The number of English arithmetics before the sixteenth century is very small. This is hardly to be wondered at, as no one requiring to use even the simplest operations of the art up to the middle of the fifteenth century was likely to be ignorant of Latin, in which language there were several treatises in a considerable number of manuscripts, as shown by the quantity of them still in existence. Until modern commerce was fairly well established, few persons required more arithmetic than addition and subtraction, and even in the thirteenth century, scientific treatises addressed to advanced students contemplated the likelihood of their not being able to do simple division. On the other hand, the study of astronomy necessitated, from its earliest days as a science, considerable skill and accuracy in computation, not only in the calculation of astronomical tables but in their use, a knowledge of which latter was fairly common from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries.
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