Horoscopes and astrology during and after the Protestant Reformation have been studied invarious ways: astrology as a part of popular belief among an anonymous population,
contemporaryliterature concerning the topic,
the stance on astrology taken by the Catholic Church and the variousProtestant confessions,
horoscopes and astrology among the higher estates of society,
and the nature of astrology as scientific knowledge progressed throughout this period.
The focus of most of these types of
studies has been on ‘high profile’ individuals: popes, kings, leaders of the dif
ferent protestant movements,and intellectuals known in their time or through later attention. These types of studies thus either developgeneralities or showcase the highest status individuals. The present study seeks to start with a short,private record of a birth and its astrological situation and then paint a picture of the biographical, cultural,political, and religious context in which the inscription was made. It begins with an artifact, a clue, asingle evidentiary exhibit, a documented performance of astrology. Who were the performers, what wastheir stage, and what script were they following?This particular story begins with the historical holdings of the Elbing Municipal Library(
Biblioteka Elbląska im. Cypriana Norwida
). One of the feature collections of this library is that of 195
Francis B. Brevart, “The German Volkskalendar of the Fifteenth Century”.
63, No. 2 (Apr.,1988): 312-342.
Curt F. Bühler, “Sixteenth
-Century Prognostications: Libri Impressi cum Notis Manuscriptis--
.33, No. 5 (Mar., 1942): 609-620.
For example, Jonathan Green. “The First Copernican Astrologer: Andreas Aurifaber’s Practica for 1541,”
Journal for the history of Astronomy
41 (2010): 157-
165; Claudia Brosseder. “The Writing in the Wittenberg Sky:
Astrology in Sixteenth-
Journal of the History of Ideas
66, No. 4 (Oct., 2005): 557-576; J. R.
Christianson, “Copernicus and the Lutherans,”
The Sixteenth Century Journal
4, no. 2. (Oct., 1973): 1-10.; JürgenG. H. Hoppmann.
Astrologie der Reformationszeit: Faust, Luther, Melanchthon und die Sternendeuterei
Zerling, 1998); Charlotte Methuen, “The Role of the Heavens in the Thought of Philip Melanchthon,”
Journal of the History of Ideas
57, No. 3 (Jul., 1996): 385-
403; Robert S. Westman, “The
Melanchthon Circle, Rheticus, and the
Wittenberg Interpretation of the Copernican Theory,”
66, no. 2 (Jun., 1975): 164-193.
cf. John Robert Christianson,
On Tycho’s Island: Tycho Brahe, Science, and Culture in the Sixteenth
,257; Monica Azzolini, “The political uses of astrology: predicting the illness and death of princes, kings and popes in the Italian Renaissance,”
Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
41 (2010): 135-145.
For an in-depth study of the progress of Copernicanism see Westman, Robert S. The CopernicanQuestion: Prognostication, Skepticism, and Celestial Order. University of California Press, Berkeley: 2011. Forastrology fully based on heliocentrism, see Brackenridge, J. Bruce
and Mary Ann Rossi. “Johannes Kepler’s on the
More Certain Fundamentals of Astrology Prague 1601. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society Vol.123, no. 2 (Apr. 27, 1979): 85-116. http://www.jstor.org/stable/986232. (accessed January 20, 2012).