We investigated the evolution and transformation of scientifc knowledge in the early modern
period, analyzing more than 350 diferent editions of textbooks used for teaching astronomy in
European universities from the late ffteenth century to mid-seventeenth century. These historical
sources constitute the Sphaera Corpus. By examining diferent semantic relations among individual
parts of each edition on record, we built a multiplex network consisting of six layers, as well as the
aggregated network built from the superposition of all the layers. The network analysis reveals the
emergence of fve diferent communities. The contribution of each layer in shaping the communities
and the properties of each community are studied. The most infuential books in the corpus are found
by calculating the average age of all the out-going and in-coming links for each book. A small group
of editions is identifed as a transmitter of knowledge as they bridge past knowledge to the future
through a long temporal interval. Our analysis, moreover, identifes the most impactful editions.
These books introduce new knowledge that is then adopted by almost all the books published
afterwards until the end of the whole period of study. The historical research on the content of the
identifed books, as an empirical test, fnally corroborates the results of all our analyses.