Brahe's description of Uraniborg, f. 43v

Brahe's description of Uraniborg, f. 43v



This island is situated in the far­famed Sound in the famous kingdom of Denmark, that which divides Scania from Sealand, and the capital Copenhagen is situated at a distance of three miles south­west [the distance is 27 km], and Elsinore, with the Royal Custom House, is at a distance of two miles north north­west [this distance is 15 km]. These two towns are in Sealand. Helsingborg, which stands due north, is also two miles off [15 km], but Landskrona in the east is only one mile distant [9 km]. The latter two towns are in Scania. The island itself is very high, as if it were a mountain which you might ascend, but on top it is flat all over. Its circumference measures 8160 of the major passus. In the centre, where I have built the castle of Uraniborg, the polar altitude or, what amounts to the same, the latitude from the equator is 5554½', as measured several times by us with the greatest care. The longitude [cf. Opera Omnia V, p. 309] we have estimated at 3645' at which we have of course considered the difference between the meridians used by Ptolemy and Copernicus, and, as far as possible, the thorough calculations of the latter. Hence, on the square map on which the island is depicted, longitude and latitude are denoted in the way that each single degree is subdivided into seconds. What else is to be seen on the island is to be understood as follows. A. The castle of Uraniborg. B. Stjerneborg. C. The farm buildings. D. The workshop of the artisans, where they construct astronomical instruments, etc. E. A windmill. F. A village consisting of about forty farm­houses. G. A mill for the production of paper, and which may also grind corn and further prepare various kinds of hide, these three kinds of work being executed with one and the same very large wheel, all at the same time or each separately. H. The church. I. The place of assize of the peasants. K.L.M. Large fishponds, among which L, which belongs to the mill, is very deep and secured by means of an extremely heavy dam in order to be able to receive large quantities of water for the use of the mill. These fish ponds and the rest, nearly sixty in all, which contain a great many different fishes, when necessary, out of consideration to the said mill, are without difficulty emptied of the greater part of their water. O. A marshy meadow, where some alder­trees are growing. T. Pastures, in part overgrown with scrubs. N. A small hazel scrub in the shadow of the north slope. P.Q.R.S. Ruins of four castles standing here in days of old. After King FREDERICK II, of glorious memory, as mentioned above, had left this island to me for life and certified this with a deed written on vellum, in order that I might there in suitable peace study Astronomy, I have spent a huge amount of work and much money in order to comply with the wishes of this excellent king and serve the honour of my native country: I have not only, as mentioned above, erected magnificent fixed buildings on the island, but also from everywhere collected as much water as possible, where there was none previously, in order that I might at once establish a paper­mill near the coast, which might supply paper for my printing­house, established in the same place, so that I should not have the trouble of providing it from Germany.

On all this I have spent more than a tun of gold [100 000 Rigsdaler]. For all that I could gather, either gifts from the King or from my own annual income, I spent on this object, to say nothing of the huge work and trouble I have undergone over there during twenty­one years. From this and several other facts every sensible person will easily conclude that I must have had very weighty reasons, particularly at the age of fifty and with a large family, to leave an island which to me had so great a value, and further my beloved native country and so many relatives and friends I had there. But which and how great reasons have moved me to do so, I prefer not to mention in this place. However, I want to excuse my Serene King, CHRISTIAN IV, my Most Gracious Lord, who has recently succeeded on the throne his father, King FREDERICK, of glorious memory, who laid the foundations of everything there and protected it. For I have no doubt that if he had in time and sufficiently been informed of all the facts of this affair, which cannot but redound to the credit of the realm, he would with his heroic spirit, his keen intelligence and noble mind, which is open to all free sciences, with which he is so excellently equipped, graciously and liberally have preserved these studies, which are so highly befitting to kings, within his realm, so that they might have been promoted there. But perhaps it was the will of fate that things developed like this in order that the redintegration of Astronomy might be known over an extensive territory and spread more widely over the world. Also this will be easily understood by everybody, how seriously and energetically the redintegration of Astronomy lie us at heart, since for the sake of it I have courageously wanted to bear so many efforts and so much expenditure, so many disturbances and so much adversity that I have not even hesitated to leave my native country, and everything that was dearest to me. So great was my desire to investigate the laws of the stars.