Medieval Europe’s satanic ciphers: on the genesis of a modern myth

  title={Medieval Europe’s satanic ciphers: on the genesis of a modern myth},
  author={Carl Philipp Emanuel Nothaft},
  journal={British Journal for the History of Mathematics},
  pages={107 - 136}
  • C. Nothaft
  • Published 12 February 2020
  • History
  • British Journal for the History of Mathematics
The purpose of this article is to investigate the genesis and growth of a historical canard that can be encountered in numerous popular as well as some scholarly publications devoted to the history of mathematics. According to one of the core elements of this story, the number or symbol for zero was the cause of much anxiety in medieval Europe, as its unusual properties caused it to be associated with the Devil or with black magic. This anxiety is supposed to have extended to the entire system… 



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