Dies natalis

Even if I would really want to avoid him – because he is simply too big for me, because everything had been already written on him, name all possible reservations you want – he comes out from nearly every corner I visit. Starting from the writings on calendar reform, to the mid-sixteenth-century obscure astrological manuscripts I studied recently, to even more obscure chronological manuscripts I have studied for the past year and am going to study for a while longer, to the marginalia of a bunch of Central European scholars who are important for me due to their activities at the intersection of astronomy and history – there is always a 99% chance that I will end up with him. Everything – at least in my scholarly world – seems to revolve around him. Well, I should have seen this coming.

I guess you already know who that is. And since he was born on February 19, 1473, as his reader and a citizen of Toruń since 2013, I can’t say nothing else but: Happy birthday, old chap, we’re gonna spend some time together.

As a birthday card, for obvious reasons of greater interest to modern readers than to Copernicus himself, I would like to present a page from Astronomia instaurata, the third, 1617 edition of De revolutionibus, prepared by Nicholaus Müller’s and published in Amsterdam. Here we come back to Joannes Broscius and his annotations. Broscius used all three early modern editions, the Nuremberg 1543 edition, which belonged actually to the university, the Basel 1566 one and the Astronomia instaurata, and all of them bring some interesting materials on the reception of Copernican ideas in Kraków (as well as the way Broscius incorporated Copernicus’s claims into his own research). If you have access to the famous Owen Gingerich’s Census (which nowadays seems to be more rare than Copernicus), you can check it on your own and/or have a look at the digitized Nuremberg edition at the Jagiellonian Digital Library (and when you get bored with Broscius’s notes, check out the Jag. Lib. MS 10000 – the autograph of De revolutionibus!). As to the birthday card: Broscius, as a vigilant reader and one of the first biographers of Copernicus simply decided to join the discussion about Copernicus’s date of birth and the annotation’s he left on the first page of Müller’s Life of Copernicus testify that.

Kraków, Jagiellonian Library, shelfmark Mag. St. Dr. 311204-311205 II

Kraków, Jagiellonian Library, shelfmark Mag. St. Dr. 311204-311205 II

P.S. In one of my tweets I sent earlier this month I included a photo of a title page of Rheticus’s Narratio prima.

This copy belongs to the Copernicus House Museum in Torun and from the annotations it is clear that this reader of Rheticus confused his date of death. In the light of the discussion’s summarized by Müller and notes left in Rheticus, it seems that Copernicus and early Copernicans were out of luck as far as the daiting of their lives was concerned…

P.P.S. Those of you who are still hoping to read part 2 of the new cycle on the manuscript of Jan Latosz I inaugurated in January, rest assured it will appear shortly. I am still buried in the edition and creating commentary and as soon as I dig myself out, I will be able to tell something more (and general) about the MS. As for now, I can say it is even more interesting now than it was when I read it for the first time and it has some Copernican elements too!

Early Modern Chronologies in Berlin – updated schedule

Early modern chronologers loved repetitive series: all these short and long periods of time that, once imposed on the stream of historical facts, allowed them, especially to those with more speculative or historiosophical inclinations, provided a factual skeleton for their intellectual constructions and enabled further search for some traces of meaning or order in the past.

When I submitted four chronological panels for RSA’s consideration back in June 2014, they all consisted of 3 papers each. Yet it is quite natural thing with all sessions and conferences that some people cannot attend and have to withdraw their papers. And as much as this fact saddens me, I cannot help it. Over the past few months the four-element series of panels consisting of three papers (3+3+3+3) turned into a disturbing series of one full panel and three panels of 2 papers each (3+2+2+2). And since both chronologers and conference organizers like distinct rhythm, I was advised by the RSA’s organizing committee to consolidate the panels so that they keep up to the standard conference format. I hope that the future will bring me and speakers who won’t make it to Berlin some other opportunities to collaborate, yet in order to guarantee all the speakers equal time for discussion and its dynamics I decided to take care of the economy of time and follow the RSA’s advice. Therefore, I am pleased to present you the updated version of the chronological schedule for the RSA Annual Meeting in Berlin which consists of three panels instead of four and creates a regular series of 3+3+3. Please note that you can find it also in the online program of the entire event, where you can also read the abstracts of all papers and create your personal schedule which will help you find your way through this ocean of equally fascinating yet dramatically overlapping sessions.


Early Modern Chronologies

RSA 2015 Annual Meeting, Berlin

Friday, 27th of March

Venue: Hegelplatz, Dorotheenstrasse 24/3, First Floor, 3.134

8:30–10:00 am

Early Modern Chronologies I

Chair: Anthony Grafton

Philipp E. Nothaft (The Warburg Institute, London), Walter Odington’s De etate mundi and the Pursuit of a ‘Scientific’ Chronology in Fourteenth-Century England

Leonardo Ariel Carrió Cataldi (École des Hautes Études, Paris, France & Scuola Normale Superiore, Firenze) Chronology and Cosmography in Early Modern Iberian Peninsula

Michał Choptiany (Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw), Bartholomaeus Scultetus’s unpublished manuscript of Ephemerides bibliorum (1583) and the problem of chronology of the Old Testament


10:15-11:45 am

Early Modern Chronologies II

Chair: C. Philipp E. Nothaft

Respondent: Darin Hayton

Andrea Worm (University of Graz & Israel Institute for Advanced Study, Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Universal Time and Christian Chronology in the Fasciulus Temporum

Luís Miguel Carolino (ISCTE – Lisbon University Institute / CEHC, Portugal) Millenialism, chronology, and astronomical calculations. The case of Manuel Bocarro Francês/Jacob Rosales (ca. 1593–ca. 1662)

Alexander D. Campbell (Queen’s University, Canada), The pedagogical context of Robert Baillie’s Operis Historici et Chronologici (1663)


11:45–1:15 pm


1:15–2:45 pm

Early Modern Chronologies III

Chair: Michał Choptiany

Sepp Rothwangl (independent researcher), The Echo of the Great-Year-Doctrine of Antiquity and the 6000-Year-Period in Kepler’s Calculation of the Creation

Lydia Janssen (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), Timing the national past. The functions of chronology in ‘antiquarian’ historiography

Cornelis J. Schilt (University of Sussex), The Dating Game Revisited: The Chronology of Isaac Newton’s Chronology