Kepler's Witch: An Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother

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Harper Collins, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 402 pages

Foreword by David Koch of NASA's Kepler Mission

Isaac Newton said that if he had seen farther than others, it was because he was standing on the shoulders of giants: Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Galileo Galilei, and Johannes Kepler. James A. Connor focuses on one of those giants in his fascinating and largely untold story of the "Protestant Galileo," Johannes Kepler. Set against the backdrop of the witchcraft trial of his mother, Kepler's Witch vividly brings to life the tidal forces of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, submerging us into these turbulent times, revealing not only the surprisingly spiritual nature of early modern science, but Kepler's role as a neglected hero of conscience.

The doorway into Kepler's life and times begins with the sensational witchcraft trial of his elderly mother, Katharina, an eccentric woman who, like Kepler, was too smart for the world she lived in. The story is filled with crooked judges, sadistic bailiffs, and nasty neighbors bent on the destruction of this single, half-mad old woman. Using never-before translated transcripts of the trial, Connor explains that witches in the seventeenth century were the terrorists of their day. Tragically, thousands of people -- mostly women -- had gone to the stake by the time of Katharina Kepler's trial.

Johannes Kepler's life thus became a pilgrimage, a spiritual journey into the modern world through disease and horrible injustice on the eve of Europe's terrible and bloody Thirty Years' War. Kepler was concerned with more than scientific discoveries and achievement -- he fought for peace and reconciliation between the Christian churches, even when it nearly cost him his life. Exiled twice by Catholic princes and excommunicated by his fellow Lutherans, he was unbowed in his scientific and moral vision.

Besides the witchcraft trial records and testimonies, Connor has translated many of Kepler's diary entries and correspondence into English for the first time. With a great respect for the history of these times and the life of this man, Connor's unforgettable story illuminates Kepler, a man of science, as well as Kepler, a man of uncommon faith and courage.

 

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Kepler's witch: an astronomer's discovery of cosmic order amid religious war, political intrigue, and the heresy trial of his mother

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Johannes Kepler confirmed the Copernican universe, laying the foundation for Newton's later laws of physics; calculated the true shape of the solar system, along with the basic laws of planetary ... Read full review

Contents

Letter from Kepler to the Senate of Leonberg
7
With Unspeakable Sadness
13
Testimony of Donatus Gültlinger Citizen
19
November 1597
31
From Keplers ASTRONOMIA NOVA 1609
47
Letter from Kepler to the Theology Faculty
69
Letter from Kepler to Michael Mästlin
85
An Archimedean Calculation
107
Letter from Kepler to Tobias Scultetus
189
October 23 1613
227
Letter from Luther Einhorn Magistrate
255
Letter from Kepler to Herzog Johann Friedrich
271
From Keplers HARMONICE MUNDI
307
February 15 1621
339
Notes
365
Kepler Time Line
377

From Keplers Eulogy on the Death
141
Letters from Kepler to Johann Georg Brengger
167
Index
385
Copyright

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