Friday, December 9, 2011

I am fairly certain that Nikolaus Wyse does not exist

Recently I've needed to untangle the works of Nikolaus Weise, who published several astrological prognostications for various periods. Some of these are clearly the same work, although later editions might drop the prognostications for years that had already passed, while some are clearly different texts, even though they may offer a prognostication for the same year.

Weise's most popular work is the Prognosticon astrologicum von dem 1572. bis auf das 1588. Jahr (VD16 W 1568-1575, ZV 18184, 18185, 18260, and W 4700), with ten editions of 1571-72. There are also an eleventh edition of 1573 with prognostications for 1573-88, and a twelfth of 1578 with prognostications for 1578-88. These later editions omit the earlier years, but they include the same dedicatory epistle "An den Christlichen Leser" and the same prognostications for each year, including the quatrain on 1588.

Between 1579 and 1582, Weise's Prognosticon astrologicum was reprinted nine more times in combination with a similar work by Georg Ursinus as Zwo Practiken vom 1580. Jahr bis man schreiben wird 1600. Jahr (VD16 U 267-271, U 273 [and I'd really like to see a copy of U 272, which is supposedly only the prognostication of Ursinus], ZV 18165, 21551, 23699 [VD16 omits Weise's authorship from ZV 21551 and 23699, but based on the titles I think it's almost certain that it contains the same texts as the others]). So altogether 21 editions, which makes it one of the most popular astrological works of the later sixteenth century.

Weise's other prognostications are different works. These include a comet tract of 1575 (VD16 W 1563), but also prognostications for 1574-78 and 1575-80, which are not extracts from the Prognosticon astrologicum or related to each other. There are two editions of a Judicium astrologicum, one for 1574-78 and a later edition for 1577-78 (VD16 W 1565 and 1564, respectively), which begin with a dedicatory epistle to the mayor and city council of Dresden. (I'm not as certain of the identity of these two, and I'd want to check the copy of W 1564 in Wolfenbüttel to be sure.) There are also two editions of a Prognosticon for 1575-80 (VD16 W 1566, 1567), whose dedicatory epistle begins with an appellation to the "Gunstiger lieber Leser." A quick look at the overlapping years in the three prognostic works finds that Weise is considering the same astronomical facts and drawing similar conclusions, but writing three entirely different texts.

I'm counting one edition of the Prognosticon astrologicum (VD16 4700) that VD16 does not attribute to Nikolaus Weise, but instead to Nikolaus Wyse. Wyse's only known work has the following title:
PROGNOSTICON Astrologicum. Van dem 1572. Jare beth vp dat 1588. Jaer warende / darinne gründtlyken vnde gewiß angetöget werdt / wat sick yn bauen gemelden Jaren / thokamende / begeuen vnde thodragen verde ... beschreuen / Dörch Nicolaum VVysen, Mathematicum.
According to VD16, this edition bears the following note:
Erstlyken tho Dreßden Gerücket [I assume Getrücket] / Vnde nu yn vnse Sassesche Sprake gebröcht
There are two Dresden editions of Weise's work. The full title of one (VD16 W 1570) is
PROGNOSTICON || ASTROLOGICVM. Von dem 1572. bis auff das 1588. Jahr wehrende / Darinnen gründtlichen vnd gewis angezeiget wird / was sich in obgemelten Jaren künfftig begeben vnd zutragen werde / alles mit hohem fleis zu trewer warnung gerechnet vnd beschrieben. Durch Nicolaum Weysen / Mathematicum.
So I see two possibilities. Either Nikolaus Weise and Nikolaus Wyse are the same person, or by an amazing coincidence an otherwise unknown author, whose name is the Low German equivalent of Weise's, also published a work in Dresden whose title was the same as Weise's, and then in Lübeck with a title that is the Low German equivalent of Weise's original title.

I haven't been to the Lüneburg Ratsbücherei to see this edition for myself, so perhaps I'm mistaken about this, but I'm pretty sure that Nikolaus Wyse and Nikolaus Weise are the same person.

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