Astrology During The Renaissance There were many different superstitions popular at the time of the Renaissance. Many people believed in luck, ghosts, witches, and astrology. There were multiple items associated with luck and have their origins in Renaissance superstitions. Such as, if something bad happened, like an injury or receiving bad news, a person during the Renaissance would record the day and time and consider it ‘unlucky’ and avoid important activities at the time from there on. Renaissance people also feared a host of supernatural beings, being the blame for everything from bad crops and sick animals to storms and fires.
Though those were very common superstitions during this time, astrology was one of the most important with the largest impact on people’s beliefs. (The History of Common Renaissance Superstitions; http://www. life123. com/holidays/halloween/superstitions/renaissance-superstitions. shtml. 12-14-12) As literature, sculpture and painting were all reaching new heights in the rebirth of classical culture In European Renaissance, so was astrology.
Several conflicting trends were obvious in Renaissance astrology.
There was a tendency towards Hellenistic astrological techniques and a new emphasis on the Greek astrologer Ptolemy. (Renaissance Astrology; http://www. renaissanceastrology. com/astrologyinrenaissancemain. html. 12-17-12 ) Astrology had reached its heights in popularity by the early sixteenth century. Many popes viewed astrology favorably. Even those who weren’t as trusting in astrology didn’t prevent the casting of its natal chart. Some, such as Catherine de Medici, went as far in their trust in astrology to say be unwilling to take a step without referring to their astrologers first. History of Astrology during the Renaissance; http://www. renaissanceastrology. com/astrologyinrenaissancemain. html. 12-17-12) The position of the planets and stars played an important part of Renaissance beliefs. Many important activities, like coronations, battles, and business deals, were never planned without consulting well-known astrologers. Then they would set up a date and time to plan those activities based upon the astrologers stargazing. (The History of Common Renaissance Superstitions; http://www. life123. com/holidays/halloween/superstitions/renaissance-superstitions. html. 12-17-12)
One of the most famous astrological predictions was the death of King Henri II of France in a tournament in 1599. Nostradamus and the Italian astrologer Luca Gaurico were considered the astrologers responsible. In the final joust, the king’s opponent’s lance shattered and the splintered pieces pierced his face and head causing him a painful death. Nostradamus had written, “The young lion will overcome the older one, in a field of combat in single fight: he will pierce his eyes in their golden cage; two wounds in one, then he dies a cruel death. Century I, Quatrain 35. (History of Astrology. http://www. renaissanceastrology. com/astrologyinrenaissancemain. html. 12-21-12) While the trust in astrology was already prevalent among its traditional clients, kings, nobles, and the wealthy, its popularity grew immensely along with the invention of printing. Numerous almanacs were being printed in Europe at this time. Almanacs usually contained a calendar, astronomical events, planetary aspects and astrological predictions. It’s estimated that one third of all English households had astrological almanacs.
Height and Decline of Astrology. http://www. astrotheme. com/files/history_of_astrology. php. 12-21-12) Yet as popularity of astrology grew, so did criticism against it. The Catholic Church became uncomfortable with the spiritual aspect of astrology to the extent that it might be controversial to the established doctrine. To be more specific, the Church was concerned over the professed implication that if the stars did determine all actions, then astrology denied man’s free will. The control exerted by the Church on research and philosophy aggravated the bad reputation of astrology. Height and Decline of Astrology. http://www. renaissanceastrology. com/astrologyinrenaissancefour. html. 12-21-12) One of the most famous works of that condemned astrology was Pico della Mirandolla’s Disputations against Divinatory Astrology. Detailed in this were problems with astrological theory and technique and condemned the denial of free will that Mirandolla saw in current astrology. Ironically, the date of Mirandolla’s death was accurately predicted by a Renaissance astrologer. (Growing Popularity and Attacks. http://www. renaissanceastrology. om/astrologyinrenaissancethree. html. 12-21-12) Astrology has certainly evolved over time. It has followed the course of human progress, increased knowledge, technical discoveries, and a better understanding of the world by men. During the Renaissance, which was a period of formidable intellectual, scientific, and cultural development for the European society, the astrologers were very influential politically. Astrology was used to decide the date for construction of important buildings and some astrologers were hired as Ambassadors.
Astrology was thriving during the Renaissance period throughout Europe. (http://www. astrotheme. com/files/history_of_astrology. php ) In different areas, at different times, astrology served for different purposes. During the Renaissance, in Europe, the people were interested in warfare, politics, and conquests. Its primary purpose was to serve those in power. The first major discovery of the Renaissance was made by Nicholas of Cusa. He affirmed that the earth had neither centre, nor perimeter, and that it rotated and called it “Theory of relativity of location and motion”.
At that time, the scientific and intellectual circles remain indifferent to his theory, but astrologers understood the importance of such a discovery. (Astrology Through the Ages. http://www. astrotheme. com/files/history_of_astrology. php 12-22-12) Nicholas Copernicus was the first to be bold enough to put forward a theory, which stated that the sun was at the center of the universe and the earth revolved around it. His theory was widely ridiculed by scientists, but received by astrologers. (History of Astrology in the Renaissance. http://www. renaissanceastrology. om/astrologyinrenaissancethree. html. 12-23-12) The bases of astrology were inherited from the Hellenistic tradition and did not evolve very much, keeping the principles of planets, signs, houses, and aspects. Astrological calculations, however, greatly improved due to the discoveries in algebra and trigonometry. The rising and setting positions and motions of planets were displayed in detailed tables and were easily published and available thanks to the newly invented printing technique. History of Renaissance Astrology. http://www. renaissanceastrology. com/astrologyinrenaissancetwo. tml. 12-21-12) Mindsets changed quickly, as usual, with the new trend that promoted opening up to the world. Astrology thrived extremely. Many imposers tried to advise on things such as fashionable clothes or hairdressing, which the people fed off of, so learned astrologers, had to remain cautious. Medical astrology was also developed and was taught in European universities.
A common belief of the time was that in order to be a good medical practitioner, one had to be a good astrologer. (Growing Popularity and Attacks on Astrology. http://www. astrotheme. com/files/history_of_astrology. hp. 12-23-12) Slowly, astrology reached its climax as the Renaissance unfolded. It was supported by the pope in Italy, Queen Catherine of Medici protected astrologers in France and among which was one of the most well-known, Nostradamus. Nostradamus’ prophecies are among the most favored ones. Michel de Nostredame was a French astrologer whose predictions were very controversial. He would use planetary cycles and chronological periods, in additions to his great conjunctions. According to the published prophecies, he caused a sensation after King Henri II died. Height and Decline of Astrology. http://www. renaissanceastrology. com/astrologyinrenaissancetwo. html. 12-27-12) As medieval civilization grew in size and complexity, the necessary knowledge to erect and delineate charts became more widely dispersed and employed. It became commonplace, particularly in the advanced city-states of northern Italy, for nobles, kings, and wealthy bourgeoisie to consult astrologers for guidance in their affairs. Astrology was taught at many universities and was a generally accepted part of world view.
Therefore, Greek and Roman astrology, modified and passed on to Europe in the Middle Ages, became the astrology of the Renaissance. (Growing Popularity and Attacks on Astrology; http://www. renaissanceastrology. com/astrologyinrenaissancethree. html. 1-1-13) One of the most known characteristics of the Renaissance was the trend towards humanism and a revival of classical knowledge. This rediscovery of knowledge took place in astrology as well and astrologers were more and more turning to Ptolemy as the example of the “true” classical astrology. Ptolemy was an Alexandrian Greek astrologer who lived in the 2nd century.
His book Tetrabiblos, was a basic test of astrology that had always been highly regarded. But during the Renaissance astrologers began to reject any techniques are doctrine that it did not include. (The History of Astrology; http://www. renaissanceastrology. com/astrologyinrenaissancemain. html. 1-1-13) Over time, the way astrology has been viewed and believed has changed. One of the biggest time periods for high beliefs in astrology was during the Renaissance. People relied on learned astrologers to plan major things in their lives, reflected from the astrologer’s stargazing.
There were many well-known astrologers during the time of the Renaissance, such as, Nostradamus, Copernicus, and Nicholas of Cusa, that all impacted the believers of astrology. Through many different ways, astrology made a tremendous impact on the people of the Renaissance. Bibliography (The History of Common Renaissance Superstitions; http://www. life123. com/holidays/halloween/superstitions/renaissance-superstitions. shtml. 12-14-12) (The History of Astrology; http://www. renaissanceastrology. com/astrologyinrenaissancemain. html. 1-1-13)
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