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John Dee

English mathematican, astrologer and antiquary

1527   -   1608

country of citizenship: United Kingdom
educated at: Trinity College, St John's College, Old University of Leuven
occupation: philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, writer, astrologer, geographer, cartographer
student of: Gemma Frisius

John Dee (13 July 1527 – 1608 or 1609) was an English/Welsh mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occult philosopher, and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. He devoted much of his life to the study of alchemy, divination, and Hermetic philosophy. He was also an advocate of England's imperial expansion into a "British Empire", a term he is generally credited with coining.Viewed from a 21st-century perspective, Dee's activities would seem to straddle the worlds of magic and modern science, though this distinction would have been meaningless to him. One of the most learned men of his age, he had been invited to lecture on Euclidean geometry at the University of Paris while still in his early twenties. Dee was an ardent promoter of mathematics and a respected astronomer, as well as a leading expert in navigation, having trained many of those who would conduct England's voyages of discovery. Simultaneously with these enormous efforts, Dee immersed himself in the worlds of sorcery, astrology and Hermetic philosophy. He devoted much time and effort in the last 30 years or so of his life to attempting to commune with angels in order to learn the universal language of creation and bring about the pre-apocalyptic unity of mankind. A student of the Renaissance Neo-Platonism of Marsilio Ficino, Dee did not draw distinctions between his mathematical research and his investigations into Hermetic magic, angel summoning and divination. Instead he considered all of his activities to constitute different facets of the same quest: the search for a transcendent understanding of the divine forms which underlie the visible world, which Dee called "pure verities". Dee amassed one of the largest libraries in England. His high status as a scholar also allowed him to play a role in Elizabethan politics. He served as an occasional advisor and tutor to Elizabeth I and nurtured relationships with her ministers Francis Walsingham and William Cecil. Dee tutored and enjoyed patronage relationships with Sir Philip Sidney, his uncle Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, Edward Dyer, and Sir Christopher Hatton.
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