Jesuit Astrology

Prognostication and Science in Early Modern Culture


Connections between the Society of Jesus and astrology used to appear as unexpected at best. Astrology was never viewed favourably by the Church, especially in early modern times, and since Jesuits were strong defenders of Catholic orthodoxy, most historians assumed that their religious fervour would be matched by an equally strong rejection of astrology. This groundbreaking and compelling study brings to light new Jesuit scientific texts revealing a much more positive, practical, and nuanced attitude. What emerges forcefully is a totally new perspective into early modern Jesuit culture, science, and education, highlighting the element that has been long overlooked: astrology.

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Luís Campos Ribeiro, Ph.D. (2021), is a researcher and author on the history of astrology and its practices, the history of science and art. He is the co-founder of the Astra Project: Historical Research on Astrological Techniques and Practices, hosted at CIUHCT–University of Lisbon.
Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Benno van Dalen, Gad Freudenthal, Tony Grafton, Leofranc Holford-Strevens, Bernard R. Goldstein, Alexander Jones, Daryn Lehoux, Jörg Rüpke, Julio Samsó, John Steele
List of Figures
List of Tables
Transcription and Citation Notes
Astrological Symbols


Part 1: Astrology in the Early Modern Era

Introduction to Part 1

1 Early Modern Astrology: An Overview
 1 The Practice of Astrology
 2 A Changing Knowledge
 3 Astrology in Print
 4 Pico’s Critique

2 The Church and Astrology
 1 A Clash of Doctrines
 2 An Art Divided
 3 The Regulation of Astrology

3 The Mathematization of Astrology

4 The Marginalization of Astrology
 1 Astrology as Science
 2 A Changed Knowledge

Part 2: Jesuits and Astrology

Introduction to Part 2

5 Jesuits against Astrology
 1 Benito Pereira (1590)
 2 Martín Del Rio (1599–1600)
 3 Alessandro De Angelis (1615)
 4 The Bibliotheca selecta (1593)
 5 Later Examples
 6 The Anti-astrological Discourse

6 Jesuits Accepting Astrology
 1 Francisco Suárez on Astrology
 2 Further Examples
 3 Standing in Ambiguity

7 Astrology in Jesuit Science
 1 The Ratio Studiorum, Mathematics and Astrology
 2 Clavius and Astrology
 3 Astrology in Jesuit Printed Works
 4 Between Print and Manuscript
 5 Astrology among Jesuit Scholars

8 Astrology as Cultural Currency: Jesuits in the East
 1 China: New Astrology for an Old Empire
 2 Notes on Japan and India
 3 European Astrology in the East

9 Brave New World: Jesuits and Astrology in the Americas
 1 Different Skies, Different Influences
 2 Jesuits and Astrology under Southern Skies
 3 Catholic Constellations: Astrology in Religious Discourse
 4 Under New Skies

Part 3: Jesuits Teaching Astrology

Introduction to Part 3

10 The Aula da Esfera of Santo Antão
 1 The Astrological Manuscripts and Their Authors
 2 Other Astrological Texts
 3 The Students of the Aula da Esfera
 4 Astrology at the Aula da Esfera: A Timeline
 5 The Example of the Aula da Esfera

11 Teaching Astrology
 1 A Jesuit Astrological Programme?
 2 Defending Astrology
 3 The Astrological Syllabus
 4 Gonzaga’s Baroque Astrology
 5 A Jesuit Astrology?

Part 4: Jesuit Astrologers

Introduction to Part 4

12 Practicing Astrology
 1 Judgements on Comets
 2 An Astrological Report to the Court
 3 The Calendar of Trnava
 4 Nativities
 5 Other Applications
 6 The Practice in Perspective

Final Thoughts
Appendix 1: Bull Coeli et Terrae
Appendix 2: Teachers of the Aula da Esfera
Appendix 3: Jesuit Astrological Manuscripts
Appendix 4: Documents
All interested in early modern history of astrology, Jesuit teaching and science, as well as European astrological practices and teaching, its engagement with the Catholic church, and global transmission.
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