Medieval encyclopedia as a form of of religious worldview universalization (on the example of "Speculum Maius " by Vincent of Beauvais)


  • Alla Aristova State Scientific Institution "Encyclopedic Publishing House"



medieval encyclopedias, Vincent of Beauvais, «The Great Mirror», Speculum Maius, universalism


The article actualizes the significance of scholastic encyclopedias for the religious and secular culture of medieval Europe. Their role as a compendium of accumulated knowledge and at the same time ideological synthesis of Christian religious doctrine and scientific achievements, ancient and scholastic traditions, university, and church-monastery intellectual culture is shown.

The main attention is paid to the multi-volume Vincent of Beauvais’ work «Speculum Maius»The Great Mirror») as the most significant work among medieval encyclopedias and its conceptual completion. The extraordinary role of the encyclopedia as a documentary evidence of knowledge, ideas, worldview, mentality of the Western European Middle Ages is proved. The author outlines the principles of codification of «The Great Mirror»; highlights the influence of the Christian-theological context on the content, structure and methods of organizing its material; the relationship of encyclopedic work with the processes of development and rationalization of the religious worldview. The focus is on the universalizing potential of the Christianity concepts, the extraordinary expression of which was the work by Vincent of Beauvais. The aspiration for universality was manifested both in the desire to understand the world as a Whole, created by God-completed omnipresence, and in attempts to base all the accumulated human experience, all kinds of knowledge and life on the principles of the Christian worldview. The encyclopedia is valued as a real «mirror» of an entire era, the medieval reception of Christianity, the history of European science and knowledge.


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