Written in the Stars: Finn Wittrock Descended from German Imperial Court Astrologer
Updated: Jun 13
American Horror Story and Unbroken actor Finn Wittrock is descended from a Medieval court astrologer to Emperor Frederick III. | BY MIKE BATIE
At the rate Finn Wittrock's career is going, it won't be long until we see his name in a star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame. Being a descendant of a German imperial court astrologer, it's as if Finn's destiny for stardom was written in the stars. This rising star has appeared in a number of movies including Unbroken, The Big Short, La La Land, and My All-American, to name a few. Many will recognize him from his roles in several seasons of American Horror Story, especially his wickedly-good role of Dandy Mott in AHS: Freak Show.
Johannes Lichtenberger: Imperial Astrologer and Finn's 15th Great Grandather
Illustration of Johannes Lichtenberger from one of his published works. | Via Digitalisierung durch die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Finn Wittrock is the 15th great grandson of Johannes Lichtenberger, who served as the imperial court astrologer to German Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. Johannes Lichtenberger was born about 1438 in Braunschweig, in what was then the Kingdom of Brunswick in Saxony (present-day Germany). As an astrologer, Lichtenberger provided horoscopes by predicting the future through interpretations of the positions of planets, the sun, moon, and stars in relation to persons within the cosmos. Lichtenberger is known to have provided horoscopes for Emperor Frederick III and Duke Louis IX of Bavaria-Landshut, among others.
Finn Wittrock's line of descent from Johannes Lichtenberger, Imperial Court Astrologer for Emperor Frederick III. | Chart by Mike Batie
As shown above, Finn is descended as the 15th great grandson of this imperial astrologer. In eighteen generations the family trade went from interpreting the stars to being a star.
Finn's ancestor Johannes published a number of his writings in the 1400s in Latin, and many of these books survive today as either originals or copies. Perhaps the most famous of his books is Prognostica, published in 1484. In this work, Lichtenberger provides prophecies and precise predictions and exhortations addressed to the pope, the emperor, and various princes and governments. The woodcutters who fashioned the prints for this book closely followed the instructions given by Lichtenberger, as he wanted the illustrations combined with his prophecies to be striking to the reader. Some of the surviving copies range from hundreds to thousands of dollars in value among rare book collectors.
Excerpts from Johannes Lichtenberger's most famous work, Prognostica. The title page (far left) features a portrait of Johannes Lichtenberger. | Via Bayerische StaatsBibliothek Digital
Because the title page for Prognostica features an illustration of Johannes, we have an image of Finn Wittrock's 15th great grandfather dating to the year 1484. How cool is that?
Manuscript handwritten by Johannes Lichtenberger for his Nativity Book with horoscopes for Margrave Kasimir of Brandenburg-Ansbach, Sigismund von Hessberg, as well as other personalities. | Via Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel
Down the Line: Finn's Lichtenberger 14th and 13th Great Grandfathers
Johannes Lichtenberger's son, Philip Lichtenberger (Finn's 14th great grandfather), was born in 1477 in Kusel, Germany and became the amtsmann in Kreuznach, which was a government administration position over military and public security. These administrators came from the rural aristocracy — men like Philip.
Philip's son, Leonhard Lichtenberger (Finn's 13th great grandfather), was also born in Kusel and was amtsverweser — deputy regent. So Finn's Lichtenberger family line remained prominent for several generations.
Some of the films included in Finn Wittrock's list of acting credits.
Writing His Own Destiny In the Stars
Finn is making his own destiny in the stars through his phenomenal acting, writing, and producing of Hollywood films and television shows. Finn and his friend Eric Bilitch wrote The Submarine Kid, which starred Finn opposite Emilie De Ravin (Once, Lost, Remember Me). Finn also recently starred in the critically acclaimed miniseries The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, for which Finn was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie. Finn has been nominated for at least 12 awards and won four of them. With acting chops like his, I'm certain we will see Finn nominated for many more awards in the coming years. We'll have to learn Latin and search through Lichtenberger's prophecies to see what future he may have foreseen for his posterity.
Finn's ancestry on his father's side is primarily Danish, German, Austrian, and Norwegian. I'll have more articles on some of Finn's other fascinating family lines in future articles. On a personal note, the author and researcher of this article has been to a number of his stage performances and movie premieres over the last couple of years, and they've all been fantastic, spell-binding performances. If you get a chance, don't miss an opportunity to see him in a live theater performance.
About the Author
As a genealogist and family historian, I enjoy researching my own family tree and the family trees of others. It gives me a sense of someone’s background and what makes them who they are today. To see their roots, and where they come from, is inspiring to me. I’m often in awe of the connections of their ancestors’ experiences to the present. I hope to inspire others to research their own family trees and find out where they come from by sharing interesting insights from the family trees of notable figures.
The author with Finn Wittrock at the North Hollywood premiere of his movie, Write When You Get Work.
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