An Astrological Chart from Guido Bonatti's Treatise, in a Collection of Astronomical Treatises and Tables
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Believed to have been made for presentation to Henry VII, this manuscript contains astrological tables and treatises along with some other texts. A team of three artists created its decoration, varying with first- and second-rate renditions of later 15th century English painting and highly skilled work in Flemish style. An inscription on one of the pages gives the date of completion (30 June 1490) and the name Johannes Wellys, thought to be the scribe. Henry VII was the earliest English king known to have a library. A luxury illustrated book on astrology would have been desirable for a king because the stars were believed to exert powerful influences upon human character and affairs.
This page has the beginning of a section of a treatise by a 13th-century Tuscan astrologer, Guidi Bonatti. In the second column, a small diagram shows relationships of the zodiacal signs to the sun at a point in time: an astrological chart. A celebrity in his day, Bonatti remained famous through the late middle ages, being included among the soothsayers in the 8th circle of the Inferno in Dante's 'Divine Comedy'.