Toledo School of Translators

The Toledo School of Translation was established in the mid-12th century by the Archbishop of Toledo in the northern Spanish city of Toledo (Universidad de Castilla – de la Mancha 2012). At the beginning of the 12th century European science lagged behind Arab science, and the production of texts written in Arabic by Andalusian scholars spread to the northern towns of Spain and to Toledo. Arab science had benefitted since the late 8th century by being receptive to the study of Greek texts and scholarship they encountered when they conquered Damascus and other cities in Egypt, Syria and Iraq. Among these texts were scientific works by Ptolemy, and philosophical works by Aristotle, Plato, and works on geometry by Euclid and medicine by Galen. Arab science also benefitted from their close contact and exchange with the Byzantine Empire and with scientists and mathematicians from India and Persia (Universidad de Castilla – de la Mancha 2012). In particular the medical and philosophical works of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and of Ibn Rushd (Averroes) held great influence on 12th and 13th century European philosophy and theology.

Numerous translators worked here and their texts spread to Italian and French universities in the 13th century.  The translation center was housed at the Cathedral shown here.


Toledo Cathedral, home to the Toledo School of Translation in the mid-12th century


Gerard of Cremona is an Italian scholar and translator who  is credited as one of the leading translators of the late 12th century a i credited with translating over 80 books written in Arabic on science. He arrived at Toledo in 1167, purportedly to find a copy of Ptolemy’s Almagest, the ancient Greek  catalogue of scientific knowledge.  On arrival he initially had to rely upon Jewish Mozarabs to translate for him.  Thereafter he mastered Arabic and began to compile and translate numerous works from Arabic into Latin. .[8] He came to Toledo in 1167 in search of Ptolemy’s Almagest. Since he did not know Arabic when he arrived, he relied on Jews and Mozarabs for translation and teaching.

Among his many translations were the following:  (Source Wikipedia)

  1. Ptolemy‘s Almagest;
  2. Aristotle‘s Posterior Analytics, Physics, On the Heavens and the World, On Generation and Corruption, and Meteorology;
  3. al-Khwarizmi‘s On Algebra and Almucabala.
  4. Archimedes On the Measurement of the Circle;
  5. Euclid‘s Elements of Geometry,
  6. Jabir ibn Aflah‘s Elementa astronomica,
  7. Al-Kindi‘s On Optics,
  8. al-Farghani‘s On Elements of Astronomy on the Celestial Motions,
  9. al-Farabi‘s On the Classification of the Sciences,
  10. al-Razi (Rhazes) chemical and medical works, and
  11. Thabit ibn Qurra and Hunayn ibn Ishaq.
  12. Rhazes Liber ad Almansorem, Liber divisionum, Introductio in medicinam, De egritudinibus iuncturarum, Antidotarium and Practica puerorum;
  13. Isaac Israeli ben Solomon, De elementis and De definitionibus;
  14. Abulcasis, Al-Tasrif as Chirurgia;
  15. Avicenna, The Canon of Medicine as Liber Canonis;


de Navarre, Marguerite. 1894 (1558). The Heptameron of the Tales. Vol. 1 of 5. London: The Society of English Bibliophilists.