ARTICLES IN SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS
"Retro-anmeldelse. Dagligt liv 100 år efter". Historisk Tidsskrift, vol. 115, no. 1, 2015, pp. 221-233.
A reappraisal of Danish historian Troels-Lund's classic cultural history of the Nordic countries in the sixteenth century, Dagligt Liv i Norden i det 16de Aarhundrede, 14 vols., 1879-1904.
◊ ♦ ◊"Basedow på dansk. En 200-årig misforståelse i pædagogikkens historie". Fund og Forskning, vol. 51, 2012, pp. 281-88.
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Basedow in Danish. A 200-year-old misunderstanding in the history of educational theory.
The educational ideas of the Enlightenment gained marked acceptance in Denmark towards the end of the 18th century in the form of the so-called philanthropic movement. The dominant figure in this movement was the German educational theorist Johann Bernhard Basedow (1724-90), and since the 19th century it has been generally believed that Basedow’s book entitled Effective guidelines for the optimal education of children was a telling expression of the movement’s influence in Denmark. This work has in reality nothing to do with Basedow, but is rather a translation of a 17th century French educational handbook. Contrary to what has hitherto been believed, a Danish translation of Baselow could not therefore be helpful in raising interest in philanthropism.
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”Tycho Brahes supernova i 1572 set med samtidens øjne. Religiøse og astronomiske tolkninger hos Georg Busch og Rasmus Hansen Reravius”. Fund og Forskning, vol. 49, 2010, pp. 57-82.
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Tycho Brahe’s 1572 supernova as interpreted by his contemporaries. Religious and astronomical interpretations by Georg Busch and Rasmus Hansen Reravius.
The appearance of the supernova in 1572 gave rise to a series of publications on the unknown heavenly body’s nature and significance. The most famous is the work by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, De nova stella, in which the author maintained that it must be a question of a new star. But even though Tycho’s observations had far-reaching implications for the history of science, there were other contemporary interpretations of the heavenly phenomenon that attracted greater public attention. Georg Busch, a German painter, was one of the first to write about the phenomenon. According to Busch, it was a comet. He further claimed that it had been created by human sin having generated steam made up of impurities that, condensed into a tight ball, had risen into the air, where it was ignited by oxygen as a comet. Busch’s book was very popular in Germany and in Scandinavia as well, where it was published in a translation by a clergyman, Rasmus Hansen Reravius (Danish was also the written language in Norway at the time) and in a Swedish translation based on Reravius’ work. Reravius, however, published his work after Tycho, to whom Reravius refers indirectly, had made his theory public. As a result, Reravius emphasised the phrase “new start” in his title and preface and is therefore one of the first popularising authors in whose work a spillover from Tycho’s observations is evident. Reravius’ intention was, however, certainly not to make Tycho’s astronomy better known but, on the contrary, to preach repentance and penance to the population, since, for Scandinavian readers, he had put forward Busch’s interpretation of the “comet.” This interpretation, according to which the comet was not only a warning sign from God to humankind but that it had been actually, physically created by sin, does not seem to have spread very far in Europe generally but was apparently particularly appealing to Lutheran society in the 1500s. In any case, it is only in these countries that the theory was proposed, first and foremost through Busch and his Nordic translators. Closer examination of these publications thus gives us not only an insight into how new knowledge was disseminated in the 1500s. In a broader perspective, it also gives an insight into the Protestant world of ideas, in which religious and scientific explanations were interwoven.
◊ ♦ ◊”Op til Zions glædesskare. Soning, omvendelse og henrettelse. Om Struensee og andre dødsdømte i Christian 7.s København”. I Peter Henningsen (red.): Miraklernes tid og andre fortællinger om livet i 1700-tallets København, Historiske Meddelelser om København 2007-2008, pp. 95-122.
Up to Zion’s Band of Joy. Atonement, Conversion, and Execution. On Struensee and others sentenced to death in Copenhagen during the reign of King Christian VII.
The execution of Count Struensee for usurpation of royal authority in 1772 was not carried out with exceptional brutality (as it has been argued), but rather followed the standards of the age. As to the widely publicized conversion of Struensee to a model Christian prior to his execution this too was mere convention. The Danish Church Ordinance of 1685 explicitly stated that the clergy were responsible for the reconciliation of a prisoner sentenced to death with God. An analysis of Danish 18th century broadsheets accordingly shows how not only Struensee, but other executed persons as well were portrayed (true or not) as reborn Christians.
◊ ♦ ◊“Medicine, Natural Philosophy, and the Influence of Melanchthon in Reformation Denmark and Norway”. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 80, no. 3, 2006, pp. 439-464.
In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, all intellectual pursuits in Europe were colored by the religious conditions of the age. Accordingly, investigations into nature were unable to avoid issues dealing with the workings of divine power. The reestablishment of the University of Copenhagen after the Reformation of 1536 in the joint kingdom of Denmark and Norway prompted the formulation of an official Lutheran program for the study of medicine and natural philosophy (including anatomy). This program was wholly based on the ideas of the German reformer Philip Melanchthon, the aim being to apply knowledge of, for example, anatomy in support of the newly reformed Lutheran society. Thus, the crown and the church officially sanctioned Melanchthon's thoughts on natural philosophy as a means to apprehend, first, the majestic glory of divine providence; second, that man was truly created and assigned his place by God; and third, that it was demanded of all men and women that they submit themselves to the will of God and the laws of the public authorities.
◊ ♦ ◊”De lærde Dybvader. Bogtryk og samfundskritik i det 16. og 17. århundrede”. Fund og Forskning, vol. 44, 2005, pp. 63-106.
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The scholarly Dybvads. Printing and social criticism in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The article describes four scholarly members of the Dybvad family in the last part of the 16th and the first part of the 17th centuries. Erik Dybvad (ca. 1550-1585) was an almanac author. His preserved almanacs for 1582 and 1585 show him to be a scholarly man and in the preface to one he warns the coming King Christian IV that he should govern with a view to the legacy he leaves behind. His brother, Jørgen Dybvad, (ca. 1550-1612) was also an almanac author and it is established that an almanac from 1580 rightfully should be attributed to Jørgen Dybvad. This makes him the oldest known almanac author in Danish. An analysis of the dedications in Jørgen’s scripts shows his close connection with Rigshofmester Peder Oxe. As a theologian, it is shown that Jørgen by all accounts was orientated in the direction of crypto Calvinism, but it was not included in the case against him, which led to his ousting as a professor of theology at The University of Copenhagen in 1607. Removal was primarily due to his criticism of political conditions in Denmark, including the aristocracy’s privileges. This line of thinking was taken up by his son, Christoffer Dybvad (1577/78-1621). It is pointed out to what extent Jean Bodin’s thinking around sovereign royal power was the driving force behind his criticism of the Danish political conditions, which he wanted converted to the French model with King Christian IV as autocratic monarch. Christoffer was also a stern critic of Lutheran orthodoxy and it led him to secretly try to persuade King Christian IV to align Denmark with the Protestant Union. When Christoffer’s critical points became well-known, he was jailed for life. The last of the Dybvads, Jørgen Jørgensen Dybvad (ca. 1586-1626), was as his father professor Jørgen Dybvad, theologically trained at Wittenberg. His surviving works also show him to be a polemist, but he stuck to defending the prevailing direction in the Danish church and he is not known to have criticized the Danish state. Jørgen Dybvad’s removal and then the son Christoffer’s imprisonment contributed to efficiently eliminating the trend towards criticism of conditions in the Danish church and of the social system in the following decades.
◊ ♦ ◊”Anatomi for læger og teologer. Om det dobbelte formål med undervisningen i anatomi ved Københavns Universitet efter reformationen i 1536, samt spørgsmålet om de offentlige dissektioners indførelse”. Bibliotek for Læger, vol. 195, no. 4, pp. 308-320.
Anatomy for doctors and theologians in 16th and 17th century Denmark
Teaching in anatomy at the University of Copenhagen during the first hundred years after the Reformation in 1536 was not only based on theories of medicine. Anatomy was also seen in context of a broader religious view of the world where the combined arts and sciences were supposed to aid the consolidation of the Lutheran Reformation. This is clearly stated in the charter of the University of Copenhagen dating from 1539 where it is stressed that anatomy is important not only for students of medicine, but for all students, most of whom were students of theology. This was because the study of anatomy was expected to impress on the observer the idea of God’s providence and omnipotence. These ideas were a key element at Lutheran universities in the 16th century, and they were closely connected to the German reformer Philipp Melanchthon’s strategy of using science and medicine to elucidate the perceived truth of Protestant theology. The influence of Melanchthon on the teaching of anatomy in Copenhagen can also be seen in the early 17th century where his book De anima (On the soul) formed the backbone of the teaching in subjects such as medicine and physics. Anatomy was, however, taught without the use of human cadavers. At best anatomical drawings were included. There is no record of dissections being carried out at the University of Copenhagen before 1645 when the Domus Anatomica was erected. The lack of proper facilities surely halted attempts to carry out dissections prior to that year, but the theological foundation of the study of anatomy in Denmark up until this point is probably a major part of the explanation too. Anatomy perceived as a semi-theological field of study would concentrate on the broad idea of Man as the mirror of the Creator and on the implications of sinful living on bodily and mental health. The techniques and findings of the trained anatomist were not seen as quite so urgent compared to the question of the salvation of the soul.
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”Forskningen og forsynet. Religion og videnskab i det efterreformatoriske Danmark”. Fortid & Nutid, no. 4, december 2003, pp. 263-282.
Research and Providence. Religion and Science in Post-Reformation Denmark.
Artiklen argumenterer for at enhver virkelighedsopfattelse i perioden omkring Reformationen (1536) var magisk-religiøs. Det må derfor også gælde for det, der i dag opfattes som det religiøses og det magiskes modsætning: videnskaben. Det ses da også, at en vigtig del af begrundelsen for undervisning i de natur- og lægevidenskabelige fag i de følgende hundrede år var, at de skulle bidrage til en almindelig erkendelse og accept af Guds almagt og forsyn. Men det ses også, at der til dette arbejde blev anvendt teorier og metoder, som umiddelbart synes uforenelige med luthersk, ortodoks teologi.
◊ ♦ ◊”Ole Borch mellem naturlig magi og moderne videnskab”. Historisk Tidsskrift, vol. 100, no. 1, 2000, pp. 35-68.
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Ole Borch: Natural Magic and Modern Science
The question of the influence of a magical and religious view of the world has played an essential role in the debate on the causes of the scientific revolution of the Seventeenth century. In the context of this influence, in particular, of Hermetic and Paracelsian ideas on the development of natural science as originating solely in the pioneering work of such figures as Galileo and Bacon, whose achievements accordingly owed nothing to the magical conceptions of the world to be found in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. A reaction to this tradition, often associated with the English historian Frances Yates, emphasised during the 1960s and 1970s that Hermetic and Paracelsian ideas on insight into nature were widespread and argued that these theories were a necessary preliminary for the creation of a new conception of science.
As for Denmark it is well known that Hermeticism and Paracelsianism played a major role in the science of the Sixteenth Century, not the least for Petrus Severinus and Tycho Brahe. But Hermes Trismegistos and Paracelsus were also exemplars far into the Seventeenth Century, as was the case with the physician Ole Borch (Olaus Borrichius, 1626-1690)one of the period’s leading Danish natural philosophers and the first officially to be put in charge of teaching chemistry at the University of Copenhagen. Borch practised iatro-chemistry, combining medicine and chemistry, a science that almost inevitably had to begin with Paracelsian ideas. Borch’s manifest reverence for the Paracelsian tradition is commonly played down in Danish historical writing, because it has been seen as incompatible with the view of Borch as a modern, empirically oriented scientist at a point so late as the latter Seventeenth Century, when it is commonly assumed that the scientific revolution was already far advanced. The neglect of this aspect of Borch’s thinking results, however, in a distorted view of the man, since the Hermetic and Paracelsian tradition formed the very foundation of his chemistry and scientific medicine.
This is particularly apparent when one analyses his historical work on medicine and chemistry, Hermetis, Aegyptiorum et Chemicorum Sapientia (the Wisdom of Hermes, the Egyptians and the Chemists) from 1674. Borch presents a powerful defence of the heritage left by Hermes Trismegistos and especially Paracelsus, whom Borch sees as respectively the founder and the developer of the very scientific ideal that provided the foundation of his own work. Borch espouses the viewpoint that the way to scientific knowledge and experience is through experimental and empirical method, a method originating with Hermes and pursued by Paracelsus. He contended, moreover, that the method was entirely within the realm of natural phenomena and completely divorced from unacceptable magic forces. Borch’s attempt to present Hermeticism’s and Paracelsianism’s magia naturalis as actually devoid of magic and based on natural processes makes him an important link in an already longstanding development towards a view of science where natural forces are more quantitative than qualitative and which culminated in the revolution of natural science. He attempted to examine nature as an object of experience, and according to Borch it was Paracelsus who within the Hermetic tradition was the initiator of that scientific ideal. Borch serves thus to confirm the thesis that Hermetic and Paracelsian natural magic could play a crucial role in the creation of the future conception of science.
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