First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…
FOLIO IV recto

On the fourth day God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day and the night; and let them be signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years, and shine in the firmament of the heaven and give light to the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater to rule the day, and the lesser to rule the night. And the stars separate the light from the darkness. Moses thinks first of the celestial things which God set in the firmament to shine in the heavens and to give light to the earth; as the sun, the moon and the stars with which the upper part of the world is adorned, just like the earth is adorned with the things that grow in it. And after Moses has spoken of the nature of the firmament, he follows with the work of the stars and explains their functions—to what exercise and use they were dedicated and for what purpose they were intended. The heavenly corporeal bodies have two apparent functions to perform in the world, namely motion and to give light. And there are two movements: One of the whole world by which the heaven and the sphere of the air and of fire are moved through the whole area of the world in a complete revolution in twenty-four hours. The other movement is of the stars, and is singular, manifold and various. Among these the movement of the sun is most important, for in twelve months the sun revolves through the circuit of all the signs. The sun makes the day. So this course of the sun through this same circuit makes a year. The movements of the stars occur at various times in the interim. That is why Moses has so ably and briefly reminded us of those things, namely, that the stars were set in the firmament to indicate the days, years and seasons. In addition he has clearly spoken of the other function of the stars, that is, to give light. So he says they were set to shine in the heavens and to light the earth. Therefore the bodies of the moon, sun and stars are fitly constituted for such purposes. And although the sun which rises in the day is alone, yet it gives a real, full and complete light, and with its warmth and clearness reaches everything. Although we see all the stars glitter and shine at once, they do not make as full and strong a light; nor do they give warmth nor overcome the darkness. So two things of quality are found which in various ways have functioned in opposition to each other, namely, warmth and moisture, which God created to sustain and bring forth all things. About these matters many important inquiries could be conducted and a proper book written upon each—what stars are in the firmament and what their size; also what creations rank higher than others in nobleness and worth; what the nature, properties, and functions of these stars, and which of them may be useful in foretelling the future. However, neither time nor space permit us to write about that.


The universe is becoming more complicated as the creation proceeds. The concentric circles or orbits have appreciably increased. In the center is the earth, indicated by a landscape, inverted for some unexplained reason, not by the printer, but so designed by the artist. The inverted earth is circumscribed by thirteen concentric circles or orbits. The three immediately adjoining the earth, together with the earth, probably represent the four elements, earth, air, water, and fire. They may have been left blank as already created and not concerned with the work of the fourth day. In the fourth orbit is the moon, in its first phase. In the fifth are two stars, one to the right, the other to the left. The sixth orbit is blank, and in the seventh appears the shining sun. The eighth zone has a single star, the ninth is blank, and the tenth and eleventh have a star each. The twelfth is neatly set with nineteen fixed and equidistant stars. The last or thirteenth orbit is blank. And thus the greater and lesser lights were set in the firmament by the artist. The hand of the Creator appears as usual.

Why the landscape representing the earth appears upside down is not clear. The woodcut would appear to be a single block, and although the landscape is inverted, the sun, moon, and hand of the Creator are upright. The same peculiarity appears in the woodcut for the Seventh Day (Folio V verso).