FROM MĀSHĀʾALLĀH TO KEPLER Theory and Practice in Medieval and Renaissance Astrology Edited by Charles Burnett and Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum SOPHIA CENTRE PRESS Cover image: the horoscope of the creation

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FROM MĀSHĀʾALLĀH TO KEPLER Theory and Practice in Medieval and Renaissance Astrology Edited by Charles Burnett and Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum SOPHIA CENTRE PRESS Cover image: the horoscope of the creation of the world, dedicated to the future Henry VIII, including a world map, the four winds, the signs of the zodiac (in gold), the planets in their degrees of exaltation (except Mercury) and the twelve astrological places: I (beginning of) life; II moveable property and helpers; III siblings, short journeys and religions; IV parents, immoveable property and ships; V children and entertainment; VI illnesses and servants; VII marriage and controversies; VIII death and inheritance; IX religion and long journeys; X rulership and profession; XI friends and hope; XII enemies and large animals. The British Library Board, Royal 12 B. VI, f. 1. Used with permission. Sophia Centre Press 2015 First published in All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or utilised in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Publishers. Sophia Centre Press University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, Ceredigion, Wales SA48 7ED, United Kingdom. ISBN British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data. A catalogue card for this book is available from the British Library. Printed in the UK by Lightning Source. DEDICATION In memoriam Giuseppe Bezza 21 September June 2014 amico nostro, caro et docto CONTENTS Dedication Contents Abstracts v vii ix Introduction 1 Charles Burnett and Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum Saturn Jupiter Conjunctions and General Astrology: Ptolemy, 5 Abū Maʿshar and Their Commentators Giuseppe Bezza From Baghdad to Civitas Solis: Horoscopes of Foundations of 49 Cities Jean-Patrice Boudet Galileo s Astrological Philosophy 77 Bernadette Brady Interpreting Interpretations: The Aphorism in the Practice of the 101 Renaissance Astrologers Geoffrey Cornelius Curriculum by Design: Ibn Ezra s Astrological Texts 123 Meira Epstein Astrology in al-andalus during the 11 th and 12 th Centuries: 149 Between Religion and Philosophy Miquel Forcada Kepler s Personal Astrology: Two Letters to Michael Maestlin 177 Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum Evidence in Bonatti for the Practical Application of Certain 201 Astrological Techniques Robert Hand Paul of Middelburg s Prognosticum for the years 1484 to Stephan Heilen Al-Bīrūnī on the Computation of Primary Progression (tasyīr) 279 Jan Hogendijk viii Cosmological Traditions in Judeo-Byzantine South Italy: A 309 Preliminary Analysis Piergabriele Mancuso Quantitative Concepts in Hellenistic and Medieval Astrology 325 Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas Giuliano Ristori and Filippo Fantoni on Pseudo-Prophets, 353 Great Conjunctions and Other Astrological Effects H. Darrel Rutkin Astrology in Morocco towards the End of the Fourteenth 407 Century and the Beginning of the Fifteenth Century Julio Samsó Elections in Medieval Islamic Folk Astronomy 425 Petra Schmidl Abraham Ibn Ezra s Interpretation of Astrology according 455 to the Two Versions of the Book of Reasons Shlomo Sela Dr Reason and Dr Experience: Culpeper s Assignation of 473 Planetary Rulers in The English Physitian Graeme Tobyn Self-Governance and the Body Politic in Renaissance Annual 491 Prognostications Steven Vanden Broecke Contributors 513 Index 519 The Sophia Centre 531 SELF GOVERNANCE AND THE BODY POLITIC IN RENAISSANCE ANNUAL PROGNOSTICATIONS Steven Vanden Broecke Introduction Extant texts which we might identify as annual prognostications appear to be no older than the middle of the fourteenth century. 1 However, there is ample evidence that the genre fits into a much older tradition of mundane astrology (also known as general astrology) which was already well represented in Book II of Claudius Ptolemy s Tetrabiblos. From at least the thirteenth century onwards, medieval textbooks on mundane astrology contain extensive discussions of forms of astrological prediction which are strongly reminiscent of the preserved annual prognostications. 2 Moreover, there is some evidence of proto prognostications for the late twelfth century. 3 Lodovica Braïda has pointed out how, as early as the eighteenth century, European elites began to adopt a strangely bifurcated interpretation of the astrological almanacs and prognostications which annually came off the European presses. 4 On the one hand, these productions were interpreted as reflections of a popular culture and folk psychology possessed by superstition and fear. On the other hand, they were approached as utilitarian instruments distributing useful knowledge amongst the masses. Any choice between these 1 Cf. Lynn Thorndike, Extracts from Augustine of Trent on the Year 1340: Latin Text, in A History of Magic and Experimental Science, 8 vols. (New York: Columbia U.P., ), III: pp Notable early examples include (ps.?)albertus Magnus, Speculum astronomiae (c. 1260); Guido Bonatti, Liber astronomiae (c. 1277); John of Eschenden, Summa iudicialis de accidentibus mundi ( ). 3 For instance, the so called Toledo letter of On this document and its impact, see now Gerd Mentgen, Astrologie und Öffentlichkeit im Mittelalter (Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann, 2005), pp Lodovica Braïda, Les almanachs italiens du XVIIIe siècle: véhicules de faux préjugés ou puissants moyens d éducation? in Les lectures du peuple en Europe et dans les Amériques du XVIIe au XXe siècle, ed. Hans Jürgen Lüsenbrink (Editions Complexe, 2003), pp 492 Steven Vanden Broecke competing interpretations is intimately entwined with the interpreter s decisions about which features of these texts will count as typical or fundamental, as well as about the social origins and legitimacy of these features. The very presence of astrology in these texts, for instance, could be classified on the side of the superstitious or the legitimate. Interestingly, the interpretive tension between the prognostication as site of information or representation of anxiety has been carried over into the historiography of astrology. Anthony Graftonʹs Cardanoʹs Cosmos, for instance, approached the Renaissance prognostication as a tool which served the utilitarian interests of the prognosticator and his audience. The prognosticator, Grafton asserted, probably hoped to gain credibility for his medical services by recruiting the astrological beliefs of his audience, while the audience gained practical advice for farmers, doctors, and others concerned with short term futures and theoretical advice for the rulers of church and state. 5 It comes as no surprise, then, that the Renaissance prognostication was presented as the early modern analogue of the contemporary weather prediction or economic forecast. 6 At the same time, Grafton found himself confronted with frequent instances where the early modern prognostication offers sweeping generalizations, sonorous, deliberately frightening language, and banal details about rain and snow or the gravest and most pompous prose to predict the obvious. Switching over to a portrait of the prognostication as arising from a sharply competitive prophetic ecology, this genre now represented the objective political and religious turmoil of the early modern world. 7 The basic nature of the Renaissance prognostication thus oscillates between its being a symptom of anxiety and a tool of instrumental reason, while the Renaissance prognosticator is cast in the alternative roles of shouting prophet and sedate knowledge maker. 8 In this paper, I would like to question both interpretations by portraying the early Renaissance prognostication as an instrument of self governance. Renaissance self governance, I would like to 5 Anthony Grafton, Cardano s Cosmos: The Worlds and Works of a Renaissance Astrologer (Cambridge MA: Harvard U.P., 1999), pp. 42, Anthony Grafton, Starry Messengers. Recent work in the History of Western Astrology, Perspectives on Science 8 (2000): pp Grafton, Cardano s Cosmos, pp. 44, A hysteria supposedly stimulated by popular belief in prophecy and divine punishment. Self-Governance and the Body Politic in Annual Prognostications 493 suggest, differs from more modern models of self conduct in two important ways. On the one hand, it primarily addresses a situation of being governed by an Other with superior force. In the case of astrology, this Other is the visible heavens, and its government manifests itself in the form of fortunate or unfortunate gifts being added to the self s life story. This is the anthropological background against which Renaissance prognostications annually unveiled what one must reasonably hope and fear. To interpret the latter revelations as symptoms of an underlying pessimism or anxiety overlooks both the prognosticator s revelations of good fortune and his profound concern with the stability of the body politic. On the other hand, Renaissance self governance did not seek to extract or protect the self from its lifelong relation to the stars; instead, it sought to inject some measure of resistance and agency inside this reality, thus turning the self into something which was not only governed by the stars, but also by God, the intellect and the will. Accordingly, it may be anachronistic to interpret Renaissance astrology as a modern project of technical rationality which approaches the heavens as an external realm threatening the selfʹs proper domain of possessions and acquisitive acts. Preaching Godʹs Book in the Heavens Giuseppe Bezza has already pointed out how fifteenth century astrological discourse spoke of the heavens as a legible book, sometimes erroneously attributing this to the authority of Abū Ma shar. 9 Such claims were certainly prevalent in early Renaissance prognostications, where they were often cast in the language of divine providence and care for humankind. In his prognostication for 1486, Martin Pollich of Mellerstadt thus presented the visible heavens as a legible surface... in which [God] has written all things. He has fashioned a book in which we may read and acknowledge what is to happen to us, warning us for the evil future sooner than she arrives Giuseppe Bezza, Liber scriptus et liber vivus. Antecedenti astrologici alla metafora galileiana del Libro dellʹuniverso, accessed 24 July 2012, 10 Martin Pollich of Mellerstadt, Practica Lipcensis (Nürnberg, 1485), fol. [A1r]: Der Erwirdige got (...) haut auss gestrecket das fel der hymel sam ein permet in welches er 494 Steven Vanden Broecke The very availability of this book, Pollich continued, was a sign of unspeakable divine mercy (unausssprechliche barmhertzicheit). It was a gift which allowed humans to negotiate their helplessness in the face of corporeal corruption (verderben) by offering them a content of coming histories (zukunftigen geschichten). Johann Virdung s Judicium Lipczense for 1492 emphasized that it was God s will for there to be a relation of subjection between man and the stars, because it is they from whom cognition of many future events can be obtained. Moreover, Virdung continued: In Timaeus, Plato testified that those things which God wanted us to know he wrote down in the heavens as if in a book. Albumasar alludes to this when he says God made the heavens like a parchment on which the species of all inferior things are written down. 11 A clear echo of the readable book approach to the heavens can be overheard in the preface to Gaspar Laet s prognostication for 1524: And the natural force of the position of the stars is not at all the primary cause of inferiors, but the instrument of the divine mind and a secondary cause: an instrument by which God gives us an understanding of the conceptions in His mind, just as the voice by which a man imparts the conceptions of his heart. 12 On the one hand, such interpretations of the visible heavens easily closed the gap between the astrologer and the prophet. This had already been prepared in alle ding geschriben hat. Und hot gemacht ein buch darynne wir mügen lesen und erkennen was uns schedlich sey, Warnende uns vor böser czukunft ee danne sy kummet. Hain * Johannes Virdung of Hassfurt, Iudicium Lipczense (...) 1493 (...) (Leipzig, 1493), fol. [A1r]: Ipsa namque sunt ex quibus futurorum plurima haberi potest cognitio (...). Testante Platone in thimeo inquientis: ea quae a nobis deus scieri voluit scripsit in celo quasi in libro. Cui alludit et albumasar cum dicit: fecit deus celum ut pellem in quo omnium inferiorum rerum species sunt descripte. Hain * Gaspar Laet, Pronosticum (...) pro anno domini millesimo quingentesimo vigesimo quarto (Antwerp: Michael Hillenius, 1524), fol. [A1r]: Et vim positionis siderum naturalem causam inferiorum non omnino primariam esse, sed instrumentum divinae mentis et secundariam causam, mediante quo instrumento deus dat nobis inteligere mentis conceptum, sicut homo conceptus cordis per voces. Self-Governance and the Body Politic in Annual Prognostications 495 the early fifteenth century by Pierre d Ailly, who approached the heavens as a legible book in which God announced the same basic events which Scripture codified into a closed narrative. 13 D Ailly put this presupposition to use by correlating Apocalyptic end of the visible world prophecies with specific astrological phenomena and situating the latter in a given chronological framework. In doing so, D Ailly re used the regularity of celestial motion so as to offer a more secure and credible revelation of which events one should expect inside the spiritual relation to God. On the other hand, these interpretations also turned the prognostication into a starting point for negotiating God s supernatural mercy and assistance. At the end of an extensive doxography of the ancient defense of a fatal disposition in the cosmos, the preface to Paul of Middelburg s prognostication for 1482 emphasized two reasons for accepting the existence of fate while rejecting its necessity in compelling. On the one hand, Paul invoked the fact that the influxes of the stars can be stopped by a nudge of the omnipotent God ; on the other hand, there was the certainty that the actions of the stars are not received except in suitably disposed matter. 14 Acknowledgment of this first possibility was not unexceptional among the prognosticators. Consider the following passage, which appears in the preface to Johannes Laet s prognostication for 1479: With the highest God as my witness, the present [prognostication] was only written so that the hearts of men would convert to the good, and would wholly guard themselves from coming threatening evils. Whenever the stars threaten us with approaching terrestrial evils, we, forewarned, could implore God with devote minds for Him to convert to good those evil starry influences which we fear, and this out of His infinite goodness. For the divine will and human prudence both change and lift the starry influences on earth Cf. Laura Ackerman Smoller, History, Prophecy, and the Stars: The Christian Astrology of Pierre dʹailly, (Princeton NJ: Princeton U.P., 1994), p. 98, on pagans knowing of Christ s birth on the basis of a Saturn Jupiter conjunction. 14 Paul of Middelburg, Iudicium pronosticum (...) anni 1482, fols. [A2r/v]: Hain For more on Paul of Middelburg s prognostications, see the contribution of Stephan Heilen in this volume. 15 Johannes Laet, Prenosticata (...) 1479 (Cologne: Johannes Guldenschaff, 1479), fol. [A1r]: Cum teste altissimo presentia scripta ad alium finem scripta non sunt quam ut hominum corda ad bonum convertat et de futuris malis comminatis possetenus precaveant. Ut cum 496 Steven Vanden Broecke Likewise, the section on war and peace in a Practica for 1488 by Martin Pollich of Mellerstadt was concluded with But here I end, imploring the aid of the omnipotent God to assist the just and mercifully safeguard his people. 16 In his Practica for 1493, Marcus Schinnagel explained that the astrologer publicly foretells evils to come because the evils being foreknown, we should immediately and without delay implore the omnipotent God with a devote mind and supplication, with fasting and weeping, so that he would deign to avert evils known beforehand from us, wretches. 17 Pietro Bono Avogadro s prognostication for 1495 advised the people of Bologna to plead with God for the divine fabricator to safeguard this most renowned city. 18 And in the section on war and peace of Gaspar Laet s prognostication for 1525, we hear: (...) if strife would not be suspended before the summer, [I have] little hope for the rest of the year unless God, omnipotent founder of the stars, from whom the stars have a force and power of influencing these inferior things, averts or suspends their laws, or disposes the minds of men in such a way that they do not welcome the malign influences of the stars. 19 Likewise, the difference between divine potentia absoluta and potentia ordinata was often couched in the theological language of grace. Laet concluded his stelle nobis de futuris malis comminentur super terram ut tunc avisati devotis mentibus deum deprecemur ut ipse sua bonitate infinita malas stellarum influentias quas formidamus velit in bonum commutare. Quoniam voluntate dei et prudencia hominum stellarum influentie super terram alterantur atque tolluntur (...). Sole known copy: British Library IB Martin Pollich, Practica Lipcensis (Leipzig, 1487), fol. [A7v]: Sed hec et quamplura missa facio, dei omnipotentis auxilium implorans ut sit adiutor iustorum et suos misericorditer tueatur. 17 Marcus Schinnagel, Pregnosticum (...) 1492, fol. A2v: (...) illa non est mea nec alicuius astrologi intentio, sed ut statim et illico malis precognitis omnipotentem deum devota mente et oratione ieiunio et fletu implorare debeamus ut mala prius cognita a nobis miseris avertere dignetur. Hain * Pietro Bono Avogadro, Prognostico dell anno 1495 (Venezia: Cristoforo de Pensi(?), 1494), fol. A4v: Bononienses deum deprecent ut divinus fabricator hanc celeberrimam custodiat civitatem. GW 245 (cf. 19 Gaspar Laet, Pronosticum (Antwerp: Michiel Hillen van Hoochstraten, [1523]), fol. [A2v]. Wouter Nijhoff and M.E. Kronenberg, Nederlandsche bibliografie van ([Nijhoff] s Gravenhage, ), 8 vols., n 3338. Self-Governance and the Body Politic in Annual Prognostications 497 prognostication for 1478, for instance, by expressing his hope that: (...) the most glorious God would deign, out of his most benign grace, to convert and change all evil future things to good, and liberate us from unforeseen death and enemies. Amen. 20 The prognosticator s art of embodiment Despite the frequency of the prognosticator s emphasis on divine mercy it was the second possibility, mentioned by Paul of Middelburg in 1482, that would be the default option in carving out corporeal non helplessness. The basic contours of this second option were set down in a highly influential commentary on Alcabitius s Libellus isagogicus by John of Saxony (fl ), who put the point rather clearly: One is to heed the way in which a wise man can impede or help the operations of the stars. It is certain that we cannot simply block off the celestial influence, just as we cannot [stop] the general fact that fire combusts. But we can dispose the passive so as to receive the celestial influence in such or such a way. For we see that the very same solar heat dissolves ice, while hardening mud. 21 Notice John of Saxonyʹs emphasis on the fact that there is nothing to be done about the fact of one s body being affected by the cosmic play of influence. Instead, our commentator s hopes were strictly limited to an endless refashioning of the passive recipient of this play. The same set of expectations was voiced in the extremely influential Introductorium maius (in the standard 20 Johannes Laet, Pronosticatio anno presentis lxxvii (...) (Paris: Richard Blandin and Guillaume Février, 1478), fol. B8r: (...) de
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