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renaissance europe

As science furthered its discoveries and developed its laws of the universe, astrology became increasingly contentious, and a schism eventually developed between the previously indistinguishable studies of astronomy and astrology. For most, however, astrology continued to be a compelling subject, and one that was readily turned to in times of need.

Kings, Queens, and Mistresses

This 15th-century scientific manuscript contains articles relating to medicine, the computing of the calendar, the planets and stars, and human affairs.

This 15th-century scientific manuscript contains articles relating to medicine, the computing of the calendar, the planets and stars, and human affairs.

Astrologers have always been addicted to prophesying disaster, from famine to war, from the Black Death to the sinking of the Titanic. During February 1524, for instance, when there was a conjunction of all the planets in the water sign of Pisces, astrologers were agreed that nothing could be clearer than the fact that a second Great Flood was imminent - a flood that would drown the entire world.

More than 50 astrologers published over 100 books deliberating the implications of these worrying facts, while still being careful to cover their backs wherever possible. The philosopher Agostino Nifo (1473-c1538) suggested that, while there was likely to be more rain than usual, Jupiter's predominance over Saturn strongly suggested that this would be beneficial, not destructive. All the same, he concluded, it would be as well to watch out for floods.

When February passed with fair weather, the astrologers of Bologna University (an especially strong astrological faculty) were surprised -but were later convinced that their mistake was only in timing, for from March to December there was continuous rain, hail, and high winds.

Philip II of Spain heeded astrological advice not to visit Mary I in Englanc because of a plot against him.

The Pope even commanded prayers to mitigate the effects of the storms.

the courts of europe

The Hapsburg Emperor Rudolph II

(1552-1612) was the patron of several astrologers, while

John Dee was greatly interestec the physical aspect of astrology.

Philip II of Spain is documented as having taken specific astrological advice that warned against visiting Mary Tudor in England because of a plot against him. In England itself, the royal association with astrology - which had begun even before the arrival of William the Conqueror continued to flourish. Henry VI (1421-71) consulted a Master Welch about the time of his coronation and later engaged Richard de Vinderose, an Englishman trained in France, as his court astrologer. Henry VIII (1491-1547) was advised by

Nicholas Kratzer, a Bavarian mathematician and astrologer, and during his reign expressly instructed his clergy not to preach against astrology.

In Italy the philosopher Tomasso Campanella (1569-1639) argued the case for astrology before Pope Urban VIII, and later in France cast many horoscopes for the great and good. The philosopher and scientist Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) was another proponent of astrology, and firmly believed that "all things depend upon the upper world."

john dee

The most famous astrologer of the age in the whole of Europe, however, was John Dee (1527-1608), who was also an esteemed navigator, map-maker, and mathematician. He set the date and time for the caonrodntaimtioenfoorf the

John Dee was greatly interestec the physical aspect of astrology.

Elizabeth I, and subsequently advised the Queen on political and personal matters.

Dee - a scientist who believed that the universe worked according to mathematical laws - was the major force in Renaissance astrology. He lectured in Paris to excited crowds of students, and worked in Prague and Krakow before his return to England. He was much interested in how astrology might actually work: probably, he concluded, by "rays" of some sort emanating from the planets - there was no reason why, just as magnetic forces could be measured, one should not in time discover the nature of these rays and how they are influential upon the human soul as well as the body. Dee pleaded for more detailed astronomical study, so that the true sizes and distances, and therefore influence, of the heavenly bodies could be established. Though incomplete, his Propaedeumata is probably the greatest English astrological work.

astrology versus astronomy

The 16th century was the age of the great astronomers; modern astronomers are reluctant to acknowledge the fact that they, too, once accepted astrology as part of the universal working of things. Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) spent a great deal of time on the subject, and defended it in lectures at the University of Copenhagen. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) had many well-thumbed astrological textbooks in his library, while Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) kept his own "horoscope book". When, in 1594, he took up the post of teacher of mathematics at Graz, Kepler produced annual almanacs which appear to have been very accurate. In the first one he prophesied very cold weather and an invasion by the Turks: on 1 January it was so cold, he later assured a

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