Introduction to Astrology and Its Use in Weather Prediction, Medicine, and Agriculture
published in England, 1490
possibly the oldest surviving astrological text written in English instead of Latin.
pages are legible in the high resolution images available for download
A detailed introduction for the ‘mathematical practitioner’ of early Tudor England, with chapters on weather prediction, blood-letting, administration of drugs, and the planting of trees and vines. The treatise pre-supposes the existence of an ephemeride as the first chapter discusses the meaning of the term. The work then proceeds to treat the definitions and significations of the signs, planets, and the aspects.
Of special interest is Chapter 6, ‘Of fix [sic.] sterrys, after the opyneon of hermes, of grete vertue and power’, which isolates 11 stars, giving their locations within their constellations, their current position in longitude, and their astrological significance. The idea of attributing influential qualities to particular stars derives from Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos I, 9. The star names given here are in Arabic and in Latin, most likely derived form the arabo-latin translation of Plato of Tivoli (printed in 1484). It is this chapter which asserts that these stars are ‘veryfied the yere of our lorde 1490’, providing a date for the composition of the treatise, quite consistent with the hand and the paper.
Though the author is unidentified, he addresses a prince at two points (ff. 12v and 18v), promising ‘I shall write an other treatyse of the revolucions of the worlde and sects, and of folk (i.e. an astrological world history), how the state of the same may be knowen by the signs entering into Aries, and the presenting of the same by the 12 houses of hevyn…’. It should be noted that King Henry VII’s interest in astrology is attested by London, B.L. Arundel ms. 66, containing Guido Bonatti’s work and a miniature of the king within the text (see Thorndike, History of Magic IV, 437). It is certainly possible that the prince referred to in the text is King Henry.
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