Science and Nature in Early Modern Europe (1450-1750)
This paper studies the German chemist Georg Ernst Stahl's early alchemical teaching in a work that is best known to his English readers, that is, the title that was translated by Peter Shaw as Philosophical Principles of Universal Chemistry. It analyses the roots and the major elements of what Stahl called a historical and experimental inquiry to the mercuries of metals and especially into the great work, i.e., the philosopher's stone. This analysis points out his heavy reliance on Johann Joachim Becher, especially his Chymischer Glücks-Hafen, published just two years before Stahl gave at Jena his earliest chemical course, whose lecture notes were to become the basis of the Philosophical Principles. It also articulates what constituted the great work for Stahl. This study sheds light on the early phase of the Becher-Stahl chymical lineage and on Stahl's position on chrysopoeia at the beginning of his academic career.
Fontenelle is often presented as entertaining an ill conception of chemistry and its “confused spirit”. In this paper, I intend to qualify such a judgment. Of course, Fontenelle was quite critical. But a careful reading of his Histoire de l’Académie des Sciences and of his Eloges des Académiciens, which aimed to present science to a lay educated public, shows that he criticized more chemists than chemistry in itself. That may be an indication that chemistry could be a science. Indeed, Fontenelle saw chemistry as an emergent science, submitted to obstacles which prevented it from getting to a perfect scientific clarity. The main obstacles are: the weigh of the history of chemistry, which may be seen in its language, its tools and the complexity of the phenomena. According to Fontenelle, such a situation is not inescapable, provided chemists keep in mind the norm of clarity. Fontenelle thought that such a norm is certainly the mechanical one (trying to explain phenomena by figure and motion of particles). But this does not mean that he could not admit other solutions, entirely chemical. At least, he recognised that chemistry could provisionally have its own explanations. So that Fontenelle describe in fact, maybe against his will, chemistry as able to become an autonomous science.
Lawrence M. Principe
Questions regarding the aims and status of chemistry have existed for a very long time. Some recent historical literature has debated the relative importance of practical production versus that of the establishment of theoretical, or “philosophical,” explanatory systems. The seventeenth-century Académie Royale des Sciences provides an excellent place to study these features in context. In particular, the Académie’s massive communal project for compiling a comprehensive Histoire des Plantes showcases important divisions within early modern chymistry, as it relates to different practitioners. Beyond the usual descriptions of the external appearances of plants, the plants project proposed the use of chymical analysis to describe the composition--the hidden nature--of plants. Arguments proliferated over how the analysis should be done, on whose principles, and to what ends. While the project has been examined previously by other historians, a close and renewed examination of the project--especially the multiple redirections of the project as it passed among various hands, especially those of Samuel Cottereau Duclos, Denis Dodart, Claude Bourdelin, and Wilhelm Homberg--reveals much about the divergent views on the role, status, and utility of chymistry in the period, as well as revealing a largely unremarked intellectual commitment at the Académie.
Abstract not available. Sorry.
This paper will explore Francisco Hernández’ Historia Natural and the Florentine Codex as sources that reveal practices and beliefs regarding animals in New Spain. More particularly, it will seek to delineate notions, creatures, and behaviors that have pre-Columbian antecedents from those that originated in Europe, as well as those that emerged as hybrid phenomena in colonial Mexico. In addition to a comparison of these two quintessentially syncretic artifacts, the project will investigate European zoological and natural history texts as well as sources revealing of the place of animals in Mesoamerican culture. Guiding questions include: in what contexts do people and animals interact (e.g. hunting, husbandry, ritual)? What are the organizational systems used to categorize animals? At what moments do the divisions separating human and animal become most and least salient?
Manuel Castillo Martos
¿Existió ilación trascendental entre las ideas esotéricas que se originaron al comienzo de la cultura occidental con las de la ciencia en la edad moderna? ¿Hubo grupos esotéricos (o alquimistas) centroeuropeos en la Sevilla de los siglos XVI y XVII? ¿Fue de relevancia posterior las doctrinas protocientíficas originadas en los laboratorios de los alquimistas? ¿Influyeron las ideas alquimistas (o esotéricas por extensión) en la metalurgia de la plata en la América española? ¿La bibliografía intercambiada entre las dos orillas del Atlántico fluyó de tal forma para que lo que contenía sus páginas llegara a los prácticos metalúrgicos? Si las respuestas a las interrogantes suscitadas después de haber consultado documentos, libros y otras fuentes de lo que realmente sucedió no se pueden basar en verdades probadas, expliquémoslas de manera que parezca lo más verosímil que aconteciera. Si se carece de evidencia documental, hagamos conjeturas razonables. Nos enfrentamos, pues, a una dimensión tan espectacular y fascinante como la imposición del imaginario europeo en las Indias, con el uso interesado y la sustitución de los referentes simbólicos autóctonos; en suma, la simbiosis de civilizaciones, dirigida y espontánea, que allí se produjo. Tengamos en cuenta que la llegada del europeo a América sucede en un tiempo al que le impactan inquietantes primicias en los circuitos de la comunicación.
Alchemical books present historians of science with two apparent paradoxes. The first is that they made secret knowledge public. The second is that while alchemical books flourished in revolutionary England, more were printed after the Restoration than in any previous period. Focusing on William Cooper's A catalogue of chymicall books (1673, 1675, 1688), this paper explores the shifting relationships of alchemy, medicine and natural philosophy and the politics of chymical books in early modern England.
Dr. Maria Luz López Terrada
Llorenç Coçar, was named “Protomédico y sobrevisitador real” for the Reino de Valencia by Philip II in 1589. The Valencian physician Llorens Coçar or Cozar has been the object of various studies which have underscored his position as one of the few followers of chemical medicine in the sixteenth-century Spain. This focus stems as much from a medical work by him with clear Paracelsan affinities, as from his two-year tenure as the holder of the only university chair dedicated to the instruction of the use of these kinds of medicines in Europe at the time. Furthermore, there have been studies of Coçar for his unique role as the only physician named by Philip II as protomédico of the Kingdom of Valencia. Thus the importance of Coçar for the history of Spanish Paracelsianism is an aspect that takes on particular saliency if we keep in mind that the principal responsibility of the protomédico consisted in visiting druggists’s shops and the control of the medicines that they dispensed. That is to say that Philip II granted the oversight of the preparation and sale of medical substances in Valencia to a physician who was an open supporter of the use of remedies substantially different than those associated with the Galenic materia medica. In this way, and when confronted with local institutions of control of medical practice with their origins in the Middle Ages, the monarchy yet again appears as a factor contributing to the renovation of scientific beliefs, giving its support to men who were clearly related to innovative movements away from the royal court, and attempting to give them social recognition. On the other hand, I am able to confirm that iatrochemical medicine was openly practiced, and even integrated into the academic system in the city of Valencia, during the last two decades of the sixteenth century.
Dr. Raimon Arola
La ponencia girará entorno al concepto de
símbolo y su relación con la ciencia de las correspondencias utilizando
como punto de partida la definición de Sebastián de Covarrubias:
“Locutiones symbolicas se dizen aquellas que tienen en sí obscuridad,
hablando por semejanças y metáforas, como las sentencias de Pithágoras,
que comúnmente llaman symbolos” (Tesoro de la lengua española o
En las dos ediciones latinas, de 1546 y 1622, se atribuye la Disputatio Scoti a Michel Scot bajo el título Quaestio curiosa de natura solis et lunae. Son mínimas las diferencias entre los catorce manuscritos que pude identificar y las ediciones. La originalidad del tratado radica en el uso de la teoría de las razones seminales (rationes seminales o virtus seminativa), extraida de San Agustín, en la descripción de los experimentos supuestamente útiles para la fabricación del oro artificial. Después de estudiar los manuscritos, parece posible estimar la fecha de redacción del tratado alrededor de 1320-1350. Si el texto realmente fue escrito en el transcurso de este período en la que se desarrolla la alquimia médica, refleja bien las preocupaciones de la época, puesto que presenta también algunas consideraciones médicas sobre las virtudes del oro en medicina. Además, el estudio de los manuscritos permite conocer un poco más a su autor. Así, después de haber descartado a Michel Scot o Duns Scot como posibles autores, parece que la redacción de este opúsculo con influencia escolástica se debe atribuir a un homónimo que ha frecuentado el medio universitario. Si tal fuera el caso, la Disputatio Scoti sería un ejemplo más de tratado asociando en cierta medida la alquimia, sin embargo excluida de la enseñanza medieval, al mundo universitario.
Dr. Vera Keller
Peter Dear has stressed the importance of
the category of the physico-mathematical in the emergence of scientific
experiment. Yet, as historians of alchemy have pointed out, the entrance
of alchemy to the academy also fused alchemy and physics to produce an
artisanal philosophy. The works of Cornelis Drebbel (1572-1633) and
their academic reception represent an early and important instance of a
machine-based but non-mechanical philosophy in an age of new
Dr. Bruce T. Moran
The paper focuses upon the alchemical desires and motives of a Bolognese professor of moral philosophy, Camillo Baldi (1550-1637). In the course of a lengthy career at the University of Bologna he instructed students in logic and Aristotelian natural philosophy, and acted as custodian of the university’s museum of naturalia established earlier by Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605). Besides published writings relating to physiognomy and graphology, Baldi also composed an alchemical manuscript called Alchimia e la sua medicina (Bibliotheca Dell’Archiginnasio, Bologna, MSS No. B. 1397). My paper explores the alchemical traditions reflected in this manuscript and examines Baldi’s purposes in composing it. In Baldi’s case, the place held by alchemy within a private intellectual universe was not a formal one and was always secondary to other interests. It was, nevertheless, a living subject called upon to express private positions and give shape to singular passions. Paying attention to the role played by alchemy in the private world of Camillo Baldi helps us widen the exploration of historical alchemy beyond the well recognized sites of scholarly debate and courtly patronage. Focusing upon the question of how alchemy functioned within private worlds, the paper will attempt to reattach alchemical practice to the singularity of personal desire and experience.
Dr. Marcos Martinón-Torres
Dr. María Tausiet
One of the main obsessions of the Early Modern era was determining sure notions of true and false in order to apply them to various fields of knowledge and in this way to justify separating the permitted from the prohibited. This tendency was especially present in religion and science, where it was necessary to distinguish not only real as opposed to fake spirits, relics or miracles, but also true from false astrologers and alchemists. Located between idealism and materialism, alchemy particularly exemplified the aforementioned tensions, as was demonstrated by a trial held in 1593 at the Jeronymite monastery of Santa Engracia in Saragossa, whose prior accused a friar of making "silver out of smoke and jewels from goblins".
Dr. A.M.Amorim da Costa
In the early commentaries of the Jesuit Fathers on the philosophical
writings of Aristotle produced as the texts of their teaching in the
University of Coimbra toward the end of the sixteenth and the beginning
of the seventeenth centuries, one finds a complete rejection of atomism.
To Aristotle the existence of atoms having or not different formats,
could not be accepted on a logical basis because such an existence would
imply different parts and would be mathematically divisible being not
anymore real atoms; and, if they could have different sizes, it would be
possible to have atoms as great as the whole universe and therefore its
resolution into atoms would not be possible. Facing Mersenne, Gassendi
and Descartes´ corpuscular theories, these Fathers did not apart from
Aristotle´s anti-atomic doctrines but they clearly knew that the
refutation could not rely only on arguments coming from the aristotlian
Methaphysics and Logics. Namely, António Cordeiro in his Cursus
Philosophicus Conimbricensis (1713) and Sylvestre Aranha in his
Disputationum Physicarum (1740) tried to go further with arguments
refuting directly the main principles of the new theories. In this
paper, we will try to present the most remarkable guidelines of these
Dr. John D. Slater
Alchemical images are not uncommon in the devotional literature of
seventeenth century Spain. The transmutation of metals is generally
characterized as an avaricious pursuit and opposed the true alchemy of
Christian, inwardly transformation. Spagyric images, however, are far
less common than their metallurgical counterparts. This talk will focus
on an intriguing exception found in Alonso López Magdaleno’s biography
of St. Rose of Viterbo. López Magdaleno approvingly describes the
process of producing roses from the ashes of others as "experimentada
chimica," citing the works of Fortunio Liceti, Daniel Sennert, and
perhaps most surprisingly Libavius.
Scientific activity in Philip II’s Spain was strongly influenced by government policy and the needs of the state. To achieve its ends the crown was often forced to rely upon the knowledge and skills of foreigners. Philip’s ambitious goal of using alchemy to promote medicine was no exception. To accomplish his aim, he invited alchemists from various parts of Europe to the court, but especially from Italy, where alchemy flourished. Italian alchemists, with their intimate knowledge of the doctrines of Pseudo-Ramon Lull, were particularly congenial to the style of alchemy promoted in the court. This paper will examine the community of Italian alchemists in Philip’s court and will focus in particular upon the alchemical circle surrounding the Bolognese surgeon and alchemist Leonardo Fioravanti, who was in the court between 1576 and 1577.
The alchemist and apocalyptic prophet John of Rupescissa spent two decades in prison, during which he wrote an innovative set of texts that deeply influenced alchemy and medical therapeutics. This paper explores Rupescissa’s life in prison and analyzes the ways in which his experience shaped his apocalyptic and alchemical pursuits. Rupescissa believed that Christians could survive a clash with the antichrist through alchemy, which could provide financial resources for Christians during a time of apocalyptic war. In addition, Rupescissa claimed that powerful alchemical medicines called “quintessences” could heal disease and extend the lives of humans, particularly those charged with fighting the Antichrist. Rupescissa’s belief in apocalyptic religion underpinned his approach to alchemy – especially to the quasi-miraculous effects of the quintessence. Moreover, alchemy provided a model for Rupescissa’s prophecy, shaping his method and providing a foundation for his apocalyptic predictions.
Margaret D. Garber
The role played by scientific societies in the mid-seventeenth century
has been a springboard to many studies in the history and sociology of
science. The Royal Society of London and the Parisian Académie Royale
des Sciences have been the predominant focal points of numerous
Anglophonic accounts that have traversed historiographical and
sociological territories. Yet contemporaneously, there was another
society of science that was foundational both in its premier as a
scientific society and in its standing as the first medical journal in
the German and Bohemian territories. Surprisingly this group, the
Academia Naturae Curiosorum, has been little studied, primarily because
scholars complained that many of these early physicians were not only
alchemists, but also unabashedly chrysopoeian.
Dr. Rémi Franckowiak
In the studies of the historians of chemistry, the figure of Robert Boyle tends to hide those who practiced chemistry at the Royal Society at the end of the 17th century (Le Febvre, Evelyn, Goddard, Digby, Moray…). In my talk, I propose first to show the theoretical diversity of chemistry expressed in the 1660’s in this institution in order to highlight the rather isolated Boyle’s chemical position at that time. Second, I will go back over the chemical training course in France of certain Fellows, in particular John Evelyn and Kenelm Digby having both the same master Le Febvre in Paris (the former is the author of a handwritten chemical textbook written with the assistance of his Parisian master in London 20 years after, and the latter develops an atomist thought perfectly compatible with Le Febvre’s paracelsian chemistry). And third, I will compare chemistry at the Royal Society with chemistry at the Académie Royale des Sciences de Paris.
Dr. Didier Kahn
The Turba philosophorum has been the subject of several in-depth studies. Yet, as Martin Plessner showed half a century ago, its Latin text still deserves further research. Now, vernacular versions of this treatise are known, too, in French language as well as in German. In both cases, the earliest translations date back to the 15th century. The German versions have been recently briefly discussed by Joachim Telle, but the French version was never accurately nor seriously discussed, although it forms one of the main sources of Bernardus Trevisanus' alchemical treatise. A careful study of this French Turba shows, first, that the Latin model followed by its anonymous translator was none of the different known standard versions that Moritz Steinschneider (and Ruska after him) had identified. It appears, then, that the French version includes several discourses that are not to be found in any known Latin version of the Turba. Some of those discourses rest, nevertheless, on Latin models, which consist of small textual units. These small texts have survived in various manuscripts, but due to their short size, they are often overlooked by authors of detailed catalogues of manuscripts. The existence of such Latin sources brings about new questions, not only on the French version of the Turba, but even on its Latin textual tradition. Despite the weight and influence of the printed versions, it becomes more and more questionable whether we really know what were the limits of the Latin Turba in the Middle Ages.
Dr. Pamela H. Smith
This paper examines artisanal practices of sixteenth-century European metalworkers in order to attempt to draw out the underlying principles by which these craftsmen organized their work and viewed their world. These workshop practices were underpinned by a broad but coherent body of principles and beliefs about nature and the behavior of natural materials; a body of knowledge that artisans often sought in an empirical and systematic way. This body of knowledge, which often included alchemical components, might be labeled a "vernacular science."
MSc. José Rodríguez Guerrero
An important corpus of alchemical texts is attached to the name of the Catalan physician Arnau de Vilanova (ca.1240-1311). The very existence of these writings raises some problems not yet solved. What was the origin of the earliest pseudo-Arnaldian texts, such as the Liber deflorationis philosophorum (ca.1325-1340), the Tractatus de aqua vitæ simplici et composita (1332-1333) and the Rosarium [inc. Iste namque liber] (pre.1343)? Recently, I have discovered an Occitan alchemist called Perarnau de Vilanova (French: Pierre-Arnauld de Villeneuve) who flourished in the first halft of the fourteenth century. He is the author of a hitherto unknown Rosarium philosophorum, written in 1336, which is entirely different to other alchemical treatises under the same title. The text can be considered a transitional work between the thirteenth century collections of alchemical recipes explaining how to manufacture particular “elixirs” (De anima in arte alchemiae, Epistola de re recta, Liber septuaginta, De aluminibus et salibus, De perfecto magisterio, Lumen luminum, etc.) and the fourteenth century texts devoted to a universal and unique elixir that could transmute base metal into gold. The Rosarium composed by Perarnau de Vilanova seems to be a crucially important source for understanding the origin of the early alchemical corpus attributed to the medieval physician Arnold of Vilanova, and it reveals that two early treatises (the Liber deflorationis and the Tractatus de aqua vitæ) could have been written by Perarnau too.
Dr. William Royall Newman
Thanks to the "Chymistry of Isaac Newton" project at Indiana University, about half of Newton's chymical papers have currently been edited and are avilable online (http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/newton/index.jsp). As this material becomes available in word-searchable, edited form, it is rapidly providing a more complete picture of Newton's involvement - at least thirty years long - in alchemy. My paper will present previously understudied material that sheds new light on Newton's hitherto obscure goals for the aurific art. The material that I present will challenge the prevailing views of Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs and Richard Westfall, who saw Newton's alchemy as primarily an avenue to spritiual enlightment. I will argue, to the contrary, that Newton was using alchemy to pursue what modern physicists call a "theory of everything." The theory had important resonances with other aspects of Newton's science, such as his optics, and yet it was firmly grounded in the traditional literature of alchemy.
Dr. Anke Timmermann
In early modern England, university trained physicians who were interested in the manufacture of chemical remedies formed a considerable group of readers of alchemica. One particularly interesting if hitherto unknown example is a physician in late sixteenth-century Cambridge and London: his surviving alchemical and medical notebooks show him to be widely read and very methodical in his reading. In my presentation, I shall consider his reading techniques and materials before the background of the history of alchemica at English universities, with particular focus on the development of college libraries and private collections, and the ways in which alchemical knowledge was accessed, disseminated and processed in medical circles of the time. (Methodologically, the presented research is affiliated with the history of libraries and the history of the book as well as manuscript studies.)
Dr. Miguel López Pérez
"A piece of Rock Crystal, half of which is manifestly turned by the Power of Chymistry into a bright Ruby-like Colour". This object, described in a private collection of the 17th century, is the starting point of my talk. From rares objects to books, secrets were the real things where the practitioner gave a Nature confirmed for believers and patients. Even in the books, we can read all about a secret: How we can make it, for what, for who, and more. But we never can read why the object, or the medicine, was their specific properties in the books. It only remains for the practitioner, and people never asked for it. May be they did not need to know why.
Dr. Stephen Clucas
This paper focuses on the work of Denis Zecaire, whose book Opuscule tres-eccellent, de la vraye philosophie naturelle des metaulx, originally published in 1562, was translated into Latin by Gerard Dorn in 1583, and subsequently anthologised in Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum. Whilst brought to the brink of despair by the proliferation of contradictory and opposing accounts of the alchemical work, Zecaire believed that ultimately a 'continual reading of the good and approved authors in the science' would reveal an underlying harmony beneath the apparent diversity of their 'contradictions, enigmas and equivocations'. Although the chymical authors 'seem to have written different things, under different names and similitudes,' Zecaire argues, 'they all really mean one thing.' Taking Zecaire's faith in the unity of the alchemical corpus as a starting point I will trace the subsequent history of this motif in a wide range of chymical authors from Libavius to Newton. This exegetical faith in concordance exemplified by Zecaire, I will argue, continued to motivate the hermeneutic and laboratory practices of chymists throughout the seventeenth century.
Dr. Tara Nummedal
In the mid-sixteenth century, a rather unlikely candidate named Anna Zieglerin turned her attention to alchemy. She set up a laboratory near the princely court in Wolfenbüttel, wrote a manuscript on the philosophers' stone, and shared with her patron the secrets of alchemy she had learned from a mysterious figure named "Count Carl." Zieglerin's idiosyncratic and deeply personal interpretation of alchemy offer insight into the way in which individuals made sense of, and even appropriated, the Paracelsian tradition in their own lives.
Dr. Rafal T. Prinke
Michael Sendivogius was one of the most important alchemists of the early 17th century and his works remained influencial for the next two hundred years. As had been the case with other recognized alchemical adepts, his life became the subject of legends, speculations, and even folk tales. Because of his secretive nature, reliable primary sources are scarce and dispersed -- but the picture emerging from them shows a man who struggled for success throughout his life and won it on several levels: he became famous as an alchemical author believed to possess the philosopher's stone and achieved a high social position with powerful patrons. Patronage, however, was not the goal in itself -- Sendivogius continued to strive for financial independence and eventually reached it, becoming the owner of a sizeable land estate with a castle. A career quite unlike those of other alchemists is certainly in need of explanation.
Dr. Peter J. Forshaw
The court of Vilém Rožmberk (1535-1592), Rudolf II’s second-in-command, was second only to the Imperial palace as a centre of alchemy in late sixteenth-century Bohemia. Not only did Rožmberk employ native adepts, including the most important Czech writer on alchemy, Bavor Rodovský (1526-1592), Jaroš Griemiller z Třebska, Jakub Horčický z Tepence and other laborants like Linhart Wichperger von Erbach, Christoph von Hirschberg and Daniel Prandtner, at his residence adjoining Rudolf’s on the Hradschin in Prague, or at Třeboň, Prachatice, and Český Krumlov in his domains further south, but he also attracted famous cosmopolitan figures, namely John Dee (1527-1608), Edward Kelley (1555-1597) and Karl Widemann (1555-1637) in the 1580s and Heinrich Khunrath (1560-1605) and Nicolas Barnaud (1538-1607) in the early 1590s. This paper examines the nature of the theoretical and practical alchemy supported by Rožmberk, with material drawn from the published works of these important figures, from manuscripts in the Czech archives, including Rožmberk’s alchemical correspondence in Třeboň, and responses to their work in the writings of contemporaries like Andreas Libavius (1560-1616).
Dr. Deborah E. Harkness
This paper will argue that a flourishing culture of vernacular alchemy flourished in sixteenth and early seventeenth century London. Using the alchemical notebooks and manuscripts of early modern Londoners interested in alchemy--including Clement Draper, Thomas Mountford, and Hugh Plat--I will explore how the vernacular tradition of alchemy, which traced its origins back to figures like Ripley and Norton, grew and developed. Particular attention will be paid to the ways in which new texts by Paracelsus, Basil Valentine, and other continental figures colored the alchemy being practiced in the City. The paper will also discuss the role that foreign alchemists such as Giovanni Baptista Agnello, Cornelius de Lannoy, Joachim Gans, and Theodore Turquet de Mayerne played in London's vernacular alchemical culture. Issues of transmission, and the frequency with which some alchemical practices and experiments were copied into surviving London manuscripts, will also be covered in the paper.
MA. Jennifer Rampling
George Ripley (c.1415-1490), Canon of Bridlington, has been treated primarily as an English alchemist, his works featuring prominently in Elias Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652). However, his theoretical position as a 'mercurialist' has a distinctly European provenance, locating him in the intellectual lineage of Arnald of Villanova and the corpus of works attributed to Raymond Lull. Ripley's works refer frequently to his European travels, and, as noted by Ashmole, he was to develop an impressive posthumous reputation on the Continent - his works appearing both in individual translations and major alchemical compendia. Notwthstanding his personal focus on the properties of mercury, the Compound of Alchemy and other works ascribed to him were adopted by alchemists of rival 'schools' throughout the sixteenth century, including antimonialists, salinists, and Paracelsians. One reason is suggested by Ashmole, who considered that the methodology of the Compound: "is unquestionably to be relyed upon, because pen'd from a grounded experimentall Practise." This paper examines how Ripley's use of successive stages to describe the progress of the work, employing the distinctive metaphor of the twelve-gated castle, was to provide later practitioners with an authoritative yet adaptable framework in which to present both theoretical advances and practical developments in alchemy.
Dr. M.E. Warlick
From the earliest alchemical texts, authors describe laboratory processes in sexual terms. Maria the Prophet, a noted Hebrew alchemical philosopher and practitioner advises, “Combine the male and female, and you will find that which you seek.” As alchemical philosophy develops, many authors portray the work as a heterosexual romance between the hot, dry and masculine Philosophic Sulphur and the cool wet and feminine Philosophic Mercury. With the advent of profusely illustrated alchemical texts in the 15th century, these sexual metaphors continue. The text of the Aurora consurgens (Rising Dawn) derives in part from the biblical Song of Songs, in which two lovers celebrate their sexual passion. Several illustrations within the Aurora manuscripts depict the sexual embraces of Sulphur and Mercury and the birth of their child, the Philosophers’ Stone. Their romance is also pictured in the Donum Dei (Gift of God) manuscripts, in which a King and Queen make love within the vessel to symbolize the fusion of substances within the heated environment of the laboratory furnace. These images also appear in early printed alchemical texts. In the Rosarium Philosophorum (Frankfurt, 1550), the sexual relationship of the Sulphur and Mercury is vividly portrayed in twenty woodcuts that symbolically narrate the couple’s romance and the production of both silver and gold. This paper will survey the development of sexual imagery within alchemical manuscripts and early printed texts and explore the reasons for the origins and persistence of sexual analogies within alchemical philosophy.
Dr. Gabriele Ferrario
In my paper, I would like to present the results of my researches on manuscript Orient. klein 514 (XVI century), which is preserved in German National Library in Berlin. The most interesting feature of this manuscript is the fact that, among an impressive amount of alchemical procedures, it contains the only extant Hebrew translation of the Arabic book known to Medieval Latin alchemists as Liber de aluminibus et salibus. I will concentrate on the physical features of the manuscript considered as a whole, underlining the elements that led me to consider it as a handbook for alchemists to be used as an operative guide in laboratories. I’ll deal with the modality in which the different sources used for its composition were handled by its copyist, drawing some general guidelines for a critical approach to this kind of texts. I will also discuss some prominent linguistic features, focusing on the elements that lead me to assume its Italian origin.
Dr. Antonio Barreda
My paper presents an overview of the scientific activities pursued by Spaniards in the Atlantic World during the sixteenth century. I argue that the commercial and imperial expansion of Spain in the Atlantic fostered the development of empirical practices for the study of nature(natural history, reports and questionnaires, gardens and cabinets of curiosities, expeditions). This expansion facilitated relations and negotiations between diverse groups (scholars, artisans, merchants, royal officials, and Native Americans) and their respective epistemological practices. From these negotiations emerged a tendency towards empiricism, which characterized 16th and 17th century scientific practices in Europe and America. The story of emerging empirical practices in Spain in the first half of the sixteenth century has two important dimensions: one is related to the actual development of those practices in Spain and the Spanish American kingdoms, and the other is related to the influence of Spanish empirical (and imperial) activities in England in the second half of the sixteenth century. In the mid-1550s, when Philip II was king consort (1554-1558) of England (and Spain had already established an empire in the New World), the English were working hard to obtain access to the Spanish activities in the New World, in particular, scientific activities. An intense intellectual traffic between Spain and England took place in those few years; important books would be translated from Spanish and discussed in England, and their Spanish authors eventually forgotten (as a result of the persistent Black Legend<-an Atlantic World event). My paper discusses, first, the emerging of empirical practices at the level of common people and how these practices were appropriated by the crown; and, second, the appropriation by England of some of these practices as they translated Spanish scientific books and learned from the Spanish about the New World.
Dr. Maria M. Portuondo
In the early 1590s, Andrés García de Céspedes (c. 1545-1611), who later became Cosmographer Major of the Council of Indies, presented Philip II a proposal to establish an astronomical observatory at the royal monastery and palace of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. García de Céspedes offered the monarch his collection of large astronomical instruments and volunteered to build a number of other magnificent instruments. His hope was to establish the palace as a place where, “as Hipparchus traveled from Rhodes to Alexandria,” astronomers from all over Europe could come to El Escorial to carry out astronomical observations. Although his plan did not prosper — the time for El Escorial as a temple of science was rapidly coming to a close — the plan informs us about the relationship between astronomers and patrons in Spain and early modern Europe. This essay explores the many dimensions in which astronomy and its corollary, astrology, intersected with El Escorial’s conceptual and operational plan during the reign of Philip II. As a source of icons for the monastery/palace’s decoration, as an important topic for its library’s collection or as a concern of an ailing monarch, the astronomical disciplines complemented and enriched the scientific activities that took place in this ephemeral Temple of Science
Dr. Hiro Hirai
The German physician Oswald Croll (ca 1560-1608) was one of the most famous defenders of Paracelsian medicine and chemistry. At the threshold of the Scientific Revolution, he strongly promulgated the chemically oriented medicine of Paracelsus (ca 1493-1541). Although he was a fervent Calvinist, his philosophy of nature was largely colored by the peculiar theological ideas of Paracelsus and his followers. The core of his doctrine is the incarnated Word of God, which is seen as the "seed" of things. Here, the tradition of the Renaissance "concept of seeds", which is stemming from the metaphysical cosmology of the Florentine Neo-Platonist Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) and is developed by the Danish Paracelsian Petrus Severinus (1540-1602), gave a profound impact. Croll's quest of the universal medicine is closely connected to the elaboration of his matter theory, based on this singular body of doctrine. In my paper, I will analyze the system of Croll's natural and medical philosophy and demonstrate the importance of the concept of seeds in his matter theories.
In 1572, Mino Celsi published in Basel in the publishing house of Pietro Perna a selection of medieval alchemical texts under the title of Artis chemicae principes, Avicenna atque Geber. Among the various treatises in this compendium, we find the first (and only) edition of the De anima in arte alchemiae. This text was wrongly attributed to Avicenna at this time, and was probably written in Arabic in the 12th century in Spain, and then translated into Latin about 1235 (the original Arabic text has not been identified yet). This work is divided into two parts: a theoretical part, named Porta elementorum, exposing a theory of matter, and a more practical part, with many alchemical recipes. The De anima in arte alchemiae is one of the most representative texts of the alchemy founded on organic substances, which will provide to this treatise a great success until the 14th century.
Dr. Annelies van Gijsen
Alchemical texts ascribed to ‘Isaac Hollandus’ and/or ‘Johannes Isaaci
Hollandus’ first appear around the middle of the 16th century and have
been spread and multiplied up to the early 19th century. In spite of its
great and longlasting popularity, this huge body of texts has hardly
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