The Astronomer and the Witch: Johannes Kepler's Fight for his Mother

OUP Oxford
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Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was one of the most admired astronomers who ever lived and a key figure in the scientific revolution. A defender of Copernicus ́s sun-centred universe, he famously discovered that planets move in ellipses, and defined the three laws of planetary motion. Perhaps less well known is that in 1615, when Kepler was at the height of his career, his widowed mother Katharina was accused of witchcraft. The proceedings led to a criminal trial that lasted six years, with Kepler conducting his mother's defence. In The Astronomer and the Witch, Ulinka Rublack pieces together the tale of this extraordinary episode in Kepler's life, one which takes us to the heart of his changing world. First and foremost an intense family drama, the story brings to life the world of a small Lutheran community in the centre of Europe at a time of deep religious and political turmoil - a century after the Reformation, and on the threshold of the Thirty Years' War. Kepler's defence of his mother also offers us a fascinating glimpse into the great astronomer's world view, on the cusp between Reformation and scientific revolution. While advancing rational explanations for the phenomena which his mother's accusers attributed to witchcraft, Kepler nevertheless did not call into question the existence of magic and witches. On the contrary, he clearly believed in them. And, as the story unfolds, it appears that there were moments when even Katharina's children wondered whether their mother really did have nothing to hide...
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About the author

Ulinka Rublack is Professor at the University of Cambridge and has published widely on early modern European history as well as approaches to history. She edited the Oxford Concise Companion to History (2011), and, most recently, the Oxford Handbook of the Protestant Reformation (2016). Her monographs include Reformation Europe (2005), The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany (1999), and Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe (2010), which won the Roland H. Bainton Prize.
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Additional Information

Publisher
OUP Oxford
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Published on
Oct 23, 2015
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780191056444
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Body, Mind & Spirit / Magick Studies
Body, Mind & Spirit / Witchcraft
History / Europe / Renaissance
History / Modern / 17th Century
History / Social History
Science / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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"Astonishing . . . A book that will permanently alter the way we regard our collective past." --The New York Times

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The Dutch colony pre-dated the “original” thirteen colonies, yet it seems strikingly familiar. Its capital was cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic, and its citizens valued free trade, individual rights, and religious freedom. Their champion was a progressive, young lawyer named Adriaen van der Donck, who emerges in these pages as a forgotten American patriot and whose political vision brought him into conflict with Peter Stuyvesant, the autocratic director of the Dutch colony. The struggle between these two strong-willed men laid the foundation for New York City and helped shape American culture. The Island at the Center of the World uncovers a lost world and offers a surprising new perspective on our own.
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