By Tara Nummedal
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Extra info for Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire
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.
Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire by Tara Nummedal