About Me

Welcome to my website.  I hope you will find something here to entertain you.

I was a late starter on the road to academic achievement, like Albert Einstein.  However, whereas he was only seven years old when he got going, I was thirty-seven!  The Spanish Department at Exeter University welcomed me with open arms and made me feel very valued.  However, I missed the induction tour around the library, didn’t get a library card and thought that meant I couldn’t take any books out.  For two years I didn’t borrow a book and just sat and read all the books they had during opening hours.   Fortunately, by my final year, somebody let me into the secret, took my first books home and thought I was really clever to have found out before I got my degree.  I wonder if Albert Einstein would have taken two years to discover how to borrow a book from a university library?

When I’d got my BA I went off at a tangent and did a PGCE, became a primary specialist maths teacher and went to London to teach.  Whilst there, and to stop me being bored, I did a Masters degree in Mathematics Education at the Roehampton Institute (then part of the University of Surrey).

I’d wanted to do a PhD after gaining my Bachelors Degree in Spanish with Information Technology, but had decided not to because of finances.  If I had, I wanted to do research on El Cid, because I liked the era and the history, but as the records were in Latin and Arabic, and I didn’t have the latter language, I wasn’t able to.  It was therefore with great delight that during my studies for my MA, I had to do a course on the history of Mathematics.  In a really obscure book, I found a reference to a 12th century translator living in Spain.  He translated mathematical treatises from Arabic into Latin, and his name was given as ‘John of Luna’.  I was greatly attracted to the name – ‘luna’ means ‘moon’ in Spanish – and a germ of an idea presented itself to me.  Before I left my job in London, I approached the Spanish Department at Exeter University and asked to do a PhD on a translator called John of Luna.  They were as enthusiastic as I was, because he was very famous and nobody had focused a  PhD around him.  

By then I was getting steadily older, and Albert must have been eating his heart out, thinking I’d left it too late to embark on such an endeavour.   However, not to be daunted, I worked full-time whilst I did the research and found it all engrossing.  In my doctoral research, I was able to include information on the history of Spain and Portugal and El Cid, because he lived during the earlier part of Johannes Hispalensis’s life.

The most outstanding fact, however, that emerged from my research, was to find that John of Luna actually never existed!  He was ‘John of Seville’ or ‘John of Seville and Limia’, but never ‘John of Luna’. The latter name was a scribe’s error for ‘Limiensis’. Limiensis is Latin for Limia, which was in that part of the Iberian Peninsula that became Portugal.  Being referred to as Johannes Luniensis was one of the myths that surrounded the translator, resulting from all the scribal errors in manuscripts.

Johannes Hispalensis, therefore, became the focus of my research and the results and publications are herein.  I hope you enjoy delving into my website.

Dr Maureen Robinson