An Astrologer at Work in Late Medieval France

The Notebooks of S. Belle


This book explores the notebooks of S. Belle, an astrologer who lived in late fifteenth-century France, as a case study of late medieval astrological practice. These notebooks combine astrological doctrine, a large collection of horoscopes, an almanac, and three complete judgements of nativities. By studying Belle’s methods, processes of learning, and practices, this book contributes to a better understanding of the internal architecture of astrology in the pre-modern world; this includes its techniques, methodologies, goals, transmission, and development throughout history. It offers an internalist view of the practice of astrology, as a counterpart to the existing research into astrology’s social and cultural impact.

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Helena Avelar de Carvalho, researcher of the History of Astrology. Ph.D. on Combined Historical Studies (2018) at the Warburg Institute, University of London. Co-founder of the Astra Project: Historical Research on Astrological Techniques and Practices, hosted at CIUHCT-University of Lisbon.
List of Figures
List of Tables

1 Introduction
 1 On the Study of Astrological Documents
 2 The Notebooks
 3 Researching Fifteenth-Century Astrology
 4 Belle’s Life and Work

2 Belle’s Workbooks
 1 Lisbon, Torre do Tombo, MS 1711
 2 Paris, BnF, nouvelles acquisitions latine 398
 3 Designations and Norms

3 The Horoscopes
 1 The Interrogations
 2 The Technique

4 Revolutions of the Years of the World
 1 Ingresses and Lunations
 2 Lunations and Revolutions of the Year
 3 Judging the World

5 The Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn
 1 Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction of 1425 NAL 398 f. 80r: Composite Chart Drawn by Belle
 2 Judging the World: Conjunctions

6 Nativities: Three Judgements
 1 Jo. d.c.l. NAL 398 f. 93ra1 (Judgement in NAL 398 ff. 94ra–100vb): 17 December, 19:54 [16 December 1437, 09:47], France (Possibly Paris)
 2 Full Moon Preceding the Nativity of Jo. d.c.l. NAL 398 f. 92r–12 December 1437, 20:30 (Possibly Paris)
 3 Hubert NAL 398 f. 79va: 08 October 1260, 14:09, Florence, Italy (43°46′ N, 11°15′ E) [Correct Date: 09 October 1260, 03:32 AM]
 4 Jo. Dap NAL 398 f. 85v: 04 November 1442, 1:20 PM, Paris Reconstructed from Belle’s Judgement (ff. 85ra–89vb)
 5 Comparative Judgement of the Houses
 6 The Art of Judgement

7 The Collection of Horoscopes
 1 The Horoscopes in MS 1711
 2 The Nativities in NAL 398
 3 Collection Highlights

8 The Almanac (1468–1480)
 1 The Tables: Contents
 2 An Astrological Diary
 3 Beyond Astrological Techniques

Appendix 1: Additional Notes on the Length of Life
 1 Calculating the hyleg
 2 Ptolemy’s Variant for Calculation the hyleg
 3 The alcocodem
 4 Years of the Planets

Appendix 2: Notes on the Manuscripts
 1 MS 1711
 2 NAL 398

Appendix 3: Maps and Genealogy
All interested in the history of astrology and medieval and early modern knowledge, especially those who study the learning process and the circulation of knowledge in the medieval period.
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