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Important Source for Copernicus

Tabule Astronomice Elisabeth Regine.

Venice: Petrus Liechtenstein, 1503.

Price: $6,000.00


About the item

Two parts in one. 4to (210 x 155 mm). A-B8 (B8 blank); *A-*D8, *E-*E4 (-*E4); 51 (of 52) leaves; the final leaf present in manuscript facsimile. With 9 contemporary manuscript leaves in the rear (8 are tables and one is a horoscope dated: calculata anna 1543, aprilis 6 for Prince Henry [Henrici dauphini] born March 31 1518 between 7 and 8 hours). Important Source for Copernicus. Later vellum. Palau 61824; Adams C 2622; Honeyman 760.

Item #368345

The Alfonsine tables, which provided data for computing the position of the Sun, Moon and planets relative to the fixed stars, were based on the development of Arabic astronomy and Greek classical and Hindu knowledge. Concrete measurements with Toledo at the zero, i.e., prime, meridien started as early as 1252, and the first written elaboration of the Alfonsine Tables was carried out by two Jewish astronomers: Jehuda ben Mose and Isaac ben Sid between 1263 and 1272. The tables were used and adapted all over Europe in the century which followed, and the adaptions of Johannes de Saxonia in Paris in 1327 were selected by Radtholt for the first printed edition of the Alfonsine Tables in Venice in 1483. Alonso de Cordoba, born in Sevilla circa 1450, served as astronomer to the King of Portugal and published various books with astronomical tables. He adapted the Alfonsine Tables, using Sevilla as prime meridian and using as first year the year of the coronation of Isabel la Catolica in Spain in 1474. Córdoba's tables are divided into two parts: the first includes a dedication to Ferdinand V (1452-1516) and Isabella (1451-1504), King and Queen of Spain (who, most famously, sent Columbus on his voyage to discover a route to the East Indies) and a set of canons in sixty chapters explaining the use of the tables, with several examples; the second part contains the tables. It would be Cordoba’s adaptation that became an important source for Copernicus, who referred to them in the 'Commentariolus' (the first draft of his planetary theory, which remained unpublished until the late 19th century). "In the 'Commentariolus', Copernicus refers to the length of the year, and mentions the values given by four astronomers: Hipparchus, Ptolemy, al-Battani and a fourth referred to as 'Hispalensis' whose identity remained a mystery until the 20th century, when he was identified as Alfonso de Córdoba, a Spanish astronomer and doctor of arts and medicine probably born in 1458 in Seville" (Chabas, 'Astronomy for the Court in the Early Sixteenth Century. Alfonso de Córdoba and his Tabule Astronomice Elisabeth Regine', Archive for History of Exact Sciences, Vol. 58, No. 3 (2004), pp. 183-217).