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On Tycho's Island
Tycho Brahe and his Assistants, 1570–1601


  • Date Published: February 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521101066

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About the Authors
  • Tycho Brahe (1546–1601), the premier patron-practitioner of science in sixteenth-century Europe, established a new role of scientist as administrator, active reformer and natural philosopher. This book explores Brahe's wide range of activities which encompass much more than his reputed role of astronomer. Christianson broadens this singular perspective by portraying Brahe as Platonic philosopher, Paracelsian chemist, Ovidian poet and devoted family man. From his private island in Denmark, Brahe used patronage, printing, friendship, and marriage to incorporate men and women skilled in science, technology and the fine arts into his programme of cosmic reform. This pioneering study includes capsule biographies of over 100 men and women, including Johannes Kepler, Willebrord Snel, Willem Blaeu, several bishops and numerous technical specialists, all of whom helped shape the culture of the Scientific Revolution. Under Tycho Brahe's leadership, their teamwork achieved breakthroughs in astronomy, scientific method and research organization that were essential to the birth of modern science.

    • Deep cultural context of early modern science including the contributions of art, architecture, poetry, printing, and public relations to science
    • Biographies of over 100 men and women who worked with Tycho Brahe
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: 'Nothing is more attractive to amateur and professional alike than scholarship lightly worn. Professor Christianson has written a charming book that illuminates the first great scientific research center of the modern era.' Michael Hoskin, Journal for the History of Astronomy

    Review of the hardback: 'Christianshon's On Tycho's Island is a perfect complement to Victor Thoren's Lord of Uraniborg. It fills in the courtly heritage and ambiance so important for understanding the noble Dane's idiosyncratic life. And the biographical notices of Tycho's many assistants and associates will become the standard, indispensable reference.' Owen Gingerich, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

    Review of the hardback: 'Christianson's engaging portrait of Tycho Brahe as an iconoclastic Danish nobleman and scientific entrepreneur provides a vibrant depiction of life at Uraniborg, Europe's first scientific research institute. His investigation of the many people of all classes who contributed to this enterprise reveals a richly textured web of connections among Tycho's assosiates and employees. On Tycho's Island is a first-rate contribution to Tychonic scholarship and a valuable study in the social history of early modern science.' James R. Voelkel, Johns Hopkins University

    Review of the hardback: 'The glory of Hven is told with admirable zest by Christianson.' The Sunday Telegraph

    From the hardback review: 'Anyone with an interest in astronomy of the history of science will enjoy this tale, thanks to Christianson's lively style and thorough research.' Dan Falk, The Globe and Mail

    'Christianson brings Uraniborg to life, in a way that has never been done quite so well before. And he has written what is a sourcebook twice over, for the final third of his text is given over to a biographical dictionary.' John North, The Times Literary Supplement

    '… a valuable book in the scientist Tycho Brahe and his associates and coworkers. This book illuminates the rise of the new scientific ideas in Europe and the persons behind the ideas at the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century.' Scandinavian Economic History Review

    ' … it is likely to be seen as an authoritative treatment by an acknowledged expert on this material. It certainly deserves to be.' Studies in History and Philosophy of Science

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521101066
    • length: 464 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 26 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • contains: 70 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. On Tycho's Island: Introduction
    1. In King Frederick's service (1575–1576)
    2. Junker and peasants (1576–1581)
    3. Among friends (1570–1576)
    4. Founding the familia (1576–1584)
    5. Breakthrough (1584–1587)
    6. The problem of continuity (1580–1591)
    7. The school of Europe (1591–1593)
    8. Magdalene and calumny (1593–1597)
    9. The Tempest (1597)
    10. Epilogue: in search of Maecenas (1597–1601)
    11. Legacy
    Part II. Tycho Brahe's coworkers: Bibliography

  • Author

    John Robert Christianson, Luther College, Iowa

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