The Book of Roger

Contributed by Bodleian Library

The Book of Roger

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The Book of Roger is a 12th century geographical compendium written in Arabic by Al-Idrisi.

The author was possibly born in Morocco in 1100 and began his travels at the age of 16, visiting Asia Minor, the southern coast of France, England, Spain, and North Africa. In about 1138 he was invited by Roger II (1097-1154), the Norman king of Sicily, to his court in Palermo and it was there he composed The Book of Roger, which was completed in January 1154.

This manuscript, dated 1553, was copied in Cairo and was bought by the Bodleian Library, Oxford, in 1692 from the widow of Edward Pococke. Pococke was the foremost Arabist of his time and was the first incumbent of the Chair of Arabic set up at Oxford University by Archbishop Laud. It is not known where or how Pococke acquired this manuscript.

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  • 1. At 12:41 on 22 August 2010, Mangonuts wrote:

    What does it say about Britain, something about the weather? Permanent winter?

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  • 2. At 12:46 on 22 August 2010, Mangonuts wrote:

    Found it! ...... As for Britain, it "is set in the Sea of Darkness. It is a considerable island, whose shape is that of the head of an ostrich, and where there are flourishing towns, high mountains, great rivers and plains. This country is most fertile; its inhabitants are brave, active and enterprising, but all is in the grip of perpetual winter."

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Cairo, Egypt


Written 1154 (This manuscript 1553)


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