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A Kingdom of StargazersAstrology and Authority in the Late Medieval Crown of Aragon$
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Michael A. Ryan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449840

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449840.001.0001

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The Iberian Peninsula

The Iberian Peninsula

Land of Astral Magic

(p.80) 3 The Iberian Peninsula
A Kingdom of Stargazers

Michael A. Ryan

Cornell University Press

This chapter considers a larger medieval perception of the Iberian Peninsula: that to other medieval Europeans, Spain was a shadowy land of magic. A supposedly nefarious region no good Christian should visit, lest they be tempted in acquiring secret knowledge aided by demonic agency, the Iberian Peninsula represented, in some medieval writers' understanding, a domain of occult and dark knowledge. The presence there of Jewish and Muslim communities, whose knowledge, culture, languages, and religious practices seemed to some Christians alien, at best, and abhorrent, at worst, contributed to this understanding of Iberia. Another reason why some medieval people may have perceived Spain as a land of prognosticators might be a theory ascribed to the ancient astronomer Claudius Ptolemaeus. Better known as Ptolemy, his Tetrabiblos systematized various ancient astrological theories that incorporated Babylonian, Egyptian, and Indian knowledge. Because of his sidereal works, medieval scholars considered Ptolemy one of the foremost ancient authorities in astronomy and astrology, and used his authoritative writings to legitimize their own contemporary views of astrology and astronomy.

Keywords:   Spain, Iberian Peninsula, magic, occult, Middle Ages, ancient astronomer, Claudius Ptolemaeus, astronomy, astrology, Ptolemy

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