Fátima of Madrid, the Andalusian astronomer, a myth

Fátima de Madrid, la astrónoma andalusí, un mito

If you have ever heard of Fátima of Madrid, known as the Andalusian astronomer, daughter of the astronomer Maslama al-Mayrit (the Madrilenian), and her Treatise on the Astrolabe, I have to give you bad news: there is no document in which name it.

The first time his name is seen is in the Espasa Calpe Encyclopedia, back in 1924, with the following quote:

FATIMA. Biog. Madrid astronomer, daughter of the famous astronomer Moslema-ben-Ahmed el-Mageriti (the Madrilenian), wrote notable works on astronomy that made her famous at the end of the 10th century AD (4th century AD), in the Aljama of Madrid, where they were known as Corrections of Fátima, and he helped his father in the writing of several works, among others, in the Treatise of the Astrolabe, which is preserved in the monastery of El Escorial.

And, although there are quite a few references to her supposed father, nowhere is anything mentioned about his daughter that, if she had existed, she would have been mentioned. The so-called Treatise on the Astrolabe exists, or something like it, in the Escorial Library. But she doesn't appear anywhere. There are anonymous notes, hardly attributable to this Fatima.

In Andalusian society there were not many educated women and those who were did not have much choice about what to study. The vast majority dedicated themselves to religious studies. Another smaller group cultivated what were called secular subjects: poetry, grammar or singing. And a much smaller group dedicated themselves to the sciences: mathematics, medicine and astronomy.

Contrary to what we might believe, some of them were slaves, but it was not by choice but rather it was part of their social training. But hey, free women weren't “free” to choose what they wanted to do either, so there wasn't much difference.

So I bring you another woman who does have references:

The astronomer slave of al-Hakam II. We don't know his name but he existed. This is a real one Andalusian astronomer. This caliph reigned in Córdoba in the 10th century, his time of greatest splendor. He promoted letters and sciences and their dissemination through writings. In a manuscript kept in the National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco, in Rabat, there was an astronomer slave who was a scribe and possessed great intelligence. She was sent to Sulaymaán to learn astronomy and the use of the astrolabe. She became an expert given her natural intelligence and her love for this science. In three years she mastered it and the caliph, admired by her skills, put her to work in the castle in astronomy and rewarded Sulaymaán. Another of her luxury slaves Lubna, an expert in calculus and other sciences, as well as a poet and an excellent calligrapher. Both women appear in the book “Wise” women in al-Andalus by María Luisa de Ávila, jalong with other women doctors, poets, jurists and other professions.

So you know, you can't believe anything you read on the Internet, because in the '20s of the last century there were also fake news, but they weren't called that, they were called "errata." A round of applause from here to those unknown women who did exist and contributed to scientific research and dissemination. Thank you for your ignored legacy.

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