Ann Geneva

Nancy Reagan was Following an Ancient Tradition

Courting Disaster: Astrology at the English Court and University in the Later Middle Ages

By Hilary M Carey

Macmillan Academic 280pp £45 order from our bookshop

Neo-Platonic peoples saw the universe as interconnected in every particular. Thus not only did bodily parts have planetary rulers, but so did metals, gemstones, plants and eyen cities as well. Hilary Carey reminds us that such words as influence, humour, melancholy, aspect, sanguine and lunatic are remnants of ‘the impact of astrology on our thinking’. This is not to say that everybody believed in this science of the stars. Carey is at pains to point out that astrology, then as now, came in for its share of opprobrium even in the ‘superstitious’ Middle Ages. One leading medieval astrologer complained that ‘although many have faith in it…there are just as many who despise it’.

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