Astrology and Reformation

Hardcover | November 16, 2015

byRobin B. Barnes

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During the sixteenth century, no part of the Christian West saw the development of a more powerful and pervasive astrological culture than the very home of the Reformation movement - the Protestant towns of the Holy Roman Empire. While most modern approaches to the religious and social reformsof that age give scant attention to cosmological preoccupations, Robin Barnes argues that astrological concepts and imagery played a key role in preparing the ground for the evangelical movement sparked by Martin Luther in the 1520s, as well as in shaping the distinctive characteristics of Germanevangelical culture over the following century. Spreading above all through cheap printed almanacs and prognostications, popular astrology functioned in paradoxical ways. It contributed to an enlarged and abstracted sense of the divine that led away from clericalism, sacramentalism, and the cult of the saints; at the same time, it sought toground people more squarely in practical matters of daily life. The art gained unprecedented sanction from Luther's closest associate, Philipp Melanchthon, whose teachings influenced generations of preachers, physicians, schoolmasters, and literate layfolk. But the apocalyptic astrology that came toprevail among evangelicals involved a perpetuation, even a strengthening, of ties between faith and cosmology, which played out in beliefs about nature and natural signs that would later appear as rank superstitions. Not until the early seventeenth century did Luther's heirs experience a "crisis ofpiety" that forced preachers and stargazers to part ways. Astrology and Reformation illuminates an early modern outlook that was both practical and prophetic; a world that was neither traditionally enchanted nor rationally disenchanted, but quite different from the medieval world of perception it had displaced.

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During the sixteenth century, no part of the Christian West saw the development of a more powerful and pervasive astrological culture than the very home of the Reformation movement - the Protestant towns of the Holy Roman Empire. While most modern approaches to the religious and social reformsof that age give scant attention to cosmolo...

Robin Barnes grew up in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. A graduate of Colby College in Waterville, Maine, he received a doctorate in European history from the University of Virginia. Since 1980 he has lived in Davidson, North Carolina with his wife Ann Lee Bressler, the mother of their two grown children and also an historian. After family, fr...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:408 pages, 9.29 × 6.42 × 1.18 inPublished:November 16, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199736057

ISBN - 13:9780199736058

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsA Note on SourcesIntroduction1. From Athens to Augsburg2. Mathematics and the Sacred3. The Flood4. The Campaign against Superstition5. Confessional Constellations6. Fate and Faith7. Centrifugal ForcesPostscriptLiteratureIndex

Editorial Reviews

"In this challenging study, Robin Barnes takes us on a tour of the sixteenth century's fascination with astrology. Not since Aby Warburg has a scholar understood so clearly how the deep tentacles of astrology affected all areas of sixteenth-century life. And like Warburg, too, Barnesunderstands well how profoundly the astrological mindset shaped the developing mentalities and reforms of Protestantism." --Philip M. Soergel, Professor of History, University of Maryland, College Park