Johannes Carion

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Johann (es) Carion, also: Johannes Nägelin, Johannes Gewürznägelin, Johannes Caryophyllus (born March 22, 1499 in Bietigheim ; † February 2, 1537 in Magdeburg ) was a German astrologer, mathematician and historian.


Born on March 22nd, 1499, Johannes Nägelin grew up in his hometown of Bietigheim / Enz in Württemberg. After attending the Latin school in Bietigheim, he was enrolled at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen on April 21, 1514 at the age of 15 . There he met 17-year-old Philipp Schwarzert, who later became known under the name Melanchthon . The young Melanchthon held the post of convent in Tübingen, an older student who gave language lessons to the younger ones, but also had a supervisory function in the Burse. The two were fellow students of mathematics professor Johannes Stöffler , who had published an important work, his Ephemeris , in 1499 . The ephemeris are tables that provide information about planetary movements and are important for astrological calculations. These ephemeris play a major role in Carion's work for the prognosticatio , that is, Carion's contribution to the discussion about the great flood that was to come in 1524.

His first work was published in 1518: Practica M. Joannis Nägelin von Bütighaim / auff das 1519 iar. The most transparent prince and gentleman Mr. Joachim Margrauen zuo Brandenburg etc. Astronomus. Since he describes himself here as the court mathematician of Elector Joachim I of Brandenburg, he must have finished his studies at the latest in autumn 1518 and moved to Berlin. In this document he still has his original name, under which he is documented in Bietigheim in 1522, although he is already called there as "Doctor"; but this title was not awarded to him until 1535, namely as "Doctor medicinae". In the preface to his prognosticatio from 1521 he calls himself Magister Johannes Carion von Bietigheim . The background of this strange name Carion is the Greek name of the carnation Cariophyllon , ie its old surname was understood as carnation . There was a second Johannes Negelin at the Berlin court, and in order to avoid confusion, the Bietigheimer Nägelin renamed herself. The short form Carion could be a sign of admiration for his old teacher Johannes Reuchlin , who was called Kapnion in his circles .

While Carion's first work was still a simple Practica , ie a kind of peasant calendar with details of the phases of the moon and the associated weather forecasts, the character of his writings changed in the years that followed, as Carion became more fundamental and made poetic efforts in the form of mysterious stories. So he sends his prognosticatio a strange story, which he then interprets as a planetary event. In contrast to the Marbach doctor Dr. Alexander Seitz Carion is not of the opinion that a new flood is imminent; he considers a flood like that of the year 618 AD, the description of which he takes from Schedel's world chronicle , to be possible, but he sees the greater danger in the discord within Christianity, a problem that also permeates his importance of 1529. The episode also used by Bergengruen in his Carion novel, that Carion tempts his elector to move out to Berlin's Kreuzberg, comes from Petrus Hafftitius, an extremely unreliable source: Hafftitius collects sensational gossip of his time; so the Kreuzberg episode lacks credibility, because Carion was precisely concerned with an alleviation of the doomsday hysteria that existed elsewhere.

In this prognosticatio Carion also looks into the more distant future and thinks that there will be wonderful stories and destruction in 1789. In it you could see a prediction of the French Revolution .

Carion's first letter to Duke Albrecht of Prussia was dated August 22, 1527 ; This first letter is followed by an exchange of letters until after Carion's death - because Duke Albrecht expresses his condolences to Carion's widow after Carion's death. This correspondence was edited by Johannes Voigt in a reader-friendly way as early as 1841 : Voigt reports the parts of the letters that are worth reading in modernized German, but leaves out everything that he considers superfluous empty phrases; but important: for Voigt, Duke Albrecht was the focus. Many interesting details can be gathered from this correspondence, including those that put Carion's bad reputation as a bad drunkard in the context of the upper class behavior of the time. Carion tells z. B. of the Easter weeks 1533 and 1536, the second he called "torture week" because of the booze that took place in the electoral-archbishopric environment.

In an early letter, dated February 25, 1529, Carion also sent Duke Albrecht his Revolutio for 1529 , an astrological report for Duke Albrecht. A second astrological report from Carion has also been received, namely for Albrecht Scheurl, Albrecht Dürer's godchild, written in 1531/32, which Reiner Reisinger edited and evaluated. Reisinger comes to the conclusion that Carion was at the height of the astrological knowledge of his time. On December 28, 1529, the dedication of its importance dates ; in it one learns that the work was created earlier, but is only now being printed with authorization. Carion brings in prophecies up to the year 1550; This work was also published after his death in 1537, then shortened to the parts dealing with the future. Adelung is outraged by Carion's type of prophecy, namely that at the beginning of his prophecy he already portrayed the past as the future; Carion's great concern for his time, which Carion expresses in the words of the prophet Habakkuk , is not seen by Adelung.

The fact that Carion was attacked during his lifetime is shown by a passage from Perlach's book about the meaning of the comet, in which he accuses Carion of not using the "natural forces of astrology" to make his prophecies, but of being associated with forbidden, diabolical powers . This accusation, bad at the time, suggests the high quality of Carion's prophecies, which testify to his alert political spirit. In the series of allegations, Perlach Carion also assumes that he cannot speak Latin. Carion dispels this accusation by writing his defense speech in Latin, unlike his other works, which are written in German.

The existence of Carion's chronicle is first documented for June 1531, at which time Melanchthon reported to his friend Camerarius that he had received the manuscript of this chronicle. What Melanchthon describes here in this letter is later told by his son-in-law Caspar Peucer in 1572 as the background to the creation. Melanchthon feels that it is unreasonable to send it in 1531, Peucer tells posterity that Melanchthon destroyed the manuscript una litura - with one stroke - and rewrote the chronicle. The Carion Chronicle exists in two versions; In the Bietigheim City Archives there is a first version, the report of which ends in March 1532; Except for a few different writings, the version of the Luther Memorial, which was still on the web when the Bietigheim copy was copied, is the same. In the second version, the reporting period ends with the comet of September 1532. As a result of the Peucer statement, it was largely believed that Carion had only delivered insignificant scraps and that Melanchthon was the actual author of the chronicle. When examining the comparison of the versions, one can see that the first version contains Melanchthon's main concern, the structure according to the saying of Elias, i.e. the division of world history into three periods of 2000 years each, and a table of the basic historical data, but otherwise it is Carion's work . A few text passages have been changed for the second version, e. B. the treatment of the 70 weeks of the prophet Daniel, above all the conclusion shows features that contradict the preceding text corpus, such as the accumulation of Latin and untranslated quotations. As Melanchthon's letter to Corvinus of January 1532 shows, the printing (of the first version) must be well advanced by this point. The second version from autumn 1532 then forms the basis of the Low German translation and, above all, the Latin one that Hermann Bonnus , the reformer of Lübeck, created. Carion still supervised the printing of this Latin version, as the addition to the title from autore diligenter recognita shows (carefully checked by the author), but Carion did not live to see it appear, as he died on February 2, 1537. His death is documented by a letter from Melanchthon to Milichius dated March 2, 1537, in which Melanchthon briefly addresses his death in a postscript, but also by the condolences from Duke Albrecht to Carion's widow.

Long after Carion's death, Melanchthon went back to the Chronicle in 1558 and revised it, allegedly only to improve its style. In his foreword he praises the translator Hermann Bonnus exuberantly, but he tacitly ignores the actual author, Johannes Carion.

Up until Melanchthon's revision, many prints of Carion's chronicle had appeared, including the Bonnus translation; Even after the publication of the new version by Melanchthon, the original Carion Chronicle was still printed, as the evidence in Trauner shows.

Stefan Benning begins his “biographical sketch” about Carion with the news of Carion's death: “On February 2nd, 1537 Johannes Carion died in Magdeburg - in a very unusual way. His grave inscription, written in Latin by the humanist and son-in-law of Melanchthon, Georg Sabinus, gives an idea of ​​the background to this, as at least in the translation it reveals more mockery than mourning: 'Dr. Johannes Carion, eater of enormous jugs of wine, fortune teller from the stars, famous among those in power, died at a feast in competition. Christ graciously forgive those who suddenly collapsed from the circle of the drinkers. '”In fact there are several obituaries, including one from Georg Sabinus mentioned here, but the source cited by Benning needs critical examination; it appears in Strobl, but also in a slightly different form in Adelung. This is a joke by strangers who fill the initials of Johannes Carion Doctor , ie ICD, with whimsical information; this is probably not a serious source.

Since Peucer, Melanchthon's son-in-law, claimed in 1572 that his father-in-law had destroyed the original Carion chronicle una litura , i.e. with a single stroke, the majority of experts have been convinced of Melanchthon as the author of the chronicle. Over the centuries there was only one person, Erhard Ernst Hoch, who had a different opinion. At the beginning of his short Latin script he notes that historians ran after each other like lemmings. But he goes to the other extreme, namely that he completely banished Melanchthon from the origins of the original Carion Chronicle. Above all, the Enlightenment Adelung doesn’t leave Carion in good shape, and research continues to follow him up to the present day.

Carion has twice been the subject of literary works, by Willibald Alexis and Werner Bergengruen . Alexis knows no facts of the historical Carion; he lets him become a Jew who takes revenge for the murder of his father in the smoke, which is a prophetic anticipation of later gassings. Bergengruen already knows a little more, but he draws the core of his novel from Hafftitius with his story of the exodus from Kreuzberg.


  • Practica M. Joannis Nägelin von Bütighaim / auff das 1519 iar. The most transparent prince and gentleman Mr. Joachim Margrauen zuo Brandenburg etc. Astronomus. 1518
  • Prognosticatio and explanation of the big recovery / also other terrifying criticisms. So go to Christ our dear lord birth / five toes hundred and xxiiij. Jar. (Martin Landsberg, Leipzig 1521).
  • "Significance and revelation was hymmical influence / of the high-ranking magistrate Johannis Carionis Bütickheimensis CFG of Brandenburg Mathematici / of jaren zuo jaren being / Bite one writes in 1550. Jar / all landscapes / estates and influential / clearly affecting." Dedicated December 28, 1529. Digitized by Google
  • Chronica by M. Johan. Carion vleissig pulled together, mostly useful to read , Wittemberg 1533 ( limited preview in Google book search, digitized Internet Archive )
    • Copy of the first version from the Bietigheim city archive: chronica1532. In: Retrieved January 11, 2015 .
    • Source of the second version:
      Title: Chronica || through Magi = || strum Johan Carion / || diligently drawn together = || drawn / little = || useful || to read. ||
      Author: Carion, Johannes
      Verl. / Print; Rhau, Georg
      Published: Wittenberg: Rhau, Georg, 1532
      Online edition: Halle, Saale: Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt, 2010
      Extent: [238] Bl .; 8: title page in red and Schwarzdr., Title border
      Note: Original form of the notice of publication: Wittemberg. || MDXXXII. || (by Geor = || gen Rhaw. ||)
      Language: German
      URN: urn: nbn: de: gbv: 3: 1-185801
      VD16: C 997
    • Version comparison first and second version together with partial synopsis of the Bonnus translation of 1537 and 1539: Chronica Carionis (synopsis and comparison of versions). In: Retrieved January 11, 2015 .
  • Source of the translation by Hermann Bonnus:
    Title: CHRONI || CORVM LIBELLVS, MAXI = || mas quaśq, res gestas, ab initio mundi, apto ordi = || ne complectens, ita ut annorum ratio ac praecipuae || uicißitudines, quae in regna, in religionem, et in || alias res magnas incidunt, quàm rectißi = || me cognosci ac obseruari || queant. || A IOANNE CARIONE || Mathematico conscriptus, ac per || Hermanum Bonnum in Lati || num conuersus. ||
    Author: Carion, Johannes
    Editor: Bonnus, Hermann
    Verl. / Print .: Braubach, Peter
    Published: Schwäbisch Hall: Braubach, Peter, 1539
    Online edition: Halle, Saale: University and State Library Saxony-Anhalt, 2011
    Extent: [ 24], 255 sheets; 8
    Note: Original form of the notice of publication: HALAE SVEVORVM EX || officina Petri Brubachij, Anno || XXXIX. || [= 1539] (mense || Augusto ||)
    Language: Latin
    URN: urn: nbn: de: gbv: 3: 1-220832
    VD16: C 1015
  • IVDICIVM Magistri Iohannis Carionis de Anno MDXXX.III. Cum purgatione in qua respondet Perlachio. MDXXXII. (Original copy from the Bietigheim-Bissingen City Archives)
  • Iudicium magnum for Albrecht Scheurl, edited by R. Reisinger: Reiner Reisinger, Historische Horoskopie. The iudicium magnum of Johannes Carion for Albrecht Dürer's godchild (= Gratia. Bamberg writings on Renaissance research 32), Wiesbaden (Harrassowitz) 1997
  • Weltchronik, in: Corpus Reformatorum , ed. H. Ziegler, Vol. 12, 1898


  • Johann Christoph Adelung: History of human folly or life descriptions of famous black artists, gold makers, devil banners, sign and line interpreters, enthusiasts, fortune tellers and other philosophical fiends. 3. Theil, Leipzig 1787: Chapter 32 on Carion ( limited preview in the Google book search)
  • Willibald Alexis: The werewolf. Patriotic novel. Fourth volume of the eight volumes "Vaterländische Romane", Berlin (Otto Janke) undated (copy from the Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart, signature: "D. D. oct 96" and the pencil note "1903/4 278", with printer's note at the end : "Berliner Buchdruckerei Aktien Gesellschaft (typesetting school of the Lette Verein).")
  • Barbara Bauer: The 'Chronica Carionis' from 1532, Melanchthon and Peucer's adaptation and its history of impact . In: Heavenly Signs and Earth Ways. Johannes Carion (1499–1537) and Sebastian Hornmold (1500–1581) in their time , ed. from the Culture and Sports Office of the city of Bietigheim-Bissingen and the Hornmoldhaus city museum. Verlag Regionalkultur, Ubstadt-Weiher 1999, pp. 203–246, ISBN 978-3-89735-123-3
  • Stefan Benning: Johannes Carion from Bietigheim. A biographical sketch . In: Heavenly Signs and Earth Ways. Johannes Carion (1499–1537) and Sebastian Hornmold (1500–1581) in their time , ed. from the Culture and Sports Office of the city of Bietigheim-Bissingen and the Hornmoldhaus city museum. Verlag Regionalkultur, Ubstadt-Weiher 1999, pp. 193-202, ISBN 978-3-89735-123-3
  • Werner Bergengruen: In heaven as on earth. Novel; in Verlag der Arche, Zurich, and Nymphenburger Verlagshandlung, Munich, Verlag AG "Die Arche", Zurich
  • RS Freytag (Ed.): Halley's Comet. A Bibliography . Washington 1984, p. 413
  • Almut Fricke Hilgers: that the historiographus is also an expert in the history of heaven. ' Johannes Carion's flood forecast for 1524 with a forecast for 1789 . In: Pirckheim Yearbook . Volume 5, 1989/90, p. 33
  • Dietmar Fürst, Jürgen Hamel : Johann Carion (1499–1537), the first Berlin astronomer . Berlin 1988
  • Jürgen Hamel: Johann Carion - discoverer of the comet counter-tails? [Johann Carion - discoverer of the secondary?]
  • Johannes Haller: The beginnings of the University of Tübingen 1477-1537. Presented on behalf of the Grand Senate to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the university. Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1927
  • Dieter B. Herrmann, Karl-Friedrich Hoffmann (ed.): The history of astronomy in Berlin. ISBN 3-86021-018-1
  • Reinhard Hirth: Chronicon Carionis - Philippicum? Try to save Carion's honor. Unprinted, web version , cited as "salvation of honor "
  • Erhard Ernst Hoch: Disquisitio de Chronici, quod extat sub nomine Ioannis Carionis, vera et genuina origine, Guelpherbyti apud Joh. Christ. Meisnerum, 1755, Göttingen University Library, signature: 8 HLU I 1475.4 (31), original also available in the Bietigheim city archive.
  • Hermann FW Kuhlow: Johannes Carion (1499-1537). A Wittenberger at the court of Joachim I. In: Yearbook for Berlin-Brandenburg Church History . Volume 54, 1983, p. 53.
  • Andreas Perlach: The Comet and other appearances in the air / Jm XXXI. Jar seen need. By Andreen Perlach von Witschein / the sibenn freyen / vnd natural art master / Diser zeyt at the laudable high school in Vienna / in the Astronomey / what the celestial leüff Würckung / vnd jre influences relate to / prescribed glasses. Darbey also a declaration / that Charion did not make his Judicia outside of the natural art Astrologia. ( Digitized version )
  • FU Prietz: History and Reformation. The German Chronica of Johannes Carion as an education book and prince mirror . In: O. Auge and C. Dietl (eds.): Universitas. The medieval and early modern university at the intersection of scientific disciplines. Festschrift for Georg Wieland on his 70th birthday . Tübingen 2007. pp. 153-165.
  • Reiner Reisinger: Historical horoscopy. The iudicium magnum of Johannes Carion for Albrecht Dürer's godchild. (= Gratia. Bamberg writings on Renaissance research 32), Wiesbaden (Harrassowitz) 1997
  • City of Bietigheim (ed.): 600 years of the city of Bietigheim 1364–1964 . Bietigheim 1964
  • Karl-Reinhart Trauner:  CARION, Johann (es). In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 28, Bautz, Nordhausen 2007, ISBN 978-3-88309-413-7 , Sp. 287-3300.
  • Otto Tschirch: Johannes Carion - Kurbrandenburg court astrolog. In: 36.-37. Annual report of the Historic Association of Brandenburg ad H. Brandenburg 1906, pp. 54–62.
  • Johannes Voigt: Correspondence of the most famous scholars of the age of the Reformation with Duke Albrecht of Prussia. Contributions to the scholarly, ecclesiastical and political history of the sixteenth century, from original letters from that time. Verlag der Gebrüder Bornträger, Königsberg, 1841; therein pp. 139-160: Carion.
  • Aby Warburg : Pagan ancient prophecy in words and images in Luther's time , Heidelberg 1920, p. 26.
  • Michael Wiemers: Johannes Carion visits Albrecht von Brandenburg in 1533 in Halle . In: A "very impressive building" . mdv Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle (Saale) 2004, pp. 95-106
  • Johannes Schultze:  Carion, Johannes. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 3, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1957, ISBN 3-428-00184-2 , p. 138 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Alfred SternCarion, Johann . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 3, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1876, p. 781.

Web links

Commons : Johann Carion  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Johannes Carion von Buetikaym: Prognosticatio , 1521, fol. b3r. According to Franz Stuhlhofer : Georg Tannstetter (Collimitius), astronomer, astrologer and personal physician to Maximilian I and Ferdinand I. In: Yearbook of the Association for the History of the City of Vienna 37, 1981, pp. 7–49, there 48.
  2. The year results from fol. a4rv. Carion literally: “Through me Magistrum Johannem Carion von Buetikaym / Churfürstlicher Gnaden tzu Brandenburg Astronomum / brought together with fleyssiger work. Gantz ermlich tzu read / in use and warning of all people who believe in Christ etc. “The book is available in Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek (Sigel: 23), as well as in Vienna, Austrian National Library (VD16 number: C 1030).
  3. ^ Sächsische Landesbibliothek - State and University Library Dresden (SLUB), Deutsche Fotothek, 01054 Dresden