You’ll Be Impressed by these 6 Revolutionary Medieval Scientists

6 Revolutionary Medieval Scientists
A man conducts an alchemical experiment

Experts believe their intelligence would challenge Einstein

Aside from his amazing accomplishments in physics, science, and mathematics, Albert Einstein achieved one other notable thing. He was ahead of his time in regards to pushing his brand.

Whether directly or indirectly, Einstein quickly became the standard of genius and intelligence. This happened despite the fact that he lived during an era that included many brilliant people like Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, Max Planck, and J. Robert Oppenheimer — to name a few.

This is why we must take notice whenever claims are made that these six revolutionary scientists from medieval times may be smarter than Einstein himself. Especially when none of them are household names, they obviously did not benefit from the mysterious branding effect that propelled Einstein’s popularity.

Let us take a closer look at these fascinating minds from yesteryear — starting with the oldest.

Paul of Aegina
Paul of Aegina

Paul of Aegina (625–690)

Paul of Aegina came from the island of Aegina and became the most influential physician-writer throughout the Byzantine Empire. His most notable work was called the Epitome of Medicine and was comprised of seven books. It was considered the most comprehensive compendium for medical and surgical knowledge and was promptly translated into several languages during that time.

Paul of Aegina made amazing contributions to countless neurosurgical subjects, as well as fully describing procedures for treating nerve injuries and fractures of the spine and skull. His legendary work was combined with Hippocrates’ ancient knowledge to serve as a bridge between Arabic and Byzantine medicine.

To this day, he is seen as one of the greatest ancient Greek medical writers, and his contributions have influenced the evolution of Arab and Western European medicine.

Al-Khwarizmi sculpture in Khiva

Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (780–850)

Khwarizmi was a Muslim mathematician and astronomer whose primary works first introduced Hindu-Arabic numerals to the world. He is considered by many to have single-handedly invented algebra. This new math was named after the Al-jabr (The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing), which later became an operation he derived to solve quadratic equations.

The term ‘algorithm’ was originated from the Latin translation of his name, Al-Gorithmi. While Khwarizmi was a man of many talents, his strongest suit was mathematics. He wrote a famous book on mathematics that included calculating solutions in fields ranging from business to law. This made his book one of the earliest that used practical applications for math.

Khwarizmi also provided directions on how to solve polynomial equations and balance both sides of an equation. He introduced the first trigonometric functions of sine and cosine to the world and found the prime-Meridian location using geometry.

Al Zahrawi blistering a patient in the hospital at Cordova

Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (936–1013)

Al Zahrawi, also called Abulcasis, was an Arab Andalusian considered by many to be the first pharmacist and surgeon. He is recognized for creating the techniques used in the world’s first surgeries and creating the very first surgical tools.

Perhaps his greatest contribution was the Kitab al Tasrif, a thirty-eight volume guide that explained various methods that he used in medical procedures. Another great piece of his work was Liber Servitors, which details methods for creating medicine using sublimation and distillation.

Al Zahrawi was the first person to document how to ligate a blood vessel for pain relief — which was some 600 years before another Western scholar claimed credit for this. He even provided the first details of ectopic pregnancy and taught techniques for treating dislocated shoulders taught today.


Avicenna (980–1037)

Avicenna was a notable Muslim scholar who completely revolutionized medicine during Islam’s Golden Age during the 11th-century. He is credited with writing some 200 academic texts, but his most famous was The Canon of Medicine. This text quickly became the most comprehensive encyclopedia in the field of medicine. It included many useful annotations that were way ahead of their time.

One such example of this was how Avicenna suggested a new set of protocols for testing new medicines that used modern measures, like testing different strains and pulling larger sample sizes.

The volume also included never before translated Greek ideas in the field of medicine, like the notion that disease could spread through the air. His book became so valued that every major medical university used it as a standard textbook until the mid-1700s.

Portrait of Averroes

Averroes (1126–1198)

Averroes, sometimes called Ibn Rushd, was a Spanish academic during the 12th century specializing in a range of fields from law to music theory. He was extremely well versed in philosophy and was considered among western academic circles to be ‘the father of secular theory in western Europe.’

He provided, during his time, the most insightful commentary on Plato’s Republic and also translated the works of Aristotle into Arabic. Averroes became very popular among Christian academics when he published a highly criticized refutation to Ghazali’s The Refutation of Philosophy. Ghazali had argued that the philosophy of Aristotle was flawed and had no place in Islamic theology.

He also wrote a famous commentary regarding Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine and even published his own follow-up encyclopedia on medicine. Later, he published texts on both physics and psychology. He was so renowned among western scholars that Thomas Aquinas called him ‘The Commentator.’

Portrait of Paracelsus by W. Marchall

Paracelsus (1493–1541)

Paracelsus was a notable European chemist during the 14th-century. He was most recognized for his amazing advances in the periodic table of elements and his contribution to the fields of medicine and botany.

Today, many experts consider Paracelsus to be the father of toxicology because of his assertions that poisons were safe in small doses, while large doses were quite harmful. This would later be proven as the fact upon which the entire field is based.

He was the very first to introduce the concept of the unconscious. He was also the first to begin using chemicals in medicines rather than herbs.