Coronation Horoscope of Jan III Sobieski
Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów

Passage to knowledge

Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów

Coronation Horoscope of Jan III Sobieski Andrzej Klubiński

“Soon after the election, her Ladyship the Queen visited us admitting that it was owing her Mothers' and Sisters' prayers, that God allowed her to be kept in this world”. It was written in the Carmelitan Convent chronicles, in the coverage from the coronation of Jan III Sobieski. Irrespective of hopes for the election and measures to fulfil the hopes, it also engaged heavenly intervention to fulfil political plans.

The fact that horoscopes were integral part of political campaigns in Sobieski's generation, is testified by the letter from Jan Leszczyński the Crown Chancellor, to Aleksander Lubomirski the Crown Equerry, from 1677. The letter informs us about the practice of exchanging horoscopes concerning the election of king, or exchanging information about them. The Chancellor, confirming the reception of information who,  according to the horoscope is to be elected king, was sceptical about the correctness and credibility of star configuration. The prognosis boding the crown to Jan III was also quoted by Wacław Potocki in his panegyric “Polish Muse” devoted to the King. Practical astrology, whose aim was foreseeing political events not only did not have the trust of the political class of the 17th century Republic, but was negatively merited by church authorities, which forbade reading stars on issues such as the condition of the Country and the King's health. They recalled the prohibition of Syxtus V and Urban VIII .

Political activities had also another theoretical character approved by custom and scientific tradition, which did not have to remain closely connected with the time of political campaign. This character of the horoscopes made for the state was in accordance with the date of its formation or in accordance with the date of election or coronation of the King. It was a different tradition, than making birth horoscopes to rulers, though related because of the same scientific background. Early modern theory of state, underlined the relations of social and political phenomena with the influence of celestial bodies. The fact that this concept was obligatory and important can be testified by astrological contents of décor of the late Renaissance Town hall in Poznań. Books by Tomasz Campanelli, Franciszek Iunctinus, Kikołaj Cardano, Henryk Ransovius, still remain the inheritance if the 17th century, teaching the horoscope analysis to rulers, as a tool of learning new sources of political and social changes. Particularly in the works of the latter author, the reader could find the collection of handbook examples of horoscopes of rulers, quoted by the author to teach how to recognise the turning points of political life. This late Renaissance scholarly political theory, which referred to the natural origin of the country and its relations with nature, had also its Polish realizations, which according to West European patterns did not have to be associated with the time and place of the election or activity of the political party. Making horoscopes for rulers and countries was an integral part of modern discourse about the state and modern people very precisely distinguished private horoscopes in relation with the birth of the ruler or events from his private life, from political horoscopes.

They were structured into zodiac signs, planets, with sky maps divided into sections allowing interpretation of the position of signs and planets in the context of political life. The fact that the person and election of Jan III fits in this early modern tradition of scholarly background of a politician, is certified by the knowledge of present scientists, not only about the date of kings election, but also the exact time of the election. Together with delivering the place that is longitude and latitude the record kept in “Ephemeris historio-politica” published in Cracov, which summarises ruling of Jan III, allows for reconstruction horologium, that is drawing the position of planets and zodiac signs, with the division of the sky into twelve zones, responsible for different fields of activity. The author of historical compendium did not include such drawing, but having noted that the election took place at 4:30 pm conveyed all important information, to reconstruct the sky map at any time anywhere, as well as relations favourable and unfavourable positions of zodiac signs and planets.

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