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Taming the Prophets : Astrology, Orthodoxy and the Word of God in Early Modern Sweden

Kjellgren, Martin LU (2011)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in English

In May 1619, the Finnish astrologer Sigfridus Aronus Forsius (d. 1624) was examined by clerical authorities. In the verdict, astrology was rejected as a pagan craft, forbidden for any Christian.

Yet still astrology was inseparable from the scholarly conception of the world. The principles of astral influence were more or less self-evident in physical theory and in medical practice. During the Reformation, astrology had been used as a prophetic method, revealing the Word of God as it was displayed in the Book of Nature. One of the more rabid critics, the grave and vehemently orthodox bishop of Strängnäs, Laurentius Paulinus Gothus (1565-1646), had even practiced the art in his youth,... (More)
Popular Abstract in English

In May 1619, the Finnish astrologer Sigfridus Aronus Forsius (d. 1624) was examined by clerical authorities. In the verdict, astrology was rejected as a pagan craft, forbidden for any Christian.

Yet still astrology was inseparable from the scholarly conception of the world. The principles of astral influence were more or less self-evident in physical theory and in medical practice. During the Reformation, astrology had been used as a prophetic method, revealing the Word of God as it was displayed in the Book of Nature. One of the more rabid critics, the grave and vehemently orthodox bishop of Strängnäs, Laurentius Paulinus Gothus (1565-1646), had even practiced the art in his youth, published astrological prognostications and gained ‘abundant maintenance’ from it.

Challenging the view of how clergymen of the Reformation contributed to the so-called ‘disenchantment of the world’ by rejecting astrology and other occult sciences, this book offers new perspectives on early modern intellectual debate. With focus on the issue of astrology, the displacement of the limits between allowable and illicit knowledge in the orthodox, Lutheran discourse, is set in context of social and political change in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth century Sweden. (Less)
Abstract
The purpose of this thesis is to analyse a displacement of the limits between allowable and illicit knowledge in the orthodox, Lutheran discourse of early modern Sweden. Focusing on the debate over astrology, exemplified in the works of Laurentius Paulinus Gothus (1565-1646) and Sigfridus Aronus Forsius (d. 1624), the thesis aims to challenge the view of how the Reformation, regarded as a preliminary stage to the Enlightenment and modern rationalism, contributed to the so-called ‘disenchantment of the world’, thus driving astrology and other ‘occult sciences’ out of the fields of established science.

Throughout the sixteenth century, astrology had been fairly accepted. The principles of astral influence were included in physical... (More)
The purpose of this thesis is to analyse a displacement of the limits between allowable and illicit knowledge in the orthodox, Lutheran discourse of early modern Sweden. Focusing on the debate over astrology, exemplified in the works of Laurentius Paulinus Gothus (1565-1646) and Sigfridus Aronus Forsius (d. 1624), the thesis aims to challenge the view of how the Reformation, regarded as a preliminary stage to the Enlightenment and modern rationalism, contributed to the so-called ‘disenchantment of the world’, thus driving astrology and other ‘occult sciences’ out of the fields of established science.

Throughout the sixteenth century, astrology had been fairly accepted. The principles of astral influence were included in physical theory, and astrology was still indispensable in medical practice. In the Reformation debate, astrology had even been used as a prophetic method in apocalyptical tracts and in preaching, and from the 1580s onwards, Swedish clergymen and intellectuals had issued astrological almanacs and prognostications. However, in the first decades of the seventeenth century, the clerical approach to astrology seemed to harden. Swedish bishops condemned astrology as a gentile, forbidden practice, and in 1619 the diocese chapter of Uppsala issued a verdict against astrological predictions.

To explain this trend, a few central factors are emphasized. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the relationship between worldly and clerical authorities changed. The division of responsibilities became clearer and the cooperation between Crown and Church was intensified. This meant that the clergy reached a new position where apocalypticism lost much of its political applicability. In the meantime, astrological literature had become accessible to the common man through the agency of the book printers. Hereby old arguments against astrology were accentuated among the orthodox in order to thwart the potentially prophetic claims of the astrologers. The main issue was not to reject astrology as such, but to maintain the clerical authority in confessional as well as in epistemological issues. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • PhD Grell, Ole Peter, Department of History, The Open University, Storbritannien
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Apocalypticism, Astrology, Confessionalization, Heterodoxy, Knowledge, Lutheranism, Magic, Orthodoxy, Politics, Power, Prophecy, Reformation, Religion, Science, Social Discipline
categories
Higher Education
pages
332 pages
publisher
Sekel Bokförlag
defense location
D138, Orkanen, Malmö högskola, Nordenskiöldsgatan 10, Malmö
defense date
2011-10-07 10:15
ISBN
978-91-85767-87-8
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
28f208a1-ee70-49ee-80b1-ed0604072768 (old id 2061333)
date added to LUP
2011-09-09 15:45:21
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:13
@misc{28f208a1-ee70-49ee-80b1-ed0604072768,
  abstract     = {The purpose of this thesis is to analyse a displacement of the limits between allowable and illicit knowledge in the orthodox, Lutheran discourse of early modern Sweden. Focusing on the debate over astrology, exemplified in the works of Laurentius Paulinus Gothus (1565-1646) and Sigfridus Aronus Forsius (d. 1624), the thesis aims to challenge the view of how the Reformation, regarded as a preliminary stage to the Enlightenment and modern rationalism, contributed to the so-called ‘disenchantment of the world’, thus driving astrology and other ‘occult sciences’ out of the fields of established science.<br/><br>
Throughout the sixteenth century, astrology had been fairly accepted. The principles of astral influence were included in physical theory, and astrology was still indispensable in medical practice. In the Reformation debate, astrology had even been used as a prophetic method in apocalyptical tracts and in preaching, and from the 1580s onwards, Swedish clergymen and intellectuals had issued astrological almanacs and prognostications. However, in the first decades of the seventeenth century, the clerical approach to astrology seemed to harden. Swedish bishops condemned astrology as a gentile, forbidden practice, and in 1619 the diocese chapter of Uppsala issued a verdict against astrological predictions. <br/><br>
To explain this trend, a few central factors are emphasized. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the relationship between worldly and clerical authorities changed. The division of responsibilities became clearer and the cooperation between Crown and Church was intensified. This meant that the clergy reached a new position where apocalypticism lost much of its political applicability. In the meantime, astrological literature had become accessible to the common man through the agency of the book printers. Hereby old arguments against astrology were accentuated among the orthodox in order to thwart the potentially prophetic claims of the astrologers. The main issue was not to reject astrology as such, but to maintain the clerical authority in confessional as well as in epistemological issues.},
  author       = {Kjellgren, Martin},
  isbn         = {978-91-85767-87-8},
  keyword      = {Apocalypticism,Astrology,Confessionalization,Heterodoxy,Knowledge,Lutheranism,Magic,Orthodoxy,Politics,Power,Prophecy,Reformation,Religion,Science,Social Discipline},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {332},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x8b02cd8)},
  title        = {Taming the Prophets : Astrology, Orthodoxy and the Word of God in Early Modern Sweden},
  year         = {2011},
}