Johannes de Sacrobosco

Editions of the 
Tractatus de Sphaera

Sacrobosco Project
     Johannes de Sacrobosco's Tractatus de Sphaera was one of the most popular astronomical books of all times. Before the invention of the press, it was widely used in manuscript form. In the 15th century, shortly after the development of printing, it was one of the first scientific books to be published, in 1472. Afterwards, it underwent successive editions – more than 200, up to the 17th century. 
     We present here the result of a preliminary survey of the editions and commentaries of the Tractatus de Sphaera that we have been able to find. Of course, this is not a complete list. It is a first step towards a full bibliography of published editions of Sacrobosco's famous work. 
     There are also some later editions with a purely historical aim (such as Thorndike's edition). They are not listed here.
     This survey used several bibliographic instruments, such as the two standard historical astronomical bibliographies – those of Lalande and Houzeau & Lancaster:
  • LALANDE, Jérôme de. Bibliographie astronomique; avec l’histoire de l’astronomie depuis 1781 jusqu’á 1802. Paris : De l’Imprimérie de la République, an XI [1803]. Reprint, Amsterdam: Meridian Publishing, 1970.
  • HOUZEAU, J.C.  & LANCASTER, A. B. M. Bibliographie générale de l’astronomie. Bruxelles: F. Hayez, 1882-1889. 2 vols. in 3 parts. Reprint, London : The Holland Press, 1964.
  • There is an electronic version available (page by page) online at this address :
         Although those sources are sometimes unreliable, they are very useful. In some cases, those bibliographies provide a very short description of editions that we have been unable to find in any library, and in those cases we have added a warning that the edition is doubtful. 
         We have consulted several printed and online library catalogues, and NUC (the United States National Union Catalog), that was very helpful:
    • LIBRARY OF CONGRESS & AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION. National Union Catalog, Pre-1956 Imprints. A cumulative author list representing Library of Congress printed cards for books, pamphlets, maps, atlases, music, and periodicals, and titles reported by other North American Libraries. London: Mansell, 1968-1981. 754 vols.
         Information about the editions of Sacrobosco's works can be found at NUC vol. 513. It lists about 170 different editions (there is some overlap of entries describing the same work).
         Whenever possible we have added information about libraries where each edition can be found. All USA locations provided by NUC were included. Information about other libraries was not sistematically included – practical issues limited the scope of this survey.
         Additional information and corrections are welcome, of course.
    Roberto de Andrade Martins
    Group of History and Theory of Science
    University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil
    Editions of Sacrobosco's Tractatus de Sphaera
        You can look for specific editions of Sacrobosco's book in chronological order, following the links below.
    15th century
    17th century

    Johannes de Sacrobosco - Editions of the Tractatus de Sphaera - home
    Roberto de Andrade Martins -
    Group of History, Theory of Science and Science Teaching, University of São Paulo, Brazil - GHTC