Bartholomew Of Parma

Despite Ramon Lull's elaborate methodological treatises, probably the most elaborate treatise on geomancy written in the thirteenth century was the Summa Brevtloqium, of Bartholomew of Parma. It was written at Bologna in 1288 at the express request of Theodosius de Flisco, bishop-elect of Reggio in northern Italy. Bartholomew also appears to have written summaries of this weighty work in 1294 and 1295 for other friends who wanted a slightly more concise text! Unfortunately Bartholomew's works were never printed, although a large number of the manuscripts are extant (see manuscript bibliography). It is interesting that the bishop-elect of Reggio should have given his patronage and shown interest in the work, thereby indicating that such divinatory arts were at least not consistently condemned by the clergy of this period.

Bartholomew's work is quite detailed and begins by asserting quite emphatically that the art of geomancy originated from God and was taught to the sons of Noah by an angel who conveniently took on human form before the time of the flood. According to Bartholomew, the inventors of geomancy derived the sixteen figures 'with great ingenuity and subtlety' from observation of the configuration of the constellations, an often repeated claim to legitimize the connection between geomancy and astrology. As the figures are comparatively simple and do not appear to follow any obvious visual pattern in their astrological correspondences, this origin seems to be fallacious, but indicative of the connection between astrology and its terrestrial counterpart which as we have seen dates back to Arab usage.

Bartholomew elaborates on the simple zodiacal and planetary correspondence to include with each figure's attributions a day, month, colour, taste, stone, tree, metal and human type. Finally Bartholomew divides the figures into two basic groups:






:: Rubeus





Caput Draconis

Cauda Draconis


: Via



Fortuna Major

:: Fortuna Minor

Such a table is of course an over-simplification of the elaborate rules and categorizations supplied by Bartholomew of Parma. Bartholomew's Summa has perhaps been copied more times than any other geomantic manuscript of this or any period, and was consequently responsible for spreading the practice of geomancy far and wide.

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