The Tudor Society

John Dee

John_Dee_AshmoleanJohn Dee, astrologer, mathematician, alchemist, antiquary, spy, philosopher, geographer and adviser to Elizabeth I and various influential statesmen during her reign, was born in London on 13th July 1527. He was the son of Rowland Dee, a gentleman server at the court of Henry VIII, and was educated at St John's College, Cambridge, and Louvain. In the early 1550s, he returned to England with various navigational instruments and began work under the patronage of the Earl of Pembroke, the Duke of Northumberland and the Grey family. He also acted as tutor to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and Edward VI.

Dee's career highlights include:

  • Drawing up an electional chart to determine the most auspicious date for Elizabeth I's coronation.
  • Undertaking secret foreign missions for Elizabeth I and William Cecil, Lord Burghley.
  • Presenting his mathematical and astronomical work, Propaedeumata Aphoristica, to the Queen.
  • Being consulted by famous explorers and navigators.
  • Working with Edward Kelley and communicating with angels.

He was one of the most learned men of the Elizabethan age, and was known for his huge library. He died in 1609.

Further Reading

  • John Dee - A Biographical Sketch
  • The Queen's Conjuror: The Life and Magic of Dr. Dee: The Science and Magic of Dr.Dee by by Benjamin Woolley
  • The Arch Conjuror of England: John Dee by Glyn Parry
  • The Private Diary of Dr. John Dee And the Catalog of His Library of Manuscripts, ed. James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps

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John Dee