Sunday, May 30, 2010

John Dee

John Dee is sometimes refereed to as the last magician because of his services to Queen Elizabeth 1 as her astrologer

John Dee
born 13 July 1527–1608 or 1609 was a noted mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I. He devoted much of his life to the study of alchemy, divination, and Hermetic philosophy.
Dr. John Dee was a famous Alchemist, Mathematician, Astronomer and Astrologer; he was also an advisor to Queen Elizabeth I on matters pertaining to science and astrology, as such he was sometimes referred to as “the last royal magician”. A serious academic some thought him to be the most learned man in the whole of Europe. Fascinated by all things occult, he was an adept in Hermetic and Cabbalistic philosophy, and spent much of his later life in efforts to communicate with Angelic spirits.
Dee was invited to the court of King Edward VI (then only 13 years of age), there to act as an advisor and tutor on scientific matters. In return he was given a post as Rector of Severn-upon-Severn in Worcestershire, and with it the assurance of a home and an income of one hundred crowns a year. This would allow Dee to continued his scientific studies without financial worry, during which time he devoted himself more and more to astrology. He also enjoyed the patronage of the Earl of Pembroke and entered into the service of the Duke of Northumberland as a private tutor to his children.

After the death of the young boy King in 1553, Dee’s hopes for a financially secure future died with him. By this time though, he had gained a reputation as a leading astrologer, and when Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) ascended to the throne, he was asked to cast her horoscope and that of her prospective husband King Philip II of Spain. However, Mary’s reign brought with it a turbulent time for England. A staunch Roman Catholic, she quickly instigated a campaign of persecution against eminent Protestants.

One such person arrested was Roland Dee, John Dee's father, who was taken prisoner in August 1553. He was later released, but only after he had been deprived of all his financial assets, he died later without recovering his wealth. This was a terrible blow for John Dee, as he had expected to inherit a considerable fortune from his father, which would have enabled him to carry on his studies free from the need to earn an income. In 1554, Dee was offered a post as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, a position that may have resolved his financial problems, but once again he turned the position down. Dee was still disillusioned with the English sceptical mistrust toward science, as once again controversy came knocking.

One of Dee’s cousins was a Maid of Honour to princess Elizabeth I, who because of her Protestant sympathies was forced to live in seclusion at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. Through his cousin, Dee dangerously formed a link with Elizabeth and cast her horoscope prophesising Mary’s death and her own accession to the throne. Because of this involvement, Dee was arrested and accused of trying to murder the Queen by black magic. Fortunately for Dee the only evidence his accusers could find was Mary’s horoscope, which he had shown to Elizabeth. Although being acquitted of the charge, Dee was imprisoned at Hampton Court near Richmond, London.


1 comment:

  1. oh, this guy is neat. one of my students wrote an essay about him this year . . . the only reason I know about him.