Bartholomew Anglicus – On Rainbows

Bartholomew Anglicus
English Franciscan, Bartholomew Anglicus, lived and wrote in the middle of the thirteenth century, probably before1260. His writings speedily traveled over Europe. It was translated into French by order of Charles V. (1364-81) in 1372, into Spanish, into Dutch, and into English in 1397.
Medieval Lore for the Cosmopolitan Interest

“The Rainbow is impression gendered in an hollow cloud and dewy, disposed to rain in endless many gutters, as it were shining in a mirror, and is shapen as a bow, and sheweth divers colours, and is gendered by the beams of the sun or of the moon. And is but seldom gendered by beams of the moon, no more but twice in fifty years, as Aristotle saith.”

“In the rainbow by cause of its clearness be seen divers forms, kinds, and shapes that be contrary. Therefore the bow seemeth coloured, for, as Bede saith, it taketh colour of the four elements. For therein, as it were in any mirror, shineth figures and shapes and kinds of elements.”

“For of fire he taketh red colour in the overmost part, and of earth green in the nethermost, and of the air a manner of brown colour, and of water somedeal blue in the middle. And first is red colour, that cometh out of a light beam, that touches the outer part of the roundness of the cloud: then is a middle colour somedeal blue, as the quality asketh, that hath mastery in the vapour, that is in the middle of the cloud. Then the nethermost seemeth a green colour in the nether part of a cloud; there the vapour is more earthly. And these colours are more principal than others.”

– Bartholomew Anglicus

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