, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 191–193 | Cite as

Kepler in a witch’s world

Ulinka Rublack: The astronomer and the witch: Johannes Kepler’s fight for his mother. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, 359pp, $29.95 HB
  • Adam RichterEmail author
Book Review

The dust jacket on The astronomer and the witch features a portrait of Kepler, a small illustration of an elliptical orbit, and the word “astronomer” highlighted in bright red. This suggests that the book might be a biography of Kepler the astronomer, in which his mother’s witchcraft appears as a peculiar episode, but this is not the case. Nor, thankfully, does the book offer a presentist account of the trial that distorts the events to fit into a clumsy narrative about a conflict between science and religion. Instead, The astronomer and the witchis essentially two things. First, it is a sketch of a tense community during the early years of the Thirty Years’ War. On Rublack’s interpretation, the trouble began when residents of the German town of Leonberg released their pent-up anxiety about the war by accusing an old, meddlesome woman—Kepler’s mother, Katharina—of witchcraft. Second, the book is a family drama detailing Katharina’s troubled marriage, her strained relationships with...


  1. Davis, Natalie Zemon. 1983. The Return of Martin Guerre. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ginzburg, Carlo. 1980. The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. Trans. John and Anne Tedeschi. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Sobel, Dava. 1999. Galileo’s daughter: A historical memoir of science, faith, and love. New York: Walker & Company.Google Scholar
  4. Sobel, Dava. 2011. A more perfect heaven: How Copernicus revolutionized the cosmos. New York: Walker & Company.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and TechnologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations