Friday, May 31, 2013

Practica teütsch: Reading the fine print

This week released digital facsimiles of four astrological prognostications for the year 1605 from the Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek Bern. These four practicas are remarkable in that none of them had previously been found in VD17, and because the authorship has been misattributed in two cases.

The four booklets include the following:
  1. Johannes Caesius. Prognosticon Astrologicum, oder Practic auf das Jar M.DC.V. Frankfurt am Main: Sigismund Latomus, [1604].
    This is listed online as a work of Georg Caesius, which is a natural assumption, as Georg Caesius is the author of over 40 practicas and comet tracts between 1567 and 1604. But the works of Georg Caesius are all printed in Nuremberg, mostly by Valentin Fuhrmann, and they identify the author as "M. Georgium Caesium Rotenburgensem, Pfarherrn zu Burckbernheim" and similar. The newly digitized prognostication was authored by "M. Johannem Caesium Susatum, Math. und Medicinae Studiosum," so by a native of Soest, and it was printed in Frankfurt. I don't find any other printed works by this author, but Johannes and Georg Caesius appear to be two separate people.
  2. Melchior Gramann. Prognosticon Astrologicum, oder teutsche Practica : auff das Jahr ... 1605. Erfurt: Johann Beck, [1604].
    Melchior Gramann published another practica in Erfurt for 1609 (VD17 23:285604X), while a Johannes Gramann had published one there for 1587 (VD16 ZV 6929). This might be a father-son pair, which is not uncommon in the world of early modern astrology.
  3. Franck, Sebastian. Prognosticon astrologicon, auff das Jahr ... M.DC.V. Erfurt: Jakob Singe, [1604].
    The name "Sebastian Franck" is of course better known from the spiritualist and pacifist of the early sixteenth century. I can't find any other printed works by this later Sebastian Franck besides this one, which is dedicated to the city council of "Dennstadt," probably modern Bad Tennstedt.
  4. Hartmann, Werner. Prognosticon, auff das Jahr ... M.DC.V. Erfurt: Jakob Singe, [1604].
    This one is listed as a work of Leonhardt Thurneysser zum Thurn, which again isn't too surprising, at least if you overlook the last word on the title page: "Beschrieben durch Leonh. Thurn. zum Thurn / etc. Discip." The beginning of the text on fol. a2r provides the author: "Durch Leonhardt Thurnheisers zum Thurn / etc. Discipel, Berner. Hartman. Medic. et Astronomum." Leonhardt Thurnheiser's published practicas reach from 1571 to 1599, while Wernher Hartmann refers to himself as Thurnheiser's disciple in practicas published between 1597 and 1609. Another practica misattributed to Thurneisser is VD17 23:285568M, which looks instead to be another work of Hartmann's published by Singe in Erfurt.
It's not too unusual that Jakob Singe published prognostications from two different authors for the same year, by the way. He published four different authors for 1610, and other German printers managed as many as five in a single year.


  1. There are more titles to be found in the ÖNB in the Hauptkatalog: Enter "caesius, johannes" into the search field (search results can't be linked to). One more hint: The German version of "Caesius" is "Grau".

  2. Thanks! I thought there had to be more from J. Caesius out there.