Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España, MS 1197

Treaty of Sphaera and Lapidario Facsimile Edition

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Manuscript 1197 of Biblioteca Nacional de España at Madrid comprises two different texts, both of them from the court of Alfonso X el Sabio (Alphonse X The Wise) and dealing with astrological themes: the Libro de las Figuras de las Estrellas Fijas del Octavo Cielo o Libro de la Sphaera (Book of the Figures of the Fixed Stars of the Eight Heaven or Book of the Lapidario).

The Libro de la Sphaera studies the 48 constellations (48 figures) of the Eighth Sphere.

According to the concept of the universe of Ptolemy, the Earth is at the center of eight spheres surrounding it. The first seven of these spheres are transversed by the seven planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Sun and the Moon (both considered planets). These constellations are divided in three classes: Septentrionals, Zodiacals and Meridionals.

The alphonsine Lapidario is a mineralogical treatise which studies 360 stones (334 figures), distributed among twelve chapters.

In each chapter there is a constellation determining the properties of 30 stones, as each constellation composes 30 degrees according to the ptolemaic tradition.

It is surprising that in the XVI century with printing already invented and in full expansion, these alphonsine texts were handwritten.

Ptolemaic astrology was greatly based on the observation of the stars and the firmament. This was the main constituent of the heaven’s map allowing for the night navigation in oceans and  deserts. But at the beginning of the Middle Age western culture forgot the observation of the sky. In astrological manuscripts a sound knowledge of mythology, incorporated into astrology, can be observed. Nevertheless, observation of the stars is forgotten.

Manuscript 1197 shows beatifully coloured some of the very last testimonies of an astrology which will be spoiled of its scientific character towards the end of XVI century and in the XVIII by Galileo and Newton.

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Treaty of Sphaera and Lapidario": Tratado de Sphaera y Lapidario facsimile edition, published by BiblioGemma


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