Despite its popular association today with magic, astrology was once a complex and sophisticated practice, grounded in technical training provided by a university education. The Crown and the Cosmos examines the complex ways that political practice and astrological discourse interacted at the Habsburg court, a key center of political and cultural power in early modern Europe. Like other monarchs, Maximilian I used astrology to help guide political actions, turning to astrologers and their predictions to find the most propitious times to sign treaties or arrange marriage contracts. He also employed astrology as a political tool to gain support for his reforms and to reinforce his own legitimacy as well as that of the Habsburg dynasty.

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Science — Print Culture — Politics

For Emperor Maximilian I (1493-1519) astrology was a powerful political instrument that allowed him to use knowledge about the natural world (what we would call science) as guide and justification for political action. The scientific experts who gathered around Maximilian at his court disseminated a pro-imperial message through learned and popular media in their efforts to reach the widest possible audiences. We see in Maximilian a shrewd political actor who understood the power of scientific knowledge to bolster his image in the eyes of his supporters and to combat the hostility of his detractors. Plus ça change.

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The Crown and the Cosmos is a thorough study of astrology’s functioning as a political tool in early Renaissance courtly contexts. Astrology becomes a high-stakes tool for political praxis and symbolism, and Darin Hayton is particularly good at giving further enhancement to the astrological version of the old figure of the philosopher-king in the fifteenth century. This book is a valuable addition to the literature on Renaissance astrological culture.”
— Steven Vanden Broecke, Ghent University

“Hayton is a skilled linguist, and this book benefits from his smoothly crafted translations or paraphrases of Viennese astrological texts. Readers who are unfamiliar with the pragmatic astrological literature of the early sixteenth century will learn much about how astrology worked or, to be more precise, about what astrology sounded like from Hayton’s extensive translations.”
— Richard L. Kremer, Dartmouth College

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