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Fiery ShapesCelestial Portents and Astrology in Ireland and Wales 700–1700$
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Mark Williams

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199571840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571840.001.0001

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Comets, portents, and astrology in late medieval Wales

Comets, portents, and astrology in late medieval Wales

(p.108) 4 Comets, portents, and astrology in late medieval Wales
Fiery Shapes

Mark Williams (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The chapter demonstrates that there were close links between the scribes of some late medieval Welsh medico-astrological manuscripts and the professional poets, and examines astrological themes in late medieval Welsh poetry. It shows that the poets of the 1400s, especially those concerned with prophecy, consciously wove the astrological imagery of Geoffrey's Merlin into their professional personae. It is argued that a paradoxical movement in two opposing directions can be observed in the 15th century. On the one hand, elements of the Welsh intelligentsia became more and more interested in up-to-date astrology (largely through the art's connection with medicine) as the supply of colourful manuscripts and a number of learned poems suggests. (For example Ieuan ap Rhydderch's ‘Boasting Poem’ details his university training in astrology, probably at Oxford, early in the century.) On the other, prophetic poets were using the astrological associations of Geoffrey's Merlin to lend themselves and their skills an arcane, primeval aura. The chapter features an analysis of the longest medieval Welsh poem on an astrological theme, Dafydd Nanmor's ‘To God and the planet Saturn’.

Keywords:   Dafydd Nanmor, medicine, Welsh poetry, Saturn

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