Seminário Helena Avelar de Astronomia e Astrologia Antiga

Putting Astronomy into Practice: Alfonsine Canons in Late Medieval Italy


Por Nick Jacobson (University of Wisconsin-Madison).

Since at least as early as the 1320s, the astronomical tables calculated for the city of Toledo and composed at the court of King Alfonso X (el Sabio) had circulated in the major centers of learning in Western Europe along with canons of instruction for their use. In the fourteenth century, these Alfonsine canons mainly focused on finding true planetary positions in longitude, but over time compilers of canons expanded these texts to devote more attention to finding what were called planetary "passions" or "accidents." By looking at some common features of these canons on "passions," I will argue that late medieval compilers in Italy often expanded their canons to include new calculating programs, often with table sets specifically tailored to address these interests.  I will highlight some of these new calculating programs, and offer some thoughts on how professional interests in astral medicine and astrology likely spurred on their development.

Nick Jacobson is a historian of science with research interests in the history of astronomy and cartography, as well as the application of new tools of practical mathematics to a number of arts and sciences across multiple cultures in the late medieval period. In 2018, he received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with his thesis The Ends and the Means: Trans-Mediterranean Networks of Calculation and the Rise of the Practical Moral Sciences in Latin Europe (1100-1300). Since 2019, he has worked in collaboration with researchers on the ERC-funded ALFA project to study Alfonsine astronomy and its scientific and cultural influence in Western Europe from the 13th to 16th centuries. He is currently an instructor in the history of science program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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