•  Chryzode, travel into the space of number 





The astrological clocks
of Münster and Praha


    As far back as the man can remember, the sky always intrigued him. There the prehistoric thought probably saw the supreme power wich was commanding the time, the day, the night, the seasons.
    Following the Ptolémée's Tetrabiblos, IInd century, already in the XIIIth and XIVth century, more and more precise correlations are seeked between cosmic, geographic facts and the periodicity of planets. In the XVth century, astrology deeply participates in the mediaeval mode of living and we find it at any classe of the european society during the renaissance.

Clock of Prague
Clock of Münster

    Construction of the Clock

    Then the first astronomical clock was constructed in the Dom of Münster in 1408 by the cistercian monk Friedrich in this very cultural context, inclined to observe stars and speculate on metaphisics. In this connection, we can notice that the contribution of technical construction of the cistercian monastic order was preponderating. As early as the XIIth century, almost all their 500 monasteries had one or several water-mills, and their engineers developed two apparatus: the cam and the crank which transformed the linear movement into a rotative one. However, according to J. Needham, the indispensable craggedness principle came from Chineses and was introduced in Europe in 1335-1364, probably by Marco Polo's coreligionists. And the construction of the first complete astronomical clock dates back to 1364, 44 years before the one of Münster.
    The astrological clock of Praha is situated in the tower of the town hall wich was built by Kadau in 1410 and reshaped by master Hanus of the Rose in 1490. The panel of the calendar; ornate with some peasant scenes, is a copy of the Josef Manés' work of 1864.
    The astrological clock of Münster was completely destroyed in 1534/35 during the anabaptists revolts. This sect born of protestantism recommended return to literal interpretation. The descriptions of this first clock are missing but we may suppose that it was constituted of a procession, a celestial face, a calendar, like any other clock at this time. The present clock was constructed seven years later, in 1542. Besides the date is noted in front of the facet of the balcony sustaining the parade of the automatons. The clock is the common work of printer Theodor Tzwyvel and franciscan Johann Aquensis, who made the calculation and developed the astronomic system, and locksmith Nikolaus Windemaker.

Brigitte Vattheuer - The cathedral as space of the world - February 1988