A 'politick engine' : astrology and politics 1678-1715
Historians have long been familiar with the link between astrology and politics, especially during the Civil War and Interregnum. By contrast, the link between them during the later seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries has been neglected by historians. This thesis sets out to bridge an historical gap. It provides a detailed study of astrology and politics between 1678, with the Popish Plot, and 1715. It examines the extent to which astrology was used as political propaganda during these years through a close study of the works published by the leading astrological polemicists, focusing particularly on their annual almanacs. It also examines the role religion played in politics, and the way in which the astrologers' religious outlooks and beliefs shaped their political views. The vitriolic feuds between leading astrologers on opposite sides of the divide are also examined in detail. This thesis is divided into four chapters. The first elucidates the outlook of the astrologers writing in the last years of Charles H's reign, covering the Popish Plot and Exclusion Crisis, and the period of Tory ascendancy between 1681 and 1685. The second chapter assesses how astrologers reacted to the succession of the Catholic James 111, and his attempts to give Catholic subjects equality with their Protestant counterparts. Chapter three examines reactions to the Glorious Revolution and the reign of William 111, and chronicles astrologers' attitudes toward the succession, war and the Church. The final chapter deals with the reign of Anne, focusing on the ferocious party battles for which it is notorious. It assesses the extent to which these were reflected in the works of the astrologers and examines their arguments as the battle lines were drawn. The thesis argues that the stormy nature of politics between 1678 and 1715 ensured that the link between astrology and politics, which had become much weaker following the Restoration, was reforged and rendered as strong as it had ever been. Indeed the period witnessed a final renaissance in political astrology.