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Marking time: astrology, almanacs, and English Protestantism.


C. John Sommerville argues in The Secularization of Early Modern England that early modern Protestantism inadvertently allowed for a greater secularization of English culture by making religion more a matter of internal belief than of actions located in space and time. As a result, places and physical acts that had once been invested with holy meaning no longer held the same spiritual significance. Sommerville thus defines early modern secularization not primarily as a decline in or absence of religion, but rather as a "change in religion's placement." (1) He opens his book with a chapter entitled "The Secularization of Space" and follows it with one entitled "The Secularization of Time and Play," and these chapters foreground the idea that the religious changes occurring in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England were tied to new understandings of two fundamental axes of human experience. He argues that Protestantism, broadly conceived, produced a different understanding of space, one in which specific locations--church altars, shrines, monasteries, and so on--were no longer seen as qualitatively holy in their own right. The experience of time also changed as the ecclesiastical calendar was revised and as saints' days lost much of their earlier significance. We might usefully think of the medieval--as well as the early modern Catholic--sense of time and space as intrinsically more sacred than others. Undoubtedly post-Reformation religious culture retained much of this sacred understanding--the Book of Common Prayer, for example, did not abolish all holy days, and Protestant bishops continued to consecrate their churches as holy places--but by the end of the seventeenth century, English Protestant culture as a whole was characterized by a smoother and more homogenized understanding of space and time than that predominating two centuries before. (2)

At the risk of grossly oversimplifying two centuries of complex cultural, social, and religious change, I rehearse these broad shifts as the necessary background to my primary subject: the rise of the astrological almanac and the consequent expansion of an astrologically informed awareness of the significance of time and space. Perhaps because astrology is regarded today as intellectually bankrupt, it has been marginalized in discussions of the early modern period. (3) However, by failing to take early modern astrology seriously, we create an imbalanced view of the past. Although challenged by the rise of both empirical science and Calvinist theology, astrology had remarkable currency and credibility in the early modern period. (4) Belief in some degree of celestial influence was nearly ubiquitous in early modern England, and only a minority regarded astrology as a disreputable form of the occult, embraced only by the less-educated or the credulous. Nor was it seen as irreconcilable with Christianity. Furthermore, the development of the almanac--fueled by advances in print technology and by a consequent increase in both literacy and reader demand--allowed astrology to be widely disseminated in a printed form beginning around the middle of the sixteenth century. (5) Astrological almanacs enjoyed a remarkable rise in sales over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and were arguably the most popular books of the early modern period: for example, well over one million copies were printed in England just between 1664 and 1666. (6) This level of demand made printing and selling almanacs highly lucrative, and so almanac compilers constantly modified their texts to adjust to changing market needs: adding one feature, dropping another, expanding a section, and so on. (7) The almanacs' flexibility and their near ubiquity in English society make them useful textual barometers for early modern assumptions and reading practices.

Although almanacs as a genre are far too diverse to be summed up in a single article, one broad textual trend is discernible in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century almanacs and serves as my central focus here: the tendency of these texts to provide complicated and precise descriptions of both place and time. Early modern almanacs were often printed for a specific city in England, and the astrological data in the almanac was accordingly calculated for that exact latitude and longitude. This spatial pinpointing, along with the presence of other kinds of local geographical information, suggests the almanac makers' keen awareness of the significance of place. Similarly, over the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the calendars found in the majority of almanacs became more crowded with data, and most almanacs also provided other kinds of temporal descriptions as well: such as listings of the year's law terms, dates of the moveable feasts, chronologies of past historical events, and dates of monarchical reigns. (8) As a conceptual system, astrology was based on the assumption that time and place mattered in a larger celestial sense, and so the spread of the astrological almanac beginning roughly around the middle of the sixteenth century runs counter to the general drift of early modern Protestant thinking: where Protestantism tended to foreground the idea that earthly time and place were irrelevant to the divine Heaven--God was equally available at all places and all times--astrology was premised on the idea that specific places and units of time matter very much vis-a-vis the physical heavens. The very popularity of astrological almanacs, purchased by every segment of the English population and crammed with temporal and geographical descriptions, suggests that ordinary men and women wanted time and place to mean something, and almanacs thus may have kept the older view of space and time alive well after its diminishment in mainstream religious culture.


Understanding the broad changes I am tracing requires some familiarity with the role that astrology played in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century culture and belief. Writing in 1654, John Webster (1611-82)--a schoolmaster and noted polemicist, not the playwright--discussed what he called the contemporary "resuscitation" of astrology, yet this resuscitation occurred despite early modern attacks on astrology's coherence as an intellectual system. (9) Developments in empirical science--and especially the growing commitment to a heliocentric view of the cosmos--weakened astrology, which rested on the premise that the earth lay at the center of all astral and planetary influences. (10) Similarly, the rise of Calvinism, with its insistence on God's total providential control, undermined the idea that the stars and planets exercised sway on earth, and it prompted a fresh surge in anti-astrological writings. (11) Following the example of figures like Calvin (1509-64) and Theodore Beza (1519-1605), sixteenth-century English writers such as Miles Coverdale (ca. 1488-1568), John Hooper (ca. 1495-1555), Roger Hutchinson (d. 1555), and William Perkins (1558-1602) all argued that astrology was antithetical to Protestant doctrine. This sixteenth-century attack on astrology was continued in the seventeenth century by nonconformist writers, who, as Keith Thomas notes, were especially "sensitive to any apparent threat to the notion of God's omnipotence, and intolerant of any attempt to penetrate his mysteries." (12) But while in theory the fissure between astrology and English Protestantism was a wide one, in practice this crack was often ignored or even argued away. John Booker (1602-67), for example, was a Puritan preacher, a professional astrologer, and the annual compiler of one of the most popular almanacs of the later seventeenth century. Samuel Jeake (1652-99) was also a Puritan preacher in Rye during the seventeenth century and a dedicated amateur astrologer who kept an extensive astrological diary. (13) The leading generals of the New Model Army consulted astrological predictions for the most propitious times for their attacks, and there is ample evidence for a widespread Puritan interest in astrology during the Civil War. (14) It was clear from the star that led the Magi that God could use the stars to signal historic events on earth, and those nonconformists expecting the Apocalypse were especially apt to study the heavens.

For the majority of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century men and women, astrology was not incompatible with revealed religion. (15) Booker expressed conventional wisdom when he wrote that "The stars are letters and the Heaven's God's book / which day and night we may at pleasure look, / and thereby learn uprightly how to live." (16) In 1667, Jonathan Dove made a similarly traditional argument for astrology when he called it a form of "Natural Theologie," asserting that there are "none of the humane sciences that draw us so near to God." (17) Astrology explained one of the ways in which God's divine will was enacted on earth, and for an early modern world in which the moon demonstrably influenced the tides and somatic rhythms like menstruation and the phases of lunacy, it was still largely commonsensical that the celestial bodies--placed by God in the skies--also exercised sway over some aspects of human experience. Early modern astrologers and almanac makers argued that their work explored the cosmic harmonies God had established between different levels of his creation. So when early modern readers purchased almanacs, read prognostications, and even consulted professional astrologers, they were arguably not turning to some form of the occult so much as seeking to understand God's providence.

We see this close conjunction of astrology and seventeenth-century Protestantism in John Milton's (1608-74) Paradise Regain'd (1671). In Book 4, Satan looks to the stars to see Jesus' future, and he accurately predicts to Jesus, "Sorrow, and labours, opposition, hate, / attends thee, scorns, reproaches, injuries, / violence and stripes, and lastly cruel death." He sees that Jesus will have a kingdom, but he cannot read its date in the stars nor know if this realm is "Real or Allegoric." (18) Satan's astrological knowledge here does not indicate that astrology is damnable. Instead, Milton's point is that astrology simply has limitations. The stars predict the matters that God has set under their influence, but the eternal, spiritual significance of Christ's kingdom lies outside their sovereignty. This scene in Paradise Regain'd accords with Milton's general interest in astrology. He had his own horoscope taken, and in On Christian Doctrine (1658-60?) he writes that the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem proves that "there is some astrology which is neither useless nor unlawful." (19) Milton's cautious double negative here is illustrative. On the one hand, the stars were created by God and so presumably could be read in the same way that believers might read the book of nature to understand their creator. On the other hand, astrology--if pursued with unguarded zeal--could interfere with a proper understanding of God's total control over all earthly events.


One of the most salient developments in astrological almanacs over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was their tendency to be calculated, or cast, for a precise geographical location. For example, the writer Walter Gray specifies on the title page of his 1589 almanac that it is referred to "the altitude and meridian of Dorchester, seruing most aptly for the west partes, and generally for all England." (20) Similarly, Arthur Hopton's (1580-1614) An Almanack and Prognostication for 1606 proclaims its usefulness "for the latitude and meridian of the famous towne of Shrewsbury, serving most aptly neighbouring townes lying neare or under the same Meridian, and not much altering the eleuation as Chester, Ludlow or Heriford etc. with all towns Eastwards, as Worcester, Stafford, etc. or Westways to the Seaside, and generally for the South parts of Great Brittaine." (21) Numerous other almanac makers similarly cast their almanacs for specific places: to give just a few examples, Jeffrey Neve made almanacs for Yarmouth, Gabriel Frende for Canterbury, and Lewes Vaughan for Gloucester.

In the words of Hopton's title page, these almanacs "serv[e] most aptly"--or are most precise--right at the geographical radix of calculation. The calendar that Richard Allestree (ca. 1582-1643) includes in his 1621 almanac (cast for Derby) provides not only the traditional columns listing the saints' days and festival days, but also columns specifying "The sign and degree that the Moone is in euerie day at noone" and "The houre and min. of Sun-rising." This type of information varies with geographical position. Although the last column in Allestree's calendar--"Full Sea at London bridge"--makes London the radix of calculation, most of the other data in the almanac's calendar is referred specifically to Derby. (22) As the almanac owner journeys farther and farther from Derby, the information grows less and less accurate. For example, the farther west one goes, the later the sun rises, so that the moment of sunrise in western Wales on 11 January would not match Allestree's time of 7:55 in Derby. Adapting the almanac's data for different places requires extra calculation on the reader's part. Hopton, for example, provides an explanation of how "to fynde the Ebbing and flowing in most coasts of England," and he lists the hours and minutes to be added or subtracted depending upon one's position. (23) Similarly, Oronce Fine's (1494-1555) treatise on how to use an almanac (1570) provides the calculus needed "to bring the true mouement of the moone unto what meridiane you please." (24) The temporal differences between sunrise and lunar position in different parts of England are admittedly small, and so almanac compilers can legitimately claim that their texts will serve "generally for all England" (Gray's phrase) or "generally for the South parts of Great Brittaine" (Hopton's phrase). However, despite these claims for the almanacs' broader relevance, the data truly referred to only one latitude and longitude. (25) Since the small variations between an almanac cast for London and one cast for, say, Dorchester can hardly have mattered in a preindustrial world, it seems that the many men and women who bought these local almanacs simply liked having texts referred so precisely to their longitude and latitude and enjoyed the idea that their local time and place were unique in relation to the heavens. (26) In Forms of Nationhood, Richard Helgerson argues that texts such as Christopher Saxton's (ca. 1543-1610) atlas and William Camden's (1551-1623) Britannia worked to strenthen "the sense of both local and national identity at the expense of an identity based on dynastic loyalties." (27) Astrological almanacs were arguably even more instrumental in forging an awareness of regional and local uniqueness, in part because they were far cheaper and more plentiful than such cartographic and chorographic texts and in part because astrology laid such remarkable stress on the importance of place per se. (28)

This interest in precise place derives not only from the contemporary surge in "mapmindedness," but also from the astrological assumptions that underpin the almanac as a whole. (29) According to astrology, all events transpire under a celestial grid and, as geographical position changes, so too does the balance of planetary, astral, and lunar influences beaming down on earth. Accurately determining the astrological significance of an event required knowing not only the exact time of that event but also its location. Hearing that the French had landed a small expeditionary force on the coast near his home in Rye, Samuel Jeake cast a horoscope for the moment: "Behold the face of heaven when the news was first brought to me in the morning as I lay in bed. 6 AM." (30) The accuracy of Jeake's horoscope requires not only that he carefully note the time but also that he pinpoint his exact location: in bed at home in the town of Rye. In the logic of this horoscope, the larger political implications of this armed landing are influenced by, and discernible through, the unique set of starry influences beaming down upon Rye at that moment. Other early modern practitioners of astrology show a similarly keen sensitivity to place, as when William Ingpen wrote in 1624 that astrology helps explain the "admirable dissimilitude ... [of] regions" and also the variety seen in "different climates." (31) Some writers even reasoned that places could have their own unique destinies. In the same year, Frances Bernard wrote to the popular astrologer and almanac maker William Lilly (1602-81) with an idea for casting horoscopes for geographical places, (32) and the astrologer John Gadbury (1627-1704) similarly emphasized that locations, just like people, were astrologically unique and should have their horoscopes taken. (33)

In his analysis of astrology as a theoretical system, Krzysztof Pomian writes that instead of presenting a homogenized understanding of space, astrology divides "terrestrial space in qualitatively different cells." Because of this diversity of spatial cells, each one governed by a different configuration of planets and stars, astrology accommodates "an enormous variety of local determinations which makes intelligible an enormous variety of external appearances of men, of collective and individual temperaments, of customs, institutions, conditions, etc." Most importantly, "For astrology, these local determinations are more important than the community of origin of all human beings." Astrology, in other words, privileges the specific and the local over the general and the global, and Pomian observes that one of the great movements of astrology was the importance it attached to local environmental factors. (34) As Keith Thomas notes, astrology attempted to account for "all the vagaries of human existence," and "there was no other existing body of thought, religion apart, which even began to offer so all-embracing an explanation for the baffling variousness of human affairs." (35) While the attention to local variety was no more present in early modern astrology than in medieval astrology, the upsurge in almanacs in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries meant that this astrological view of the world was being more widely disseminated than ever before to an English reading public.

We can think of the rising popularity of a highly space-sensitive astrological discourse in early modern almanacs as running counter to the contemporaneous religious drift away from the idea of sacred space. Sommerville writes that before the early modern period, "space (and time) had nodes at which spiritual forces intersected with earthly life. Space was not uniform but differentiated, with certain spots at which one was more likely to meet God, just as there were certain times when God was more likely to be present." By the end of this period, in contrast, "Protestants had established the doctrine that God was everywhere and no where." (36) In Paradise Lost (1674), Adam and Eve have to learn that God is not found only in the Garden, and although they have lost a geographical Paradise, they leave it possessed of their own "paradise within." (37) Of course, Milton's idiosyncratic personal and theological vision is hardly typical of Protestant belief throughout the early modern period, but, broadly speaking, Protestant doctrine was closer to Milton's position than to the Catholic belief that divine grace was more available at some specific geographical locations--such as saints' shrines, cathedrals, and pilgrimage sites--than at others. The tension between astrology and early modern Protestantism about the importance of place is significant. On the one hand, almanacs were predicated on the idea that places--and even relatively minor places like Rye and Yarmouth--had a real importance in a vertical way, or vis-a-vis the heavens. From an astrological standpoint, you cannot understand the larger network of heavenly forces at work unless you know exactly where you stand on the earth's surface. On the other hand, Protestantism leaned away from the idea that geographical position had any vertical relevance at all. (38) As Pomian points out, one of the crucial differences between an astrological and a theocentric view of history is that the theocentric system regards space and spatial relations as "irrelevant and is interested in temporal succession only" while astrology lays strong emphasis on space and geographic location as historical determinants. (39)

We can see this tension epitomized in two almanacs compiled in 1673 and 1674 by John Gadbury. Both are cast for the island of Jamaica and are clearly intended to bolster England's colonial interests there. Gadbury's 1673 title reads, The Jamaica Almanack: or, an Astrological Diary for the Year of our Lord God 1673. Calculated Particularly for the Noble Island of Jamaica, But is of use to those that inhabit the Barbado's, and other adjacent Islands in the West-Indies, under the Dominion of His Majesty of Great Britain. The title page promises, at the bottom, "an Astrological Discourse touching the growing Greatness of that Excellent, Temperate, and Fruitfull Island: grounded upon its Nativity, or the first Moment of Time, wherein the Valiant English became Masters thereof." Gadbury claims that Jamaica is born--it has its "nativity"--at "the precise time in which our Valiant and Couragious Countreymen took possession of the Standard-Royal from the then Inhabitants.... This being on Thursday, May the tenth, 3 hours P. M. Anno 1655. as I haue received it from credible Information." (40) His almanac provides an astrological forecast for the island based on the configuration of planets at that moment, one that augurs prosperity and success for the English colony.

Both of Gadbury's almanacs display a desire to pull Jamaica in under the sway of England and to read Jamaica's future in relationship to England's. For example, in his 1673 prognostication of Jamaica's future, Gadbury finds that the position of Mercury at the moment of Jamaica's nativity indicates that the island "will remain and continue in obedience unto his present Majesty of Great Britain, and to the Crown of England." (41) At the bottom of the 1674 text's title page, Gadbury makes a similar, globalizing gesture by providing a quotation from Psalm 139: "If I ascend into Heaven, thou art there--if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the Sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." (42) This quotation undermines the significance of place by reminding readers that God is omnipresent and extends his solace to mortals irrespective of geographical position. In the context of this almanac's colonial agenda, the loving omnipresence of God extolled in the psalm is symbolically akin to the overarching dominion of the English king. Just as the speaker of the psalm finds meaning only in relationship to God, the readers of this almanac--imagined to be both those Englishmen already living in the island and those thinking about moving there--are reminded to found their identity not in the tropical island itself but in the ruler, and by extension the nation, governing it from afar.

The problem for Gadbury, however, is that this impulse to read Jamaica only through the lens of England is undercut repeatedly by the importance astrology gives to local geographical determinants. Although he sets the island's nativity at the moment England takes possession of it, Gadbury calculates Jamaica's future based on the exact configuration of planets above the island, a spatial relationship from which England is thousands of miles distant. The almanac throughout foregrounds Jamaica's geographic coordinates and thereby its uniqueness. For example, Gadbury provides a table of sunrise and sunset "for the Latitude of Jamaica" and also a table of the sun's position against the zodiac "for 16 degrees of Latitude, serving Port-Royal in Jamaica." (43) In the "Letter to the Reader" prefixed to the 1674 almanac, Gadbury says that he wrote his earlier almanac because friends urged him "to consider the difference of Meridians, and the Relations also, that was between England and that noble Countrey" of Jamaica. (44) Despite the desire to find "Relations" between the two countries, it is the "difference of Meridians" which is first on Gadbury's mind. In the 1673 address to "my ever Honored and Ingenious Mathematical Friends, in the noble Island," Gadbury asks them to observe a host of astrological phenomena which differ from England's, such as whether "Saturn doth not as really move the Eastern Winds, and Jupiter the Western, etc. in the Indies as in England?" (45) The title page of the 1674 almanac explains that in order to make it "the more universally useful, to all his Majesties good subjects, our Countrymen, in the West-Indies," the author has added a "Table fitted exactly to the Latitude of the Barbado's" which "is of advantage to all the other Caribee Islands, at least in matters indifferent." There is an irreconcilable tension between Gadbury's hope that his table will be "universally useful" and its having been "fitted exactly" to one particular place in a distant ocean. As Gadbury's two almanacs demonstrate in spite of themselves, astrology does not work well as a totalizing device.


Although thus far I have attended primarily to the almanacs' precise attention to place, these texts are equally noteworthy for their emphasis on exact time, as attested by Gadbury's pinpointing of "the precise time in which our Valiant and Couragious Countreymen took possession" of Jamaica. Almanacs virtually always feature a calendar, and we cannot understand the almanacs' general view of time without paying close attention to these crucial timetables. And in turn, we cannot understand the innovations of these almanac calendars without situating them against broader calendrical changes. Broadly speaking, by the end of the sixteenth century, the perpetual calendar of earlier centuries had given way to "topical" or temporary calendars. (46) This is a distinction that may be alien to most modern readers. Up until the mid-sixteenth century, however, most calendars offered information that remained constant from one year to the next. For example, many of the calendars included in medieval Books of Hours list simply the days in each month, the feasts or saints' day, and, occasionally, the daily prayers. These calendars typically omit the moveable feasts and instead of listing the days of the week (information that changes from year to year), they assign each day a letter, a through g. Readers consulted separate tables and performed calendrical calculations to determine which letter for any given year corresponded to Sunday and to know the date of feasts such as Easter and Pentecost. Such calendars were not discarded at the end of each year as we might a desk calendar. Indeed, calendars appear most frequently bound with religious works--like prayer books, primers, and Bibles--and, in these texts, the perpetual relevance of the religious material complements the perpetual quality of the calendar itself.

As the rise of the printing press and the decreasing cost of printed books in the sixteenth century made textual calendars more disposable, time itself came to seem more temporary. (47) Calendars, and especially the calendars proliferating in almanacs, were more likely to be accurate only for a certain year. In its preface to the definition of almanac, the Oxford English Dictionary explains that "The 'almanacs' known to Roger Bacon and Chaucer were permanent tables of the apparent motions and positions of sun, moon, and ... planets, whence the astronomical data for any year could be calculated." In the fifteenth century, however, "almanacs or ephemerides began to be prepared for definite periods, as 30 or 10 years," and beginning around the middle of the sixteenth century, almanacs were compiled for a single year. (48) Some writers resisted this trend toward one-year almanacs. In his A prognostication euerlasting of ryghtgood effecte (1556), Leonard Digges (1520-59) contrasts his own efforts to create an "euerlasting" almanac with those authors who write texts "for one yeares profit only" and who are "of necessitie compelled to make a yearely renewyng of them with yearely encrease of errours." (49) However, such perpetual calendars were relatively uncommon in the period. Arthur Hopton, in his Concordancy of Yeares (1612), complains that works like the "Perpetuall Prognostication" do not list useful--and variable--information such as "the true place of the Moone, for her Conjunctions and Oppositions, with other things of like consequence." (50) This increasing specialization of the almanac is echoed in early modern shifts in the word calendar. The OED gives one definition of calendar as "a guide, directory: an example, model," and it cites Osric's reference to Laertes (Ham. 5.2.110) as the "calendar of gentry" as one of the last known occurrences. (51) The traditional role of the calendar as a stable, enduring guide was fading by the beginning of the seventeenth century.

As Lynn Thorndike observes, the word new became more prevalent in seventeenth-century book titles. (52) Early modern almanacs push this tendency to the extreme. The character Weatherwise in Thomas Middleton's No Wit, No Help Like a Woman's (1611) proclaims that he will not spend money toward getting a wife until "wives are like almanacs, we may have every year a new one." (53) The anonymous compiler of one almanac promotes his text as useful for the reader who burned "last year's Almanack, when it was out of date." (54) William Savage, in his A new Almanack for 1611 writes that his work "is not durable for longer time then a yeare, yet will that years use recompense thy two-penny purchase." (55) These comments speak to a widespread transformation of the almanac into a far more topical document, and the titles of early seventeenth-century almanacs, such as Thomas Kidman's A new Almanack for the yeare of our redemption 1633 and Gervaise Dauncy's A new reformed Kalender, or Almanacke against Almanacks, for the yeare of our Redemption, 1615, attest to this ephemerality. The calendars in these almanacs are packed with precise information for each day, including the time of sunrise, the position of the moon in the zodiac at noon, the configuration of the planets, and the time of high tide. Although this change participated in the technological and scientific developments of the period--such as the invention of more accurate chronometers and a growing interest in natural phenomena like tides--it derived also from astrology's core assumption that the exact time of an event is a key to correlating it against the grid of heaven in order to discern its larger significance.

Comparing three early modern calendars can give a more vivid sense of the calendrical changes that I am tracing and also the ways in which the astrological almanac preserves an earlier, more sacred sense of time. In the 1540 The Byble in Englysshe (a translation by Coverdale also known as the Great Bible), the prefatory calendar lists simply the feast name for each day in a large central column (fig. 1). As a result, time is characterized almost entirely by its liturgical significance. The compiler of this Great Bible calendar does not provide a heading above the column of holy days simply because none is needed: this listing of the canon has a self-evident importance and serves as the primary means of understanding time. Although printed under the supervision of Thomas Cromwell, this calendar expresses an essentially medieval Catholic understanding of time, one in which most days had an intrinsic sacred significance brought about by their liturgical character and their relationship to saintly figures like Saint Agnes, Saint Roch, and the Virgin Mary. In Catholic devotion, each of these holy men and women exercised a specific influence on earth, extending grace to sinful mortals in unique ways. For example, this calendar specifies that 17 January is the feast of Saint Anthony. On this holy day, Anthony's spiritual power was in its ascendance, and those under his special patronage--including epileptics, swineherds, and those suffering from skin diseases--intensified their prayers in the hope of receiving the saint's holy favor.


The calendar prefixed to the 1611 King James Bible presents a different picture (fig. 2). The number of holy days has been dramatically reduced, but this reduction is countered by the presence of the Bible lections for morning and afternoon prayer. God's holy word has been broadly substituted for God's saints, a move that accords with the Protestant emphasis on the Bible as the primary means of encountering the sacred. Instead of pointing upward toward the saints who reside in heaven, this calendar directs the reader forward into the pages of the Bible that follow. As a result, the calendar itself dwindles in importance. While hagiographic devotion required that the believer constantly consult the calendar to determine the correct saints' days--to help those without ready access to a written timetable, some late medieval texts even provide instructions for using the knuckles of the hand as a makeshift saints' calendar--this calendar is not critical to a proper understanding of the Bible. That is, members of the Church of England were not required to attend both morning and evening prayers each day, nor was the pattern of lections laid out in the calendar the required template for private Bible reading. As a result, many English Protestants who read the Bible at home according to a different schedule, and who attended church only on Sundays, might have regarded the whole right half of this calendar as only tenuously relevant to their devotional lives. Although the large column listing the feast days remained the dominant regulator of Protestant religious life, the reduction of saints' names and the expanse of unmarked days between the great feasts suggests a different temporal imaginary: one in which time was seen as at least somewhat more homogenous and in which most days lacked intrinsic religious significance.

While the quantified abundance of Richard Allestree's 1621 A New Almanack and Prognostication (fig. 3) seems, at first glance, dramatically different from the austere listing of saints in the 1540 Bible calendar, in fact these two calendars are quite similar. Most obviously, Allestree supplies a traditional listing of the saints' days, although his heading--"Festiual dayes in vse for Law daies, keeping of Fayres, etc."--implies that these formerly holy feasts have been reduced to handy timekeeping devices (although is it possible that Allestree, like the many other almanac makers who supplied listings of the traditional holy days, was responding to a popular desire to see the saints in the calendar). This reintroduction of the saints' days, however, is not the most significant similarity between this calendar and the earlier one. Indeed, the underlying assumptions of this 1628 astrological calendar accord with those of the 1540 saints' calendar in three fundamental ways.



First, like the liturgical calendar prefixed to the Great Bible, Allestree's almanac is predicated on the belief that a variety of celestial influences suffuse the earth and exercise sway over human affairs. The similarity between the stars and planets, on the one hand, and the saints, on the other, was an early modern commonplace. For example, in his widely influential De occulta philosophia (1531), Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535) provides a table mapping out the connection between the Twelve Apostles and their corresponding zodiacal signs. Similarly, Alonso de Villegas (1534-1603) explains in his The liues of saints (translated into English in 1621) that God has placed the saints "as starres and planets in the firmament of his Churche, with the beames of their vertues and good example to enlighten our steppes." (56) Just as the saints were believed to extend God's grace down to sinful human beings, the celestial bodies were seen as conduits of divine providence and, like the saints, the stars and planets had particular areas of patronage and influence on earth: as evidenced by adjectives such as martial (Mars-like) and saturnine (Saturn-like). Early modern Protestant writers were aware of the perceived link between the planets and the saints, and apologists like John Melton (d. 1640) used the astrology-hagiography connection as a means to criticize both. (57) William Perkins, one of the great Protestant apologists of the late sixteenth century, wrote attacks against both Catholicism (such as his Reformed Catholike) and astrology (such as his Foure Greate Lyers). Both systems, Perkins argues, can be debunked by the same central precept: God does not need intermediaries like planets, stars, popes, or saints in order to effect his divine will on earth. (58)

Second, as mediators between heaven and earth, the Catholic saints and the celestial bodies wheeling through space were thoroughly time-dependent. Writers who compiled hagiographic texts--works that almost inevitably include a calendar--showed a pronounced concern with getting the time of the holy day right, since each saint's day in the calendar was (at least in theory) the actual anniversary of a major event like the saint's death, or the discovery of his or her relics. As Pedro de Ribadeneyra explains in his preface to The Lives of the Saints (translated into English in 1669), he relies most upon Cardinal Baronius's martyrology since Baronius used special care "in verifying the Chronology" of the saints. (59) John Donne (1572-1631) satirizes precisely this kind of time-dependence in his Ignatius his Conclave (1611) when he scoffs at the idea that "S. Stephen, John the Baptist & all the rest ... have bin commanded to worke miracles at certain appointed daies, where their Reliques are preserved." (60) In the logic of Catholic hagiographic devotion, the exact time matters. Allestree's almanac is committed to a similarly timebound understanding of the relationship between the heavens and the earth. It tells us that on 17 January 1628, the noonday sun occupies the last quadrant of the constellation Libra, and at 4 AM, the moon and Jupiter are exactly 60[degrees] apart. By the next day, the sun has entered Scorpio, and by 19 January, the moon is square (90[degrees] opposed) to Venus at 10 AM. Just as only one day in the medieval ecclesiastical calendar is Saint Anthony's Day, Allestree's calendar assumes that each day has a unique astrological significance. Furthermore, both the traditional saints' calendar and the astrological calendar assume that the significance of each day is conferred on it downward by the heavens rather than constituted upward out of the inward piety of the individual.

Finally, Allestree's almanac is fundamentally akin to the 1540 liturgical calendar in that both seek to synchronize the readers' bodily movements with larger chronological and celestial cycles. As Bernard Manning argues, medieval religion "was not so much an attitude of mind as a series of acts. To take off one's hat, to creep to the cross, to provide lights and decorations--it was by such means that the layman showed his reverence." (61) Moreover, most devout actions had to be correctly timed. The Beating of the Bounds, for example, occurred only during Rogation week, and most substantial parishes throughout England synchronized their guild celebrations with the feast days of the guild's patron saint. (62) The primary point of the medieval calendar was to allow the Christian to suit his or her bodily actions to the proper time and season so that the movements of the individual merged with the temporal rhythms of the year into a single expression of religious commitment. The fundamental goal of the astrological almanac was similarly to time human actions to accord with the heavens, as evidenced by the many almanac calendars that specify when actions such as bathing, purging, and nail trimming should be performed. The similarity of the almanac and the liturgical calendar in this regard was such that they could even be fused together. The early fifteenth-century Kalendar of Shepherdes--a 1506 English translation of the Calendrier des bergers and an early prototype of the almanac--combines both astrological and religious observance, coordinating both the reader's acts of devotion (by listing the times of liturgical prayers, of mass, of saints' days, etc.) and the reader's movements through the material world (by listing the astrologically and seasonally propitious times for harvest, sheep-shearing, sowing, etc.). (63) Although Duffy characterizes the fusion of religion and astrology in this widely influential text as "bizarre," it is in fact a natural result of the important role the physical body played in both belief systems. (64)

This interest in timing corporeal regimens is a dominant feature of the majority of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century almanacs, and while most astrologers and almanac makers conceded that the stars had no influence in matters of faith and salvation, they asserted that astrology was indispensable to understanding the tides of the human body. Richard Watkins and James Robertes's A doble Almanacke or Kalender drawne for this present yeere, 1600, for example, gives advice on each calendar page about the activities best suited for the month, offering for January: "Wine warmes the blood" and "let exercise thy phisick be." (65) One late seventeenth-century critic complained that haircutting and nail-paring were still "commonly done according to the increase of the moon." (66) Similarly, the almanac maker John Euans (ca. 1594-1659) argued in 1630 that just as Solomon said "That to every purpose under heauen there is an appointed or an expedient tyme," so too "no man will make doubt of the conuenience and necessary election of times in the administration of Physicke, Phlebotomy, and Chyrurgicall operations and cures." (67)

In 1612, John Monipennie wrote, "who is there that maketh not great account of his almanac to observe both days, times, and seasons to follow his affairs for his best profit and use." (68) Monipennie's sweeping comment suggests that when it came to their almanacs, seventeenth-century men and women were singularly indifferent to Saint Paul's injunction in Galatians 4:10 against observing "days, and months, and times and years." The rise of the astrological almanac suggests that the impulse to "observe times" had been transferred from a religious context where it was frowned upon to a more secular framework in which marking astrological time was linked both to the movements of the human body and to what Monipennie calls "profit and use." The proliferation of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century almanacs seemingly allowed men and women to observe time with new ardor.

Ironically, some of the most eloquent testaments to the appeal of an astrological sense of time--one in which individual moments of time had intrinsic meaning--come from markedly Protestant texts. Monipennie's own Christian Almanacke is one of these. In his prefatory letter "To the Christian Reader," Monipennie uses the language of the almanac to exhort his readers to a more scrupulous religious devotion: just as every reader of an astrological almanac "can make use of his time, observe his daies, houres, moneths and weekes, for his profit; shall not wee then, that would be Christians, shew our selues more carefull for the spending of our daies, times and hours." Echoing the time-sensitive nature of astrological observance, Monipennie proclaims, "let vs looke into our daies, weekes, moneths," although he would have readers use this heightened awareness of time to repent rather than to prognosticate. (69) The anonymous An Almanac, But for One Day, or the son of Man reckoning with Man upou an High Account Day (printed sometime in the eighteenth century) similarly borrows and reuses the conventions of the astrological almanac, here playing upon the almanac's description of a specific year. Where the typical astrological almanac devotes pages to enumerating the events of a given year, this spiritual almanac instead recounts the events on a single day: the day of Judgment. This text extensively parodies the almanac's language, suggesting, for example, that on this day "the Sun will be in Leo, as this Almanack speaks: For the Lion of Judah will then roar." Continuing in this same vein, the author next suggests that the sun will next "be in Libra; and even but a terrible heavy Balance must at that Time be held in Christ's Hand." (70) In the logic of the astrological almanacs, 17 January has a different astrological value than either 16 January or 18 January, and so the meaning of a day is inseparable from that day's position in the onward flow of chronological time. But in the logic of An Almanac, But for One Day, the actual date of the Christian's heavenly judgment is irrelevant. The significance of this "one day" lies not in the configuration of planets on that day but in the timeless encounter between God and the human soul. And yet by borrowing and overturning the astrological almanacs' assumptions about time, this spiritual almanac paradoxically attests to the power and currency of those assumptions.

In his Devotions On Emergent Occasions (1624) John Donne similarly appropriates the astrological view of time and then attempts, somewhat unsuccessfully, to transcend it. Meditation 14 of this text--a work that Donne believed to be his death-bed journal--bears the heading, "The physicians observe these accidents to have fallen upon the critical days." (71) Donne here alludes to the practice of casting a horoscope for a disease. Attending doctors would take note of when certain symptoms appeared and then use this information both to predict the outcome of the disease and to regulate the times of physic. In A Briefe and most easie Introduction to the Astrologicall Iudgement of the Starres (1598), for example, Claude Dariot (1533-96) warns that the physician who does not observe "a due and conuenient time for the operation of his medicines and ministring Phisicke" will not succeed, and a good doctor must take careful note of "the Criticall and dangerous days: when the sicknes will be more grieuous and vehement, and when it wilbe more remisse and placable." (72) Similarly, John Fage, in his Speculum Aegrotorum, or the Sickemen Glasse (1606), stresses the importance of knowing the exact time when an illness began. He advises physicians to "learne what day and hour the sicke body first tooke his bed," and he warns that unless this time is "exactly knowne" no treatment will be accurate. (73)

The problem for Donne is that while the tides of the body have "their times, and their seasons, and their critical days; and they are judged and denominated according to the times when they befall us," the soul provides no such access, and its fluctuations remain unknown. (74) While the exact time of a symptom reveals the origin and trajectory of an illness, the exact time of a sin or a prayer is meaningless. Since the Meditation laments that happenstances like diseases are contingent on something as ephemeral as time, we might expect Donne's Expostulation--in which he turns from the state of his body to the state of his soul--to further repudiate time's relevance in spiritual matters. (75) But rather than rejecting the chronocentric nature of astrological medicine, Donne instead spiritualizes it by imagining the seven critical days of the soul. (76) Admittedly, these are not real, chronological days and, in this sense, Donne seems to move beyond the idea that units of time have inherent meaning. And yet that Donne adapts the vocabulary of astrology and its interest in exact time in order to probe his spiritual condition suggests a residual desire to see time as significant, to use the timebound nature of his body, embedded in a network of astrological influences, as a means to understand his eternal soul.


When the saints and traditional feasts no longer occupy every day in the calendar, time can be marked in new, more personal, ways, and so, by creating empty space in the timetable of annual observance, Protestantism paved the way not only for the spiritual diary but also, ironically, for its contemporary: the astrological diary. The Catholic ecclesiastical calendar does not invite personalization. Since each day is already attached to a saint, there is less room, both literal and metaphorical, for readers to insert their own lives into the calendar's framework. De Villegas, for example, hopes that by listing the saints of "al the twelue moneths in one vniforme fashion," he will allow readers to grow "dailie conuersant in the liues of the Sainctes." Rather than encouraging readers to ascribe their own spiritual value to each day, de Villegas's text instead admonishes them to conform themselves more and more to the holy models listed in the calendar. (77) But when these holy models lose their primacy in the calendar and when secular information like the time of high tide or the propitious days for bathing and purging comes crowding in, readers are tacitly encouraged to write their own experiences into the calendar's framework. Unlike the spiritual diary, astrological diaries have been remarkably neglected in scholarship of the early modern period, and in these final pages I would like to draw attention to these texts in order to show how they encourage a very different kind of writing about the self than that seen in the spiritual diaries: one that is acutely sensitive to place and time. (78)

The rise of the astrological diary was inextricably linked to the rise of the almanac, for these diaries were usually kept on the actual pages of almanac calendars. Many extant almanacs have the blank spaces of their calendars filled with handwritten entries, and the desire to write notes and memoranda in the almanac's calendar led many readers to the binder's shop to have their almanacs interleaved with blank pages. (79) Responding to this trend, almanac writers like Thomas Bretnor (ca. 1570-1618), Jonathan Dove, Daniel Browne, and Richard Allestree began providing large empty columns down the middle of each calendar page, and such partially empty almanac calendars were common enough to acquire the name blanks. The almanac writer Thomas Hill (ca. 1545-99) titled his work An Almanack published at large, in forme of a Booke of Memory, necessary for all such as have occasion daylie to note sundry affayres (1571), and his text presents a slender calendrical column down the left margin of each page, leaving large spaces open for notes and commentary. Similarly, Thomas Bretnor, in the preface to his 1615 almanac, hopes that the copious blank space on each calendar page will make his text "a sociable companion for evere mans pocket." (80) In the 1628 almanac discussed above, Allestree faced each month in the calendar with a page for notetaking (fig. 4). The empty space provided in such almanac calendars is crucially different from that found in calendars like the King James Bible: for where the empty or partially empty ecclesiastical calendar suggests that time has been rightfully purged of its liturgical contents and should not be refilled, these almanacs, in contrast, welcome the reader's intervention. Indeed, they clear out the calendar's contents precisely so that readers can supply their own.

While it is tempting to assume that early modern individuals of a more introspective and religious bent kept spiritual diaries and that less pious individuals kept astrological diaries, these assumptions are not necessarily true. The Puritan Richard Steel (1629-92), for example, used his astrological almanac as a vehicle for recording his sins, and Jeake kept both a spiritual diary and an astrological diary. (81) Significantly, Jeake eventually abandoned his spiritual diary in favor of the astrological one. In his astrological diary, Jeake notes "I kept formerly a Catalogue of sins committed by me, in order to a deeper humiliation." He explains why he has quit this practice: "But now considering that God hath blotted out as a thick Cloud my Transgressions ... why should I give occasion to Man to revive the memory of that which God will remember no more." (82) Fully committed to his astrological record-keeping, he used a series of almanacs to keep "a perfect Diary of all the material Accidents befalling mee, all the receipts and payments of money, buying and selling of goods, journeys, sicknesses etc in order to the making of Astrological Experiments." (83) Jeake hoped that, by recording the myriad accidents and occasions of his life, he could correlate these against the heavens to discern larger patterns at work.


Adam Smyth discusses more broadly the phenomenon of writing diaries in almanacs and draws attention to the ways these texts challenge our modern notions of what early modern subjectivity and life-writing should look like. (84) Consistent with my focus on time and place throughout this argument, I would like to stress the remarkable sensitivity to time and place displayed in many texts. The writer John Evelyn (1620-1706) epitomizes this concern with recording the precise time of an event. He writes, "I began to observe matters more punctually which I ... set down in a blanke Almanac," and his almanac notes are increasingly precise as to time and place. (85) This interest in exact time appears often in the almanac diary. An anonymous barber-surgeon recorded in a copy of John Booker's 1645 almanac, "April 4, I finishe Mr Tomson's booke 6.15 pm. caried it home 7 p.m." and "April 16, 11 p.m. I heard the watch four or five times. Mr Tongue died the same time." (86) John Dee (ca. 1527-1608) similarly identified in his almanac diary the precise time of events: "March 11 [1577], my fall uppon my right nuckul bone, hora 9," and "Oct 25th [1578], a fit from 9 afternoone to 1 after mydnight." Dee's entries are equally noteworthy for their attention to place, as when he records that "July 3 [1582], hor. 12 1/4, Arthur Dee fell from the top of the Watergate Stayres down to the fote from the top, and cut his forhed on the right eyebrow." (87) Such concern with timing and locating mundane events can seem relatively opaque to us until we situate these diaries within an astrological context. The barber-surgeon who used an almanac to note for 16 February 1645 that he "bled 7 p.m. thin blood" is not displaying an unusual fixation on precise times. Instead, the exact moment of his bleeding is the tool for potentially understanding how his bleeding is influenced by a host of stellar and planetary influences. (88)

Comparing an entry from a spiritual diary with one from an astrological diary throws the different tenor of each into relief. Thomas Byng (d. 1599), who wrote in editions of Gabriel Frende's almanacs, recorded the times and locations of various journeys: for example, on 31 May 1589, Sir Walter Mildmay rode away "on this day between the hours of 3 and 4." (89) Writing at roughly the same time as Byng, the Puritan preacher Richard Rogers (1550-1618) similarly recorded a journey taken with his wife on 30 August 1587, but his concern was less to note the exact time or place of the journey than to explore its spiritual ramifications. Rogers confesses that by "wandringe by litle and litle in needless speach," he failed to "passe the time profitably" in prayer and godly conversation. (90) From a modern perspective, Rogers's entry seems more productive than Byng's: more concerned with discerning a larger pattern and significance in the occasions of his life. If we imagine each entry as providing a window on the writer, Rogers's entry invites us to look into his soul, while Byng's shows us only the movements of his body through space and time. But we cannot assume simply because Byng's entry seems so factual that the writer is necessarily less-interested in discerning the larger significance of this journey. Within an astrological framework, Byng's notes about the exact time and place of a journey--Sir Walter Mildmay leaving Byng's house "between the hours of 3 and 4" in the afternoon--are just as potentially revelatory as Rogers's notes of his sin. Smyth points out that the almanac itself seems to have "creat[ed] expectations for what might be written" in the almanac's empty spaces: in other words, the printed substance of the almanac itself largely conditioned the kinds of notations made in its pages. (91) Astrology's emphasis on time and place, combined with the almanac's broad commitment to describing places and temporal units in carefully quantified ways, seems to have prompted many almanac owners to record the exact place and time of quotidian events. Clearly, not every almanac owner was equipped, like Jeake, for making "Astrological Experiments" based on these spatial and temporal notations, but the astrology disseminated through so many almanacs seems to have fostered a sense that even ordinary occasions had a larger importance, an importance discernible only if these moments were accurately pinpointed in space and time.

The extraordinary popularity of the early modern almanac, and the widespread habit of diary-keeping practiced within its pages, should caution us against assuming that any rising individualism in the early modern period necessarily resulted from, or entailed a rising sense of, interiority. Although an acute sense of time was often implicated in what we would readily recognize as subjectivity--as when the speaker in Shakespeare's Sonnet 12 "count[s] the clock that tells the time" and contemplates both his own mortality and that of his beloved--this same acute sense of time could be put to less familiar purposes. (92) The exact time of a person's birth, for example, could be correlated against a unique configuration of the heavens at that place and time and thus give access to that person's unique destiny. Nowhere is this belief more pronounced than in the early modern horoscopes cast for identical twins, since tiny differences in the time of birth could ostensibly explain the different life experiences of the siblings. (93) Astrology offered to explain why all human beings are different without any recourse to the hidden contours of the soul. While Shakespeare's Hamlet says that his uniqueness results from "that within which passes show," astrological apologists would disagree, arguing that his uniqueness would result from his having been born at an exact place and time and lived his life in a matrix of specific celestial influences, all of which could be shown in detail on an astrological chart. (94) Although astrological writers hastened to make room for individual free choice and ceded supremacy to the workings of divine grace ("the stars do not compel" was a common qualifier), (95) at least in theory astrology assumed that subjectivity was as much constituted from the outside as built up from within. Modern scholarship has explored the degree to which early modern subjectivity was conditioned by the individual's participation in a world of material objects. (96) We should remember that the stars and planets, wheeling silently in their orbits and suffusing the earth with their unseen influence, were arguably the most powerful objects of all.



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Webster, Charles. The Great Instauration: Science, Medicine, and Reform, 1626-1660. New York, 1976.

Webster, John. Academiarum Examen, or the Examination of Academies. London, 1654.

Wilcox, Donald J. The Measure of Times Past: Pre-Newtonian Chronologies and the Rhetoric of Relative Time. Chicago, 1987.

Woodhouse, William. An almanacke and prognostication for the yeare of our redemption MDCII. London, 1602.

*I am grateful to Anne Lake Prescott for her helpful commentary on an earlier version of this article.

(1) Sommerville, 8.

(2) For the reconceptualization of time and history in the Reformation, see Kemp; McCoy, 1-54; Costner and Spicer. Wilcox provides a provocative study of culture and chronology. It is virtually impossible to think about questions of space in relationship to early modern English culture without also thinking about questions of English nationalism, and while I do not focus primarily on nationalism, I am indebted to Anderson, 22-36, and to Escobedo. Finally, although his primary focus is not on the early modern period, Sorabji raises questions that are similar to my own.

(3) Newman and Grafton, 1-11, discuss the ways in which, by linking the Renaissance to the rise of rationalism, scholars have overlooked or devalued astrology's purchase in the period. For an overview of modern scholarship about early modern astrological beliefs, see Geneva, 1-16.

(4) For a thorough discussion of the rise of Renaissance astrology and the ongoing debate over its validity, see Allen. Thomas, 283-387, also provides a useful discussion of astrology's growth beginning around the middle of the sixteenth century, and I am especially indebted to his juxtaposition of early modern religion and astrology.

(5) Unlike modern almanacs, most early modern almanacs were rooted in an astrological view of the world. The majority of almanacs, for example, include astrological elements such as a picture of the zodiacal man (an image showing the correspondences between the various parts of the human body and the signs of the zodiac) and a prognostication (a prediction of future events based on the celestial data set forth in the central calendar). Many almanac compilers were also astrologers or physicians who, as will be discussed further below, relied heavily on astrological information when diagnosing illnesses. Admittedly, not all almanacs or almanac compilers were committed to astrology, and even the almanacs most steeped in astrology typically also included elements not related to the study of the heavens, such as listings of major English fairs and tables of weights and measures. But since the early modern almanac evolved out of the principles and assumptions of medieval astrology, even those almanacs that do not mention stellar and planetary influence should be situated in relation to the astrological system that gave rise to the almanac as a whole.

(6) Bosanquet, 365, concludes that "no other book in the English language has such a large circulation as the almanac." For other studies of almanac numbers and distribution, see Plomer; Bladgen.

(7) Despite these overwhelming numbers, almanacs have been relatively ignored by scholars of the early modern period. Capp provides the only book-length study of these texts: one that is indispensable to any article on almanacs. For a discussion of the later almanacs and their relationship to politics and nationhood, see Palmeri. Perkins argues that the nineteenth-century attack on astrology and astrological almanacs was part of the reform of popular culture.

(8) A note on terminology: almanacs are collections of various kinds of useful information, and they display a remarkable variety according to the materials individual almanac compilers chose to include. For example, the many almanacs compiled by physicians are more apt to include information about regulating bodily regimes while almanacs targeted to merchants and sailors offer tables about tides and descriptions of different national currencies. Virtually all almanacs, however, include a calendar, which forms the text's centerpiece, and these calendars, in turn, include quantified information like the moon's position each day or the anticipated weather. For clarity's sake, I use the term almanac when I am discussing the larger text and the almanac's calendar when referring specifically to the timetable.

(9) J. Webster, 50-52.

(10) For discussion of the tension between occult sciences, such as astrology, and the growing scientific investments of the period, see the essays included in Vickers; C. Webster, 200.

(11) Of course, pre-Reformation thinkers had been well aware of astrology's limitations and had subjected it to sometimes withering criticism. My point is simply that the rise of Protestantism accelerated the critique of astrology.

(12) Thomas, 369.

(13) Michael Hunter and Annabel Gregory have provided a modern edition of Jeake's writings: see Jeake.

(14) For a fuller discussion of how seventeenth-century eschatological thought accorded with the predictive uses of astrology, see Nelson; Rusche, 1969; Walsham.

(15) Pomian, 38, characterizes astrology as "effectually a theology of history": one built, like theology, on the supposition that the "sufficient reason of [history's] course may be found only outside the world humans are living in" (39).

(16) Quoted in Capp, 143.

(17) Dove, C1r.

(18) Milton, 1998b, 775 (book 4, lines 386-88, 390).

(19) Milton, 1973, 6:596. For Milton's horoscope, see Rusche, 1979.

(20) Gray, title page.

(21) Hopton, 1606, title page.

(22) Allestree, A4v.

(23) Hopton, 1606, A1r.

(24) Fine, B3v.

(25) This privileging of individual localities is complemented by the lists of principal routes between English towns that often appear in these almanacs. For example, Woodhouse, C3v-C7r, provides a listing of "the best and rediest highwaies, from any notable town in England, and from the cittie of London to any notable towne: and likewise from one notable towne to another." Woodhouse lists the mileage between villages on the way "From Barwicke to Yorke," "From Yorke to London," "From Yorke to Notingham," "From S. Dauids to Gloster," and so on for many of the neighboring mercantile centers. Although he frequently mentions London, Woodhouse is also careful to give the distances between other towns, and so small towns and hamlets are situated in relationship to one another instead of in relationship to the nation's capital. In this almanac, all roads do not lead to Rome. Instead, Woodhouse's list imaginatively situates each town as at the center of a network of roads that emanate outward from it.

(26) This discussion of almanacs as encouraging regional-local identity runs counter to the one scholarly discussion of early modern almanacs and nationhood: Palmeri, 378, argues that the diffusion of almanacs "helps the development and consolidation of a sense of common identity across localities." A problem with Palmeri's argument is that early modern almanacs are not necessarily as standardized across localities as he assumes. While some aspects of the almanac would tend to promote a more unified sense of nation or larger community, others privilege local identity even at the expense of larger national allegiances.

(27) Helgerson, 114.

(28) In making this claim about the role of almanacs in fostering a sense of communal identity, I am indebted to Anderson's argument (34-36) about newspapers.

(29) Harvey, 15.

(30) Jeake, 202.

(31) Ingpen, 68.

(32) Quoted in Thomas, 327.

(33) Gadbury, 1684; Thomas, 327, provides this reference. Gadbury's two Jamaica Almanacs--discussed below--seem to be efforts to put this principle into practice.

(34) Pomian, 35, 43.

(35) Thomas, 324.

(36) Sommerville, 19, 18. Sommerville may err in homogenizing Protestantism too much and in not accounting adequately for the ways in which different decades, different counties, and different sectarian allegiances complicate his thesis for the rise of secularization.

(37) Milton, 1998a, 708 (12.587).

(38) This assertion is complicated by God's intervention in history: the Hebrew Bible is full of precise geographical place names in the Middle East. The New Testament, however, shows less of this emphasis on place, and Paul's epistles, in particular, are predicated on the idea that location no longer matters in the eyes of God, any more than does the distinction between Jew and Greek.

(39) Pomian, 38, 39.

(40) Gadbury, 1673, title page.

(41) Ibid, Dr.

(42) Gadbury, 1674, title page.

(43) Gadbury, 1673, A5v, A6v.

(44) Gadbury, 1674, A3r.

(45) Ibid, A4r.

(46) The danger of writing about almanacs is that, since there were thousands of them pouring out of English presses, and since each compiler tried to make his version distinctive, any generalization about these texts immediately runs up against its many exceptions. Therefore, in tracing the move of the almanac calendar toward a greater temporal specificity, I am identifying an overarching trend, rather than a hard-and-fast rule that applies to all early modern almanacs. This trend is furthermore based on my own impressions gleaned from years of reading these texts rather than on any formal, quantitative study.

(47) In discussing how small textual changes influenced habits of thought and reception. I am indebted to the field of scholarship known as the history of the book. Although this body of work is too extensive to rehearse here, two useful starting points for further reading are Chartier; McKenzie.

(48) Oxford English Dictionary (hereafter OED), s.v. "almanac" (entry 1).

(49) Digges, [pi]1r. I am grateful to Daniel Traister and John Pollack at the University of Pennsylvania's Van Pelt Library for their assistance in locating and citing this text.

(50) Hopton, 1612, A5.

(51) OED, s.v. "calendar" (entry 3).

(52) Thorndike, 7:10.

(53) Middleton, 5.1.324-25.

(54) Endymion, A5r.

(55) Quoted in Bosanquet, 366.

(56) Villegas, *3r. For a reproduction and discussion of Agrippa's table, see Orlin, 207-11.

(57) See Melton; see also Allen, 135-39, for a discussion of Melton's work.

(58) Allen, 116.

(59) Ribadeneyra, **v.

(60) Donne, 1611, B3v. In context, Donne is denigrating the Gregorian reform of the calendar which, by removing ten days from the calendar, required these saints to be "awakened ten daies sooner" than usual. Running underneath the criticism of the calendar reform, however, is a criticism of the whole idea that saints and miracles are constrained by human timetables. I am grateful to Prescott, 2006, 112-22, both for drawing my attention to this passage and for a general discussion of how the issue of calendar reform played out among English writers. For a related study, see Chapman.

(61) Manning, 137; quoted in Sommerville, 19. In citing Manning, I do not mean to imply that pre-Reformation Christianity was entirely a matter of rote physical acts, since this would grossly misrepresent the complex world of medieval Catholicism. My point is simply that Catholicism put more stress than Protestantism on the body's participation in religion.

(62) Duffy, 48.

(63) Pynson.

(64) Duffy, 50.

(65) Watkins and Robertes, A4v. The casebooks of Richard Napier (1559-1634) provide ample proof of the powerful role that astrology placed in early modern medical practice: see MacDonald.

(66) Quoted in Thomas, 297.

(67) Euans, B2v.

(68) Monipennie, A3r.

(69) Ibid, A3r-A3v, A4r.

(70) An Almanack but for One Day, 5, 6.

(71) Donne, 1959, 87.

(72) Dariot, A1r.

(73) Page, C1r.

(74) Donne, 1959, 88.

(75) The Devotions upon Emergent Occasions are divided into chapters, and each chapter is in turn subdivided into a Meditation, an Expostulation, and a Prayer.

(76) This move is consistent with Donne's finely-tuned awareness of questions of time and calendars: see Prescott, 2006, 117-20.

(77) Villegas, *4v.

(78) For discussions of almanac diaries, see Smyth; Prescott, 2003, 51-57; and the brief mention in Capp, 61-62.

(79) See, for example, Swallow.

(80) Bretnor, Av.

(81) Capp, 61-62.

(82) Jeake, 98.

(83) Ibid., 185.

(84) Smyth: I am grateful for the chance to view this manuscript before its publication.

(85) Evelyn, 1:76. Emphasis added.

(86) Quoted in Bosanquet, 293.

(87) Dee, 3, 5, 16.

(88) At times, astrology's interest in precise times even filters over into spiritual diaries. The Puritan Samuel Ward confesses, "My immoderate dyet in eating cheese, very hurtful for my body att 3 aclock": quoted in Knappen, 109.

(89) See Stubbings, 193. Stubbings has reproduced Mildmay's diary in full.

(90) Knappen, 58.

(91) Smyth.

(92) Shakespeare, 1997, 1927 (12.1).

(93) See, for example, John Gadbury's horoscopes for identical twins in Gadbury, 1662, 199-210.

(94) Shakespeare, 1982, 1.2.85.

(95) See, for example, Lilly, title page. He adopted this as his professional motto and included it--in its Latin form, "non cogunt"--on the title page of all his almanacs.

(96) For example, see Barker; Belsey; De Grazia. Maus offers a counterview.
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Date:Dec 22, 2007
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