The Cultivation of Astronomy in Spanish Universities in the Latter Half of the 16th Century

  • Victor Navarro-Brotóns
Part of the Archimedes book series (ARIM, volume 12)


Documentary Evidence Heavenly Body Practical Geometry Heliocentric Theory Astronomical Work 
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  1. 1.
    As Edward Grant, Planets, Stars, and Orbs. The Medieval Cosmos, 1200–1687 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), demonstrated (1993), pp. 271 ff., scholastic authors in the late middle ages generally acknowledged that Ptolemaic models based on eccentrics were of greater predictive value than the concentric spheres used by Aristotle, and accepted the existence of eccentric orbs. Celaya followed this tradition. In addition, although Celaya did not teach Aristotelian physics in Valencia, his influence and prestige in the city were quite considerable; after returning to Paris he was appointed permanent rector of the University of Valencia. For Celaya’s physics and cosmology, see W. A. Wallace, Prelude to Galileo. Essays in Medieval and Sixteenth-Century Sources of Galileo’s Thought (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1981); V. Navarro-Brotons, “Juan de Celaya”, in J. M. L. Piñero, T. F. Glick, E. P. Marco, and V. N. Brotóns (eds.), Diccionario Histórico De La Ciencia Moderna En España, 2 Vols (Barcelona: Penísula, 1983), Vol. I, pp. 203–206; José María López Piñero y Víctor Navarro Brotons, Història de la ciéncia al País Valencià (València: Ed. Alfons el Magnànim, 1995), pp. 83–93, and the references mentioned in these works.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    P. J. Esteve, Hipocrates Coi Medicorum Omnium Principis Epidemion Liber Secundus, Valencia, 1551, fols. 4r ff. For Esteve as a physician, see J. M. López Piñero, “Pedro Jaime Esteve”, Diccionario Histórico, Vol. I, pp. 312–314.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    V. Ximeno, Escritores Del Reyno De Valencia, 2 Vols (Valencia: J. E. Dolz, 1749), Vol. I, p. 112, mentions a Libro de las Ephemerides, “known commonly as those of Esteve”.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    For a recent edition of the by-laws, see Bulas, Constituciones y Estatutos De La Universidad De Valencia, 2 Vols (Valencia: Universidad de Valencia, 1999).Google Scholar
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    J. G. Salvadores, “La enseñanza de la metafísica en la Universidad de Valencia durante el siglo XVI”, Analecta Sacra Tarraconensis, 45:137–172 (1972).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    In his introductory treatise to astronomy and geography Astrologicarum et Geographicarum Institutionum Libri Sex (copy in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Ms. VL 6.997), Muñoz refers to Gemma Frisius as “institutor noster” (54v) and to as Finé “preceptor noster” (68v). An edition and Spanish translations of this manuscript, in Jerónimo Muñoz: Introducción a la Astronomía y la Geografía, V. Navarro (ed.), translation by V. Navarro, A. Pastor, E. Pastor, V. Salavert (Valencia, Consell Valenciá de Cultura, 2003). For Muñoz’s manuscripts, see also Víctor Navarro Brotóns, Enrique Rodríguez Galdeano, Matemáticas, Cosmología y Human-ismo en la España del siglo XVI. Los Comentarios al Segundo Libro de la Historia Natural de Plinio de Jerónimo Muñoz (Valencia: Instituto de Estudios Documentales e Históricos sobre la Ciencia, 1998).Google Scholar
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    See P. A. Morlá, Emporium Utriusque Iuris Quaestionum,... (Valencia: Alvaro Franco and Diego de la Torre, 1599) in the Epistola nuncupatoria.Google Scholar
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    See Navarro, Rodríguez, Matematicas, Cosmologá Y Humanismo.Google Scholar
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    J. Muñoz, Traicté Du Nouveau Comete (Paris, 1574). On Lefèvre de la Boderie, see F. Secret, L’Esoterisme de Guy Le Févre de la Boderie (Genève: Droz, 1960). For the relationship between Lefèvre and Postel and his contribution to the Polyglot Bible of Antwerp, see B. Rekers, Arias Montano (London: The Warburg Institute, 1972).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    For Cornelius Gemma’s discussion about Muñoz’ study of the nova, see C. Gemma, De Naturae Divinis Characterismis; seu Raris et Admirandis Spectaculis in Universo, Libri II (Amberes: C. Plantin, 1575), Vol. II, pp. 267–274. Muñoz’ correspondence with Hagecius and Reisacherus is housed in the Oesterreichische National Bibliothek, Cod. 10.868, no66 and Cod. 10.689, no41, fols. 1r–6v. J. L. E. Dreyer published these letters in his edition of Tychonis Brahe. Opera Omnia, 15 Vols (Copenhague: Gyldendaliana, 1913–1919; new ed. facsimile, Amsterdam, 1972), Vol. VII, 395–403. Jerónimo Muñoz, Libro del Nuevo Cometa (Valencia, Pedro De Huete, 1573). Littera ad Bartholomaeum Reisacherum (1574). Summa del Prognostico del Cometa (Valencia, Juan Navarro, 1578). Introduction: “The Astronomical Work of Jerónimo Muñoz”, Appendices and Anthology by Víctor Navarro Brotóns (Valencia: Hispaniae Scientia, 1981) includes a transcription and translation into Spanish and English accompanied by a facsimile edition of the letter to Reisacherus, according to the copy of Cod. 10.689 mentioned earlier. This copy was apparently made by Tycho Brahe, see Navarro, Rodríguez, Matematicas, Cosmología y Humamismo, pp. 207–208.Google Scholar
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    See V. N. Brotons, “The Astronomical Work of Jerónimo Muñoz”, pp. 11–111; see also A. Ingegno, Cosmologia e Filosofia nel pensiero di Giordano Bruno (Fireze: La Nuova Italia Editrice, 1978), p. 1 ff.; Michel-Pierre Lerner, Le Monde des Sphères, 2 Vols (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1996–1997), Vol. II, p. 21 ff., and Miguel Angel Granada, “Cálculos cronológicos, novedades cosmologicas y expectativas escatológicas en la Europa del siglo XVI”, Rinascimento, 2a ser., 37:357–435 (1998). In his study of the works and opinions about the nova of different authors from the Protestant region, Charlotte Methuen, Kepler’s Tübingen. Stimulus to a Theological Mathematics (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997), and id., “This Comet or New Star”: Theology and the Interpretation of the Nova of 1572, Perspectives on Science, 5:499–516 (1999), pointed out that Providentia Specialis and Providentia Generalis would be a more suitable way of characterizing them, so that “that the essential difference between the events of special providence and those of general providence could be used to legitimate observations which contradicted accepted physics. The decision that the underlying explanatory system must w be revised thus required a theological shift as well as contradiction by observation” (Methuen, “This Comet...”). For example, Philip Apianus, accepted that comets could be heavenly bodies, and therefore “he needs to invoke special providence only when explaining why the nova appears at this particular time”, since, according to this astronomer “the comet or star has been created as a warning by Almighty God” (Methuen, Kepler’s Tübingen, p. 508).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Muñoz, Libro del Nuevo Cometa, A3r.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    The holograph manuscript is housed at the Arnamagnaeanske Institute, Copenhagen, AM 8812 4o, fols. 1–47. Published and translated into Spanish by Navarro, Rodríguez, Matemáticas, Cosmología Y Humanismo.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    According to St Peter, the Stoics, Heraclitus and Hippasus Metapontinus, quoted by Muñoz in relation to the world on fire. See Commentaria Plinii..., p. 292, ed. Navarro, Rodríguez, Matematicas, Cosmologia y Humanismo.Google Scholar
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    Pliny, HN 2,10.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Verg. Eneid. 6, 725, quoted by Muñoz, Commentaria Plinii..., ed. Navarro, Rodríguez in Matematicas, Cosmología Y Humanismo, pp. 382–384. In connection with this, in his Comentarios a Alcabitius, fol. 113r (Madrid, Bibl. Nacional, Ms. 9287)—a text on astrology also related to his classes, Muñoz compares cosmic air with the spirit issuing forth from the heart to revive the body. For this manuscript, see Navarro, Rodríguez, Matematicas, Cosmología y Humanismo.Google Scholar
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    Muñoz, Commentaria Plinii..., p. 386, ed. Navarro, Rodríguez.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    At the beginning of his treatise De Planispherii Parallelogrammi Inventione (copy in Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Ms.VL 6.997, fols. 1r–71v; another copy in Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 10.674, fols. 278r–336v) Muñoz states that both sciences and arts, like rivers, have obscure origins, are fed by many affluents and grow continuously until they finally flow into the sea.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    For this letter, see footnote 10 above.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    On the theory of delay, Muñoz cites Martianus Capella, and in his Commentaries on Theon, fols. 36v–37r, says that according to Capella the “ancients” peripatetics supported such a theory. Ptolemy (Almagest, 1.8, H28 and Theon, Com., 1.8, 439 10 ff., ed. Rome, 100, ed. Halma, 35–36, ed. Basel), discuss the theory rejecting it because besides the movement toward the East, the planets have also a movement of latitude. Is in relation to such criticism, that Muñoz integrate the movement of latitude in a resultant movement according to spirae. As real paths of planets, spiral lines can be traced back to Plato. Moreover, the idea of the delay was incorporated by Alpetragius in his astronomical theories and had a certain diffusion in the XVIth century and even in the XVIIth century in relation to the desire to avoid assigning contrary motions to one and the same celestial body. See Grant, Planets, Stars, and Orbs (cit. note 1), 563 ff. On Alpetragius, see Bernard R. Goldstein, Al-Bitruji: On the Principles of Astronomy, 2 Vols (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971).Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    Muñoz, Commentaria Plinii..., p. 278, ed. Navarro, Rodríguez.Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    On pp. 341 ff., Commentaria Plinii... ed. Navarro, Rodríguez, Muñoz discusses the shape of the world and the motion of planets and remits the reader to his Commentaries on Theon, insisting that his arguments are “solid demonstrations and not merely verbal discussions,... (demonstrations) that are ignored by those not familiar with mathematics”. On pp. 554–555, with regards to the shooting stars and comets he says, of the former, that Aristotle’s explanation would seem to be correct but as regards the location and substance of comets, “I follow not Aristotle but mathematicians who expound things more precisely than philosophers”.Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    Muñoz, Astrologicam et Geographicarum..., 14r ff. The astronomical arguments that Muñoz puts forward are based on those laid down by Ptolemy and developed by Theon in his Commentaries on Almagest, a work that Muñoz knew well having commented and translated it into Latin. Muñoz, like Ptolemy, dealt with the two questions separately: whether or not the earth is in the center of the heavens and whether the earth is in motion and moves away from the center or rotates on its axis. But no mention is made of the fact that Ptolemy and Theon had acknowledged that if the earth rotated on its axis and the heavenly sphere remained motionless, there would be no variation in daily phenomena, from an astronomical viewpoint.Google Scholar
  24. 25.
    The manuscript ends with the words Hieronymus Munnos... Translation Commmentariorum Theonis Alexandrini in Magnam Constructionem CL. Ptolemaei... The holograph is housed at the National Library in Naples, Ms. VIII, fols. 21r–300r. See Navarro, Rodríguez, Matemáticas, Cosmología y Humanismo.Google Scholar
  25. 26.
    Muñoz, Theonis Alexandrini..., 34v ff. The diagram on 35r.Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    Muñoz, Theonis Alexandrini..., 35v ff.Google Scholar
  27. 28.
    See Navarro, Rodríguez, Matematicas, Cosmología Y Humanismo.Google Scholar
  28. 29.
    On Juan and Hernando de Aguilera, see Eugenio Bustos Tovar, “La introducción de las teorías de Copérnico en la Universidad de Salamanca”, Revista de la Academia de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, 67:, 235–252 (1973), and the articles on these authors by V. Navarro in Diccionario Histórico (cit. note 1), Vol. 1, pp. 28–30. On the statutes of Salamanca University see, in addition to Bustos, Víctor Navarro Brotóns (1995), “The reception of Copernicus’s Work in Sixteenth-Century Spain: The Case of Diego de Zúñiga”, Isis 86: 52–78 (1995); id. “El Renacimiento científico (siglo XVI) y la Enseñanza de las Disciplinas Matemáticas en Las Universidades de Valencia y Salamanca”. In: Doctores y Escolares. II Congreso Internacional sobre las Universidades Hispánicas (Valencia, 1995), 2 Vols. (Valencia: Universidad de Valencia, 1998), Vol. I, 141–159. VGoogle Scholar
  29. 30.
    The purpose of the inspections (visitas) stipulated in the 1561 statutes was to supervise the conduct of the professors occupying chairs. Five times a year, the rector would visit each faculty, alone or accompanied by the senior professor, and question two students. The students’ comments about the punctuality, rigor, topics taught by the professors, and the effectiveness of their expositions were noted in the libros de visitas (books of visits). For libros de visitas, see Manuel Fernández Álvarez, Copernico y su Huella en la Salamanca del Barroco (Salamanca: Universidad de Salamanca, 1974) and Navarro, “El Renacimiento Científico”.Google Scholar
  30. 31.
    See Vicente Beltran de Heredia, Cartulario De la Universidad de Salamanca, 6 Vols Salamanca: Universidad de Salamanca, 1970–1973), Vol. IV, doc. 1628, p. 323.Google Scholar
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    As can be deduced from the books of visits. See Fernandez, “Copérnico y su Huella”, and Navarro, “El Renacimiento Científico”.Google Scholar
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    See Cirilo Florez Miguel, Pablo García Castillo y Roberto Albares Albares, La Ciencia de la Tierra. Cosmografía y Cosmógrafos Salmantinos del Renacimeinto (Salamanca: Caja de Ahorros, 1990); W. G. L. Randles, “Classical Models of World Geography and Their Transformation Following the Discovery of America”, in W. Haase y and M. Reinhold (eds.), The Classical Tradition and the Americas (Berlin-New York, Walter de Gruyter, 1994), Vol. I, pp. 6–76; Navarro, “Te reception of Copernicus’ theory”, id. “La Cosmografía en la época de los descubrimientos”. In: Congreso Hispano-portugués:Las relaciones entre Portugal y España en la epoca de los descubrimientos y la expansión colonial, Ana María Carabias Torres, (ed.) (Salamanca: Universidad de Salamanca, 1994), pp. 195–207. For the assertions of Pérez de Oliva, see Estatutos de la Universidad de Salamanca, 1529: Mandato de Pérez de Oliva, Rector, ed. José Luís Fuertes (Salamanca: Univ, de Salamanca, 1984).Google Scholar
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    Letter from Philip II, March 26, 1593, in Esteban Esperabé de Arteaga (1914–1917), Historia pragmática e interna de la Universidad de Salamanca, 2 Vols (Salamanca, 1914–1917), Vol. I, V pp. 608–609; also published in Bustos, “La Introducción de las teorías de Copérnico”, p. 239, note 12.Google Scholar
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    See Beltrán, Cartulario, Vol. IV, pp. 120 ff. For Pérez de Mesa in relation to the chair of mathematics, see the chapter of Luciano Pereña, “Política o Educación Democrática”, in Diego Pérez de Mesa, Politica o Razón de Estado (Madrid: CSIC, 1980), L. Pereña and C. Baciero, (eds.), with the collaboration of V. Abril, A. García y F. Maseda, pp. XIII–LXIII, in p. XV, note 6. The report of Pérez de Mesa’s “oposición” exam is held in the Salamanca University Archives, “Procesos de cátedras”, Ms. 970. Following Pérez de Mesa’s resignation, the chair was declared vacant and competitive exams had to be held. Serrano was appointed on March 21, 1592.Google Scholar
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    For Serrano, see Beltrán, Cartulario, Vol. IV, pp. 120 ff. For some information on Núñez Zamora, see Felipe Picatoste Rodríguez, Apuntes para una Biblioteca Científia Española del siglo XVI (Madrid: Tello, 1891), pp. 223–225, and E. Rodríguez San Pedro, La Universidad Salmantina Del Barroco, 1598–1625, 3 Vols. (Salamanca: Universidad de Salamanca, 1986), V Vol. III, p. 71. VGoogle Scholar
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    Estatutos Hechos Por La Muy Insigne Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca, 1595.Google Scholar
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    The letter written by Serrano to Clavius, Salamanca, April 14, 1598, appears in U. Baldini, P. D. Napolitani (eds.), Cristoph Clavius. Corrispondenza, 6 Vols (Pisa: Quaderno del Dipartimento di Matematica, 1992), Vol. IV (1597–1601), part 1, pp. 46–54. Serrano tells Clavius in this letter that that year, he had been teaching Ptolemy’s Almagest andhad written a commentary on it. The Escorial Library houses a copy of Tractatus de astrologia judiciaria, MS O-III-30 by Serrano which concurs with the lessons he gave on this subject in Salamanca in 1593.Google Scholar
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    Antonio Núñez Zamora, Liber de Cometis, In Quo Demonstratur Cometan Anni 1604 Fuisse In Firmamento, Salamanca, 1610. Although it was published in this year (1610), 1605 is the date of censure and printing given at the end of the book.Google Scholar
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    According to the books of visits, Serrano and Clavius taught the same subjects as Muñoz. See Fernández, “La Universidad Salmantina”.Google Scholar
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    See J. M. López Piñero and T. F. Glick, “Pedro de Esquivel”, in Diccionario Histórico (cit. note 1), Vol., pp. 310–312, and the references mentioned in this book. Also, Gonzalo Reparaz Ruiz, “The topographical Maps of Portugal and Spain in the 16th Century”, Imago Mundi, 7: 75–82 (1980); Geoffrey Parker, “Maps and Ministers: The Spanish Habsburgs”, in D. Buisseret. (ed.), Monarchs, Ministers and Maps (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1992), pp. 124–153; M. E. Piñeiro, “Esquivel. Un ejemplo de la ciencia aplicada en la España del siglo de Oro”, in L. J. Moreno (ed.), La Universidad Complutense Cisneriana (Madrid, (ed.) Complutense, 1996), pp. 261–285.Google Scholar
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    According to Beltrán, Cartulario (cit. note 31), Vol. IV, p. 324.Google Scholar
  43. 44.
    F. Gil Ayuso, Historia de la Universidad de Alcalá, quoted by A. González Palencia in the foreword to Pedro Medina, Obras, Vol. I (Madrid: CSIC, 1944), p. XXXVIII. In the dedicatory V to his patron Gaspar de Borja and Velasco, in a Latin manuscript of Cosmographia (Biblioteca Universitaria de Barcelona, Ms. 446), Pérez de Mesa states that he taught natural philosophy in his youth in Salamanca and Alcalá.Google Scholar
  44. 45.
    In Pérez de Mesa’ enlarged and revised edition of De las grandezas y cosas notables de Espaã by Pedro Medina (Alcalá de Henares, 1595), fol. 226r, he highlighted amongst his recent professors at Salamanca University “the learned teacher Jerónimo Muñoz, well-versed in human and spiritual letters and in all faculties, particularly in languages, positive theology and mathematics, and in Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy, whose ingeniousness and memory, virtue and scorn for the world are wonderfully admired”.Google Scholar
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    See Luciano Perena, in Pérez de Mesa, Política o razón de Estado (cit. note 36).Google Scholar
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    Manuscripts of all these subjects written between 1595 (Astrologia Judiciaria) and 1603 (the El Arte De Navegar treatise) are housed at the Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid and in the library of Salamanca University. The manuscript entitled Astrología Judiciaria (Madrid, BN, Ms. 5917), states “Judiciary astrology read in Seville by Diego Pérez Mesa, Professor at Alcalá de Henares, by order of King Philip in the year 1595”. The treatise on the art of navigation features the date September 6, 1603 at the end. Ms. 2294 of the Salamanca University Library concerns arithmetic, algebra, astrology and practical geometry and Pérez de Mesa, “professor of this city of Seville in the year 1598” is named as the author on the first page.Google Scholar
  47. 48.
    A copy of Comentarios De Sphera by Pérez de Mesa, is housed in the Biblioteca Nacional, Ms. 8882. It is dated in Seville, September 22, 1596.Google Scholar
  48. 49.
    Pérez de Mesa, Comentarios De Sphera, op. cit., fols. 19v–22r. The chapter ends with Copernicus’ answers to the objections about the Earth’s motion.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., 14v ff.Google Scholar

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© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victor Navarro-Brotóns
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ValenciaSpain

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