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Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire by Tara Nummedal

By Tara Nummedal

What exceptional the real alchemist from the fraud? this query lively the lives and labors of the typical men—and sometimes women—who made a dwelling as alchemists within the 16th- and seventeenth-century Holy Roman Empire. As purveyors of useful recommendations, innovations, and remedies, those marketers have been prized by way of princely buyers, who relied upon alchemists to reinforce their political fortunes. while, satirists, artists, and different commentators used the determine of the alchemist as a logo for Europe’s social and monetary ills.
Drawing on legal trial files, contracts, laboratory inventories, satires, and vernacular alchemical treatises, Alchemy and Authority within the Holy Roman Empire situates the typical alchemists, mostly invisible to fashionable students earlier, on the middle of the improvement of early smooth technological know-how and trade. Reconstructing the workaday global of entrepreneurial alchemists, Tara Nummedal indicates how allegations of fraud formed their practices and clients. those debates not just display significantly different understandings of what the “real” alchemy was once and who may well perform it; additionally they attach a collection of little-known practitioners to the biggest questions on trade, belief, and highbrow authority in early sleek Europe.

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Extra info for Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire

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42 A number of spurious stories began to circulate soon after Paracelsus’s death, spreading the belief that he had actually possessed the philosophers’ stone, and—following the venerable alchemical tradition of pseudonymous texts—books on transmutation appeared in his name or were attributed to him. 43 Even Paracelsians were guilty of propagating such pseudonymous texts. 44 What historians have since, with hindsight, identified as Paracelsus’s clear rejection of transmutational alchemy was far from clear to his followers in the fi rst century after his death.

These efforts to use alchemy to address problems of mining and territorial fi nance suggest a more prominent place for alchemy in European economic history, not just as a metaphor, but also as a practice. This notion is certainly easy to dismiss. While we might be able to appreciate alchemy as an abstract philosophy, it is much more difficult for twenty-fi rst-century observers to imagine it as a practical technology. 23 In addressing these questions of social mobility and economy, this book links the alchemical study of nature to questions central to early modern European historiography as a whole.

After that, read Roger Bacon [ca. 1215–after 1292] and Bernhard [of Treviso, fl. ” Although Sömmering promised that Thomas Aquinas (ca. 12 Although Sömmering’s list is perhaps an idiosyncratic slice of the alchemical corpus available to sixteenth-century readers, it nonetheless highlights the importance of a medieval Latin alchemical textual tradition that extended back to the late twelfth century. 13 Among alchemists this was particularly true because of a firm belief that ancient sages (die alten Weisen) had successfully created the philosophers’ stone and that their wisdom had been preserved in the alchemical corpus.

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