Chapter

The Wittenberg Interpretation of Copernicus's Theory

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/9780520254817.003.0006
The Wittenberg Interpretation of Copernicus's Theory

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Nicolaus Copernicus's reputation as a learned astronomer was established very quickly in the two decades after the appearance of the Narratio and De Revolutionibus. But De Revolutionibus was not the only resource for disseminating Copernicus's views. After Erasmus Reinhold's Prutenic Tables appeared in 1551, Copernicus's renown within the literature of the heavens became firmly anchored to the domain of practical astronomy, even among constituencies unfamiliar directly with De Revolutionibus itself. From the perspective of the historical agents, there is a simple explanation for this state of affairs: the dominant preoccupation of those who possessed techniques of celestial investigation was the making of knowledge about the future. And in the mid-sixteenth century, those concerns and competences were most powerfully located in the circle of students and scholars gathered around Philipp Melanchthon at Wittenberg. The dominant figures in this Wittenberg movement were Reinhold, Caspar Peucer, and Georg Joachim Rheticus. One significant force shaping the political space of the Melanchthon group was the patronage of the territorial prince, Albrecht Hohenzollern, margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach and duke of Prussia.

Keywords: Nicolaus Copernicus; De Revolutionibus; Philipp Melanchthon; Wittenberg; Erasmus Reinhold; Prutenic Tables; Caspar Peucer; Georg Joachim Rheticus; Albrecht Hohenzollern; astronomy

Chapter.  21095 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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