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By Peter J. French

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Extra resources for John Dee: The World of the Elizabethan Magus

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Geography and navigation, Hermeticism and 52 the cabala, mechanics and Vitruvian ideas on symmetry and proportion were all subjects that were fairly advanced on the Continent by this time but had not yet taken deep root in England. John Dee was vitally interested in each of these subjects. After Dee’s return to England in 1551, Sir John Cheke brought him to the notice of William Cecil, who, in turn, introduced him to Edward VI. 100 Dee seems to have been closely associated with the proponents of religious reform at court.

116 These facts suggest that Copernicanism had little to do with the investigation of Dee’s religious beliefs. The whole incident remains something of a mystery. It is clear that Dee was able to acclimatize himself to the religious reaction that 56 characterized Mary’s brief reign, but being a magus in England could be dangerous indeed. Dee returned to the Continent again before Christmas of 1562. He wrote to William Cecil on 16 February 1563 concerning the reasons for his journey, and he was then staying at Antwerp in the home of the prominent Dutch printer William Silvius, who later published his Monas Hieroglyphica.

One is inclined to agree with Miss Yates’s conclusion that to solve Dee would go far towards solving, not only the Elizabethan age itself but also its place in the History of thought. 60 Thus, certain scholars have shown that John Dee was a major intellectual force; they have tried to dispose of the misconceptions that have prevailed about him and that have sullied his name for centuries. Dee, nevertheless, is still frequently approached in the most condescending way. There are always those angels lurking in the background to make people uncomfortable.

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