Oresme, Nicole (ca. 1320–1382)
Bishop of Lisieux, France, in 1378, who published works on
theology, politics, economics, mathematics, and physical science.
His book Livre de Divinacions expresses orthodox theological
thought on various aspects of medieval occultism. The
book is titled after the De Divinatione of Cicero and defines the
arguments for and against belief in the occult, lists frauds and
deceptions in divination, and distinguishes between astrology
and astronomy. Oresme accepted alchemy and ascribed occult
success to demons.
Oresme was born ca. 1320, probably in Normandy, and entered
the College of Navarre in Paris in 1348. As Archdeacon
of Bayeux, he accepted the Deanship of Rouen but retained his
university office until obliged to relinquish it due to a decision
by the Parliament of Paris. In 1378, after his translation of the
works of Aristotle into French, he was given the bishopric of Lisieux.
He died in 1382.
His Livre de Divinacions was originally written in Latin, subsequently
in French. In the absence of an English translation,
there was little scholarly discussion of the work until the 1900s.
In 1934, Lynn Thorndike devoted three chapters in Volume 3
of History of Magic and Experimental Science to a detailed study
of Oresme’s work.
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Oresme, Nicole
Coopland, G. W. Nicole Oresme and the Astrologers; A Study of
His ‘‘Livre de Divinacions.’’ Liverpool, UK University Press of
Liverpool, 1952.
Thorndike, Lynn. History of Magic and Experimental Science.
Vol. 3. New York Columbia University Press, 1923–58