Popper, Nicholas (2009) Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire. Social History of Medicine, 22 (2). pp. 396-398. ISSN 0951-631X http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20110511-081931265
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One can hardly envy the temptations confronting an alchemist in the early modern Holy Roman Empire. As Tara Nummedal shows in her fascinating Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire, practitioners of the art hoped to use their knowledge to generate precious minerals and gain spectacular wealth. Chasing such ambitions carried considerable risk. The proclaimed ability to elicit valuable metals from baser materials rendered the alchemist suspect in the eyes of his (or her) contemporaries. But the danger was not, as Nummedal reveals, a public perception that only diabolic intervention could transform valueless dross into gold and silver. Rather, the princes who patronized alchemists gambled their own resources and credit on the projects, and the practitioner's failure to meet expectations could precipitate earthly punishments hardly less gruesome than that which met Dr Faustus.
|Additional Information:||© 2009 Oxford University Press. First published online: May 28, 2009.|
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|Deposited By:||Tony Diaz|
|Deposited On:||22 Jun 2011 23:13|
|Last Modified:||22 Jun 2011 23:13|
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