Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire - download pdf or read online

By Tara Nummedal

ISBN-10: 0226608565

ISBN-13: 9780226608563

What distinctive the genuine alchemist from the fraud? this question lively the lives and labors of the typical men—and sometimes women—who made a residing as alchemists within the 16th- and seventeenth-century Holy Roman Empire. As purveyors of useful thoughts, innovations, and therapies, those marketers have been prized by means of princely buyers, who relied upon alchemists to reinforce their political fortunes. whilst, 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 documents, contracts, laboratory inventories, satires, and vernacular alchemical treatises, Alchemy and Authority within the Holy Roman Empire situates the standard alchemists, principally invisible to trendy students earlier, on the heart of the improvement of early sleek technological know-how and trade. Reconstructing the workaday global of entrepreneurial alchemists, Tara Nummedal exhibits how allegations of fraud formed their practices and clients. those debates not just display vastly varied understandings of what the “real” alchemy was once and who may 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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Each of these varieties of alchemy had legitimacy in early modern central Europe in terms of the prestige and support associated with elite patronage; therefore, I have tried to avoid the claim that one sort of alchemy (the scholarly variety, for instance) was more genuine than others. Nevertheless, practitioners themselves often perceived contradictions among the various strains in the alchemical tradition and criticized their colleagues for privileging the wrong aspect of the alchemical arts.

Although practitioners began to take sides on this issue as the sixteenth century came to a close, the battle to determine what alchemy would be was still far from won. 24 Still, we can distinguish several different emphases within early modern alchemy, as long as we recognize that these categories were by no introduction 15 means fi xed or exclusive; a single alchemist might pursue all of them, or only one, all the while claiming to be an alchemist. , their education or intentions). Instead, Müller-Jahncke and Paulus stress the diversity within the alchemical tradition itself, a legacy of alchemy’s many historical uses and the differences among its innumerable authorities.

18 Alongside this Latin scholastic debate about alchemy’s legitimacy, vernacular late medieval alchemical literature flourished as well. As Michela Pereira has noted, the very fact that the alchemical tradition “implied linguistic transfers from the beginning”—that is, that so many alchemical texts had already been translated from Greek into Arabic and then into Latin—made alchemists especially “likely candidates to use the vernacular in writing”; the notion of presenting alchemical ideas in a variety of languages, in other words, was deeply familiar.

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Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire by Tara Nummedal

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