Answers in the Stars

Aoife shares her annotated list of links on medieval astrology.

Hallo everyone!

This week's Links list is about Medieval Astrology. Whether you are a true believer or a real scoffer, some insight into this Medieval Science (yes you read that correctly---it was considered a mathematical discipline) will also give you insight into the daily lives of our Medieval counterparts, who often planned their lives around the movement of the stars. Was it a good time to wage war? To plot intrigue? To find profit or a husband? From the humeral theory (sometimes tied to astrology), to Oxford Scholars, to advising heads of state and explorers, Astrology as a discipline was explainable then as "God's Plan for the Universe." You may or may not fall in line with that belief, but many Medieval people did believe exactly that. Personally I find the complexities of conflicting belief systems within European society fascinating: how one section of the populous believed the Earth was flat while another actively tracked the movement of the stars and planets around the earth. Incredible.

As always I cannot verify the veracity of any of these pages, but I think you will find this information fascinating in scope: from astrological art, to mathematics, to the lives of the Medieval Rich and Famous. Please feel free to pass this links list on to anywhere it will find an interested reader, and feel free to use it to update your own Links web pages.

This Links list in no way is meant to espouse or foist anyone's belief system onto another, and is intended for educational and amusement purposes only. In fact the Author has an entirely differing belief system, but finds this one academically interesting.---Oh yeah, and someone suggested this research topic for a Links post :)

Cheers,
Aoife

History, Prophecy, and the Stars: The Christian Astrology of Pierre d'Ailly, 1350-1420 (Book Review)
http://pup.princeton.edu/titles/5508.html
(Site Excerpt) Although astrology was viewed with suspicion by the medieval church, it became a major area of inquiry for the renowned cardinal and scholar Pierre d'Ailly, whose astrological and apocalyptic writings had a significant influence on Christopher Columbus. D'Ailly's writings on the stars, the focus of this book, clearly illustrate the complex relationships among astrology, science, and Christian thinking in the late Middle Ages. Through an examination of his letters, sermons, and philosophical, astrological, and theological treatises, Laura Ackerman Smoller reveals astrology's appeal as a scientific means to interpret history and prophecy, and not merely as a magical way to forecast and manipulate one's own fate.

Pierre d'Ailly's World Map in his Ymago Mundi , 1410
http://www.henry-davis.com/MAPS/LMwebpages/238.html
(Site Excerpt) A French prelate and cardinal, celebrated for his learning, Pierre d'Ailly had great influence on the theological controversies of the late 14th, early 15th centuries, especially during the council at Constance. However, the cosmographical writings of this Archbishop of Cambrai, though immensely popular during the 15th century, were almost forgotten after the great discoveries of the early 16th century. Thanks to the research of scholars such as Alexander von Humboldt, d'Ailly's influence on subsequent exploration has received proper recognition and general acceptance.

Christopher Columbus and Astrology The Untold Story
http://astrology.about.com/library/weekly/aa050102a.htm
(Site Excerpt) In more recent years - in the genre of "tell it like it really was" books - the image, reputation, and motivations of Admiral Columbus have all been painted with somewhat darker and realistic colors. However, the untold story is that there was an alternative, little known motivation spurring on the voyages of Christopher Columbus. This little known motivation was a mixture of astrology, astrological forecasting, and apocalyptic (end of the world) Christian zeal.

Medieval Horoscope information at New York Carver
http://www.newyorkcarver.com/horoscope.htm
(Site Excerpt) The following pages provide a brief history of the ancient practice of astrology and the effect that the planets supposedly hold over our lives and fortunes; along with data on all the signs of the zodiac and their various associations; astrological symbols in medieval art and illumination;

Medieval Religion and Astrology
http://www.allsands.com/Religious/medievalreligio_xjz_gn.htm
(Site Excerpt) Astrology, although not a part of popular culture, played an important role in attempting to predict courses of events and such. At first it was shunned, because it was thought that admitting the validity of astrology would be denying that God was omnipotent, which would be bordering on blasphemy. However, students at the University of Oxford were keen to try and explain the workings of the natural world through astrology, and eventually it became popular.

Renaissance Astrology Web page
http://www.renaissanceastrology.com/links.html
(Site Excerpt) All of the following astrologers follow some variety of European astrology as it was practiced in the 500 years from the reception of Arabic science in the 13th century, through the Renaissance, into the early modern period and its decline around 1700 with the advent of the Enlightenment. This type of astrology is variously referred to as "medieval" (by Robert Zoller, who concentrates on the earlier half of this period), "classical" (by Lee Lehman, basically, but not slavishly, a follower of Lilly in the early modern period) or "traditional".

John Dee (Biography of the Scientist and Astrologer who advised Elizabeth I)
http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Dee.html
(Site Excerpt) One would not expect a modern astronomer to say "observations of the heavenly influences" but Dee, in common with the general practice in his time, believed in astrology. However, Dee sought a scientific explanation for the reasons that the positions of the planets at the moment of a person's birth would affect their future. He would argue that each body emitted rays of force which acted on all other bodies. One could view this as an early form of the law of universal gravitation, but this might be somewhat overstating Dee's idea. However, Newton's concept of force certainly derived from concepts of magic powers such as those of Dee. We should stress, however, that Dee's approach was always through mathematics and he sought a scientific explanation.

Ab Ma'sar, Libri mysteriorum: The astrological metaphors.
Italian translation by Giuseppe Bezza from Angelicus 29, fo. 62ss.
Laurentianus Plut. 28, 33, fo. 123ss.
english translation by Daria Dudziak (with original arabic shown)

http://www.cieloeterra.it/eng/eng.testi.metafore/eng.metafore.html
(Site Excerpt) II, 167. On the opposition of the signs and on the friendship of the stars.
All the signs are opposite to other signs: Taurus and Capricorn, for example, are opposite to Virgo since these signs injure the stars that are in Virgo; and Leo is opposite to Aries, as Leo truly eats the Aries ; and Sagittarius is opposite to Leo, since Sagittarius means bow-shooting.

The Preservation and Acceleration of Astrology in the Arabic World by Edmond H. Wollmann
http://www.astroconsulting.com/FAQs/arabic.htm
(Site excerpt) Modern astrological fundamentals came down to us via the Hermeticism and Neoplatonism of the Renaissance; the continued and refined astral religion of the Babylonians. (1) The Greeks were the first to refine that astral religion, with Greek geometry and concepts of realism based on the confidence in reason. This stems from an appreciation of the physical world and its mechanics as indicative of the will of the Gods. The rise of the Christian cult and notions of discounting that physical beauty and exploration of God through the material world and senses, brought about the steady decline of intellectual pursuits in the west, and the ages now known as "Dark".

Research Sources for Astrology (Arabic Astrology)
http://www.smoe.org/arcana/astrol8.html
(Site Excerpt) Islam grew up in an environment in which Christianity, Judaism and astrology were all important. Planet-worshiping Mesopotamian pagans (Sabians) who passed for an obscure religion praised in the Koran, were also influential. Islamic thinkers generally had an attitude toward astrology which resembled the Jewish one more than the usual Christian one. Islamic thinkers generally allowed one to practice astrology, while they might condemn ideas and practices which were conflicted with Islam, e.g., predicting the rise and fall of world religions.....

John Dee Society Biographical Timeline (Requires Acrobat Reader)
http://www.johndee.org/calder/pdf/Calder6.pdf

Astrology: A Brief History of the Oldest Science Known to Humankind
http://www.astrology.com/history.html
(Site Excerpt) Sometimes they're uncanny in their accuracy; other times they hit a bit off the mark. Nearly always, horoscopes are good entertainment. But Astrology is far more complex than a daily horoscope-and it's not just for fun. Contrary to its popular but erroneous reputation as a New Age subject, Astrology is actually an ancient science that predates both astronomy and psychology. Studied and used throughout the world for thousands of years, Astrology is the study of the interactions among the Stars and the Planets, based on intricate mathematical cycles.

WEMSK8: Astronomy (a bibliography of sources, many of which are Astrological in nature)
http://orb.rhodes.edu/wemsk/astronomywemsk.html
(Site Excerpt) It is difficult to distinguish between astronomy and astrology in the Middle Ages, so I shall not even try.