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Dee, John

Born: 1527 AD
Died: 1608 AD

1527 – Born on July 13th in London, England. English mathematician, natural philosopher, and student of the occult.

1542-1546 – Dee entered St. John’s College, Cambridge, in 1542, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree; he also was made a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, on its founding.

1547-1551 – Dee furthered his scientific studies on the Continent with a short visit and then under the mathematician-cartographers Pedro Nuñez, Gemma Frisius, Abraham Ortelius, and Gerardus Mercator, as well as through his own studies in Paris and elsewhere.

         – Dee turned down a mathematical professorship at the University of Paris and a similar position at the University of Oxford, apparently in hopes of obtaining an official position with the English crown.

1555 – Dee attached himself to the royal court, offering instruction in the mathematical sciences to both courtiers and navigators. He also served as consultant and astrologer to, among others, Queen Mary I. The latter activity landed him in jail on the charge of being a conjurer, but he was soon released.

1558 – Dee became a scientific and medical adviser to the Queen, and by the mid-1560s he established himself at Mortlake, near London, where he built a laboratory and amassed the largest private library in England with over 4,000 books.

         – He published Propaedeumata Aphoristica (“An Aphoristic Introduction”), which presented his views on natural philosophy and astrology.

1564 – Dee continued his occult views with the Monas hieroglyphica (The Hieroglyphic Monad), wherein he offered a single mathematical-magical symbol as the key to unlocking the unity of nature.

1570 – Edited the first English translation of Euclid’s Elements, Dee added an influential preface that offered a powerful manifesto on the dignity and usefulness of the mathematical sciences.

1582 – Dee also recommended that England adopt the Gregorian calendar, but the Anglican church refused to embrace such a “popish” innovation.

1583-1589 – Dee sought divine assistance by conversing with angels. He and his medium, the convicted counterfeiter Edward Kelley, held numerous séances both in England and on the Continent, where the two traveled together. By all accounts Dee was sincere, which is more than can be said for Kelley, who may have duped him. On Dee’s return to England, his friends raised money for him and interceded on his behalf with Queen Elizabeth.

1608 – Died on December in Mortlake, Surrey.