La formulation tripartite du monde dans les encyclopédies et textes littéraires du Moyen Âge

Translated title of the contribution: The tripartite formulation of the world in the encyclopedic and literary texts of the Middle Ages

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The present article focuses on the formulaic tripartite description of the world present in many medieval geographical and historiographical texts. In medieval sources, the three parts of the world are often introduced in the order Asia, Europe and Africa, but this order sometimes varies. The focus of the investigation is the order of the components in this tripartite division. Two distinct traditions, both based on the medieval conceptual framework provided by the translatio studii et imperii are presented as possible sources for the twovariants of the formula. The first, Asia-Europe-Africa, appears to be dominant among encyclopaedic texts, in particular those reliant on Isidore’s Etymologiae. The second, Asia-Africa-Europe, appears to be more present in texts with a historic focus, such as chronicles, and is here argued to be a product of the popularity of the Trojan origin legends in medieval Europe, but its origins appear to be traceable to Orosius. It is also argued that the reversal of this order, where the formula commences with Europe, first becomes dominant only after the end of the Middle Ages, and coincides with progressive Eurocentrism of historiographical, political, and geographical discourse in that period.
Translated title of the contributionThe tripartite formulation of the world in the encyclopedic and literary texts of the Middle Ages
Original languageFrench
Title of host publicationLa Formule au Moyen Âge IV / Formulas in Medieval Culture IV
EditorsElise Louviot, Charles Garcia, Stephen Morrison
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-503-59469-9
ISBN (Print)978-2-503-59414-9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
EventLa Formule au Moyen Âge - Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale at Poitiers University, Poitiers, France
Duration: 13 Jun 201815 Jun 2018
Conference number: 4

Publication series

NameARTeM Atelier de Recherche sur les Textes Médiévaux
ISSN (Print)1782-0286
ISSN (Electronic)2565-9278


ConferenceLa Formule au Moyen Âge
Internet address


  • Imago mundi
  • Translatio studii et imperii
  • medieval Europe
  • Medieval culture
  • mappae mundi
  • history of geography
  • Encyclopaedic Texts
  • Encyclopedias


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