"Scholars Seek to Rescue Image of John Dee, Last Royal Wizard" -

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"Scholars Seek to Rescue Image of John Dee, Last Royal Wizard" -

Post  Khephra on Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:06 am

See Guardian.co.uk for the complete text:

Scholars seek to rescue image of John Dee, last royal wizard

He was accused of sorcery, but many claim John Dee was one of the most original thinkers of his day.


A group of international scholars are meeting in Cambridge today to rescue the reputation of the last royal wizard, Dr John Dee, from the false charge of sorcery that has dogged him for 400 years – undoubtedly fuelled by his use of a crystal ball to communicate with angels, and collaboration with a conman who assured him the angels had suggested a spot of wife-swapping.

Dee is variously regarded as one of Europe's greatest scholars and scientific thinkers – and as the man who cast horoscopes for Queen Mary and her Spanish husband, Philip, suggested the most auspicious date for the coronation of Elizabeth I, and called up the wind that scattered the Armada. He may also have inspired Shakespeare's Prospero in The Tempest, and Ben Jonson's The Alchemist.

Objects he owned that are now in national collections have not helped clear his reputation, including transcripts in the British Library of dialogues with angels, and his crystal ball, wax tablets inscribed with magical symbols, and black obsidian mirror, in which he hoped to see the future, at the British Museum.

"There was never a single blockbuster discovery with Dee as with Galileo or Newton, because his interests spread so wide," said Jenny Rampling, who is organising the two-day conference at his old college to celebrate him as a forgotten hero of English intellectual life. "So if you're looking for a founding father of modern science, he's probably not the man.

"But if you're looking for one of the most original thinkers of his day, in touch with all the major intellectuals of Europe, consulted by princes, right at the cutting edge of mathematical theory, author of the preface of the first English edition of Euclid, owner of the greatest private library in England and one of the best in Europe, that's Dee. But even by the 17th century that part of his reputation was overshadowed by the stories of sorcery and conjuring."

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Khephra

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