order space--there is no transcendent form of geography latent in the aether in which those who endeavour to "write earth" somehow seek to participate. That the subject matter of physical geography undergoes no significant change from the perspective of historical time does not mean that the content and purpose of those discourses that purport to describe it must be the same. Truth, after all, does not inhere to objects of perception. Almost a century ago, the pioneering historian of geographical thought, John Kirtland Wright, cautioned that both the historian and the geographer ought never forget that it is the human mind, and not a given geographical feature, that determines the content and nature of the discourse that seeks to explain it. No scientific law can ever predict that when a particular set of geographical conditions exists, certain geographical ideas are inevitable. Rather, it is the human imagination that determines what physical, environmental, or human features are most appropriate to be observed, and it is the human imagination that finds patterns and postulates relationships between them. And far from being a wholly dispassionate actor in this process, the human imagination is conditioned by a litany of cultural factors. (8)

From their earliest days, historians have conceded that their temporal vantage point informs their understanding of past events in a crucial and fundamental fashion. But precisely the same is true for the understanding of past attempts to "write earth." Teasing out the antecedents of Enlightenment geographical practice, with its underlying imperialistic and orientalizing propensities, or endeavouring to find anticipatory expressions of nineteenth-century nationalism, constructed around abstract notions of the state as a spatially defined--and recognizable--entity in a premodern account of the world is to court anachronism. There were, after all, no proto-geographers handing down tablets explaining to Egeria and her fellow medieval travellers what features they should observe and what styles of description they should use to render them identifiable and relevant to their putative readers. (9)

Instead, the way a society collects, organizes, and assesses information about the world and the things in it is a function of the questions it asks, and these questions are culturally adduced. "The 'view from nowhere,'" as David Livingstone has recently observed, "turns out to have always been a 'view from somewhere."' (10) If experience is not transparent and observation always theory-laden, then, it is important to determine the ends towards which any account of the world and its inhabitants is crafted, for this determines the framework into which all particular spatial data is assimilated. In fact, it is the final cause of any spatial discourse that determines what phenomena are fit to be observed, and constructs their significance by translating raw spatial data into culturally relevant geographical information.

In the Middle Ages, of course, few people travelled very far. Of those who did, only a fraction ventured beyond the bounds of Christendom. Thus, there was no pressing need for specific or detailed descriptions of the world at large, a fact underscored by the absence of terrestrial maps from the extant corpus of medieval cartography. (11) Rather, what mattered were not the transitory things of this world, but the realm of the spiritual and the eternal--after all, it was this that constituted reality properly understood. In a letter to Paulinus written around 395, Saint Jerome made this point clear: when Christ meta Samaritan woman who asked him whether it was better to worship on Mount Gerizim or in Jerusalem, he replied that she should worship the Father in the spirit, for God's omnipotence ought not to be construed as limited to a narrow strip of land. (12) "The palace of heaven," he concludes, "opens equally whether from Britain or from Jerusalem, for 'the kingdom of God is within you."' (13)

Because of this emphasis on the spiritual over the terrestrial, the eternal over the transitory, much of the spatial intelligence of the Middle Ages was conceived through the lens of the sacred. More than any other paradigm, it was the sacred that constructed the medieval sense of space, produced its written, drawn, and imagined geographies, and helped people deduce the nature of the unknown. In this context, Scripture was vital--not only was it geography par excellence, it helped to construct knowledge about the world and to condition the way it was seen. Perhaps nowhere can this be seen more vividly than in some of the great masterpieces of the medieval cartographic art, for these mappae mundi were quite consciously organized around a logic that privileged the spiritual over the temporal. Perceiving the world through the lens of the Sacred Text, using Scripture as an epistemological filter to winnow all spacio-historical information, the resultant data were then projected onto the map's graticule according to their relative eschatological significance. (14)

In this sense, it is clear that in the Middle Ages, Scripture conditioned geographical thought in at least three ways. First, it furnished Christians with a series of fixed spatial referents relative to which other topographic features could be situated. In much the same way that the historical events related in Scripture operated as temporal markers delineating the trajectory of universal history, so these locales were nodal points in space, for they had been purposely set out from the rest of the surface of the earth by virtue of their inclusion in the Sacred Narrative, and so clearly must have a measure of transcendent significance. In this sense, they were not so much places as event-places, for they were points where the divine touched the physical. (15) But while the planet was dotted with these particular points, taking a broader gaze, the world as a whole might also be construed as an event-place, for it was the stage upon which the whole dynamic of sacred history was to be enacted. As such, knowledge of its hydrography, its various regions, deserts, and mountain ranges could be employed to clarify or even supplement the divinely authored message implied in particular Biblical events. Second, as a created thing itself, the world was both a physical manifestation of its creator within the bounds of time, and part of the process of history. Indeed, from the very beginning it had been made to suffer for the sins of humanity and, quite literally, bore the scars to prove it. Consequently, specific places could appropriately be construed as signs written across the landscape by the hand of God. It was incumbent upon the good Christian, then, to read and interpret these vestiges of the divine. In so doing, though, Scripture suggested a set of interpretative principles that defined qualitatively the nature of those parts of the world as yet untravelled by Europeans, thereby making the whole earth in the most important sense both known and comprehensible.

Finally, the individual created things of the world--its creata--were themselves particular expressions both of God's benevolence and integral parts of the unfolding of Providence. As such, in a manner akin to extra-Scriptural history, such creata might profitably be glossed, treated almost as a second form of revelation. Scripture, then, provides the ultimate framework for the assimilation of spatial intelligence but does so by viewing the world as an expression of the divine in the temporal. The result is a wholly coherent geography, the explanatory pretensions of which are firmly anchored in the intellectual culture of the day. But when the fundamental premise informing the would-be geographer is that of the omnipotence of God, then, quite literally, anything is possible.

I: The World of the Bible

Despite its importance as a source for geographical knowledge, Scripture actually has very little concrete to say about the basic shape of the world beyond the Holy Land. Indeed, what specific detail it does provide was often not construed literally in the Middle Ages. 4 Esdras 6:42, for instance, suggests that there is six times as much land in the world as water, while Ezekiel 5:5 places Jerusalem at the centre of the world, with all the other lands encircling it. (16) Above this circle, Psalm 103:2 and Isaiah 40:22 portray the Lord as stretching out the heavens like a tent. Taken together, these passages suggest that the world is a flat disc, the dry land surrounded by a body of water. Despite this, the idea that the world was flat was never seriously contemplated by any medieval thinker. (17) In his Literal Commentary on Genesis, for instance, Saint Augustine addressed directly the apparent contradiction between the idea of heaven as a vault and that of a spherical universe. Even taking these verses literally, Augustine argues, it is clear that the sense Scripture wished to convey was simply that the heavens were situated above the world; they were not intended to imply anything about the shape of the earth itself. (18) In the early seventh century, the encyclopedist Isidore of Seville made it clear that he too considered both the universe and the earth to be spherical, and his text remained a fundamental source for knowledge about the natural world through the Middle Ages. (19) But with the translation of the entire Aristotelian corpus in the second hall of the twelfth century, medieval thinkers had access to a whole new body of learning that affirmed the sphericity of the earth. In On the Heavens, for instance, Aristotle noted that people can clearly see the shape of the earth during an eclipse, for at that time the shadow of the earth appears in the sky and is quite plainly round. (20)

Outside the Holy Land, Scripture has most to say about the lands of the east, for the East was the terrestrial location of the beginning of time, and, as such, was the region that gave meaning and purpose to all time and space. To most readers of the Latin Bible, Genesis implied that at creation God had planted the garden of Eden in the eastern regions. (21) Despite this, the specific geographic location of the garden was a matter of controversy well into the seventeenth century. Though Augustine argued that as a result of the Fall its specific location had been lost to humanity, many followed the suggestion implicit in Ezekiel 28:1316 that it could be found at the top of a mountain. (22) One of the earliest proponents of this notion was the fourth-century theologian Ephraem, described by Jerome as a deacon of the Church of Edessa. To Ephraem it was because Paradise had been situated on a mountain that it had been saved from the flood, for the waters rose only to the very lowest levels of the garden. (23) This idea seems to have passed into the Latin tradition through the Venerable Bede in the early eighth century, for in his Hexaemeron he also notes that the waters of the flood, which covered the entire surface of the land to a great depth, were unable to penetrate the bounds of the terrestrial Paradise. (24) In the twelfth century, the idea was incorporated into the Glossa ordinaria. Wherever Paradise might be in the east, it was separated from the lands inhabited by humanity by an ocean and mountains; it was located on a high place, reaching up to the celestial sphere that contained the moon, and this location allowed it to remain unaffected by the flood. (25) To the schoolmen of the early universities, the Glossa's notion of Paradise on a mountain that lofted to the circle of the moon not only explained why it was spared from the flood, but suggested why the creata there were free from corruption, for its altitude meant that the garden was located above the sub-lunar realm of unstable air. (26)

By virtue of its inclusion in the GLossa, this idea became a commonplace through the high Middle Ages; indeed, neither Dante nor the author of the spurious travelogue attributed to Sir John Mandeville felt obliged to defend their decision to locate Paradise at the summit of a mountain. (27) Nevertheless, the idea was not without its critics. In the thirteenth century, it was summarily dismissed by Thomas Aquinas. (28) A century later, Ranulph Higden argued that it was patently absurd, the conceit of those of "shallow understanding and little experience," for were Paradise to reach to the circle of the moon, it could not contain either earth nor water, for according to contemporary physics these heavier elements would naturally fall away to their proper place in the realms below. But more than this, were Paradise actually located in the sphere of the moon, this would place it within the natural demesne of the element of fire. Far from keeping its inhabitants free from corruption, then, such a situation would actually destroy them. (29)

Beyond the debate over the location of Paradise, Genesis also sketched the basic hydrography of the world to medieval geographers, for through the centre of the garden flowed a stream that divided into four branches, each of which became a noble river. The first of these Scripture calls Phison, and was commonly identified as the Ganges, an association handed down to the later Middle Ages through the Glossa. (30) The fiver Gehon, described as encircling the land of Ethiopia, was generally associated with the Nile. (31) The Tigris and the Euphrates both flowed around Mesopotamia. Though these rivers flowed out from Paradise, as Augustine argued, it was impossible to trace them back to their source, for after leaving Paradise, they went underground only rising to the surface some distance away. (32)

Scripture also has much to say about the qualitative nature of some parts of the world. Creation has made the lands of the East, for example, inherently richer than those of the rest of the world. Genesis notes that Havilah, a land encircled by the Phison, is full of gold, bdellium, and onyx. In a letter to a young Toulousian monk named Rusticus, Jerome went further: the river Phison flows from Paradise, bringing with it an assortment of fine pigments and causing carbuncles, emeralds, and shining pearls to be brought forth out of the land, to the envy of noble ladies. (33) Elsewhere in the East, Scripture situates the fabulously wealthy kingdom of Ophir. In the time of Solomon, King Hiram of Tyre dispatched his navy to Ophir. There his mariners gathered 420 talents of gold, which he gave to Solomon for the construction of the temple at Jerusalem (1 Kgs 9:11 and 9:27-28). But gold was not all that Hiram's navy brought back from Ophir; it also transported wood from almung trees and all kinds of gems and precious stones (1 Kgs 10:11). As a result of these voyages--and a visit from the Queen of Sheba--Solomon was able to become not just the wisest king in the world, but the richest as well (See III Rg. 10:14 and 10:22-23). According to the Glossa, both Havilah and Ophir were parts of India. (34) Thus, not only was the East the site of humanity's original home, it was a region characterized by wealth and valuable exotica.

Though the specific geographical locales described by the historical books of the Bible must be substantive realities, they could also be construed as signs of higher truths by virtue of the fact that they in particular are singled out by the text for mention. As early as the first century, Philo of Alexandria offered an allegorical interpretation of the four rivers of Paradise in his "Questions and Answers on Genesis," equating them with the four virtues. (35) In the fourth century, this reading was further developed by Ambrose of Milan. The river Phison, he argues, stands for prudence by virtue of its association with gold, for elsewhere, Scripture refers to wise discoveries as gold. (36) The Phison may also be regarded as a figure of wisdom, for it flows to the very ends of the earth, just as it is through Wisdom that all men have been redeemed. But it is clear that Ambrose is not thinking of the river as it exists within the confines of Paradise, for he notes that the Phison is the first river that a man would encounter were he to leave Paradise. That is to say, proceeding westward from the world's first place, the Ganges is its first river, running across the breadth of creation, following the diurnal course of the sun. Indeed, the specific terrestrial location of each of the rivers as they exist in the fallen world is vital to Ambrose's interpretation of them. The river Gehon, or Nile, stands for temperance, for it was while the Israelites were in Egypt that the law was laid down, and so it was on the shores of this river that it was first observed; as a result, both the law and the river can properly be said to have consumed bodily sin. The Tigris, which flows through the lands of the Assyrians, is the fastest river and so represents fortitude, for like fortitude, it tosses aside everything that stands in its path. Finally, the Euphrates stands for justice. Significantly, Ambrose notes, Scripture does not make clear through which lands this river passes; this, he concludes, must be because true justice is indivisible. (38) But from this association of the rivers with the virtues, the saint proceeds to offer a second interpretation, for he finds concord between the four cardinal virtues and the four great ages of the world: the age of wisdom (Phison) runs from creation to the flood; the age of chastity (Gehon) is the age of the Patriarchs; the age of fortitude (Tigris) is the age of the law of Moses; the age of justice (Euphrates) began with the coming of Christ. (39) In this sense, Ambrose is weaving time, space, and morality together, transforming sacred history into a vector.

In his first attempt at compiling a comprehensive commentary on Genesis, made upon his return to Carthage in 388, Augustine offered a reading of the four rivers similar to that proposed by his mentor. (40) But, unhappy with what he saw as his over-reliance on the figurative senses in this first commentary, some thirteen years later Augustine returned to Genesis to offer an extended reading of the book that highlighted its historicity. Nevertheless, even in this literal commentary, he prefaced his remarks by stating categorically that no Christian would dare suggest that the narrative ought not also to be construed according to the figurative senses. (41) As he pointed out in City of God, there is no prohibition against such an exegesis as long as it is not construed as undermining the literal truth of the book. (42) Such a reading of the rivers of Paradise was given wide dissemination through the High Middle Ages by virtue of its inclusion in the Glossa ordinaria. (43)

However, there is a difference between glossing the sacred text tropologically and glossing the specific temporal realities it describes. That is to say, in offering their spiritual interpretation of the four rivers, both Ambrose and Augustine have slipped outside the boundaries of the text itself and into the temporal realm of creation; they have blurred the distinction between Genesis 2:10-14 and the rivers Phison, Gehon, Tigris, and Euphrates as terrestrial entities. In so doing, they have opened the door to an allegorical reading of other geographical locales described in the Bible. This does not seem to have troubled Augustine, for in reference to Christ's parable about the good Samaritan, in which a man is described as being attacked by thieves while travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho, Augustine asserts that the account demands that these places on earth be understood spiritually, although in accord with history they are to be found on earth. (44) Of course, some places described in Scripture readily lend themselves to such a reading. Jerome, for instance, finds the development of the name Jerusalem to prove the doctrine of the Trinity and the progression of sacred history as a whole. (45) In the ninth century, Rabanus Maurus argued that allegorically Jerusalem could be understood as standing for the current church; tropologically it stood for the faithful soul, while anagogically it was the celestial home. (46) Elsewhere in the same tract, he offered an interpretation of various significant places mentioned in Scripture.

But just as a medieval writer of history often sought to contextualize the central action of a chronicle within the universal schema of time furnished by Scripture, so those treating the particular locales of the world sought to locate them according to their relationship to the divine. That is to say, they sought to treat places not according to their temporal manifestations, for these are subject to change; rather, they sought to locate them relative to their eternal significance. But at a basic level, all places are part of sacred history and have a transcendent significance, for they are all part of creation and as such made by God. But places are not just effects of God, for in a very real sense, as Scripture makes clear, God is everywhere. As Jeremiah states, there is nowhere to hide from the Lord, for he fills both heaven and earth (Jer 23:24). However, Genesis's account of the repopulating of the world after the flood provided those who thought about places with a more sophisticated scheme for the classification and assimilation of spatial intelligence. After the flood, Noah divided up the world between his sons, and through them and their progeny all the nations of the world were created (Gn 10:32). Although Scripture does not specify the land to which each of the seventy-three named sons and grandsons was heir, towards the end of the first century Josephus endeavoured to associate them with specific regions: Japheth and his fifteen sons and grandsons received lands in both Europe and Asia; Shem and his thirty-one descendants were given lands in Africa and Asia. Ham and his twenty-seven descendents, however, received only lands in Africa. (47) These associations were later adopted by Jerome. (48) In the seventh century, Isidore was topographically more specific, arguing that Japheth's lineage generally inhabited a region west of a line running north from the Taurus Mountains to the middle part of Asia towards the north. (49) Shem's lineage inherited a geographical area running from the furthest reaches of the East to the land of the Phoenicians. (50) Finally, Ham's progeny had been bequeathed the region bounded in the east by Sidon and in the west by the Straits of Cadiz. (51) By the time of the compilation of the Glossa, though, these more involved descriptions had been reduced to a simple statement of identification: Shem received Asia, Ham received Africa, and Europe was allotted to Japheth. (52)

This detailed tradition associating each member of Noah's lineage with a different terrestrial location, combined with other terrestrial referents from Scripture, served to provide those endeavouring to understand the places of the world with a ready-made graticule onto which to translate their particular spatial intelligence. Not only did this grid serve to order data about the world, it endowed places with meaning by locating them relative to markers of the divine and the eternal; under such an explanatory schema, place was contextualized against sacred history. By so doing, it turned raw terrestrial data into culturally significant and useful geographical information. In a sense, this was perhaps the best way for geographical knowledge to be structured, for as all medieval thinkers knew, the particular created things of the world were mired in temporality and so constantly changing. (53) Those who sought to understand the places, then, could see them not in terms of their temporal manifestations but as markers pointing to a higher ultimate reality.

In his Etymologies, Isidore of Seville often used figures from sacred history to contextualise the places he described. In his treatment of the names of nations, for instance, he notes that the five sons of Shem were responsible for populating much of Asia: Elam's descendants founded a dynasty in Persia; Assur, the Assyrian empire; Arphaxat gave rise to the Chaldaeum peoples; Ludi founded Lydia; and Aram founded Syria. (54) Despite this, in the later section of the work, which he devoted to describing each of the regions of the world, he employed such a strategy only very occasionally. He noted, for instance, that Scythia is associated with Japheth's son, Magog, Thrace with his son Tiras, and perhaps the whole continent of Africa with Afer, the son of Madian, the son ofAbraham and Cetura. (55) Though he borrowed extensively from Isidore, Rabanus Maurus went further towards translating the places he described onto the grid of sacred history. Certainly, Judea is named after Judah; the city of Babylon was founded by the giant Nimrod, and Saba was named after Saba, the son of Chus. (56) But Rabanus's associations could also link a place to a specific event from sacred history. Thus, Mesopotamia is not only the region bounded by two of the rivers of Paradise, it is the place where Jacob married his wife. (57) Likewise, the river Jordan is where Christ was baptized. (58) In linking places to the events described in Scripture, Rabanus is effectively employing much the same sense of spatial explanation as Egeria had five centuries earlier. However, his understanding of India was more complex. Aside from being the land through which the Ganges flows, the whole of India represents the primitive church in Judea. Just as India has gold, silver, and gems by virtue of its beneficent location under the rising sun, so the members of the early church had the gifts of wisdom, eloquence, and virtue. Likewise, just as India is home to an array of fierce beasts, so the early church had within it many persecutors and the poisonous teachings of heretics. (59) For Rabanus, India is connected allegorically to the history of the early church.

This tradition of associating places with markers from sacred history perhaps found its clearest expression in the work of the encyclopedists of the thirteenth century. Typical here is the Franciscan Bartholomaeus Anglicus, who compiled a work entitled On the Properties of Things in the middle decades of the century. This vast and comprehensive compendium was intended to provide its readers with an understanding of the properties of the said "things" so that they might better be able to interpret properly some of the more obscure allusions and figures in Scripture. (60) After chronicling matters divine and physical, in the fifteenth book of the work Bartholomaeus turned his attention to the subject of the provinces and regions of the world. In the very brief preface to the section, he states that he is only going to deal with those places about which Scripture makes some mention. (61) To his mind, then, all of the 175 places he describes in the section necessarily have some connection to sacred history. But while many of these associations are fairly obvious, especially those concerning places in the Holy Land or obviously related to Noah's progeny, others are more obscure. Persia, for instance, seems to have been included because 1 Maccabees 6:2 mentions that there used to be a city called Elymais there; Bartholomaeus notes that it was later renamed Persepolis. (62) Parthia, the "greatest region in Asia," is included because its ferocious beasts are those that were described by Daniel in his vision. (63) More tenuously, though, England is included solely by virtue of the fact that Bede records that Gregory the Great thought the inhabitants had the faces of angels! (64)

However, it was in the work of Roger Bacon that this way of understanding the world received its fullest theoretical expression. For Bacon, knowledge of geography was necessary in order to understand Scripture fully, for the Sacred Page is full of references to little-known regions, nations, deserts, mountains, and seas. Indeed, the exegete who reads about events that took place around the Jordan, in Jericho, Jerusalem, or the Valley of Jehoshaphat and has no conception of the nature of these places will not be able to penetrate even the very rind of Scripture. Rather, an exegete should seek to know the length, breadth, depth, and height of places, and acquaint himself with the qualities of every region, their softness, hardness, thickness, thinness, harshness, smoothness, aridity, and fluidity. Finally, he must bring to bear his knowledge of the colours, tastes, smells, beauties, ugliness, pleasantness, sterility, and fertility of the places in order to make sense of some of Scripture's more obscure allusions. (65) But in suggesting that the worthy exegete should harness every branch of knowledge in the service of biblical interpretation, Bacon was simply following the instructions Augustine had laid down in his On Christian Doctrine some eight centuries earlier, for in this work, the saint had argued forcefully that an ignorance of the nature and property of the things of creation impedes a proper and full understanding of Scripture. (66)

Yet Bacon went further than this, for be clearly considered that knowledge of the nature of a place would help the exegete penetrate through the letter of the Page to reach spiritual truth. As he points out, there can be no doubt that every corporeal road signifies a spiritual one and that corporeal places signify the ends of spiritual roads. Knowledge of places, then, prepares the way for the understanding of higher truths. The Jordan flows from north to south and lies to the east of Jerusalem; it symbolizes the whole world, for it empties into the Dead Sea, which stands for Hell. The Mount of Olives signifies the excellence of the spiritual life because of the excellent qualities of the mountain. Finally, the Valley of Jehoshaphat stands for humility because a valley is humble relative to the heights that surround it; indeed, this is implicit in the etymology of Jehoshaphat, for the word itself means "in the sight of the Lord." (67)

What is significant here is that these interpretations of Biblical places are based at least partly upon Bacon's knowledge of geography and his understanding of the qualities of different types of topography. From this conception of the spiritual sense of places Bacon is able to describe the whole progression of the life of the faithful in terms of an allegorical journey through the Holy Land. He who wishes to reach the heavenly Jerusalem should leave the Jordan behind him--that is, he should renounce the world. Then be should seek to fight against the urges of the flesh, or, in geographical terms, proceed as a penitent across the plain of Jericho. When he has conquered the world and the things of the flesh, he is fit to ascend to the excellence of the spiritual life, meaning that he is able to ascend the Mount of Olives. After this, he must cross the Valley of Jehoshaphat; in other words, he should live his life in perfect humility. Only then will he be able to enter the gates of Jerusalem. From such an understanding of places, Bacon is able to construct a pilgrimage across the breadth of the Holy Land that mirrors the progression of the faithful through the world. (68)

While most did not go as far as Bacon, by seeking to understand places by virtue of their relationship to sacred history, medieval scholars who concerned themselves with geography were not just offering an explanation of place: they were, by their own light, presenting the only real description of these locales. Indeed, by anchoring their sense of place upon the eternal, they were able to proffer a geography that was at once complete and sufficient, for it transcended the temporality of the world and invested particular spatial observations with universal significance. But just as in the hands of monastic historians, what constituted comprehensible sacred history could stray beyond the res gestae described in Scripture into the more ambiguous world of ostensibly secular events to which the true significance had not been attested by God, so those seeking to understand the world relative to the divine could move outside the limited resume of places mentioned in the Bible to embrace all the places apparently associated with the progress of the city of God.

II: Figures in the Landscape

Though Scripture provided medieval scholars with a graticule derived from sacred history that could translate particular spatial intelligence about the world into culturally relevant geographical information, it also conditioned spatial understanding in another way, for topography itself might be regarded as a tangible manifestation of the operation of Providence in time.

The most profound example of this is the qualitative change wrought by God across the breadth of creation as a consequence of original sin. As Genesis 3:1718 states, the very earth itself was cursed by virtue of humanity's transgression. The flowers, fruits, and beautiful trees of Eden were replaced by thorns and thistles; the terrain became harsh and unforgiving, and no longer gave forth its bounty without gruelling physical toil. As Augustine wrote in his earliest commentary on Genesis, it was not so much that the earth was punished for human transgressions--this would have been pointless. Rather, God undertook this profound reordering of the qualitative condition of creation to set an example before humanity. To Augustine, beholding the world and the unforgiving nature of its terrain would move people to turn themselves from sin to God's commandments. (69) As Augustine's contemporary Paulus Orosius observed in his highly influential Seven Books of History Against the Pagans, with the sin of humanity the whole of creation was changed: "with our inability to hold our intemperance in check, the world in which we live is punished through the loss of certain animals and the failure of its crops." (70) The very soil upon which humanity walks is a fallen entity, its very harshness and unforgiving nature signs of divine judgment.

Moreover, with the Fall parts of creation became inherently hostile to humanity. Plants became poisonous; animals that must previously have been harmless rebelled against their natural masters and became vicious. According to Augustine, this change in the nature of some creata was wrought by God either to inflict fear or suffering on the sinful, or to serve as a test for the faithful as had the lions for Daniel (Dn 6:7-23). (71) From this perspective, landscape and its occupants have been re-natured and are now things to be transcended. In this way, the very act of travel becomes a trial of faith, and a traveller's safe arrival at the intended destination proof of divine approbation.

But the consequences of original sin are certainly not the only examples of God etching his will into the surface of the earth in order to make his message apparent to humanity for the rest of time. When, for instance, God saw that the world had become corrupt and violent, he sent the flood to destroy all of its creatures (Gn 6:11-7:24). Proof of the historicity of this event, Orosius notes, is manifest on the side of distant mountains, for some have been made coarse with the remains of shellfish and snails; others have clearly been hollowed out through the action of water. (72) This point is often reiterated by later commentators, and can be found in both Isidore and Rabanus. (73) Bartholomaeus goes so far as to add that the remains of the ark can still be seen perched on the summit of Mount Ararat. (74) The condition of the mountains of the world, and to some extent Mount Ararat itself, then, should be regarded as signs of God's general punishment of humanity in the past, and a warning for the future.

But God also uses topography as a sign of his more particular will. Of course, the clearest example of this is embodied in the idea of the promised land. By means of topography, God's covenant with his chosen people is made visible to the whole of humanity. More common, though, are examples of God singling out specific places where particular transgressions have occurred to stand as sempiternal signs of his universal judgment. Here, the account of the destruction of the Tower of Babel is particularly significant (Gn 11:1-9). According to Josephus, Nimrod decided to build a tower so tall that if God should decide to send forth another flood to drown the world, he might be able to retire to a place of safety above the waters. As such, the tower was to be a physical sign writ by humanity for God to read, making clear its power when united in defiance against him. But when God saw that the people acted against his will, he did not resolve to destroy them utterly or to change the nature of creation in general as he had at earlier points in history. Rather, he struck down the tower and con founded human speech. (75) While the variety of human language was, then, both a result and sign of God's displeasure, so too were the physical remains of the great tower. Indeed, as Latins began to venture into Asia during the Pax Mongolica, the remains of the tower were frequently remarked upon by travellers. The Franciscan friar Odoric of Pordenone who travelled to Cathay in the 1320s describes passing it, noting, perhaps significantly, that the inhabitants of the region have a language peculiar to themselves. (76) In the middle of the fourteenth century, the Mandeville author elaborates upon Odoric's observation. The ruins, he notes, are located in the deserts of Arabia, towards the kingdom of Chaldea. Unfortunately, he continues, he has been unable to visit the region, for it has become a wretched place, a wilderness crawling with snakes and venomous creatures. (77) For him, it is not just the ruins of the tower that stand as a testimony to the judgment of God, it is the profound qualitative change now manifest across the particular region itself. The remains of the tower stand as a tangible testament to the folly of humanity's pride; they are a topographic relic of God's judgment against a specific sin manifest at a certain point in time. (78)

Perhaps the clearest example of this conception of landscape as relic comes from the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. According to Scripture, God laid waste to these cities because of the gross iniquity of their inhabitants, raining fire and brimstone down upon them (Gn 19). Josephus notes that the region in which these cities had been situated had earlier been noted for its abundant produce and wealth. Now, just vestiges of the divine fire and faint traces of the cities are visible. (79) Following Josephus, Orosius also describes the ruins of these cities: they are relics of ash, the once-fertile valley in which they were situated now flooded. These remnants, he states quite categorically, were intended by God to stand "as a witness of his judgment to come." (80)

But it was not just by means of the remains of these cities that God expressed himself, for he also changed the nature of the sea adjacent to the land of Sodom. This is the Dead Sea, so named because it brings forth no living creatures. In fact, far from serving as an environment conducive to life and generation, it embraces death, for anything dead thrown into it promptly sinks. Indeed, the sea acts in a fashion wholly contrary to the natural behaviour of the element of which it is constituted: iron floats on its waters while feathers plummet to its depths. The sea, then, has been reconstituted by God as a wonder to mirror the sin of the Sodomites precisely, for it has been rendered sterile and unnatural. (81) In order to underscore this point, many medieval authorities note that God also changed the nature of the apples that grow near the ancient location of Sodom. Like the sea, they too cannot sustain life, for even when they are fully ripe, they collapse into dust in the hands of those who pick them. (82) The Dead Sea and these so-called Sodom apples are not just signs of the power of God visited upon a people at a particular time and place, but wonders constituted as explicit statements about the nature and consequences of specific sins. But more than this, by stamping judgment onto the very fabric of the earth, its waters and its fruits, this historical particularity is afforded permanence. It is universalized, standing as a lesson to all men and women, past, present and future.

To this example could be added many others. But it is clear that, to the medieval exegete, thinking about the world, the landscape was dotted with topographic relics, locations where the divine has woven history and geography together to universalize particular temporal messages. As Psalm 104:7 states, "He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth." Places, then, ought not to be conceived as set out in homogeneous space, but as a heterogeneous collection of event-places. But while history is what gives the physical world its meaning and value, the corollary also holds: a knowledge of the qualitative nature of a place can shed light on the structure of time. That is to say, an enthusiastic exegete, for instance, wishing to understand the historical account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah more fully must also learn about the Dead Sea and the sterile fruit the adjacent region brings forth. Geography explains time as much as time explains space.

But it is not just extraordinary landscapes that stand as a sign of the will of God; every created thing, its nature and ordinary operation, can similarly be construed as an expression of the divine. As Scripture states, the spirit of the Lord fills the entire world, maintaining all things that have been created (Wis 1:7). Similarly, God has ordered all things according to their measure, weight, and number (Wis 11:21). In his Literal Commentary on Genesis, Augustine understood this latter passage to suggest that at the instant of creation God assigned the final cause to each thing. So, for example, while God could intervene directly to make oil remain under water, oil was so constituted at creation that it naturally aspires to a proper place above water. (83) Returning to the same passage later in the treatise, Augustine goes so far as to suggest that measure, weight, and number might themselves be considered formative principles existing in the immaterial realm. Significantly, though, he adds that "It is a great thing, given only to a few, to go beyond all that can be measured so that Measure can be seen without measure, to go beyond all things which can be numbered so that Number without number can be seen, and to transcend all that can be weighed so that Weight without weight may be seen." (84) For Augustine, it is possible, albeit uncommon, for a Christian to use the things of creation as a means to reach knowledge of the transcendent and divine.

Yet most medieval exegetes were less reticent than Augustine in committing themselves in this matter. It is not just the order of nature that can be construed as embodying the justice and benevolence of God; every created thing insofar as it is good can be seen as an expression of the ultimate Good. Indeed, Scripture makes it clear not just that the whole universe was made by God in precisely the manner he chose, but that like its maker the final product was good (Gn 1:31). To medieval thinkers, as a created thing itself, the world and all of its contents were a reflection of its creator. Psalm 138:7-10 goes so far as to point out that God is everywhere and his presence is in all things--he can properly be said to be in the depths of hell and at the ends of the ocean as much as he can be said to be in heaven. In the ninth century, John Scottus Eriugena developed this idea to argue that the whole of creation ought to be conceived as a theophany, a manifestation of God to the extent that this is possible within the limits of the physical and temporal. (85)

Although when in the hands of less sophisticated thinkers there was a danger that Eriugena's notion of creation as a theophany might be transformed into a species of polytheism, the notion that creation was an expression by the creator about himself had wide currency. (86) In the thirteenth century Thomas Aquinas examined the relationship between creator and creation in his Summa contra gentiles. Because every created thing necessarily falls short of perfection, he argued, God created a diversity of things in order that the divine goodness might be more perfectly communicated to humanity. In this way, the goodness of God, which cannot be perfectly represented in any single thing, might be represented through a variety of things and in a series of different ways. Aquinas elaborates on this point by means of an analogy to language. When someone develops a concept in the mind that cannot be adequately represented in one spoken word, he multiplies his words in various ways to express his conception through a variety of means. (87) To Aquinas, creation in all of its particular manifestations is a sign of the goodness, benevolence, and omnipotence of God. For him, creation is the rhetoric through which God expresses himself, its construction his syntax.

But if creation is an act of communication on the part of the Creator, then it is incumbent upon the exegete to parse the message. Construed in this way, nature is a book, a second form of revelation. Indeed, reading creation seems to have been counselled specifically by Paul, who states that "the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" (Rm. 1:20). In the middle of the thirteenth century, this way of perceiving God was epitomized by Bonaventure in his Journey of the Mind to God. There, the saint argued that all created things can be considered shadows, echoes, or pictures of the divine; they are footprints, images, and displays placed before humanity for its contemplation. By close contemplation of these sensible creatures, the mind may progress towards the realm of the intelligible and the divine. (88) Precisely the same sense of the utility of creation underlies the work of the encyclopedists. Building upon Paul's comment, for instance, Bartholomaeus Anglicus prefaces his On the Properties of Things by remarking that it is only possible for the human mind to be led to the contemplation of the immaterial celestial hierarchy through material things. Indeed, he notes later, an understanding of the properties of the things of the universe helps humanity praise the Creator and lifts the mind up to the contemplation of the unseen. (89)

Of course, this tradition dates back to the Alexandrian style of allegorical exegesis, but more particularly to the Physiologus. Composed at some point before the end of the fourth century, this tract is a compilation of inherited classical lore about specific animals, glossed allegorically. Ambrose probably drew upon this source for portions of his Hexaemeron in order to determine the higher significance of certain animals from the evidence of the nature of their constitution. The donkey, for instance, is slothful and stupid, and so easy prey for misfortune. Thus, the creature suggests that people should work towards freeing themselves from their heavy burdens by taking refuge in faith. In a similar vein, dogs bark in defence of the homes of their owners. This should counsel people to shout loudly for the sake of Christ when wolves ravage his sheepfold. Indeed, Ambrose notes, there is something inherent in the nature of quadrupeds generally which the language of the prophetic books Of Scripture exhorts humanity to imitate. Divine wisdom, he concludes, penetrates and fills all things. Accordingly, more certainty can be gained through the observation of irrational creatures than from the arguments of rational beings: "The testimony of nature is more valuable than the proof made by doctrine." (90) But Ambrose is certainly not an isolated example. Indeed, this tradition of allegorically reading the book of nature endured throughout the Middle Ages, perhaps best epitomized in the various bestiaries and aviaries so popular in the period. It was summed up in the late twelfth century by Alan of Lille, who saw that "every creature of the world is like a book and a picture to us--and a mirror." (91)

But as convoluted as some of the allegorical glosses of nature may at times have been, Augustine argues in On Christian Doctrine that any interpretation of an obscure figure or allusion in Scripture that is not contrary to the principles of faith has at least some utility. (92) An exegete who finds an eternal truth but misses the intention of the author ought not be reproved; rather, he is like a traveller who has strayed from the road but still reached his intended destination. (93) As always with Augustine, faith must precede understanding.

Ultimately, it is this tendency to view the world and its inhabitants as signs of the Creator that facilitated the assimilation into a Christian cosmography of much of the geographical lore about monstrous races frequently associated with the most distant regions of the world in classical authorities like Pliny the Elder. Augustine himself mused on the problem of the existence of such strange and wonderful creatures. (94) To him, such creatures could not be mistakes or aberrations, for God was the ultimate author of all things; accordingly, if such creatures existed, they must have been created in precisely the fashion that he intended. To Augustine, the purpose of these races was to make God's power un-incredible; as such, they were tangible embodiments of the fact that God's power transcends that of nature and that, as the ultimate Creator, he is not bound to follow its ordinary course. Augustine notes that the very term monstrum (that is, "monster") comes from the verb monstrare meaning, "to show." Monsters are clear and unambiguous signs of God's power--they are visual tropes in the rhetoric of creation. Despite this, Augustine himself offers only a very limited reading of these oddities: taken together, they simply show that, on the day of judgment, resurrecting the bodies of people who were mutilated in death will pose God little difficulty. (95)

This tradition of parsing monsters as part of creation was embellished and passed down into the Middle Ages by Isidore, who retained many of the fantastic creatures described by Pliny, albeit often indirectly through the third-century epitome compiled by Gaius Julius Solinus. Following Augustine, in his description of monsters Isidore stresses that they are not contrary to the operation of nature. Rather, they are simply contrary to its operation as understood by humanity mired within the confines of temporality. As such, monsters must properly be construed as in full accord with the will of God and so an integral part of the rhetoric of creation. (96) In this he is followed closely by Rabanus Maurus and, in the early twelfth century, by Honorius Augustodunensis and Alexander of Neckam. (97) In the early thirteenth century, Alexander of Hales suggested that the purpose of monsters was to provide a contrast to humanity in much the same way that a rhetorician might employ the device of contrariety. (98)

Though there were many sceptics, accounts of monsters were maintained well into the seventeenth century, for there was nothing in them that was contrary to the spirit of the faith. Indeed, the existence of monsters and the fantastic was premised upon a conception of God's utter omnipotence; monsters are precisely the kind of thing that God could create in his infinite power. Thus, to argue that they did not exist was an implicit denigration of God's power. Accordingly, it is common for authors treating of the oddities of creation to preface their remarks by pointing out that while much that they say may seem strange, one would do better to believe the incredible than to dismiss it without good evidence to the contrary. Although sceptical about some of the wonders he himself records, Augustine argues that the very fact of the omnipotence of the Creator is in itself grounds for the possibility of such things. (99) In the ninth century, Rabanus likewise associates the potential for such creatures with God's power, concluding by means of reference to Psalm 145:17 that God is just in all his ways and holy in all of his works. (100) In the twelfth century, Gerald of Wales cautions his prospective reader against dismissing too hastily some of the things that seem to be either ridiculous or impossible. Certainly, he adduced all of his information from worthy authorities, he states, but it was God in his infinite power who made the entire world. To support his position, he cites Psalm 45:9: "Come and see the works of the Lord, the wonders that he placed on the earth." (101)

Such formulae stressing the importance of approaching the study of the world and the specific things in it from the perspective of belief rather than literal truth are not uncommon. But constructing knowledge of the world deductively from the testimony of the eye of faith rather than inductively from the evidence of the eye of the sense means that it is wholly possible to determine the nature of the unknown and to construct anticipatory geographies that are accurate at least in terms of transcendent reality--if rather less so from the perspective of temporally contingent particulars. Indeed, as the example of Egeria shows, equipped with such anticipatory geographies, many travellers allow theory to construct their experience, seeking to test preconceived knowledge, deducing the ultimate sempiternal reality of what they see from its transitory, external appearance. The problem, though, is that while what results is a known world, it is one, quite literally, of infinite possibilities, for if the fundamental premise of a spatial discourse rests upon the notion of God's omnipotence, then quite literally anything is possible. The danger in this conception of geography is not in believing too much--it lies in believing too little.

III: Space and Time

But it is not just God's particular interventions in time that are etched into the fabric of creation, its landscape, and its flora and fauna. Orosius finds that the entire framework of sacred history has a spatiality to it. As he makes clear in his Seven Books, the events of Providence do not just take place in time, they also occur across the breadth of creation. In this sense, the world is the stage upon which the drama of Providence is enacted. (102) Accordingly, it is important for the historian to have a good understanding of geography, for God as the director of time deliberately chose to situate the action of certain events at particular places. It is partly because of this conception of the interweaving of time and place that Orosius began his history with an extended treatment of the world and its regions. As Andrew Merrills has argued, this idea of adding a geographical preface to a history, defining and delineating the scope of events, proved crucial to the development of Christian historical theory and practice throughout the Middle Ages. (103)

But Orosius's understanding of the relationship between history and geography was more sophisticated than this, for he construed time not just as progressing chronologically towards the final end, but with a direction inherent to it. For him, history was a vector, beginning at the geographical point of creation in the east, and advancing west through a succession of divinely ordained empires. Temporal power, he argues, ultimately comes from God; if this is the case, it is possible to gloss time, treating the power of an individual as it is manifested within history as a sign of divine approbation. But what is true for individuals must also be true for kingdoms. Empires, then, must be divinely sanctioned vehicles for the establishment and operation of terrestrial order. Orosius sees this position supported by Scripture, for Isaiah 10:5-8 describes how God used Assyria to punish his people. Influenced by Daniel's interpretation of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar (Dn 2:40 and 7:17-27), Orosius goes further, configuring Providence as operating through a succession of four great empires, each of which is associated with one of the cardinal directions: the Babylonian empire in the east, the Carthaginian in the south, the Macedonian in the north, and, culminating in the west with the Roman. (104) History, then, follows the diurnal course of the sun across the sky.

In the early twelfth century Hugh of St. Victor made a similar point. To him, it was clear that the order of place and the order of time were structured to advance in parallel. History, he asserts, began in the Garden of Eden, that first event-place that gave meaning to the whole temporal-spatial emanation of Providence. After the flood, though, the light of history migrated from the Assyrians, through the Chaldaeans, the Medians, and the Greeks, to alight finally on the Romans at the western periphery of the world. To him, history is clearly a vector running from east to west. (105) While this notion of the translatio imperii placed the west at the vanguard of history, it also implied that the current spatial disposition of history should endure until the end of the world.

Because time and space are braided together in this way to make Providence into a vector, giving it both order and motion, most medieval geographical thinkers did not limit themselves to glossing just those places mentioned in Scripture. In much the same way that some monastic chroniclers thought they could discern the will of God in the extra-Scriptural period chronologically bounded between the end of the Acts of the Apostles and the coming of the Apocalypse, so many realized that there could be eschatologically significant places outside those denoted by Scripture. Orosius is perhaps the most influential proponent of this broader conception of sacred space. In the geographical preface to his Seven Books, he describes India as the region bounded by the Indus to the west, the Caucasus Mountains to the north, and the encircling ocean to the east and south; nearby is the island of Taprobane. (106) Though none of these places has an explicit role in sacred history as laid out in Scripture, to Orosius they are worth including because Providence, a creature of space as much as time, passes through each of these points as it transits towards its final goal. Isidore and Rabanus Maurus likewise imply this extended conception of the relationship between place and sacred history. In his On Noah's Ark, Hugh of St. Victor made this association explicit: the works of the restoration of humanity consists of all the things that have been done and all those that will be done from the beginning of the world until the end of time. In order to understand these actions, he asserts, it is important to consider not just the nature of the events or the people through which they were enacted, but also the place where they happened and the time when they occurred. (107)

Most influentially, though, this construction of the spatiality of time permeates the work of the encyclopedists. Though they envision their works as practical compendia of knowledge for biblical exegetes, their treatment of place steps outside the letter of the Scripture. Bartholomaeus notes, for instance, that Scotland is a land north of England, surrounded on three sides by the great ocean; the men there are fierce and wild against their enemies even though they often have very little to eat. (108) Trogloditia is a region in Ethiopia whose inhabitants are able to run fast enough to catch wild beasts. On an adjacent island can be found the very best myrrh in the world. (109) Finally, Amazonia is a region straddling the boundary between Asia and Europe, inhabited entirely by a race of warlike women who were encountered by Hercules, Achilles, and Alexander the Great. (110) For Bartholomaeus, what links these locations and makes them part of sacred history is that they were all created by God and so part of the stage over which Providence will advance. Indeed, they are integral to Providence, for they are what give it its motion, and, ultimately, permit it to reach its goal.

But while an understanding of place might help the exegete to understand better that portion of Providence that is temporally prior to his position in time, it is also essential to know about the condition of the souls of people across the entire world, for at judgment the Lord will send out prophets to convert distant nations who have not yet heard of him (Is. 66:19). This point is underscored in the Gospels, for the end shall come once the word has been preached throughout the world (Mt 24:14). Equally, though, Scripture makes it clear that the approach of the last days will be heralded by signs manifest across the entire world: there will be wars, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes spanning the breadth of creation (Mt 24:6-7). At that time as well, Satan's mission will be universal, for when he has been loosed, he shall deceive the nations of the world in alliance with the progeny of Gog and Magog (Rv 20:7-9). (111) It is crucial for the faithful, then, to have an extensive knowledge of the events taking place across creation and the beliefs of all nations in order to determine the approach of the end.

It is this sense of the importance of geographical knowledge that underlies Roger Bacon's extended treatment of the subject. In the first place, he argues, knowledge of the places of the world indirectly hastens the end times, for it helps missionaries reach their destinations. Indeed, some of the hardiest and most virtuous men of Europe have unwittingly destroyed themselves and damaged the interests of Christendom through their ignorance of places, for they have foolishly endeavoured to pass through hot regions at the height of the summer, while others have tried to traverse the coldest parts of the world during the depths of winter. But still more have subjected themselves to unnecessary dangers because they did not know when they were in Christian lands, or when they were in those of schismatics, Saracens, or Tartars. On that account, Bacon concludes, "he who is ignorant of the places in the world lacks knowledge not only of where he should go but also of how he should travel." (112)

Even more than this, it is important for the Church to understand geography in order to know the location and condition of the tribes of the Jews who are destined to erupt across the face of the world in the coming days. On the authority of Orosius, Bacon notes that during Artaxerxes III of Persia's conquest of Egypt in 343 BC, many Jews were forced to migrate to Hyrcania on the Caspian Sea. Since then, the population of these tribes has increased dramatically to the point that when they were encountered by Alexander the Great, he was unable to defeat them. Because of the inherent ferocity of these nations, Alexander prayed and made sacrifice to God, and for his efforts he was sent a massive earthquake that moved two mountains together, confining these brutal and barbarous peoples. But such measures are only temporary, Bacon continues, for when the end of the world is at hand, the tribes will burst forth, and with the Antichrist as their leader they will exact all manner of slaughter across the full breadth of creation (see Ez 38-39). Accordingly, he concludes, it is important for Christians and especially for the Roman Church to study the places of the world, so that they might be able to appreciate the savagery of these tribes, and to predict precisely when and where Antichrist will appear. (113) This is not a matter of idle curiosity for Bacon; it is a pressing imperative. "Oh, how necessary it is to the Church of God that prelates and good Catholic men study these places," he laments, "not only for the conversion of the people in these regions and the ransom of the Christian captives there, but on account of the persecution of the Antichrist, so that through these studies and many others it may be known where and when the Antichrist will appear." (114)

It is this conception of the importance of geographical knowledge that caused Bacon to undertake a detailed assessment of the Mongols, whom he calls Tartars. In the light of their ferocious forays into Europe in 1241, their true identity, their customs, and the regions from which they came were no small issues, for the destruction they wrought suggested that they might well be harbingers of the last days. (115) Certainly, he argued, what was known about them did seem to suggest that they were part of the ultimate conflict, for they originally inhabited a region in the northeast between the Caucasus and Caspian mountains. Nevertheless, Bacon reserved his judgment on the subject, noting that there had been other bloody invasions of Christendom by barbarous hordes from the north. By itself, the invasion of the Tartars was not enough to determine the time of the coming of the Antichrist. (116) Nevertheless, Bacon had no doubt that the signs of the end were distributed through creation.

In the final analysis, then, while Scripture actually has very little to say about the spatial organization of the world, its position in medieval intellectual culture and the deductive premises that it implied meant that it was fundamental to the development of geographical theory and practice, for the assimilation of raw spatial data, and for its translation into comprehensible information. In the first place, as the opening verses of Genesis make clear, space, like time, was a product of creation and so similarly bound up with God's plan. In a general sense, this meant that the world was the stage on which the drama of Providence would be enacted, and thus its topography, its cream, and their nature might all profitably be glossed as manifestations of the wisdom and benevolence of the Creator. Creation in all of its specifics, then, is polysemous, akin to a second form of revelation, and one that might be used to supplement the understanding of the first. However, it was also clear from Scripture that Providence had a motion inherent to it, advancing from the first place in the east towards the west. And so while geography circumscribed the action of time to specific places, history singled out particular sites, endowing them with meaning. The result is a conception of the world not in terms of a graticule configured in homogeneous space, but as a heterogeneous scattering of event-places, a scattering that gets its coherence from the thread of Providence. But using Providence rather than space as the ordering principle of geography gives medieval spatial discourse a confidence and analytical flexibility unknown in other periods. Not only does this mean that it is broadly possible to deduce the qualitative nature of those terrestrial parts of creation that are hitherto unexplored, but it is also possible to find a place for the various wonders and oddities known through other authoritative texts and traditions. But more than this, the fact that space and time were interlaced into the seamless robe of Providence meant that it was possible--and indeed desirable--to use spatial knowledge to shed light on the progression of time and future events.

Ultimately, as it had for Egeria, Scripture functioned like a guidebook, for it determined what should be observed, and suggested the explanatory framework and rhetorical structures through which the particulars of geographical observation should be articulated. However, as one of the axes of Providence, geography was also wholly inseparable from history; both were advancing to the same destination, an event-place beyond which there would be no more history and no more geography--a point at which space and time would collapse into eternity.

* The title is an allusion to a curious incident recounted by the seventeenth-century cosmographer Peter Heylyn. As Heylyn recounts it, one day in January 1640 he was walking from Westminster to Whitehall when he was assailed out of nowhere by a big, tall gentleman who thrust him against a wall rudely, and then, looking over his shoulder, said scornfully in a hoarse voice "Geographie is better than Divinitie" and then walked away. See Peter Heylyn, Cosmographie in Four Bookes (London, 1652), sig. A3v. I am grateful to Steven Baldner, Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Mark Crane, Jennifer Harris, and Elizabeth Schoales for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

(1) The debate over the identity of the author anal her homeland is summarized by George Gingras in his introduction to his translation Egeria: Diary of a Pilgrimage (New York, 1970), pp. 2-12.

(2) Valerius, Epistola de beata Echeria, PL 87: 421C-426A at 421D.

(3) Egeria addresses her readers as "dominae venerabiles sorores," and "dominae animae meae." See Itinerarium Egeriae, in Itineraria et alia geographica (ed. A. Franceschini and R. Weber) CCSL 175 (Turnhout, 1965), pp. 28-90, at 3.8 (p. 41) and 19.19 (p. 62). This has generally been understood to mean that Egeria was a nun who was writing to her fellow religious. However, see Gingras, pp. 171-2, n. 43. Except where noted, all translations are mine.

(4) Itinerarium Egeriae, 17.3 (p. 59).

(5) Ibid., 19.2 (p. 59)

(6) Ibid., 4.2 (pp. 41-2). Cf. 2 Kgs 19:9. All scriptural references are to the Vulgate.

(7) Itinerarium Egeriae. 4.3 (p. 42).

(8) John K. Wright, "The History of Geography: A Point of View," Annals of the Association of American Geographers, XV (Dec. 1925), pp. 192-201 at pp. 195 and 198. For a more modern assessment see Gunnar Olsson, Abysmal: A Critique of Cartographic Reason (Chicago, 2007), pp. 6-9.

(9) Philip J. Gersmehl and Dwight A. Brown, "Observation," in Ronald F. Abler, Melvin G. Marcus, and Judy M. Olson (eds.) Geography's Inner Worlds: Pervasive Themes in Contemporary American Geography (New Jersey, 1992), pp. 77-98 at pp. 79-82.

(10) David Livingstone, Putting Science in Its Place: Geographies of Scientific Knowledge (Chicago, 2003), p. 184.

(11) Alessandro Scafi, Mapping Paradise: A History of Heaven on Earth (Chicago, 2006). p. 85.

(12) Jerome, Ep. 58, ad Paulinum, in I. Hilberg (ed.), Epistolae, CSEL 54 (Vienna, 1910), c. 3 (p. 530. 11.5-13). See Jn 4:4-24.

(13) Jerome, Ep. 58.3 (Epistolae, pp. 531.7-9). See Lk 17:21.

(14) The corpus of literature on medieval cartography has grown enormously since David Woodward's seminal "Medieval Mappaemundi," in J.B. Harley and D. Woodward (eds.) The History of Cartography, vol. 1: Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean (Chicago, 1987): pp. 286-370 and Evelyn Edson's Mapping Time and Space: How Medieval Mapmakers Viewed their World (London, 1997) to the extent that it cannot be fully documented here. Nevertheless, it is worth singling out Herve Inglebert's Interpretatio Christiana: Les mutations des saviors (cosmographie, geographie, ethnographie, histoire) dans l'Antiquite chretienne (30-630 apres J.-C.) (Paris, 2001) as a particularly important study, for it addresses how Christian geographic thought was shaped and conditioned by classical discursive forms, and is under-represented in the English scholarship on the development of medieval geography. Quite the opposite approach has recently been deployed to great effect by Scafi, whose work on the cartographic representation of paradise shows quite brilliantly the potential of using maps to track shifting patterns of belief and mentalite.

(15) I have adopted this notion from Scafi, Mapping Paradise, p. 62.

(16) Although Jerome rejected 3 and 4 Esdras as uncanonical, both were included in manuscripts of the Latin Bible throughout the Middle Ages.

(17) Lamentably, this old chestnut is still oft repeated, and so it is worth noting that the only cosmographical authority who used Scripture to advocate a flat earth was the early sixth-century Byzantine monk, Cosmas Indicopleustes. Following Ps 103, he asserted that the earth was flat and that the heavens were created as a vault above it; the circle of lands was surrounded by an ocean, and this ocean was itself encircled by a second circle of land. This second circle of land was where the terrestrial paradise had originally been situated, and it was where the sides of the heavenly vault were anchored. Though this work survives in two manuscripts, both are in Greek and had no discernible influence on the course of Latin geographical or cosmographical thought. For a detailed assessment of Cosmas's geography, see Olsson, pp. 39-40 and 50-5; see also Inglebert, pp. 58-61. One of the few authorities that makes any mention of Cosmas was Photius, the ninth-century patriarch of Constantinople. However, be describes the style as very poor. Singling out his specific conception of the organization of the universe, Photius states that much of what Cosmas says is incredible. Cosmas, he concludes, might more properly be considered a fabulist rather than a trustworthy authority: "Stylus illi humilis, & structuram adhibet infra communem. Componit & incredibilia quaedam, non satis ad historiae fidem: ob quae fabulosus potius, quam verus scriptor haberi merito debeat. Inter illa, haec fere dogmata proponit: Coelum non esse orbiculari figura, ac neque terram: sed illud fornicis simile, hanc altera parte longiorem, extremisque partibus cum coeli terminis capulari"; Photius (ed. David Hoeschelius) Myriobiblon, sive bibliotheca librorum quos legit et censuit (Rouen, 1653), cols 22-23.

(18) Augustine (ed. I. Zycha), De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim, CSEL 28 (Vienna, 1894), 2.9 (pp. 45-47).

(19) "Sphaera coeli dieta, eo quod species eius in rotundum formata est.... Nam philosophi dicunt coelum in sphaerae figuram undique esse eonvexum, omnibus partibus aequalem, concludentem terram in media mundi mole libratam"; Isidore of Seville (ed. W.M. Lindsay), Etymologiarum sive originum libri XX 2 vols (Oxford, 1911), 2:13.5 and 2:14.1. David Woodward argues that while Isidore certainly understood the world to be spherical, he seems to have had difficulty reconciling this with the classical Greek notion of five climate zones. See also 2:14.1: "Terra est in media mundi regione posita, omnibus partibus coeli in modum centri aequali intervallo consistens." Woodward, pp. 320-21.

(20) See Aristotle, De caelo et mundo, in Ambrose Firmin Didot (ed.), Opera omnia, vol. 2 (Paris, 1854), 297b24-298al. Cf. 297a10-297b15 where he deduces the sphericity of the earth on the basis of the propensity of elemental earth to descend towards a centre.

(21) As Scafi has pointed out, the problem in locating Eden lies in the translation of Hebrew miqedera, a term used to describe the site of the garden, and which may be rendered either spatially as "away to the east" or temporally as "from before the beginning." While Jerome opted for a principio for the Vulgate, the Vetus Latina used in oriente. Largely because Augustine had grounded his scholarship on the Vetus Latina this latter translation proved highly influential among early scholars, coming eventually to be enshrined in the Glossa ordinaria. See Scafi, Mapping Paradise, pp. 35, 47-51.

(22) Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram, 8, 7.14 (p. 242).

(23) Ephraem of Syria (trans. R.M. Tonneau), In Genesim et in Exodum commentarii (Louvain, 1955), 2.6. Sebastian Brock's introduction to his translation, Ephraem, Hymns on Paradise (Crestwood, 1990), p. 52. Cf. Hymns, pp. 1, 4, and 41. See also Scafi, Mapping Paradise, p. 162.

(24) Bede (ed. C. Jones), Libri quatuor in principium Genesis usque as nativitatem Isaac et eiectionem Ismahelis adnotationum CCSL 118A (Turnhout, 1967), 1.2 (p. 46, 11.1455-63).

(25) The Glossa ordinaria, in Biblia Latina cum glossa ordinaria: Facsimile Reprint of the editio princeps, Adolph Rusch of Strassburg 1480/81, 4 vols (Turnhout, 1992), 1:21.

(26) See, for instance, Alexander of Neckam (ed. Thomas Wright), De naturis rerum libri duo (London, 1863), 2.49; Gervase of Tilsbury (eds. S.E. Banks and J.W. Binns), Otia imperialia: Recreation for an Emperor (Oxford, 2002), 1.10; Bartholomaeus Anglicus, De proprietatibus rerum (Frankfurt, 1601; repr. Frankfurt, 1964), esp. 15.112.

(27) See Dante Alighieri (trans. Charles S. Singleton), Purgatorio, vol. 1: Italian Text and Translation (Princeton, 1973), 28-33. See also "'The Paris Text," in Malcolm Letts (ed.), Mandeville Travels: Texts and Translations (London, 1953), p. 405; and "The Egerton Text," p. 215; hereafter cited as Mandeville, Paris and Mandeville, Egerton.

(28) Thomas Aquinas (ed. Petrus Caramello), Summa theologiae, pt. l, q. [02, a. 1 (Rome, 1948), pp. 483-84.

(29) Ranulf Higden (ed. J.R. Lumby), Polychronicon: Together with the English Translations of John Trevisa and an Unknown Writer of the Fifteenth Century, vol. 1 (London, 1871), pp. 70, 72.

(30) See, for instance, Ambrose (ed. C. Schenkel), De paradiso, CSEL 32 (Vienna, 1897), 3.1415 (pp. 272-75). Jerome is unambiguous in this identification in Ep. 125.3 in Epistolae. See also Jerome (ed. E de Lagarde), Liber Hebraicarum quaestionum in Geneseos, CCSL 72 (Turnhout, 1959), 1.11 (p. 4). Similarly, Augustine equated the two rivers in De Genesi ad litteram, 214. See also Bede, 1.2 (p. 48). Glossa ordinaria, 1:21.

(31) See, for instance, Ambrose, De paradiso, 3:14 and Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram, 5.7.47 (p. 121). See also, Isidore, 2:13, 21.7 and Rabanus Maurus, De universo libri viginti duo, 11, 10 (PL 111:319D).

(32) See Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram, 8.7 (p. 241.5); Ephraem, In Genesim, 2.6. In the first century, this idea had been suggested by Philo of Alexandria (trans. Ralph Marcus), Questions and Answers on Genesis (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1953), 1.12 (p. 7). The idea that these rivers flowed underground is a reworking of the classical idea that the earth was penetrated by a network of aquifers. Periodically, these burst forth onto the surface of the planet when they were subject to too much pressure from the weight of earth. See Pliny (eds. H. Rackham, W.H.S. Jones, and D.E. Eichholz), Historia naturalis (London, 1979), p. 2.66.

(33) Jerome, Ep. 125 in Epistolae.

(34) Glossa ordinaria, 2.118-19. Here, the Glossa borrows from Rabanus Maurus, Commentaria in libros IV Regum (PL 109:192B). However, the identification of Ophir and India was common earlier. See, for instance, Jerome, Ep. 65: ad principiam Virginem, in Epistolae, 637.13-17.

(35) Philo of Alexandria, 1.12-13.

(36) See Franz Blatt (ed.), The Latin Josephus: Antiquities, books 1-5 (Arhus, 1958), book 1 (p. 128.24-25); Ambrose, De paradiso, 3.15 (pp. 274-75). His references here are to Hos 2:8 and Ps 67:14.

(37) Ambrose, Deparadiso, 3.16 (pp. 275-76).

(38) Ibid., 3.17-18 (pp. 276-77).

(39) Ibid., 3.19-22.

(40) See Augustine (ed. D. Weber), De Genesi contra Manichaeos libri duo, CSEL 91 (Vienna, 1998), 2.10.13 (pp. 133-34). See also Isidore, 1: 6, 16.5.

(41) See Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram, 1.1.1 (pp. 3-4).

(42) Augustine (eds. Bernard Dombart and Alfonso Kalb) De civitate Dei libri XXII CCSL 48 (Turnhout, 1955) 13, 21 (p. 404).

(43) The Glossa ordinaria, 1:22.

(44) Augustine, De Genesi contra Manichaeos, 2.10.13 (pp. 133-34). See Lk 10:30.

(45) Jerome, Ep. 44: Paulae et Eustochii ad Marcellam, in Epistolae, 3 (p. 332).

(46) Rabanus Maurus, De universo, 12.4. Cf. Margriet Hoogvliet, "Mappae mundi and the Medieval Hermeneutics of Cartographic Space," in Peter Ainsworth and Tom Scott (eds.) Regions and Landscapes: Reality and Imagination in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Oxford, 2000), pp. 25-46 at p. 33.

(47) Latin Josephus, book 1 (pp. 140-42).

(48) Jerome, Hebraicarum quaestiones, 10.21-22 (pp. 11 - 14). Though be treated the subject of the sons of Noah at some length in his De civitate Dei, Augustine did not associate them with any specific region. See Augustine, De civitate Dei, 16. 3.

(49) Isidore, 1: 9.2.37.

(50) Ibid., 1: 9.2.9.

(51) Ibid., 1: 9.2.25.

(52) See the Glossa ordinaria, 1:41. This statement is made on the authority of Alcuin of York, in his Interrogationes et responsiones in Genesim (PL 100:532B). Because of its inclusion in the Glossa, though, it became something of a commonplace in later medieval thought. See, for instance, Gervase of Tilsbury, 2.1 who cites both the Glossa and Josephus. This tripartite conception of the world also had the advantage of facilitating the assimilation of the Roman tripartite conception of the terrestrial organization of the world, and was integrated visually into the T-O style mappae mundi. For a full discussion of T-O mappae mundi, see Woodward.

(53) See Aristotle, Metaphysicorum, 6.2, 1027a20-21; cf. Thomas Aquinas (ed. Leo W. Keeler), Tractatus de spiritualibus creatures (Rome, 1946), 10.8. See Richard Raiswell, "Age before Reason," in Stephen Harris and Byron Grigsby (eds.) Misconceptions of the Middle Ages (New York, 2008): pp. 124-34.

(54) Isidore, 1: 9.2.3; see also 1:9.2.10-11 where he details the sons of Ham.

(55) Ibid., 2: 14.3.31; 2:14.4.6 and 2:14.5.2 respectively. The latter refers to Gn 25:4.

(56) Rabanus Maurus, De universo, 12.4.

(57) Ibid., 12.4.

(58) Ibid., 11.10.

(59) Ibid., 14.4.

(60) Bartholomaeus, p. 1.

(61) Ibid., p. 624.

(62) Ibid., 15.119(2 Mc 9:1-2).

(63) Ibid., 15.113 (Dn 7:1-8).

(64) Ibid., 15.14. While Bartholomaeus's association may be trite, as Andrew Merrills has argued, this tradition of comprehending place through rime received most sophisticated articulation in Bede's Historia ecclesiastica. Following Augustine, Bede saw his own day as part of the sixth age of humanity, the age that would run until the faith had been spread to every comer of the world. Juxtaposed against the lands of the east, those places that Bede elsewhere described as comprising the first parts of the world, Britain, located in the far west of the oikoumene, must be an integral component of history's final act. Andrew Merrills, History and Geography in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2005), pp. 235-39.

(65) J. H. Bridges (ed.), The Opus majus of Roger Bacon, vol. 1 (repr. Frankfurt am Main, 1964), pp. 184-85.

(66) Augustine (ed. J. Martin), De doctrina Christiana, CCSL 32 (Turnhout, 1962) 2.16.23-6 (pp.48-52).

(67) Roger Bacon, 1, pp. 185-86.

(68) Ibid., 1:186-87.

(69) Augustine, De Genesi contra Manichaeos, 1.13.19 (pp. 85-86).

(70) Paulus Orosius (ed. C. Zangemeister), Historiarum adversum paganos Libri VII, CSEL 5 (Hildesheim, 1967), 2.1 (p. 81).

(71) Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram, 3.15 (pp. 80-81).

(72) Orosius, 1.3 (pp. 40-42).

(73) See Isidore, 2:13.22.2 and Rabanus Maurus, De universo, 12.4.

(74) Bartholomaeus, 14.3.

(75) Latin Josephus, book 1 (p. 38.6-13). The confusion of tongues is also reflected in the name of the region in which these events took place, for as Josephus points out, Babylon is derived from the word Babel, which means confusion in Hebrew. This etymology can frequently be found repeated by later writers. See, for instance, Jerome (ed. P. de Lagarde), Liber interpretationem Hebraicorum nominum, CCSL 72 (Turnhout, 1959), 62.18, and Isidore, 2:15.1.4.

(76) Henry Yule (ed.), Cathay and the Way Thither. Being a Collection of Medieval Notices of China, vol. 2: Odoric of Pordenone (London, 1913), p. 282.

(77) Mandeville, Paris, pp. 249-50 and Mandeville, Egerton, pp. 28-29.

(78) These topographic relics differ from the saints' bones, pieces of the true cross, and the various other holy objects traded across Europe at this time, for they do not link the divine and the temporal in the same way. While a saint's bone is both a sign of a higher reality and an active bridge between the physical and divine, these topographic relics operate in a more limited sense. Like a saint's bone, they are the particular physical remains of an historical embodiment of the divine within the temporal, but in this case they are intended solely to be read as signs of higher truths.

(79) Latin Josephus, book 1 (p. 150.35).

(80) Orosius, 1.5 (p. 46).

(81) See Isidore, 2: 13, 19.3-4; Rabanus Maurus, De universo, 11.1 and 11.8; Gervase, 3.107; Roger Bacon, 1.339. Cf. Mandeville, Paris, pp. 283-85 and Mandeville, Egerton, pp. 71-72.

(82) See Augustine, De civitate Dei, 21.5 (pp. 764-66). Compare, for instance, Isidore, 2:14.3.25; Bede (ed. P. Geyer), Liber de locis sanctis 9, in Itinera Hierosolymitana, saec. IV-VIII, CSEL 39 (Vienna, 1898), 317.16-19; Rabanus Maurus, De universo, 12.4 or Gervase, 3.5.

(83) Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram, 2.1.2 (pp. 32-33).

(84) Ibid., 4.3.8 (p. 99).

(85) Johannes Scottus Eriugena (ed. E. Jeauneau), Periphyseon, CCCM 163 (Turnhout, 1999), 3.19 (pp. 88-89).

(86) See Amos Funkenstein, Theology and the Scientific Imagination from the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century (Princeton. 1986), pp. 47-52.

(87) Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles (Rome, 1934), 3, 97 (p. 343).

(88) See Bonaventure (ed. Philotheus Boehner), Itinerarium mentis in Deum, (1956; repr., Saint Bonaventure, 1998), 2, 11 (p. 60).

(89) Bartholomaeus, Preface.

(90) Ambrose (ed. C. Schenkl), Exameron,, CSEL 32 (Vienna, 1897), 6.4.21 (p. 216); see also 6.3.9-6.9 (pp. 209-31).

(91) Alan of Lille, De incarnatione Christi (PL 210:577A-580C at 579A).

(92) Augustine, De doctrina christiana, 3.2.5 (p. 79).

(93) Ibid., 3.40.44 (pp. 31-32).

(94) Augustine, De civitate Dei, 16.8 (pp. 508-10).

(95) Ibid., 21, 8 (p. 770-74). See also Augustine, De mendacio, ed. I. Zycha, CSEL 41 (Vienna, 1900), 15.26 (pp. 446-47).

(96) Isidore, 2:11.3.1-4. See also, Augustine, De civitate Dei, 21.8 (pp. 770-74).

(97) Rabanus Maurus, De universo, 7.7. See also Honorius Augustodunensis, De imagine mundi libri tres, 1.11-13 (PL 172:121A-186B at 123C-124C). Alexander of Neckam, De naturis rerum libri duo, 2.

(98) Alexander of Hales, Summa theologica, vol. 2 (Quaracchi, 1928), pt. 1, inq. I, tract. 2, quest. 3, cap. 3, art. 3.

(99) Augustine, De civitate Dei, 21.7 (pp. 768-70).

(100) Rabanus Maurus, De universo, 7.7.

(101) Gerald of Wales (ed. James F. Dimock), Topographia Hibernica, in Opera, vol. 5 (1867; reprint, New York, 1964), II: preface (p.75).

(102) Orosius, 1.1 (pp. 5-8).

(103) See Merrills, p. 3, pp. 64-70.

(104) Orosius, 2.1 (pp. 81-82); Merrills sees Orosius juxtaposing his eastern with his western empires, and his southern with his northern, suggesting the sum of history as a concordia discors, a tension resolved only in the victory of Christianity, and the universalization of its message. Merrills, p. 54.

(105) Hugh of St. Victor (ed. Patrick Sicard), De archa Noe, CCCM 176 (Turnhout, 2001), 4.9, (pp. 111-12).

(106) Orosius, 1.2 (pp. 9-10).

(107) Hugh of St. Victor, 4.9 (p. 110-11).

(108) Bartholomaeus, 15.152.

(109) Ibid., 15.163.

(110) Ibid., 15.12.

(111) On Gog and Magog in medieval spatial thought, see Andrew Gow, "Gog and Magog on Mappaemundi and Early Printed World Maps: Orientalizing Ethnography in the Apocalyptic Tradition," Journal of Early Modern History, 2 (1998), pp. 61-94.

(112) Roger Bacon, 1:301-2.

(113) Ibid., 1:303-4 and 309.

(114) Ibid., 1:365.

(115) Ibid., 1:374-76.

(116) Ibid., 2: 234-35.

Richard Raiswell is assistant professor of history at the University of Prince Edward Island. He works on the history of geographical cognition, focusing particularly on the interaction between constructions of spatial consciousness and categories of cultural perception in the premodern period. He is currently completing an extended project examining the implications of the idea of world as a divinely authored concordance of contraries for the assimilation of information about India in the writings of number of early seventeenth-century English travellers.
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