In this deck stars signifies interests and ideas. My book chapter was thus chosen - intellectual life c13-c15. Here is what I found:
Learned astrology flourished in the thirteenth century. The learned and semi-learned clerical milieu was suffused with interest in occult science which they accommodated within orthodox Christian beliefs. The Franciscan Roger Bacon was just one prominent figure representative of a larger group of clerical scientists. Each produced their own unique blend of faith and science.
The apparent tensions between free scientific inquiry and faith did not not impede clerical contributions to science. Actually much investigation was driven by religious concerns.
This was was the backdrop for the emergence of astrological images - talismans used for protection whose efficacy could be explained by natural (astrological) causes.
The origins of natural magic can be found in works such as the anonymous Speculum astronomie, in which the author foresaw a method of making and using talismans that did not involve the invocation of other deities but derived power from purely physical (celestial) sources. Thus he managed to achieve a compromise between the demands of faith (or Christian monopoly over ritual and communications with God and his celestial agents) and the burgeoning scientific interests in natural philosophy including astrology and divination.
Another example of a melding of theology, ecclesiastic career and astrological speculation with no sense of personal inconsistency can be seen in Pierre d'Ailly's work. Here astrology is presented as part of the rational world view of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The belief that heavenly bodies had some influence on earthly matters was just as widespread as the belief that God had a plan for the world.
For d'Ailly astrology was not some dark art by which he could alter the the course of life on earth but a rational science by which he could observe and understand the broad patterns of earthly events. In other words he believed he was using science to produce knowledge.
Source for today's post: Ziegler, J. (2009) 'Faith and the intellectuals' In Rubin, M. and Simons, W. (eds.) The Cambridge history of Christianity: Christianity in western Europe c. 1100 - c. 1500. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 372-393.