Chapter

Constructing the Future

Robert S. Westman

in The Copernican Question

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780520254817
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948167 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520254817.003.0003
Constructing the Future

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Print, chronic warfare, the growth of towns and cities, and the arrival of syphilis converged in the late fifteenth century to create a new horizon for astrological forecasting. Nicolaus Copernicus's arrival in Bologna to continue his studies in 1496 coincided with these emergent conditions. Violence and insecurity were almost continuous from the French invasion of Italy in 1494 to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. War in the sixteenth century also became, for the first time, an object of widespread study and public comment—largely the province of lawyers, political theorists, historians, and theologians. Although references to warfare were common enough in practical astrology, only rarely did such allusions appear in the genre of astronomical theory. Historiographical emphasis on Regiomontanus and planetary theory is hardly misplaced; but it has tended to make invisible numerous thickets of the culture of prognostication. Printing multiplied and further empowered another extraordinary genre: popular verse prophecies. Popular print prophecy drew many of its most powerful figures, tropes, and typologies from the extraordinarily influential Prognosticatio in Latino of Johannes Lichtenberger.

Keywords: Nicolaus Copernicus; printing; planetary theory; astrological forecasting; Italy; astrology; popular verse prophecies; Prognosticatio in Latino; Johannes Lichtenberger; prognostication

Chapter.  7895 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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