The Astronomer and the Witch: Johannes Keplers Fight for his Mother

Hardcover | October 9, 2015

byUlinka Rublack

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Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was one of the most admired astronomers who ever lived and a key figure in the scientific revolution. A defender of Copernicus's sun-centred universe, he famously discovered that planets move in ellipses, and defined the three laws of planetary motion. Perhaps lesswell known is that in 1615, when Kepler was at the height of his career, his widowed mother Katharina was accused of witchcraft. The proceedings led to a criminal trial that lasted six years, with Kepler conducting his mother's defence. In The Astronomer and the Witch, Ulinka Rublack pieces together the tale of this extraordinary episode in Kepler's life, one which takes us to the heart of his changing world. First and foremost an intense family drama, the story brings to life the world of a small Lutheran community in the centreof Europe at a time of deep religious and political turmoil - a century after the Reformation, and on the threshold of the Thirty Years' War. Kepler's defence of his mother also offers us a fascinating glimpse into the great astronomer's world view, on the cusp between Reformation and scientific revolution. While advancing rational explanations for the phenomena which his mother's accusers attributed to witchcraft, Kepler nevertheless didnot call into question the existence of magic and witches. On the contrary, he clearly believed in them. And, as the story unfolds, it appears that there were moments when even Katharina's children struggled to understand what their mother had done...

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Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was one of the most admired astronomers who ever lived and a key figure in the scientific revolution. A defender of Copernicus's sun-centred universe, he famously discovered that planets move in ellipses, and defined the three laws of planetary motion. Perhaps lesswell known is that in 1615, when Kepler was ...

Ulinka Rublack is Professor at the University of Cambridge and has published widely on early modern European history as well as approaches to history. She has edited, most recently, the Oxford Concise Companion to History (2011), and her Oxford Handbook of the Protestant Reformations is forthcoming. Her monographs include Reformation E...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:400 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.01 inPublished:October 9, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198736770

ISBN - 13:9780198736776

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Table of Contents

Timeline of Johannes Kepler's LIfe1. 2: Introduction2. A Lutheran Court3. The Year of the Witches4. Kepler's Strategies5. A Family Responds6. Movements of the Soul7. The Trial Continues8. Other Witches9. Katherina's Imprisonment10. Kepler's Return11. The Defence12. The Trial Ends13. Kepler's DreamEpilogueNotesFurther ReadingIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Gripping and inspiring, this tale of the six-year battle to clear Katharina Kepler of the charge of witchcraft yields striking new insights into the personalities and families involved, their communities and their culture... The past, with its hopes and fears, comes wonderfully to life inthis scholarly masterwork." --Professor Nicholas Jardine, University of Cambridge