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Origins and History

The science of weather -the meteorology- likely is to be linked to the development of farming, during the Neolithics and maybe earlier, when men were still gatherers-hunters. The first attested steps of meteorology are dating back to the Egyptians, who had to accurately forecast the floodings of the Nile river, and to the Indians, who show that they are able to forecast the monsoons. Most advanced people in the science however were the Chinese who, as soon as those oldest times, already master the weather measurement tools (like for the winds, the hygrometry or the rain). Asia, due to its dangerous -or important- weather phenomenons, thus remained a region of the world which was prone to weather observations. A rational way of thinking that science, further, appeared among the Greeks, whose philosophers took the magical, and astrological aspects of the domain. Weather was important for the Greek sailors. Some thinkers elaborated a theory of the climate zones. And Aristotle, mostly, about 330 B.C., set the first rationalized descriptions of the weather phenomenons, of them the cycle of water. The 'Meteorologica' by Aristotle became thus the basis and a reference for the following actors as few innovations came hereafter (Philo of Byzantium, in the 2nd century B.C. set the foundations for the thermometer; or Germanicus, a Roman astronomer in the 1st century B.C., elaborated the definition of the four seasons, according to the solstices and the equinoxes). Meteorology, from there, then, just kept declining and that led to the darkness of the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages were found too of the 'astrometeorology', a pseudo-science which was making a link between weather and the zodiac, and founding itself on the works by Ptolemy. The Arabs only (like Al-Kindi in the 9th century A.D., As-Safa by the end of the 10th century A.D., or Avicenna who invented the thermometer, for example), kept Aristotle alive and allowed his ideas and concepts to be passed to the West (with Bacon, for example, in England as the measurement tools however did not exist sufficiently, to the exception of the wind wanes atop the bell-towers)

This led that it was not until the Modern Era, along with the revolution in the domain of the sciences, that the weather forecasting and study science was renewed, mostly due to the development of an appropriate instrumentation. Thence, are appearing the theorization of the weather phenomenons and mechanisms, the development of networks allowing for the exchange of data and ideas between weather scientists, and, eventually, the discovery of the hot air balloons, which, as soon as the 18th century, are allowing to a study of the atmosphere above. Those, until today, remained the main basis for the development of meteorology like a science

Weather Proverbs

The popular wisdom, likely as soon as the Middle Ages and maybe too before that date -the wisdom of the peasants or of the sailors- led, in the Western world and elsewhere, to the emergence of weather proverbs which built upon the empirical observation of the sky, the plants, or animals, etc. Such sayings came to be related too the saints of the Christian calendar. In the German-speaking world, the first attested, written trace of those practices are not appearing before with Albert the Great, about 1230, like the first reference to the local weather proverbs

Weather in the Caroligian Era

As far as the Carolingians are concerned, Charlemagne endeavoured to rename the months of the year, or to define the main winds -creating the compass rose, with twelve of them -instead of the 4 that the Franks were only knowing until then. The astrometeorology was already existing since the Merovingians and one may think that the weather sayings had been perpetuating themselves, as they had been attested already, in the West, by the Greeks and the Romans (due to the vastness of the Carolingian dominions, they likely were at variance according to the regions)

Against the tradition which had the months' names named from the Latin language, Charlemagne thus elaborated a yearly calendar of 12 months, the names of which were related to the farm works, as their names were given in the Frankish language: 'Wintarmanoth' (instead of January; 'the month of winter'), 'Hornung' (instead of February; 'the month of snow'), 'Lentzinmanoth' (instead of March; 'the month during which the day's length is increasing'), 'Ostarmanoth' (instead of April; 'the month of Easter', or a reference to the German goddess 'Ostara' or 'Austro'), 'Winnemanoth' (instead of May; 'the month of meadows'), 'Brachmanoth' (instead of June; 'the month during which the crop rotation is practised), 'Hewimanoth' (instead of July; 'the month of the [second] hay'), 'Aranmanoth' (instead of August; 'the month of the [corn] harvest'), 'Witumanoth' (instead of September; 'the month during which one cuts wood for the heating in winter'), 'Windumemanoth' (instead of October; 'the month of vintage'), 'Herbistmanoth' (instead of November; 'the month of fall' or 'the month of harvests') et 'Heilagmanoth' (instead of December; 'the sacred month' (the one of the birth of Christ and likely, too, of the old German feast of the winter solstice). Charlemagne, on the other hand, had had the year to begin by Christmas -according to the custon of Italy- as the Franks, since their settlement into Gaul, had imposed that it begins in March (either March 1st, or March 25th). That decision was followed during the 8th and 9 centuries as it was abandonned in the 10th century. Two calendars then coexisted, with the year beginning since on January 1st, or at Easter -bringing then, in northern France, for example, that the year eventually began at Easter during most of the Middle Ages

Website Manager: G. Guichard, site Learning and Knowledge In the Carolingian Times / Erudition et savoir à l'époque carolingienne, Page Editor: G. Guichard. last edited: 12/28/2010. contact us at