1 Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) Antemurale Alchimiae: Patrons, Readers, and Practitioners of Alchemy in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Rafał T. Prinke Eugeniusz Piasecki University * Abstract Our understanding of the role and development of alchemy in Poland and Lithuania is still in need of further research. However, it is already possible to present a number of interesting cases, starting with medieval scholars and passing through humanist intellectuals to early modern nobles and burghers. Although Michael Sendivogius was certainly the only Polish alchemist of pan-european stature, there were many others either lured by the dream of the Philosophers Stone or motivated by their thirst for knowledge. In some cases that interest seems to be related to the revolution in science (ultimately stemming from Copernicus), while in some others to religious reformation (including Polish Brethren or Socinians). A brief survey of those individuals and circles is presented, along with some initial conclusions about the alternative channels through which alchemy penetrated the Eastern frontiers of Europe (the Armenian connection). Keywords alchemy, historiography, patronage, Poland, Armenia, Copernicus, Rheticus, Łaski, Torosowicz Introduction The eminent historian of philosophy Richard Popkin once advised Susanna Åkerman not to worry about discovering seemingly unrelated * R.T. Prinke, Zakład Informatyki, Wydział Turystyki i Rekreacji, Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego im. Eugeniusza Piaseckiego, ul. Królowej Jadwigi 27/39, Poznań, Poland I wish to extend my thanks to Dóra Bobory and Jennifer Rampling for their indefatigable editorial engagement, and to the anonymous referee (whose prodigious knowledge makes concealing his identity difficult) for indicating important omissions. Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2012 DOI: / A4
2 524 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) people and ideas because everything connects in the end. 1 Åkerman s pioneering studies showed that alchemical traditions thrived in the Northern fringes of Europe, while two recent books by other authors extended the research area of alchemy to the Western and Eastern limits of the Latin world. 2 The latter is defined by the fact that there was no interest in alchemy in Russia until the freemasonic presses of Nikolai Novikov and Ivan Lopukhin produced translations of its classics in the late eighteenth century. 3 Western or Westernized individuals, such as Arthur Dee or Feofan Prokopovich ( ), Archbishop of Novgorod, did not find any followers. 4 One reason for this lack of interest may have been the religious mindset of the Orthodox Church, with its predominantly Platonizing mystical worldview, as opposed to the Roman Catholic analytical attitude after the Western Church embraced the Aristotelian tradition as the dominant intellectual background. It can be argued that the theoretical frame of Western medieval alchemy as (re)constructed on the basis of Arabic texts in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was fundamentally Aristotelian, with elements of Platonic, Neoplatonic and Stoic ideas absorbed during the Renaissance. 5 Another reason is the fact that people from the areas dominated 1) Susanna Åkerman, Conferring with Dick Popkin, in James E. Force and David S. Katz, eds., Everything Connects: In Conference with Richard H. Popkin. Essays in his Honor (Leiden, 1999), 1. 2) Dóra Bobory, The Sword and the Crucible: Count Boldizsár Batthyány and Natural Philosophy in Sixteenth-Century Hungary (Newcastle upon Tyne, 2009); Walter W. Woodward, Prospero s America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, (Chapel Hill, NC, 2010). 3) N.A. Figurovsky, The Alchemist and Physician Arthur Dee, Ambix, 13 (1965), 35-51, at 36-37; W.F. Ryan, Alchemy, Magic, Poisons and the Virtues of Stones in the Old Russian Secretum Secretorum, Ambix, 37 (1990), 46-54, at 47; Carlos Gilly and Marina Afanasyeva, 500 Years of Gnosis in Europe (Amsterdam, 1993); Raffaella Faggionato, A Rosicrucian Utopia in Eighteenth-Century Russia: The Masonic Circle of N.I. Novikov (Dordrecht, 2005). 4) John H. Appleby, Arthur Dee and Johannes Banfi Hunyades, Ambix, 24 (1977), ; Lyndy Abraham, Arthur Dee, : A Life, Cauda Pavonis 13 (1994), 1-14; eadem, A Biography of the English Alchemist Arthur Dee, in Stanton J. Linden, ed., Mystical Metal of Gold (New York, 2007), ; Robert Collis, Alchemical Interest at the Petrine Court, Esoterica, 7 (2005), ) On the Aristotelian foundations of medieval alchemy, see the various publications of William R. Newman; on Stoic influences, see Bernard Joly, Présence des concepts
3 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) by the Orthodox Church did not go to Western universities, where Poles and Hungarians were frequent students. Similarly, journeymen visited Western masters of their crafts, while magnates went on Grand Tours. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the borderline between Western and Eastern Christianity ran right through the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, then encircling Hungary and Croatia: in consequence, the three countries were in various circumstances called antemurale christianitatis, or the bulwark of Christianity. Interestingly, the earliest known use of the phrase appears in a letter written in 1444 by the Italian humanist Francesco Filelfo ( ) to Władysław III (or Ulászló I), King of Poland and Hungary ( ), wishing him victory in his war against the Turks (a week later the young king was killed at the battle of Varna). 6 The concept of antemurale played an important part in national mythologies of those countries, so it is not inappropriate to call the area antemurale alchimiae. 7 Marchlands are areas where activities typical of the wider region occur less frequently, while contacts with the sphere beyond make foreign influences conspicuous. In such regions one may expect to find fewer alchemists, but also more influence from epigones of Islamic or Greek alchemy on the other side of the frontier. The following is a brief overview of the history of alchemy in Poland, excluding its best known representatives, Alexander von Suchten (1520? 1575) and Michael de la physique stoïcienne dans les textes alchimiques du XVII e siècle, in Jean-Claude Margolin and Sylvain Matton, eds., Alchimie et philosophie à la Renaissance (Paris, 1993), ; idem, Physique stoïcienne et philosophie chimique au XVII e siècle, in Pierre-François Moreau, ed., Le stoïcisme au XVI e et au XVII e siècle (Paris, 1999), ) This was the same king to whom the crystalomantic manual or prayer book (now in the Bodleian Library) is attributed, thus providing one example of how everything connects. It was most recently discussed by Benedek Láng, Angels Around the Crystal: The Prayer Book of King Wladislas and the Treasure Hunts of Henry the Bohemian, Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism, 5 (2005), 1-32; idem, Unlocked Books. Manuscripts of Learned Magic in the Medieval Libraries of Central Europe (University Park, PA, 2008), ) Paul W. Knoll, Poland as Antemurale Christianitatis in the Late Middle Ages, Catholic Historical Review, 60 (1974),
4 526 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) Sendivogius ( ), and an attempt to trace its links to areas farther East. Polish historiography of alchemy is quite meagre. Only two scholars, active in the 1960s and 1970s, undertook extensive research in the domain: Włodzimierz Hubicki ( ) and Roman Bugaj ( ). The former was a professor of inorganic chemistry, whose historical articles (including entries in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography) were later collected and edited by his son (also a professor of chemistry) and disciples. 8 Roman Bugaj s outstanding literary output included a still fundamental monograph on Michael Sendivogius. 9 Their attitude was sympathetic but basically positivist, so should be reconsidered in the light of the new historiography of alchemy. Misty Beginnings Włodzimierz Hubicki called Nicholas of Poland the first Polish alchemist. 10 Nicholas was a Dominican who spent twenty years in Montpellier (c ) and afterwards was a court physician of Duke Leszek the Black (c ). 11 Nicholas left three medical treatises, one of them written in verse, but nothing on alchemy. 12 8) Włodzimierz Hubicki, Z dziejów chemii i alchemii, ed. Wanda Brzyska, Michalina Dąbkowska and Zbigniew Hubicki (Warshaw, 1992). 9) Roman Bugaj, Michał Sędziwój ( ). Życie i pisma (Wrocław et al., 1968); idem, trans. and ed., Michał Sędziwój, Traktat o kamieniu filozoficznym (Warsaw, 1971); idem, Nauki tajemne w Polsce w dobie Odrodzenia (Wrocław et al., 1976; 2 nd ed as Nauki tajemne w dawnej Polsce. Mistrz Twardowski); idem, Hermetyzm (Wrocław et al., 1991); idem, Palingeneza. Rozprawa o homunkulusach i nieśmiertelności (Bydgoszcz, 2010). 10) Włodzimierz Hubicki, Alchemy and Chemistry in the XIV th and XV th Centuries in Poland, in XIII th International Congress of the History of Science (Moscow, 1971), 17-18; repr. in Hubicki, Z dziejów, ) Franciszek Giedroyć, Źródła biograficzno-bibliograficzne do dziejów medycyny w dawnej Polsce (Warsaw, 1911), 493; Bogdan Suchodolski et al., eds., Historia nauki polskiej, vol. 1 (Wrocław 1970), 103; William Eamon and Gundolf Keil, Plebs amat empirica: Nicholas of Poland and His Critique of the Medieval Medical Establishment, Sudhoffs Archiv, 71 (1987), ; William Eamon, Science and the Secrets of Nature (Princeton, NJ, 1994), ) Brata Mikołaja z Polski pisma lekarskie, ed. Ryszard Ganszyniec (Poznań, 1920).
5 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) The University in Cracow, founded in 1364, would seem to be an obvious place for alchemical ideas to find fertile soil. Among the manuscripts owned by its professors, however, only two include some alchemical content, and four short recipes. 13 A short treatise written in 1489 by Adam of Bochyń (d. 1514), professor of medicine, when he was only a baccalarius, consists mostly of quotations from a number of standard alchemical authorities in the florilegia tradition. 14 Probably of a similar nature were the Epistolae alchemicae attributed to Kasper of Skarbimierz, which are now lost. 15 Nevertheless, Hubicki argued that alchemy was taught at Cracow, explaining the lack of manuscripts as the outcome of high demand, resulting in frequent thefts. 16 While this is possible, it is certainly hard to prove. Better documented as centres of alchemical practices were medieval monasteries, where fires often started and were blamed on alchym - ists. 17 For example, on 27 April 1462 a great fire in Cracow, which destroyed more than half of the city, was caused by Dominican friars who worked with alchemy in the Holy Trinity Monastery. 18 Such practices were allowed but with proper precautions. A fifteenth-century rule of Bernardins (reformed Franciscans) stated that if any friars wished 13) Grażyna Rosińska, Scientific Writings and Astronomical Tables in Cracow: A Census of Manuscript Sources (XIV th XV th centuries) (Wrocław, 1984), nos. 24 and 613; recipes in nos. 828, 1039, 1584, 1840; Láng, Unlocked Books, ) Kraków, Biblioteka Jagiellońska, rkps 5645, fols. 254 v 256 r ( Anno salutis 1489 die sexta Februarii ad vota cuiusdam Amici Johannes Adam de Bochin ex tempore scripsit ); Włodzimierz Hubicki, Fuitne olim Alchimia in Academia Cracoviensi lecta?, Kwartalnik Historii Nauki i Techniki [hereafter KHNiT], 9 (1964), ; repr. in Hubicki, Z dziejów, , at ; Henryk Barycz, Adam z Bochynia, in Polski słownik biograficzny (Kraków, 1935 ) [hereafter PSB] 1: ) Jan Grabowski, Chemia w Polsce do 1773 r., Chemik Polski 5 (1905), ) Hubicki, Fuinte olim Alchimia, ) Wilfrid Theisen, The Attraction of Alchemy for Monks and Friars in the 13 th and 14 th Centuries, The American Benedictine Review, 46 (1995), ) Cracoviensis civitas alteram calamitatem perferens, igne immense arsit, qui ex interioribus monasterii Predicatorum Sancte Trinitatis, alchimie opera certis fratribus laborantibus, Joannis Dlugossii Annales seu cronicae incliti Regni Poloniae. Liber duodecimos , ed. Jerzy Wyrozumski et al. (Kraków, 2005), 30-31; Krakowa więtsza połowica [zgorzała], ku południu y zachodowi słońca; wyszedł był ten ogień od S. Troyce z klasztora, zapalił Alchimista ieden, Kronika polska Marcina Bielskiego. Nowo przez Ioachima Bielskiego syna iego wydana (Kraków, 1597), 424.
6 528 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) to devote themselves to distillation and the art of fire, they should do so far from the church and refectory. 19 There is, however, only one known court case involving the charge of practising alchemy, which started at the ecclesiastic court in Poznań in 1491 and lasted for 15 years. The attorney accused baccalarius Caspar, altarist at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, of dangerous practices in his house located close to the church and the city walls. Caspar confessed that he had indeed prepared the fifth essence water or potable gold, using fire and no other art but, to be sure, alchemy. 20 The final verdict was an nounced only in 1506, when Caspar was forbidden to practise alchemy in that house, and specifically from producing alchemical waters to separate gold from silver (certainly the nitric acid or aqua fortis, maybe also aqua regia). 21 The terminology used by the court records indicates that Caspar must have been acquainted with alchemical treatises, and strongly suggests that he attempted to achieve metallic transmutations. In Search of the Golden Fleece One of the most fascinating accounts of a medieval errant alchemist s travels in search of the Philosophers Stone is the notebook of Leonard of Maurperg (possibly Mailberg in Lower Austria). 22 He visited Poznań, 19) Franciszek Ksawery Kurowski, O chemii w Polsce, in Popis publiczny uczniów konwiktu warszawskiego księży pijarów (Warsaw, 1826), 2. 20) Caspar baccalarius, altarista et Mathias Walkyerowey... et ibidem Casper per se confessus est se aquam quinte essencie seu aurum potabile combussisse et non aliam artem, ut puto, alchymyam. Acta capitulorum nec non iudiciorum ecclesiasticorum selecta. Vol. 2: Acta iudiciorum ecclesiasticorum dioecesum Gneznensis et Poznaniensis , ed. Bolesław Ulanowski (Kraków, 1902), ) Caspar baccalarius, altarista ad s. Mariam Magdalenam in Poznania, ex officio citatus artem alchimie practicare neque aliquas aquas ad eandem artem pertinentes et presentim, prout confessus est, que separat aurum ab argentum, facere nec in domo, in qua nunc ihabitat Ibidem, ) Paris, Bibliotheque nationale, manuscrit latin 14005, fols (the account of the journey to the East is on fols. 122 v 123 v ); James Corbett, L alchimiste Léonard de Maurperg (XIV e siècle). Sa collection de recettes et ses voyages, Bibliothèque de l école des chartes, 97 (1936), (with full text of fols. 122 v 123 v ); idem, Catalogue des manuscripts alchimiques latins, vol. 1 ([Bruxelles], 1939), no. 52,
7 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) but his only success there was in learning a way to multiply silver from a Tuscan astronomer named Liphard. In 1394, he undertook another journey to Poland, together with Bartholomew, a presbyter of Prague. This time they went to Cracow, hoping to meet a magister Demetrius, but they learned that he had left for Livonia. This place name is certainly a mistake as the text clearly refers to a city, not the northern province of Livonia on the Baltic coast. They found Demetrius in the Armenian quarter (vicus Armenorum), but on the next day he took them to the Christian quarter (vicus Christianorum) with the church of Beate Virginis, where he left them while he bought food for dinner at the marketplace. The Polish medievalist Helena Polaczkówna ( ) suggested this may have been Łuck (Lutsk in Volhynia, Luceoria in Latin), which had a sizable Armenian section and an Orthodox church of the Aid of Virgin Mary. 23 However, both Hubicki and the eminent Ukrainian historian Iaroslav Isaievych ( ) proposed Lwów (Lviv), putting forward the same arguments, equally valid for that city. 24 It may be pointed out that the Church of Our Lady of the Snows in Lwów was a Catholic church, built before 1340 by German settlers, so it makes sense for magister Demetrius to have taken his Austrian guests there, rather than to the Orthodox church, where they would not be able to communicate. The identity of magister Demetrius was also a matter of controversy. Polaczkówna and Isaievych believed he was an Armenian, as he lived in the Armenian quarter and had a name popular among that national minority. Hubicki, however, argued that he may have been Dymitr of Goraj (Demetrius de Goraj, c ), Royal Treasurer and Grand Crown Marshal of Poland. It seems highly improbable that a man who actually ruled the vast kingdom would be referred to as magister, or go to the marketplace to buy fish and goats for dinner! Hubicki claimed 23) Helena Polaczkówna, O podróżnikach średniowiecznych z Polski i do Polski, Miesięcznik Heraldyczny, 16 (1937), no. 5, 65-72, at ) Hubicki, Alchemy and Chemistry, 18; Yaroslav D. Isaievych, K kharakteristike istochnikov po istorii armianskikh kolonii Ukrainy i Blizhnego Vostoka v kontse XIVnachale XVI vv., in Istoricheskie sviazi i druzhba ukrainskogo i armianskogo narodov, vol. 3 (Erevan, 1971),
8 530 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) that Dymitr resigned from his offices around 1373, which is not true. 25 He also stated that there exists a seventeenth-century copy, written in cipher, of a treatise authored by Dymitr, although he failed to provide further details. Dymitr s descendant, Marcjan of Goraj Gorajski, was in contact with Theodore de Mayerne and his master Hermes, Guillaume de Trougny, in Since some of their correspondence is written in code, the manuscript in question may well have been written by him. 26 Demetrius Armenian nationality is also suggested by the fact that he instructed his guests how to travel on to Kaffa (now Feodosiya) and thence to Persia, which was the standard route of Armenian merchants, known as via Tartarica. 27 He also gave them letters of recommendation to the masters of a Greek school there. The text says that from Kaffa they went to Tabriz via Jerusalem, which (though not impossible) is probably the result of a copyist s adaptation of the original spelling to his imperfect knowledge of the geography of that region. Passing through Tabriz, the capital of the state of Kara Koyunlu which had close links with Armenia and Persia, Leonard and his companions travelled on to the Greek school, which took them ten days. It may have been in Trebizond, the still flourishing successor to the Byzantine Empire situated at the end of the Silk Road, but one cannot be certain without further clues. The names of the three scholars whom Leonard met there certainly sound Greek: magister Florus, magister Alexander and magister Olympus. Leonard stayed there for eight days, but 25) Krzysztof Chłapowski et al., Urzędnicy centralni i nadworni Polski XIV-XVIII wieku. Spisy, Urzędnicy dawnej Rzeczypospolitej XII-XVIII wieku. Spisy, 10 (Kórnik, 1992), no. 397, 78; Kazimierz Myśliński, Dzieje kariery politycznej w średniowiecznej Polsce. Dymitr z Goraja (Lublin, 1981); Franciszek Sikora, Dymitr z Goraja pan na Szczebrzeszynie w służbie Władysława Jagiełły w latach , Studia Historyczne, 29 (1986), ) London, British Library, Sloane MSS 693 and 2083; Stanisław Kot, Anglopolonica. Angielskie źródła rękopiśmienne do dziejów stosunków kulturalnych Polski z Anglją, Nauka Polska. Jej potrzeby, organizacja i rozwój 20 (1935), 4-140, at 95-96; Hugh Trevor-Roper, Europe s Physician. The Various Life of Sir Theodore de Mayerne (New Haven and London, 2006), 254; personal communication from Didier Kahn. 27) For a good account of Armenian merchants of Lwów in English see: Eleonora Nadel-Golobič, Armenians and Jews in Medieval Lvov. Their role in Oriental trade , Cahiers du monde russe et soviétique, 20 (1979),
9 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) eventually the hosts informed him that the secret of transmutation could not be revealed. They gave him, however, enough gold and silver to return home. The relation of Leonard of Maurperg shows that in the fourteenth century some alchemists in the Holy Roman Empire were convinced that they could learn alchemical secrets from masters living in Poland, especially Poznań and Cracow. They also suspected that some Armenians living in Poland might know more, since they had direct links with the East through their trade contacts. As will be shown later, such contacts continued into the seventeenth century. The Polish Basilius Valentinus The city of Poznań, where alchemy was practiced by baccalarius Caspar and where Leonard of Maurperg sought recipes for transmutation, reappears in the legend of Vincentius Koffski (Koffskhy). His treatise Von der Ersten Tinctur Wurtzel was first published in 1608 in Thesaurinella Olympica, a collection edited by Benedictus Figulus, later reprinted separately in Gdańsk (Danzig) in 1681 and in the second edition of Thesaurinella in In 1786, a much-expanded edition was printed in Nuremberg as Fratris Vincentii Koffskhii Hermetische Schrifften. A short editorial introduction explains that the author was a Dominican friar born in Poznań, and that on 3 May 1488 he hid the manuscript in the wall of the monastery in Gdańsk. It was discovered by its prior, Paul, on 14 August 1588 and translated from the original Latin into German. The story is clearly false and the text must have been written much later, as the Paracelsian tria prima feature prominently and some phrases (including the title itself) are suspiciously similar to those of Basilius Valentinus, as is the whole topos of discovering the manuscript. 28 Nevertheless, numerous Polish historians accepted it at face value, quoting Koffski as the first Polish alchemical author or engaging in polem- 28) Roman Bugaj, Legenda o Wincentym Kowskim badaczu antymonu, Farmacja Polska 12 (1956), ; Włodzimierz Hubicki, O Wincentym Koffskim i jego traktacie, KHNiT 1 (1956), ; Joachim Telle, Kofski, Vinzenz, in Kurt Ruh et al., eds., Die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters. Verfasserlexikon, Bd. 5 (Berlin, 1985), col
10 532 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) ics about him. 29 The question of whether Vincentius Koffski ever existed was also fervently discussed, but has not been satisfactorily solved. 30 Records of the Dominican province of Poland indeed mention a Vincentius of Poznań several times in the years In 1577, a brother Paul of the monastery in Gdańsk is also named, who may have become its prior by Municipal court records of Poznań refer to a family named Kofftyr in 1451 and , a name close enough to suggest a spelling variant. 32 A manuscript version of Koffski s treatise, which predates its publication, was discovered by Hubicki in Vienna. 33 The first page was later also reproduced by Herwig Buntz and dated to the last third of the sixteenth century. 34 The title is slightly different, and the name of the author is spelt Vinzentz Raöfski ( Rajewski in modern Polish), while the year of the discovery of the manuscript is given as 1586, not Both Bugaj and Hubicki suggested that Benedictus Figulus was the author of the treatise, but without providing strong arguments, as pointed out by Joachim Telle. 35 Figulus was a collector and editor of alchemical treatises, rather than their author, and was active only from 29) W sprawie Koffskiego i jego traktatu, KHNiT: Roman Bugaj, 2 (1957), ; Włodzimierz Hubicki, 2 (1957), ; Roman Bugaj, 4 (1959), ; Włodzimierz Hubicki, ibidem, ) Wincenty Koffski, Korzeń Tynktury, trans. Irena Pawęska, ed. Rafał T. Prinke, Pismo Literacko-Artystyczne (1985/7 8), ; Rafał T. Prinke, Traktat o Pierwszej Materii Wincentego Koffskiego na tle europejskiej tradycji alchemicznej, ibidem (1985/7 8), ; Roman Bugaj, Jeszcze o Wincentym Koffskim i jego traktacie, ibidem (1986/1), ; Rafał T. Prinke, Sporu o brata Wincentego ciąg dalszy, ibidem (1986/6 7), ) Acta capitulorum provinciae Poloniae Ordinis Praedicatorum, vol. 1 (Roma, 1972); Jerzy Kłoczkowski, Dominikanie polscy nad Bałtykiem w XIV XVI stuleciu. Pastori et magistro (Lublin, 1966). 32) Akta radzieckie poznańskie , ed. Kazimierz Kaczmarczyk (Poznań, and 1948). 33) Tractatus de lapide philosophorum et medicina eorundem, Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Wien Cod (Rec. 1387), fols. 132 r 145 v ; Hubicki, W sprawie Koffskiego, ) Herwig Buntz, Die europäische Alchimie vom 13. bis zum 18. Jahrhundert, in Emil Ernst Ploss et al., Alchimia. Ideologie und Technologie (München, 1970), , at Telle, Kofski, col. 11, accepted the dating as end of 16 th c. 35) Telle, Kofski, col. 13.
11 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) about 1604, so if the Vienna manuscript is indeed pre-1599, he could not have written it. 36 Because of some similarity to the texts of Basilius Valentinus (which started to appear in 1599, almost certainly authored by their editor Johann Thölde), Koffski s treatise may well have been his earlier incarnation. 37 Disciples of Copernicus A person with a somewhat similar surname, Wilhelm Hierowski, appears in 1518 as a dedicatee of one part of Ars et theoria transmutationis metallicae by Giovanni Agostino Pantheo (Pantheus, fl ). 38 Nothing else is known about Hierowski, but he certainly must have been a friend or patron of Pantheo. The family name is quite rare, with the chronologically next instance being Bartłomiej Hierowski (Bartholomaeus Hierovius, c ), a town physician in Toruń (Thorn), educated in Wittenberg (where he received a doctorate in medicine in 1593), author of two books on healing wounds, and said to have practised alchemy. 39 Because he was born in Toruń and the cost of his education was covered by a City Council scholarship, the family must have lived in that town for more than one generation, thus making Wilhelm his possible grandfather or relative. Assuming Hierowski to be slightly older than Pantheo, he would have been a contemporary 36) Joachim Telle, Benedictus Figulus. Zu Leben und Werk eines deutschen Paracelsisten, Medizinhistorisches Journal 22 (1987), , at ) On Thölde and Basilius Valentinus see especially: Hans Gerhard Lenz, Johann Thölde. Ein Paracelsist und Chymicus und seine Beziehung zu Landgraf Moritz von Hessen-Kassel (Marburg, 1981); Claus Priesner, Johann Thoelde und die Schriften des Basilius Valentinus, in Christoph Meinel, ed., Die Alchemie in der europäischen Kultur- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Wolfenbütteler Forschungen, 32 (Wies baden, 1986), The most recent statement is Joachim Telle, Basilius Valentinus, in Killy Literaturlexikon (2 nd ed., Berlin, 2008), ) In the 1550 edition the dedication is on fol. 25: Gulielmo Hyeroski Polono viro nobiliss[imo] virtvtibvsq[ue] omnibvs praedito. Ioannes Avgvstinvs Panthevs Venetvs sacerdos felicitatem aeternam. I am indebted to Paul Ferguson for confirming that it is also in the first edition of Compare also the introduction to his translation of Pantheo s Voarchadumia, published by Adam McLean as Magnum Opus Hermetic Sourceworks No. 39 (Glasgow, 2010). 39) Stanisław Sokół, Hierowski Bartłomiej, in PSB, 9,
12 534 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) of Nicolas Copernicus, also born in Toruń, and hence raised in the same intellectual milieu. Copernicus himself was not interested in alchemy, although he studied medicine at Padua, was a practising physician, and wrote a treatise on the value of coins that included the first formulation of what later became known as Gresham s Law. 40 But because everything connects, it is worth noting that the great astronomer was a lifelong friend and collaborator of Alexander Sculteti (c c. 1564), maternal uncle of the Paracelsian alchemist Alexander von Suchten. What is more, when von Suchten struggled to obtain a canonry of Ermland in , Copernicus acted as his representative (procurator Suchtenii). 41 They were also related through the marriage of their respective cousin and niece (see Table 1). An equally important alchemical link to Copernicus is Georg Joachim Rheticus ( ), the first Copernican who announced the new model of the universe in his Narratio prima (1540) and was instrumental in publishing De revolutionibus (1543). 42 After being accused of having an unnatural relationship (sodomitica et Italica peccata) with one of his students, he had to leave Leipzig and stayed in Prague for a while, making the acquaintance of Thaddeas Hajek, known for his interest in alchemy. 43 But as his crime was punishable with death in the Empire, he settled in Cracow and stayed there for twenty years ( ), earning a living as a physician and becoming the nucleus of an intellectual circle studying Paracelsian and alchemical ideas (he claimed 40) Mikołaj Kopernik, Pisma pomniejsze, ed. Andrzej Wyczański (Warsaw, 2007). 41) Marian Biskup, Regesta Copernicana, Studia Copernicana 8 (Warsaw, 1973), 392, 489; Joachim Telle, Suchten, Alexander von, in New Dictionary of Scientific Biography (Detroit et al., 2008), vol. 6, ) Leszek Hajdukiewicz, Retyk Jerzy Joachim, in PSB, 31, ; Edward Rosen, Rheticus, George Joachim, in Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York, 1950), 11: ; Dennis Danielson, The First Copernican. Georg Joachim Rheticus and the Rise of the Copernican Revolution (New York, 2006). 43) A later letter to Hajek (1567), as well as one letter to Joachim Camerarius the Elder and two to the Younger, touching upon Rheticus interest in Paracelsian medicine, were published with translation and extensive commentary by Wilhelm Kühlmann and Joachim Telle, eds., Corpus Paracelsisticum. Dokumente frühneuzeitlicher Naturphilosophie in Deutschland. Vol. 1: Der Frühparacelsismus. Erster Teil (Tübingen, 2001), (nos. 2-5).
13 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) Table 1.
14 536 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) he had met Paracelsus in person in ). Chemistry became the main interest of Rheticus around 1563: he wrote De artis chimicae and translated Archidoxae and Liber vexationis of Paracelsus into Latin (although these translations are now lost, except for one page of the last named, which is preserved in Florence). 45 Archidoxae was published in Cracow in 1569 in the translation of Adam Schroeter (c c. 1572), preceded by his translation of De praeparationibus earlier that year, so it is not impossible that they collaborated. If so, Rheticus withdrew his name, probably as a result of his suspect morals and religious beliefs (he was nicknamed He-rheticus by contemporary Poles). 46 Schroeter s lengthy introduction to De praeparationibus, which contains a defence of Paracelsus, a definition of alchemy, and a lucid explanation of various chemical operations, ends with the promise to publish Archidoxae shortly, thanks to the generosity and persuasion of the illustrious and magnificent hero Olbracht Łaski, the only patron and promoter of the studies of secrets. 47 Olbracht Łaski (Albertus à Lasco, ) was one of the most powerful magnates in Poland, well known for bringing John Dee and Edward Kelley to Poland and Bohemia. 48 He was an adventurer with great political ambitions, even entertaining the idea of winning the Polish throne, as testified by the questions he asked Dee s 44) Kühlmann and Telle, Corpus, 94, express their doubt about the veracity of that claim, known only from a late 1569 letter to Camerarius the Younger. 45) Karl Heinz Burmeister, Dzieła Joachima Retyka z dziedziny chemii, KHNiT 18 (1973), For a summary discussion of Rheticus Paracelsian interests (in cluding alchemy), see Kühlmann and Telle, Corpus, ) Leszek Hajdukiewicz, Schroeter Adam, in PSB, 36, 3-4; Łukasz Górnicki, Dworzanin polski (Warsaw, 1886), ) [L]iberalitate et persuasione Illustris et Magnifici Herois Alberti a Lasko, vnici secretiorum studiorum patroni et promotoris, De praeparationibus P. Theophrasti Paracelsi (Cracoviae, 1569), D v ; Adam Schroeter, Przedmowa do O przygotowaniach Paracelsusa, in Lech Szczucki, ed., Filozofia i myśl społeczna XVI wieku (Warsaw, 1978), , at ) Aleksander Kraushar, Olbracht Łaski wojewoda sieradzki (Warsaw, 1882); Ryszard Zieliński and Roman Żelewski, Olbracht Łaski. Od Kieżmarku do Londynu (Warsaw, 1982); Roman Żelewski, Łaski, Olbracht, in PSB 18, ; György E. Szőnyi, John Dee s Occultism: Magical Exaltation Through Powerful Signs (Albany, NY, 2004),
15 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) spirits. 49 The eminent early eighteenth-century genealogist and historian Kasper Niesiecki ( ) recorded that Łaski had spent one million florins on alchemy, which may have been exaggerated but reflects near contemporary opinion (see Table 2). 50 Patrons and Practitioners Another powerful patron of alchemists was Łaski s younger cousin Mikołaj Wolski (c ). Brought up at the imperial court in Vienna, he spent about twenty years at the court of Rudolf II in Prague, and eventually became Grand Crown Marshall of Poland. His interest in alchemy was more pragmatic, as he invested much time and resources in developing metallurgical industry at his estates in Krzepice, where he also employed Michael Sendivogius in about 1609 and became his patron for the rest of his life. Wolski certainly patronized other alchemists, including the elusive Nicolas Barnaud (c ?), who in 1599 dedicated one section of Triga chemica to him (see Table 3). 51 Barnaud had strong Antitrinitarian leanings and even visited Faustus Socinus in Cracow, while Olbracht Łaski was closely related to the leading members of the Polish Brethren, including Socinus himself, some of whom were also interested in alchemy. 52 The most important was Hieronim Moskorzowski (c ), co-author of the Racovian catechism, son-in-law of Andrea Dudith ( ), and the last informal head of the Polish native church. He was accused of making counterfeit coins together with one Szymon Polan, a physician, and his interest in alchemical ideas was often mentioned by other Socinian 49) Joseph H. Peterson, ed., John Dee s Five Books of Mystery (Boston, MA and York Beach, ME, 2003), ) Kasper Niesiecki, Korona polska, vol. 3 (Lwów, 1740), ) Magnifico et per-illustri D. Nicolao Wolskio a Podhaisze, Regni Poloniae Ensifero, Commendatori Posnaniensi, Capitaneo Krepiscensi, Rappenstensi etc. Domino perpetuam observantiam colendo. Nicolas Barnaud, ed., Triga chemica (Leiden, 1599), C5 r D4 r. 52) Didier Kahn, Between Alchemy and Antitrinitarianism: Nicolas Barnaud (c ?), in Martin Mulsow and Jan Rohls, eds., Socinianism and Arminianism. Antitrinitarians, Calvinists and Cultural Exchange in Seventeenth-Century Europe (Leiden, 2005),
16 538 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) Table 2.
17 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) Table 3.
18 540 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) authors. 53 Although it may be a coincidence, it is worth mentioning that another important Socinian, Samuel Przypkowski (c ), was probably the author of the Dissertatio de pace et concordia ecclesia (1630), hiding behind the pseudonym of Irenaeus Philalethes; a name also used by the alchemical adept now believed to be the alter-ego of George Starkey (see Table 4). 54 The alchemical activities of Teodor Lacki (d. c. 1616), Field Scribe of Lithuania and a military leader of Muscovite descent, are known from an anonymous treatise (the earliest alchemical text in Polish), surviving in a mid-seventeenth-century copy by Girolamo Pinocci ( ). 55 The author describes twelve processes for preparing the Philosophers Stone that he had tried out. He worked on some of them with Lacki, who also cooperated with Italian adepts, most notably with Giacomo Boncompagni ( ), Duke of Sora and an illegitimate son of Pope Gregory XIII. 56 Lacki stayed in Italy for some years, and became famous for his physical strength after he caught an attacking ox by the horns and broke its neck, in Venice. 57 In 1584, he married Isabella Bonarelli della Rovere, a great-granddaughter of Francesco Gonzaga (c ), and settled down in Novellara. The family moved back to Lithuania around 1590, with two sons. 58 The dating of the alchemical activities described in the manuscript is important because Pinocci suspected that it was authored by Michael Sendivogius. The text was discovered and published practically simultaneously by 53) Tadeusz Pasierbiński, Hieronim z Moskorzowa Moskorzowski (Warsaw, 1931), ) William R. Newman, Gehennical Fire, 2 nd ed. (Chicago, 2003). Other authors also used the same irenistic pseudonym, for example Lewis Du Moulin ( ), Huguenot physician and Oxford professor, or Thomas Boston ( ), Scottish church leader. 55) Stanisław Herbst, Lacki Teodor, in PSB, 16, ) Umberto Coldagelli, Boncompagni Giacomo, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 11 (Rome, 1969), ) Niesiecki, Korona polska, 3: ) I am indebted for the details of his marriage and births of his children to Maria Gabriella Barilli, who is researching Lacki s father-in-law, Pietro Bonarelli; see her article: Pietro Bonarelli esule a Novellara ( ), Pesaro città e contà. Revista della Società pesarese di studi storici, 28 (2010),
19 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) Table 4.
20 542 R.T. Prinke / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) Bugaj (who accepted the attribution) and Hubicki (who rejected it, arguing that Sendivogius was too young at the time). 59 Alchemists were often mentioned in sixteenth-century Polish poetry, which usually makes fun of those lured by alchemy s promise. 60 A large number of alchemical books was also listed in post mortem inventories of burghers or catalogues of booksellers, such as Zacheus Kesner (d. 1602) of Poznań and Cracow, who had a whole section of Libri chymici et alchymici in his catalogue, 61 or Heinrich Oschansen from Leipzig, who brought books for sale to Cracow, including two sets of Theatrum chemicum, and died there in Fragments of alchemical texts were copied by landed gentry into their traditional Silva rerum, while burghers and petty officials compiled their own handbooks. 63 Alchemy in Spisz One of these manuscripts was left by Andrzej Smocki of Sieraków (near Poznań), a Cracow University graduate and magister of liberal arts, who ended his career as an organist in a small town of Nowa Wieś Spiska (Spišská Nová Ves/Igló/Zipser Neudorf) in the historical region of Spisz (Spiš/Szepes/Zips/Scepusium). 64 His handbook of 237 folios entitled 59) Roman Bugaj, Nieznany polski traktat alchemiczny Michała Sędziwoja, Przegląd Historyczny, 56 (1965), ; Włodzimierz Hubicki, Polski traktat alchemiczny z XVI wieku, Annales Universitatis Mariae Curie-Skłodowska. Sectio AA. Chemia, 18 (1965), For the English translation by Rafał T. Prinke see: edu.pl/~rafalp/www/herm/sendi/s_eng2.htm [accessed 1 October 2011]. 60) Słownik polszczyzny XVI wieku, vol. 1 (Warsaw, 1966), ) The distinction between these two terms is quite interesting in the context of recent claims that they were synonymous until the early eighteenth century. 62) Jan Lachs, Krakowskie księgozbiory lekarskie z XVI w., Archiwum do Dziejów Literatury i Oświaty w Polsce, 13 (1914), s ) Kraków, Biblioteka PAN/PAU, rkps. 2253, Księga pamiętnicza Jakuba Michałowskiego, tom 3, fols (fragments from Basilius Valentinus and Michael Sendivogius); Joanna Partyka, Rękopisy dworu szlacheckiego doby staropolskiej (Warsaw, 1995), 61; personal communication from Joanna Partyka. 64) Kežmarok, Archiv, Lyceálna knižnica, MS 47a MS-Kž, Alchymistický zbornik Ondreja Smoczkého; Wacław Urban, Niektóre polonica XVI i XVII w. w zbiorach czechosłowackich, Zeszyty Naukowe Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego. Prace Historyczne, 9 (1962), , at 187; Włodzimierz Hubicki, Alchimia Cracoviae A.D. 1569, in
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