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216 × 138 × 24 mm
288 pages
98 illustrations, 59 in colour
10 Aug 2020
Renaissance Lives

Tycho Brahe and the Measure of the Heavens John Robert Christianson

The Danish aristocrat and astronomer Tycho Brahe personified the inventive vitality of Renaissance life in the sixteenth century. Brahe lost his nose in a student duel, wrote Latin poetry and built one of the most astonishing villas of the period, as well as the observatory Uraniborg, while virtually inventing team research and establishing the fundamental rules of empirical science.

This illustrated biography presents a new and dynamic view of Tycho’s life, reassessing his gradual separation of astrology from astronomy, and his key relationships with Johannes Kepler, his sister, Sophie, and his kinsmen at the court of King Frederick II.

‘This fascinating and rich biography successfully explains the aims of Tycho's startling and ambitious enterprise, to rebuild the sciences of heaven and earth in a new vision of organised inquiry and the accumulation of nature's treasures. With gripping detail and brilliant illustrations... [this book] will be essential reading for anyone interested in the cosmos and culture of early modernity.’ — Simon Schaffer, Professor of History of Science, University of Cambridge

‘The pre-eminent authority in the English speaking world, John Christianson retells the story of Tycho Brahe with scholarly precision but with a lucid style and many well chosen illustrations. Tycho and his circle emerge vividly, his new instruments and his new ways of using them beginning as a Humanist ‘return to the sources’, only to became something else — a way of doing science that put carefully checked observations ahead of theory. All this, as well as the fake nose and the elk that fell down the stairs. This is now the best single volume introduction to Tycho and his times, in English.’ — Peter Barker, Professor of the History of Science, The University of Oklahoma

‘A reminder, both timely and readable, by the leading expert on Tycho Brahe, of the vital role of the courts of Denmark, and of the Emperor Rudolf II in Prague, in the modernisation of European science around 1600.’ — Philip Mansel, author of King of the World: The Life of Louis XIV

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John Robert Christianson is Professor Emeritus of History in Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. He has written widely on Scandinavian history and Tycho Brahe, including On Tycho’s Island (2000).

Preface: Denmark and the Renaissance

1 Birthright Challenged, 1546–70
2 Cloister into Observatory: The New Star, 1570–73
3 Finding a New Life, 1573–6
4 Treasures of the Sea King: Kronborg and Uraniborg, 1576–82
5 Star Castle: Going Down to See Up, 1582–8
6 On the Move, 1588–99
7 The Emperor’s Astrologer and His Legacy, 1599–1687

Further Reading
Photo Acknowledgements