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THE RENAISSANCE


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Author Topic: THE RENAISSANCE  (Read 4074 times)
Bianca
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« Reply #135 on: May 23, 2009, 08:46:58 pm »









Andalo di Negro was another theorist of astrological medicine, suggesting how from the study of planetary positions you could tell whether a patient would or would not recover from an illness, what the cause of that illness was, the best times to administer laxatives, for bleeding, operating, and so on, and even suggesting, for the lay reader, the means of discovering whether the doctor attending a patient was experienced and honest, or even whether though of an evil nature he might be likely to do the patient good by accident! Interestingly enough, Andalo admits that the patient's horoscope is not likely to be helpful, because it is extremely unlikely to be accurate (the difficulty of finding out the birth time of an ordinary, undistinguished member of the general public was almost insuperable).

Boccaccio thought him a splendid man, and complimented him on his grave deportment and vast knowledge of the stars, who 'since he has travelled almost the whole surface of the earth, gaining experience in every climate and under every horizon, knew by direct vision what we can only learn from gossip.'

Geoffrey of Meaux is said to have predicted the approach of the Black Death (although to be fair there is no actual record of this), allegedly connecting it to the appearance of a notable comet in 1315, another in 1337, and a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 1325. He was obviously a man of some reputation - he is named as one of the six physicians who attended Charles IV at his coronation in 1326, magnificently clothed in fine furs at the king's expense, and taking precedence over the six surgeons who attended.

Geoffrey seems to have worked for some time at Oxford, for it is from there that he dates a work on the causes of the Black Death (in which, among other things, he suggests that because there were at the time few stars of magnitude in the sign Aquarius, the plague attacked the peasantry rather more violently than the nobility). In his work on the comet of 1337, he points out that it was generated by Mars and Saturn in Gemini, and therefore signalled infections of the blood, which suggested (since Gemini was involved) an epidemic of some kind, perhaps particularly affecting rulers and the clergy.

He gave special attention to the contagious elements of the plague, why it should attack some people and not others, why rage in one street and leave another unscathed. This was, of course, nothing to do with hygiene, but could be explained entirely by a study of the planets. As for remedy, he advised people to keep warm, not to eat or drink too much, and to encourage liberal perspiration two or three times a week.

A patient could be rubbed down with a solution of linseed and camomile cooked in wine, and given spiced brandy. There is one extremely sensible piece of advice: 'Everyone should avoid standing or talking for any length of time with anybody who has the sickness, for it is contagious, poisonous and deadly in every way'. 
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« Reply #136 on: May 23, 2009, 08:48:55 pm »










Another strong adherent of astrological medicine was the remarkable Guy de Chauliac, born at the turn of the century, an ordinary peasant boy taken up by the local nobility and given an education. He became a canon and provost of St Just at Lyons, and physician to three Popes: Clement VI, Innocent VI and Urban V. While serving them in their palace at Avignon, he met and became a friend of Petrarch.

His interest in medicine was compulsive, and among his writings is one of the most comprehensive treatises on surgery to have survived from his time. Much of his work was sound and original (he was the first surgeon we know to have used a catheter to diagnose stone in the bladder).

He, like Geoffrey, ascribed the Black Death to the 1345 conjunction of the three superior planets in Aquarius, entirely accepted the connection between various zodiacal signs and certain areas of the body, advised the use of the planets to time the administration of purgatives or bleeding, noted 'critical days', and produced such astrological aphorisms as 'A wound in the neck while the Moon is in Taurus will always be dangerous'! 
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« Reply #137 on: May 23, 2009, 08:50:21 pm »










Another use of astrology emphasized in the 1300s and 1400s was in weather forecasting.

The meteorologists of the Middle Ages observed astronomical tables rather than barometric pressure; with agriculture playing so important a part in national economies, it was natural that astrologers should turn their attention to weather forecasting - the prediction of fine weather, storms, rain or flood.

One of the earliest English astrological meteorologists was one Robert of York, a friar who lived in the first half of the 14th century (he may have died of the plague in 1345).

Robert seems to have published, at York in 1325, a work on weather prediction into which a great deal of original thought had gone; after a long preamble about the nature of the four elements and their relationship to terrestrial weather, he provides rules for predicting rain, frost, hail, snow, thunder, wind and tides, and for good measure earthquake, pestilence, wars and rebellions.

William Merlee, or Morley, a fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and a Lincolnshire rector (who died in 1347) was not only an astrological weather forecaster, but is the first Englishman of whom we hear who kept a detailed record of the weather (over seven years). Using these records, he compiled a discourse on meteorology which went into twelve chapters, in which he not only discusses the signs of good or bad weather but interprets them. It is an intensely empirical work, and Merlee makes use not only of his own observations, but those of farmers, seamen, and others depending on the weather.

At least one continental European produced a parallel study: Enno of Wurzburg published a very similar work during which he shows how he was able to forecast heavy snows, storms, high winds and other phenomena.   
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« Reply #138 on: May 23, 2009, 08:51:42 pm »










General astrological work continued at all levels: at the highest, Leo Hebreus made predictions for Pope Benedict XII and for Clement VI, and John de Murs was commissioned by the latter to produce an astrological calendar, and allegedly forecast the Pope's death in 1352. De Murs was a considerable astronomer, and agitated for calendar reform.

In England, John Eschenden (we choose, arbitrarily, one of at least fourteen alternative spellings of his name) produced a number of astrological works which are close to the almanacs that were to proliferate in the 16th century and later: he forecast such general results of astronomical activity that almost anything that happened could be verified by reference to his work.

For instance, as a result of the total eclipse of the Moon of 20 March 1345, and the conjunction of the three superior planets - which according to Geoffrey of Meaux and Guy de Chauliac signalled the approach of the plague - Eschenden predicted diseases for men and beasts, death and many wars, cold, rain and snow, violent winds, rotten-ness in the air, worm-eaten crops, the sickness of domestic beasts, the birth of several men of genius, ill behaviour within the Church, wind and thunder, robberies, shipwrecks, drought, arson, great heat, thunderbolts and 'much cold and heat in their seasons'.

Apart from all this, serious theological argument continued, if not at very high pressure. The most notable English participant was Thomas Bradwardine (c 1290-I349), known as 'the profound doctor', Chancellor of Oxford University and Professor of Divinity, chaplain and confessor to Edward III, and in 1349 Archbishop of Canterbury (though he died only a month after his consecration).   
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« Reply #139 on: May 23, 2009, 08:54:10 pm »










In De causa Dei, Bradwardine advanced all the well-tried objections to astrology (more or less recapitulated from Augustine and other early authorities). But once having made it quite clear where he stood on fatalism, he put up a rather spectacular defence of astrology, totally approving Ptolemy's approach to the subject, and suggesting that it is a positive Christian duty to consider the effect the planets have on man's character, and to foster the good traits they have implanted while suppressing the evil ones.

He gives the example of a merchant he once met, who confessed to him that the planets at the time of his birth indicated homosexual lust. But by application, he had overcome this. Bradwardine also quotes from a work attributed to Aristotle which told of Hippocrates visiting a physiognomist, being told that his face was that of a wanton deceiver, and admitting that he had perceived these traits in himself through a study of his horoscope, and had stifled them.

Summing up, Bradwardine suggests that all theologians should study astrology, the science of celestial things and therefore the science closest to God.

This was by no means the unanimous view of all theologians. John Wycliffe (c 1320-84), the man who instituted the first complete English translation of the Bible, studied astrology quite closely, and apparently came to the conclusion that it was unimportant rather than positively evil.

When he spoke of it, as he did in his sermons, it was as a subject which was futile; it was a waste of time for friars to study 'vain sophystry and astronomy' rather than the Bible - although it must be said that his arguments, which include an attack on astrologers for not being able to explain whether angels regulated the movements of the planets, and the accusation that Joshua's causing the Sun to stand still in the sky made a nonsense of the whole astrological theory, are not of the keenest.
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« Reply #140 on: May 23, 2009, 08:55:37 pm »










A much more coherent, dangerous opponent of astrology was Nicole Oresme, a theological student from Paris who became head of the College of Navarre, and was at his death Bishop of Lisieux. He seems to have been particularly concerned at the too great reliance placed on astrology and divination by princes, though he was far from condemning the whole idea of astrology.

In one short treatise he seems to be trying to prove that on the whole those princes much devoted to astrology were unfortunate in their lives; but in the same essay he carefully discriminates between 'good' and 'bad' astrology. Most opponents repeated (and still repeat) the old anti-astrological arguments. Oresme was a little more original. He argued that as it was impossible fully to predict the movements of the planets and stars, so it was obviously impossible to use them for prediction.

He claimed, not producing any great body of evidence, that the Bible condemned astrology; attacked it as an inexact and often fallacious science; and claimed that, anyway, astrologers did not know nearly enough about the effects of the planets to be able to draw any firm conclusions about them.

One point he makes very clearly would appeal to most modern astrologers: he disclaims any idea that the planets or stars could have any occult effect on man. If there is an influence, he says, it must be material - the result of light and heat, he thought. Modern astrologers would mostly say, rather, that any planetary effect is the result of some very real but so far unfathomed force (similar in nature to that of gravity), but would agree with Oresme that whatever that force is, it is certainly not occult.

He recapitulates the familiar argument about the birth of twins, the different deaths of people born at different times, and so on. As far as the mustering of a large body of argument is concerned, he seems most determined of all opponents of astrology. And yet - and this illustrates the continuing general attitude as strongly as anything - he concludes:

"I say that the prince and any other person should greatly honour true students in astrology who make tables of observations and critical rules for judgements and those who know how to consider scientifically the natures of things, discriminating the true from the false, and consents to the propositions that many of men's actions would not take place if 'the sky' did not prompt them; that astrological weather prediction was possible (if often inaccurate), that the planets seemed to influence certain general activities such as political or religious movements."

He was not an easy man to fool: when he experimented with 'elections' - the setting up of a chart for the moment of time, in order to determine an action or an attitude - and failed, he complained to an astrologer, and was told that there were factors in his own horoscope which showed that he would not be good at that aspect of the subject. 'And why', he enquired tartly and with reason, 'did you not tell me that in the first place?'

The fact that despite his antagonism he was forced to conclude that there were aspects of astrology deserving respect has a certain force. 
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« Reply #141 on: May 23, 2009, 08:57:44 pm »


                                             CHARLES V









Oresme's arguments were certainly familiar to his patron Charles V of France (1337-80) - Charles the Wise, as he was called - who collected a notable library at the Louvre (it became the foundation of the Bibliotèque Royale), and whose other scholarly advisers included Raoul de Presles, Philippe de Mésières and a large number of astrologers.

He was not the only monarch, of course, to find the subject of interest. When King John of France came to grief at Poitiers in 1356, he spent his subsequent captivity talking with an astrologer who had been brought by the English from Bourges because his predictions were so accurate.

The whole Hundred Years War was conducted amid a cacophony of prediction and advice from astrologers. Jacques de Saint André, a canon of Tours (later to become a friend of King John) firmly predicted the victor of Cocherel in 1364; Thomelin de Turgof, an English captain, had even earlier selected du Guescim as the victor of Cocherel.

Yves de Saint Branchier accompanied the Constable of France into battle, and selected the precise moment when he should launch his attacks. Jacques de Montciclat predicted the deaths of du Guesclin and King John. Charles the Wise himself employed Pierre de Valois of Coucy, who had also worked in England, and André de Sully, who forecast the battle of April 1366 in Spain and drew up the horoscopes of Charles' three sons, Charles, Louis and John.
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« Reply #142 on: May 23, 2009, 09:00:44 pm »










But there are lesser astrologers whose names have not survived, who worked at a lower level among the troops, predicting the success or failure of this battle or of that; many of them just such cheapjacks as sprang up at the sign of any disaster, to predict illness, recovery, death, to the gullible who wanted to know what the future held.

Charles himself, whatever Oresme's attempts to wean him from reliance on the planets, seems to have conducted much of his private as well as his public life on the advice of his astrologers - who for instance drew up the horoscopes of himself and his fiancée before their marriage. He is known to have read Ptolemy, Albenragel, Guido Bonatti, as well as more modern writers, and founded a college for the study of astrology and astrological medicine at the University of Paris, giving it a good library, a fine collection of astronomical instruments, and several scholarships.

Of course there were occasional failures, some risible. On one occasion astrologers ordered a knight to prepare his arms for a duel at a particular moment of time which would ensure his success. He did so, only to find that at the moment when the conflict was to begin, it poured with rain, and the whole thing was called off.

Well, at least he escaped death or injury, which was success of a sort.
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« Reply #143 on: May 23, 2009, 09:02:12 pm »









As the 14th century ends, there is still no real sign of a diminution of the powers of astrologers. The French and English courts, the Bohemian court, the German court all relied on them to some extent, and it is difficult not to see serious attacks on them as uncharacteristic and even eccentric - except for jokes at the expense of the over-credulous; such as that of Sebastian Brant, in his Das Narrenschiff (Ship of fools), first published in 1494 in Basel.

This long satirical work sees the whole world as populated by fools, and attacks dishonest cooks, crooked lawyers, jerry-builders, blasphemers, cheating tradesmen, adulterous wives, with equally splenetic vigour. Astrologers, or 'star-gazers', were among his targets (as these lines, from William Gillis's translation, illustrate):



The stars, they say, aren't independent,

Events both great and small attendant

Upon them; every flea-brain notion

Is read in each celestial motion:

What he should say and what advise.

And will his fortunes sink or rise,

His plans, his actions, well or sick

Outrageous hocus-pocus trick.

The world, which grows more stultified,

To trust in fools is satisfied.

The traffic in these divinations

Appeals to printers' inclinations;

They print as much as fools can bring,

Each shameful word dolts say or sing.

The public's failure to reprove it

Must witness that the folk approve it ...



http://www.meta-religion.com/Esoterism/Astrology/first_cause_of_motion.htm
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