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What's the meaning of "did out of no great quantity of matter"?

This kind of degenerate learning did chiefly reign amongst the schoolmen, who having sharp and strong wits, and abundance of leisure, and small variety of reading, but their wits being shut up in the cells of a few authors (chiefly Aristotle their dictator) as their persons were shut up in the cells of monasteries and colleges, and knowing little history, either of nature or time, did out of no great quantity of matter and infinite agitation of wit spin out unto us those laborious webs of learning which are extant in their books.

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    Not stated by @Tayyab: from The Advancement of Learning (Francis Bacon, 1605) Aug 17 '20 at 21:40
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ORIGINAL LANGUAGE

  1. This kind of degenerate learning
  2. did chiefly reign amongst the schoolmen,
  3. who having sharp and strong wits, and abundance of leisure, and small variety of reading,
  4. but their wits being shut up in the cells of a few authors (chiefly Aristotle their dictator) as their persons were shut up in the cells of monasteries and colleges,
  5. and knowing little history, either of nature or time,
  6. did out of no great quantity of matter and infinite agitation of wit spin out unto us those laborious webs of learning which are extant in their books.

MY PARAPHRASE

  1. This kind of degenerate learning
  2. was common among the school men,
  3. who had good minds, plenty of free time, and only one kind of reading.
  4. They were shut up in monasteries and colleges, and they read only a few authors, mainly Aristotle,
  5. and they did not know much history.
  6. From this small amount of material (the books by just a few authors) and much thought about it, they spun those laborious webs of learning which exist in their books.
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It may help to restate some of the sentence with changed word order:

The schoolmen did spin out (out of no great quantity of matter) and (infinite agitation of wit) unto us .... books.

And then to gloss the phrase in question:

The so called "schoolmen" made up the material for their webs of learning, and the books they filled with it, with
little source material (no great quantity of matter),
and
a lot of frenzied thinking (infinite agitation of wit).

The phrase "no great quantity of matter" refers back to "a small variety of reading" and "few authors" and "knowing little of history, either of nature or of time".

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