Copernicus and the Crisis of the Bologna Prognosticators, 1496–1500

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:
Copernicus and the Crisis of the Bologna Prognosticators, 1496–1500

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Nicolaus Copernicus was involved in a culture of astrological prognosticators during his student years in Bologna. Although not a single word about astrology has survived in his writings, a great deal can be said about the specific circumstances that framed his involvement with that subject as a local practice. The four years that Copernicus spent in Bologna were a critical phase of his formative intellectual development. He made the acquaintance of the astronomer Domenico Maria Novara, who first acquainted him with difficulties in Ptolemy's theories, notably an apparent shift in the direction of the terrestrial pole. This anomaly is alleged to have stimulated his own ideas about moving the Earth. Soon after coming to the Bologna studium generale, Copernicus became associated with the senior master of astronomy in a capacity that presupposed astronomical competences in the sphere and theorics acquired during his liberal arts training at Krakow Collegium Maius.

Keywords: Nicolaus Copernicus; prognosticators; astrology; Bologna; Domenico Maria Novara; astronomy; studium generale; Collegium Maius; Ptolemy; Earth

Chapter.  19617 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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