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A Protestant or Catholic superstition? Astrology and eschatology during the French Wars of Religion

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Luc Racaut


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This essay published in an edited volume is 6,000 words long and explores astrology (an particularly Nostradamus) in the context of religious debate and the emergence of modern scientific thought. Abstract: The opposition between superstition and reason has coloured our understanding of the Reformation debate since the Enlightenment. Around this time Protestantism was irremediably associated with reason and Catholicism with superstition. It is useful to replace the terms of this debate in the context of sixteenth-century discussions about astrology because it was thought to be intrinsically superstitious. Catholic and Protestant attitudes towards astrology and superstition can be usefully compared. In recent scholarship, Protestants are depicted has being more critical of astrology than Catholics. Astrology was not a monolithic whole, and there were deep divisions that were drawn between natural and superstitious astrology. A survey of the literature can help understand the distinction and moderate the hypothesis that Protestants rejected astrology whereas Catholics embraced it.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Racaut L

Editor(s): Parish H; Naphy WG

Series Editor(s): Bergin J; Naphy WG; Roberts P; Rossi P

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Religion and superstition in Reformation Europe

Year: 2002

Pages: 154-169

Series Title: Studies in Early Modern European History

Publisher: Manchester University Press

Place Published: Manchester


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 071906158X