Chapter

Varieties of Astrological Credibility

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/9780520254817.003.0007
Varieties of Astrological Credibility

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Nicolaus Copernicus's name became associated with an optimistic and safe view of prognosticatory practice, especially through the Prutenic Tables. As a resource of astrological forecast, the Wittenberg articulation of Copernican-based tables and mechanisms marked the special confidence of the Melanchthonian wing of the Protestant movement in decoding the divine plan through its manifestations in nature. Philipp Melanchthon and his son-in-law Caspar Peucer allowed the greatest latitude for different kinds of divination; but Martin Luther was much more wary than Melanchthon about any sort of prophecy that was not exclusively based on the Bible and other sacred texts. This chapter explores the boundary between divine and demonic divination—the perilous divide on which hardy mid-century defenders of astrology's credibility balanced their goals. It also focuses on Giuliano Ristori of Prato (1492–1556) and his prognostication of the early death of Alessandro, illegitimate son of Lorenzo de'Medici the Younger, soon to become ruler of the Florentine Republic (1530); John Dee's contacts with Gemma Frisius and other Louvain mathematical practitioners of the 1540s; and Jofrancus Offusius's novel effort to contain the Piconian challenge.

Keywords: Nicolaus Copernicus; prognostication; divination; Wittenberg; Philipp Melanchthon; astrology; Giuliano Ristori; John Dee; Louvain; Jofrancus Offusius

Chapter.  16536 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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