Chapter XI


"Sir, to a wise man all the world's his soil:
It is not Italy, nor France, nor Europe
That must bound me if my fates call me forth.
Yet, I protest it is no salt desire
Of seeing countries, shifting a religion;
Nor any disaffection to the State
Where I was bred, and unto which I owe
My dearest plots, hath brought me out: much less
That idle, antique, stale, grey-headed project
Of knowing men's minds and manners."

- Jonson, Volpone, or The Fox

At the close of the sixteenth century, Cracow was at the height of its fame and prosperity. It was still the capital of POland, and the residence of her kings, as well as the seat of the university founded two hundred years before by Casimir the Great. The Gothic cathedral erected under the same king, the burial place of Polish monarchs, was already adorned with sculptures and bronzes, the work of Renaissance artists from Florence and Siena. The visitor of today will find himself surrounded by churches and other buildings dating from the twelfth, fourteenth, and sixteenth centuries. Amid the ramparts of the Austrian fortress can still be traced here and there the older fortifications.

The city lies in the centre of a vast plain, almost at the confluence of two rivers, the Vistula and Rudowa. Across this plain from the north-west the travellers came, and reached Cracow in the afternoon of March 13, 1584.

"We were lodged in the suburbs by the church, where we reamained a seven night, and then we (I and my wife) removed to the house in St. Stephen Street, which I had hired for a year for 80 gylders of 30 groschen. And Master Edward Kelly came to us on Fryday in the Easter week by the new Gregorian Kalendar, being the 27 day of March by the old Kalendar, but the sixth day of April by the new Kalendar, Easter Day being the first day of April in Poland, by the new Gregorian institution."

From the time of arriving in Poland Dee is careful to enter the dates in both old and new styles. The New Style was then extremely new, it having been introduced by Pope Gregory XIII. only a couple of years before, and universally adopted by all Roman Catholic countries. England, in all the fervour of her recently established Protestantism, would have none of it, but still desired not to lag behind in needful reforms. Dee, as already stated, had been commissioned before he left England to make calculations by which the calendar could be suitably adopted in this country. The Roman Church had assumed the chronology adopted by the Council of Nice to be strictly correct. But Dee desired to ascertain the actual position of the earth in relation to the sun at the birth of Christ, as a bsais on which to rectify the calendar. The result of his calculations would have omitted eleven instead of ten days.

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