Astrology as Political Ideology in the Holy Roman Empire During the Era of Emperor Maximilian I

Darin Hayton, Haverford College

Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science, Regional Colloquium

Friday, October 2, 2009 - 4:00pm

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Join scholars from the area at the Regional Colloquium in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine to discuss a precirculated paper about the use of star gazing and astrology for politics in the "modern" 16th century court of the Holy Roman Empire.

Discussion, 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
followed by social hour and light dinner

Ewell Sale Stewart Library
The Academy of Natural Sciences
1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Please download and read the paper in advance.
Emperor Maximilian I was a master of propaganda and self-aggrandizement. From the earliest years of his reign until his death he consistently shaped and reshaped his image. This essay argues that astrology was central to the emperor’s efforts to fashion the ideal, “modern” prince. Throughout his autobiographical works, Maximilian drew on astrology in a variety of roles—to narrate his birth and to reveal key aspects of his personality and reign, to emphasize his efforts to master the art of stargazing, and to display his importance by successfully attracting the most skilled astrologers to his court. Maximilian crafted his memorial in both words and images, which were at once idealized monuments shaping how contemporaries viewed him and normative portraits offering a model for his Habsburg successors. For Maximilian, the ideal prince exploited the science of astrology in all facets of politics through personal knowledge and expertise and through privileged access to the best astrologers and the most credible sources of knowledge.