There was a reason Queen Elizabeth I asked an astrologer to appoint her coronation date (and stayed on the crown successfully for decades). What do modern academics think of astrology’s influence on history, medicine and politics, though? The BBC’s Melvyn Bragg decided to find out, in a fascinating free podcast, now archived for your listening pleasure.
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Renaissance Astrology on the BBC in this epic podcast for 2013, which begins with this famous quote
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that,
when we are sick in fortune, – often the surfeit
of our own behaviour, – we make guilty of our
disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as
if we were villains by necessity.
Astrology is considered in depth in this great podcast. What of the mysterious Dr. John Dee who chose the most propitious date for the Queen’s coronation? And the astrologers also worked in the universities and on the streets, reading horoscopes, predicting crop failures and rivalling priests and doctors as pillars of the local community?
Guests include Peter Forshaw, Lecturer in Renaissance Philosophies at Birkbeck, University of London; Lauren Kassell, Lecturer in the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge; and Jonathan Sawday, Professor of English Studies at the University of Strathclyde. This is great listening from the BBC.
Pictured – Cate Blanchett in the film Elizabeth
RENAISSANCE ASTROLOGY READING LIST
Find more suggested reading at the BBC website.
- Curry, Patrick, Prophecy and Power: Astrology in Early Modern England (Oxford: Polity Press and Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989)
William R. Newman and Anthony Grafton (eds.), Secrets of Nature: Astrology and Alchemy in Early Modern Europe (MIT, 2001)
Geneva, Ann, Astrology and the Seventeenth Century Mind: William Lilly and the Language of the Stars (Manchester, 1995)
Grafton, Anthony, Cardano’s Cosmos: The Worlds and Works of a Renaissance Astrologer (Harvard, 1999)
MacDonald, Michael, Mystical Bedlam: Madness, Anxiety, and Healing in Seventeenth-Century England (Cambridge, 1981)
Niccoli, Ottavia, Prophecy and People in Renaissance Italy, trans. Lydia Cochrane (Princeton, 1990)