Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni (1463–1494)
Italian astrologer and Kabbalist born February 24, 1463.
His family played a prominent part in a number of the civil
wars which convulsed medieval Italy; they owned extensive
lands in the neighborhood of Modena, the most valuable of
their possessions being a castle bearing their own name of Mirandola.
It was here that Giovanni was born.
He appears to have been a versatile student. According to
tradition, before he was out of his teens he had mastered jurisprudence
and mathematics, had studied philosophy and theology,
and had dabbled in occultism.
As a young man, Mirandola soon left his brothers in charge
of the family estate and proceeded to various universities in
Italy and France. While in the latter country, his interest in astrology
and related subjects deepened, thanks partly to his
making a close study of the works of alchemist Raymond Lully.
In 1486 Giovanni went to Rome, where he delivered a series of
lectures on various branches of science.
While thus engaged, his erudition won high praise from
some of his hearers, but certain members of the clergy suspected
him of heresy, reported his doings to the Inquisition,
and even sought to have him excommunicated. The pope,
however, was rather averse to quarrelling with a member of so
powerful a family as the Mirandolas, and accordingly he waived
violent measures, instead appointing a body of church leaders
to argue with the scientist.
A lengthy dispute ensued. Mirandola published a defence
(under the title Apologia) of the ideas and theories promulgated
in his lectures and in 1493 the pope, Alexander VI, brought the
affair to a conclusion by granting him absolution.
Thereupon Mirandola went to live in Florence, and stayed
there until his death in 1494, occasionally experimenting with
alchemy, but chiefly busy with further study of the Kabala. He
died November 17, 1494, in Florence.
Apart from the Apologia Pici Mirandoli cited above, Giovanni
was author of several books of a theological nature, the most
important of these being his Conclusiones Philosophicae, cabalisticae
et theologicae, published in 1486, and his Disputationes adversus
Astrologiam Divinaticum, issued in 1495. His works appear to
have been keenly admired by those of his contemporaries who
were not averse to speculative thought, and a collected edition
of his writings was printed at Bologna in 1496, and another at
Venice two years later.

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