Item #4831 Pro[g]nosticatio […] iam denuo sublatis mendis, quibus scatebat pluribus, quam diligentissime excussa. Johannes Lichtenberger, Anton Woensam, von Worms, b. ca. 1440, ca. 1495 - 1541.
Pro[g]nosticatio […] iam denuo sublatis mendis, quibus scatebat pluribus, quam diligentissime excussa.
Pro[g]nosticatio […] iam denuo sublatis mendis, quibus scatebat pluribus, quam diligentissime excussa.
Pro[g]nosticatio […] iam denuo sublatis mendis, quibus scatebat pluribus, quam diligentissime excussa.
Pro[g]nosticatio […] iam denuo sublatis mendis, quibus scatebat pluribus, quam diligentissime excussa.
Pro[g]nosticatio […] iam denuo sublatis mendis, quibus scatebat pluribus, quam diligentissime excussa.
Pro[g]nosticatio […] iam denuo sublatis mendis, quibus scatebat pluribus, quam diligentissime excussa.
Pro[g]nosticatio […] iam denuo sublatis mendis, quibus scatebat pluribus, quam diligentissime excussa.
Pro[g]nosticatio […] iam denuo sublatis mendis, quibus scatebat pluribus, quam diligentissime excussa.
Pro[g]nosticatio […] iam denuo sublatis mendis, quibus scatebat pluribus, quam diligentissime excussa.

Pro[g]nosticatio […] iam denuo sublatis mendis, quibus scatebat pluribus, quam diligentissime excussa.

Cologne: Peter Quentell, January, 1528.

Price: $5,900.00

Octavo: 14 x 8 cm. [84] lvs. Collation: A-K8 L4


Bound in 17th-century calf with a nicely executed modern quarter-calf re-back. The text is in very good condition, with a 16th c. inscription (scored through) and initials on the title page. Fore-edge cut very close but never affecting the text or woodcuts. Illustrated with a fine historiated woodcut border (composed of four panels, the bottom one incorporating a roundel portrait of Virgil), and 45 woodcut illustrations (including a few repeats) in the text by Anton Woensam von Worms. Numerous woodcut initials. Text printed in single column, in roman type. A full-length portrait of the author is found on the verso of the final leaf. Provenance: Hanns-Theo Schmitz-Otto (1908 - 1992).

A rare edition of the most important illustrated book of late medieval prophecies, written by Johannes Grünbach (Lichtenberger), Imperial astrologer at the court of Friedrich III, hailed “as a miracle of nature, a man not inferior to Ptolemy, and by many regarded a prophet” (Thorndike). This edition is illustrated with 45 charming woodcuts by Anton Woensam von Worms, loosely based on the illustrations of the 1488 edition, including a full length portrait of the author, as well as a fine woodcut title-border.

Despite being condemned by the theological faculty of Cologne in 1492, Lichtenberger’s book achieved numerous editions. “Heinrich Knoblochtzer printed the first edition, in Latin, in 1488 and a German translation around 1490 using the same woodcuts. In June and July 1492, Jakob Meydenbach of Mainz issued a Latin and a German edition that reused the woodcuts from Knoblochtzer’s editions.

Bartholomäus Kistler of Strasbourg then issued German editions in 1497, 1500, and 1501 and two Latin editions [‘not before 31 Dec. 1499’].”(Green, Prophets in Print, p. 43) This edition, important for the woodcuts, appeared in the critical early years of the Reformation, when the prophesies attracted new interest, thanks to Luther, due to their perceived prescience of the turbulent events of the time.

“This 1528 edition is distinguished by a large number of handsome woodcuts by Anton Woensam of Worms (ca. 1495 - 1541), which appeared here for the first time, the quality of their designs and the crisp cutting of the blocks brought out in firm and clean impressions.” (H.P. Kraus, The Illustrated Book: Illuminated Manuscripts, Early Woodcut Books, [etc.], Cat.108 (1964), no. 49).

“The secret of Lichtenberger’s success lay in the adaptation of prophecy and prognostication to the medium of print and, above all, in the creation of a new kind of prophetic author ... As a popular compilation of prophecies in combination with astrology, Lichtenberger’s ‘Prognosticatio’ had no equal. Not only the several early editions but, particularly, the many later editions, retranslations, and re-combinations with other works made the ‘Prognosticatio’ the most successful prophetic compilation and the most influential combination of astrology and prophecy of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.” (Green)

A key factor in the book’s popularity was its striking images. “From its first edition in 1488, Lichtenberger’s ‘Prognosticatio’ had a distinctive graphic identity. Later publishers treated its illustrations as an essential element of the work.”(Green). As late as 1527, Luther observed, “[Lichtenberger] hit the mark in several things, and came especially near with the pictures and images, much more so than with the words.” The series of 46 illustrations in this edition, which follow the iconography of the Heidelberg 1488 editio princeps, are ascribed to Bartholomaeus Kistler, who also acted as the publisher (see N. F. Palmer).

“The ‘Prognosticatio’ brings astrological prognostication and various prophetic authorities to bear on questions of politics and foreign relations, the fortunes of ecclesiastical leaders and clerical reform, the depredations of Muslim invaders, failures of public and private morality, and the advent of a false prophet, and it also makes a number of predictions concerning the years from 1488 to 1567. The impetus for its appearance was the conjunction of Saturn and Mars in the year 1484, which the astrologer Paul of Middelburg had treated at some length in his twenty-year prognostication for 1484–1504. Rather than rendering his own judgment on the conjunction, Lichtenberger copied extensively from Middelburg’s work as well as from a comet tract printed in 1474 and other prophetic compilations…

“[In fact], Paul of Middelburg complained bitterly in his 1492 Invective that Lichtenberger’s wholesale borrowing from his work -without even once mentioning his name- was scarcely to be borne, and he particularly saw the images as the modus operandi of Lichtenberger’s intellectual theft: ‘He also added foolish pictures of women in labor, members of religious orders fighting and beating upon one another, crowing roosters, the Antichrist teaching, the emperor devastating Rome, and various other pictures of kings and princes, so that, having changed its appearance, he could usurp to himself my work and not appear to have only recited it.’

“The first woodcut in the ‘Prognosticatio’ is simultaneously a visual statement of authority, an encapsulation of the work’s contents and editorial program, and a recapitulation of the preceding four decades of print history. On the left, Ptolemy and Aristotle represent the inheritance of classical antiquity in astrology and astronomy, while Birgitta of Sweden and Brother Reinhart (depicted as a hermit), mediate Christian visionary prophecy in the tradition of Joachim of Fiore. Between them stands the Sibyl, both a pre-Christian observer of the heavens, like Ptolemy and Aristotle, and a foreteller of Christian salvation, like her religious colleagues. All the figures are illuminated in equal measure by divine emanations from [God] above. The figures in the woodcut represent both Lichtenberger’s sources and also traditions that had become established in print since Gutenberg and his associates had printed the Sibyl’s Prophecy…

“Lichtenberger was born as Johannes Grünbach around the year 1440 near the town of Baumholder in southwestern Germany. All that is known of his education is what can be deduced from his astrological-eschatological writings and from his role as parish priest during the last decades of his life. There is no record of how he gained his training or his qualification for office. The high point of Lichtenberger’s personal status appears to have come in the 1470s, a period in which he wrote horoscopes for several important noblemen. His first known work, written in 1468 while he was in Speyer, was a prognostication based on the observation of a comet, while the next was a horoscope for Duke Ludwig the Rich of Landshut-Bavaria in 1471. The publication in 1474 or 1475 of his astrological judgment on a conjunction of Saturn and Mars made Lichtenberger one of the earliest astrologers to appear in print, and a folk song dated to the 1470s described Lichtenberger as known throughout Germany. Lichtenberger’s later manuscript prognostications of the 1470s address the geopolitical affairs of leading German cities and the fortunes of princes and kings. Twice in them, Lichtenberger describes himself as court astrologer to Emperor Frederick III. (No contemporary source apart from his own self-description identifies Lichtenberger as the imperial court astrologer.) In 1481, the wife of Pfalzgraf Ludwig of Veldenz convinced her husband to install Lichtenberger as parish priest in Brambach, where he remained until his death in 1503. Lichtenberger wrote that there were those who “know that I have truly foretold to many spiteful people every single one of the great calamities that have come to pass in German lands for twenty years” which may accurately reflect his declining fortunes, as the twenty years between Lichtenberger’s first known astrological writing and the publication of the ‘Prognosticatio’ correspond to the reduction in his circumstances from an astrological consultant to the nobility to a simple parish priest…

“The text of the ‘Prognosticatio’ depicts its author as a prophet in its own way. There are three ways to predict the future, Lichtenberger explains in his introduction: through long experience with the world and its ways; by the stars and the influence of the upper planets on the lower spheres; and by divine revelation through dreams, visions, or angels. Lichtenberger states that he will draw on all three possibilities in order to raise a voice of warning to his readers. Lichtenberger’s claim to astrological and experiential authority was certainly plausible, but Lichtenberger also claimed to be the conduit of divine revelation by virtue of his compilation of prophetic writings.”( Printing and prophecy: prognostication and media change 1450-1550, Ann Arbor 2012)

“Grünbach believed he was living in an era of apocalyptic events: he formulates dire predictions for 1516-1517 (the fall of Kingdoms due to terrible comets and epidemics); for 1524 (cataclysms, earthquakes and new flood); for 1524-1525 (trouble for the Christian religion); for 1518-1520 (ruin of Venice). "(Cantamessa)

Lichtenberger, Luther, & The Reformation:

Lichtenberger’s prediction of a prophet who would reform the church made the work the subject of controversial interpretations during the Reformation, with Catholics arguing that the prophecies foretold the eventual victory of the Catholic Church over Luther and the reformers, and protestants insisting that Luther was the prophet whom Lichtenberger foretold. Luther, who had complex opinions about prophecies and portents, noted that “[Lichtenberger hit the mark in several things, and came especially near with the pictures and images, much more so than with the words.”

There were also “retrospective” interpretations of the “Prognosticatio”, such as after-the-fact assertions that Lichtenberger had foretold the rise of Thomas Muntzer and the Peasants’ War, which, as Luther noted, no astrologer had openly predicted.

“In the 1520s there was a widespread conviction that Martin Luther was the monk-prophet whose coming had been prophesied by Lichtenberger. Included among those who explicitly linked Luther with this prophet were Luther’s opponent Johannes Cochlaeus, the Catholic convert Friedrich Staphylus, and Paracelsus, who, in 1529 wrote ‘Auslegung über etliche Figuren Joh. Lichtenbergs.’

“In addition to Luther’s Roman opponents, many of his followers linked the prophecy with the Wittenberg reformer. The effect of Lichtenberger’s prophecy even extended into Luther’s immediate circle. In particular, Luther’s close confidant and friend Philipp Melanchthon was deeply convinced of the reformer’s astrological mission and vigorously debated the matter with the Brandenburg court astrologer Johannes Carion, and also with the Italian astrologer and counter-reformer Luca Gaurico. This idea was disseminated in numerous printed texts and was popularized by numerous pictorial representations.”(Marcus Sandl, Precarious Times: The Discourse of the Prophet in the Age of Reformation, p. 219)

“Chapters 31 and 32, in particular, were applied to Luther… Between these chapters, Lichtenberger put an illustration showing a monk in a white cowl, with a devil on his shoulder and accompanied by a disciple- clearly an allusion to the Antichrist, for, towards the end of the fifteenth century, the Devil whispering into the ear of Antichrist had become a very popular motif.

“In a copy of the Mainz edition of 1492 (in the City Library of Hamburg) is a note ‘This is Martinus Luther,’ referring to the possessed monk and ‘Philipp Melanchthon’ referring to the disciple: an identification fairly common in the sixteenth century, and not necessarily with vituperative intent. Luther himself says in jest that, ‘Lo! the Devil dwelleth not in his heart, where there is no place but for the Lord Jesus, but is plaguing him by sitting on his neck -representing as he is, in fact, the Pope, the Emperor and other great potentates.’ Unequivocally anti-Lutheran, however is the use Cochlaeus makes of text and image in his pasquinade ‘Of New-fangled Enthusiasms’, [in which he calls Luther] “the wretched monk that carries the devil on his shoulder in Lichtenberger's Prognostica.’…

“Luther was familiar with the ‘Prognosticatio’ and referred it to himself and the events of his time; but he also criticized it…. Is Lichtenberger a prophet -Luther asks- who is moved to the Holy Ghost alone; or a false prophet, through whose mouth Satan ‘destroys and seduces men's consciences’? He is neither, Luther decides ‘for he doth not glory in, nor pretend to speak in, the name of the Holy Ghost, as do true and false prophets alike.’ The foundation of his craft is authentic, ‘but the craft uncertain.’ Those who aspire to calculate the future from the course of the stars are often permitted by God to be in error. Astrological prediction is also set at a discount because it does not penetrate at all into the essence of things but cleaves to the mere palpable surface of historical events. It conceives of the Church in terms only of her ‘corporeal dealings and goods and powers,’ not according to ‘the way she stands in the faith and comfort of the Holy Ghost.”(Kurze, “Prophecy and History: Lichtenberger's Forecasts of Events to Come (From the Fifteenth to the Twentieth Century; Their Reception and Diffusion”, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes , Jan. - Jun., 1958, Vol. 21, No. 1/2 (Jan. - Jun., 1958), pp. 63-85).

Adams L-661; Houzeau & Lancaster, I, 750; Panzer, VI, p.403; Merlo, Anton Woensam von Worms, p.987. 1-38; Zinner 1361; Muther 1657