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The Angelic Movers


The Angelic Movers

Three angels from a Miroir Historial. Getty, MS Ludwig XIII (ca.1475, Flemish), f. 25v

God with the seraphim, cherubim and thrones. Miroir Historial, Flemish, about 1475. Ms. Ludwig XIII 5, v1, fol. 25v


Th- Angelic-Movers-1
Th- Angelic-Movers-1
How did the spheres of the medieval cosmos move? Late medieval scholars thought that each sphere received its intelligence (originating with God) from the sphere above, and also had a soul. The actions of both the intelligence and the soul moved the sphere. However, the idea that the celestial spheres had souls was problematic, as it implied an animation of the heavens. This was rejected by most scholars after the condemnation of 219 philosophical and theological propositions at the University of Paris in 1277. Instead, Western Latin scholars identified the celestial intelligences with angels who moved each celestial sphere.

Some medieval texts identified particular orders of angels with spheres as follows:

Moon: Angels

Mercury: Archangels

Venus: Principalities

Sun: Virtues

Mars: Powers

Jupiter: Dominations

Saturn: Thrones

Starry Sphere: Cherubim

9th Sphere/Crystalline Sphere: Seraphim

Empyrean Sphere: God