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Volvelle from BL Eg 848, f. 22 - Public domain medieval manuscript


Volvelle from BL Eg 848, f. 22 - Public domain medieval manuscript



Volvelle with three moving parts representing the zodiac, the sun, and the moon, and showing their relative positions and the moon's phases, and astronomical diagram. Image taken from f. 22 of Medical miscellany, including an astronomical calendar. Written in English.

The Egerton Manuscript Collection is named after its founder, Sir Thomas Egerton (1540-1617), 1st Viscount Brackley, was a lawyer, statesman, and patron of the arts during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I of England. He served as Lord Keeper of the Great Seal and later as Lord Chancellor of England, holding high positions in the legal and political realms.

Sir Thomas Egerton acquired a substantial number of historical and literary manuscripts. In 1617, shortly before his death, Sir Thomas Egerton bequeathed his collection of manuscripts to the British Museum, which was the precursor to the British Library.

Approximately 2000 B.C., Babylonian astrologers believed that the Sun, Moon, and the five planets known at that time (Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, and Venus) possessed distinct powers. Mars, for example, appeared to be red and was associated with aggression and war. Astrology was inherited by the Greeks from Babylonians around the 4th century B.C.Through the studies of Plato, Aristotle, and others, astrology came to be regarded as a science. It was embraced by the Romans and the Arabs. The zodiac (which is derived from the Greek word meaning "circle of animals") is believed to have developed in ancient Egypt and later adopted by the Babylonians. Early astrologers knew it took 12 lunar cycles (i.e., months) for the sun to return to its original position. They then identified 12 constellations that they observed were linked to the progression of the seasons and assigned them names of certain animals and persons (in Babylonia, for example, the rainy season was found to occur when the Sun was in a particular constellation which was then named Aquarius, or water bearer). Each of these four groups is inscribed in its own quadrant, or group of "houses," on a circle. The division of the 12 houses is based on Earth's daily rotation and relates to such circumstances as relationships, finances, travel, etc. The division of the 12 signs of the zodiac is based on the earth's year-long rotation around the Sun and relates to character traits and areas of life.

The Moon has always been a magical and mystical object for people throughout history. It is the 2nd brightest object in the sky after the Sun. Since prehistoric times, the Moon has been an object of fascination, awe, and worship. The Moon has its influence on our culture through music, theater, literature, and more.



1300 - 1500


British Library

Copyright info

Public Domain

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