There were many different superstitions popular at the time of the Renaissance. Many people believed in luck, ghosts, witches, and astrology. There were multiple items associated with luck and have their origins in Renaissance superstitions. Such as, if something bad happened, like an injury or receiving bad news, a person during the Renaissance would record the day and time and consider it ‘unlucky’ and avoid important activities at the time from there on. Renaissance people also feared a host of supernatural beings, being the blame for everything from bad crops and sick animals to storms and fires. Though those were very common superstitions during this time, astrology was one of the most important with the largest impact on people’s beliefs. (The History of Common Renaissance Superstitions; http://www.life123.com/holidays/halloween/superstitions/renaissance-superstitions.shtml. 12-14-12) As literature, sculpture and painting were all reaching new heights in the rebirth of classical culture In European Renaissance, so was astrology. Several conflicting trends were obvious in Renaissance astrology. There was a tendency towards Hellenistic astrological techniques and a new emphasis on the Greek astrologer Ptolemy. (Renaissance Astrology; http://www.renaissanceastrology.com/astrologyinrenaissancemain.html. 12-17-12 )
Astrology had reached its heights in popularity by the early sixteenth century. Many popes viewed astrology favorably. Even those who weren’t as trusting in astrology didn’t prevent the casting of its natal chart. Some, such as Catherine de Medici, went as far in their trust in astrology to say be unwilling to take a step without referring to their astrologers first. (History of Astrology during the Renaissance; http://www.renaissanceastrology.com/astrologyinrenaissancemain.html. 12-17-12) The position of the planets and stars played an important part of Renaissance beliefs. Many important activities, like coronations, battles, and business deals, were never planned without consulting well-known astrologers. Then they would set up a date and time to plan those activities based upon the astrologers stargazing. (The History of Common Renaissance Superstitions; http://www.life123.com/holidays/halloween/superstitions/renaissance-superstitions.shtml. 12-17-12)
One of the most famous astrological predictions was the death of King Henri II of France in a tournament in 1599. Nostradamus and the Italian astrologer Luca Gaurico were considered the astrologers responsible. In the final joust, the king’s opponent’s lance shattered and the splintered pieces pierced his face and head causing him a painful death. Nostradamus had written, “The young lion will overcome the older one, in a field of combat in single fight: he will pierce his eyes in their golden cage; two wounds in one, then he dies a cruel death.” Century I, Quatrain 35. (History of Astrology. http://www.renaissanceastrology.com/astrologyinrenaissancemain.html. 12-21-12)
While the trust in astrology was already prevalent among its traditional clients, kings, nobles, and the wealthy, its popularity grew immensely along with the invention of printing. Numerous almanacs were being printed in Europe at this time. Almanacs usually contained a calendar, astronomical events, planetary aspects and astrological predictions. It’s estimated that one third of all English households had astrological almanacs. Height and Decline of Astrology. http://www.astrotheme.com/files/history_of_astrology.php. 12-21-12)
Yet as popularity of astrology grew, so did criticism against it. The Catholic Church became uncomfortable with the spiritual aspect of astrology to the extent that it might be controversial to the established doctrine. To be more specific, the Church was concerned over the professed implication that if the stars did determine all actions, then astrology denied man’s free will. The control exerted by the Church on research...