Connecting 17th Century European Politics with Eclipses and Other Cosmic Movements


(Dresden: Melchior Bergen, 1669). 192 x 150 mm. (7 1/2 x 5 7/8"). 12 p.l., XXXXVI, [3], 41, [2], 42-311, [4], 312-435, [4], 436-663 pp., [6] leaves. FIRST EDITION.

HANDSOME CONTEMPORARY CALF, LAVISHLY GILT, covers with multiple frames of decorative rolls enclosing a central panel with complex gilt coat of arms, raised bands, spine panels with wheel medallion flanked by fleurons (joints expertly repaired). With engraved title page depicting astronomers using their instruments and 77 woodcuts. Houzeau-Lancaster 11530 (citing the 1680 edition); Thorndike VIII, 330; Collis, "The Petrine Instauration: Religion, Esotericism and Science at the Court of Peter the Great, 1689-1725," p. 90. Gilt on lower cover a little rubbed, with minor loss to coat of arms, extremities lightly rubbed, one leaf with small hole affecting a couple of words in a table, minor offsetting in text bed and from woodcuts, occasional mild browning or light dampstains to margins, otherwise an excellent, fresh copy in a sound binding shining with gilt.

This is a compendium of astrological information by the court mathematician of the Elector of Saxony, offered here in an appealing, elaborately decorated armorial binding. In this volume, astronomer, astrologer, mathematician, and art historian Tobias Beutel (1627-90) discusses astronomical instruments, solar and lunar eclipses, and the influence of the stars and planets on the natural world and human events. As Robert Collis notes in his history of Western esotericism, Beutel "combined geometrical studies on the position of the planets and the moon with astrological remarks on the horoscopes of reigning monarchs" to produce a "unified perspective connecting the microcosm of 17th century European politics with the cosmic movements in an erudite 'summa' of German Renaissance astronomical and chronological science." He also calculates the latitude and longitude of 500 cities. The woodcuts show the zodiac charts for rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, various German duchies and electorates, and Scandinavian countries; the stages of lunar and solar eclipses; methods for determining the position of the sun, moon, and stars at various times of day; and other tools to assist in casting natal charts. The elaborately decorated binding no doubt previously graced the library of a 17th century German noble, and it is certainly possible that it was made for a presentation copy.

Keywords: Astronomy