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VMs: Alchemists and Rudolph II

Thank you for posting the paragraph, Rene.

After spending a good part of the week perousing a few works made by Ramon
Llul's alchemistic copycats (pseudollulians)... nothing exciting has emerged
yet, though... 

On another note, I'll take the liberty of pasting here a translation to part
of a French alchemy website, containing some rather interesting trivia bits
about Rudolph II and his fondness for esoterica:

Among the sovereigns who granted alchemists a particular local protection,
Rudolph II, who became a monarch to the German throne in 1576, undoubtedly
deserves special attention. Though born in Vienna, Rudolph had been raised
in Spain at the court of Philippe II, and it is there that he acquired a
taste for sciences considered occult. Once he became emperor, he established
his residence in Prague. During the first years of reign, he was devoted
entirely to the care of the government, granting only his leisure time to
his favorite studies, astrology and alchemy. However, the management of the
businesses became more difficult, and his embarrassments having increased in
consequence of the war which it had to support against the Turks, he found
it simpler to give up in entirely the direction of the State. Entrusting to
his ministers the government of the empire, he locked himself away in the
castle of Prague more to occupy himself until the end of his days with the
philosopher¹s stone. Rudolph had had as teachers, in astronomy, Tycho-Brahé
and Kepler; Doctor Dee had opened the secret world of the spirits to him,
and he had received the first lessons of alchemy from its ordinary doctors,
Thaddeüs de Hayec, and later Michael Mayer [ Maier ] and Martin Ruland [ to
whom we owe a Thesaurus ].

In the interior of the castle of Prague, all the personnel were spagyrical.
The manservants of the prince themselves were attached to his laboratory
work; the names of Hans Marquard, also called Dürbach, of Jean Frank and
Martin Rutzke are preserved. A still nobler employment was reserved for one
of the manservants of the prince, the Italian Murdochée de Delle. Poet of
the court, he was in charge of celebrating in German rhymes the exploits of
his fellow-members, and to represent in verse many alchemical writings; the
artists of the court illuminated his manuscripts. All the alchemists,
whatever were their nation and their row, were sure to be well accommodated
at the court of Emperor Rudolph. After having confirmed, by means of a
preliminary examination, that they had the required science, the physician
Thaddoeus brought them near the prince, who never failed to reward them with
dignity when they managed to make him the witness of an interesting
experiment. Often the emperor would even call the artists whose fame brought
them to his attention. If almost all answered this call, some remained deaf
to it; there was, for example, an artist franc-comtois to whom the emperor
had sent an entrusted man to lead him to Prague. The Franc-Comtois resisted
all the promises of the envoy, being limited to this answer full with
direction: " If I am an adept, I do not need the emperor; if I am not it,
the emperor does not need me " In this case, Rudolph II, not willing to give
up, engaged in correspondence with the recalcitrant artist. The alchemists
did not show themselves ungrateful towards their crowned protector. They
gave him the name of Hermès of Germany, and praised his merit everywhere.
Rudolph was, according to his writers, among the happy possessors of the
philosopher's stone. Legend has it that upon the death of the emperor, into
1612, it was found in his laboratory 84 quintals of gold and 60 quintals of
silver, run by small masses in the shape of bricks, and a certain quantity
of a gray powder(?).

Among the hermetic artists Rudolph honored the most, one may quote Kelley
who was then raised to the rank of marquis of Boheme and surrounded with
favours; Sendivogius the Polish, and Sebald Schweitzer, who, having worked
for a long time with Auguste de Saxe and then with Prince Christian, his
succesor, joins the court of Rudolph in 1591, who makes him a nobleman.

According to Figuier, the emperor suffered from paranoia; he went to mass in
a secret oratory in chains and he would only walk through halls where
windows had been walled except for a small opening. Often taken by madness,
he would attack his servants, as he did with a dagger to his chamberman Jiri
Wolfgang Rumpf on the night of September 26, 1600. Over the years, he
dismissed from Court the few remaining talented men and replaced them with
sentries, cooks and others whom he felt would not try to take power away
from him.

Also Michael Maier, born in Rendsburg (Holstem) in 1568 and appointed as
physician to the court by Rudolph in 1608, and also as his personal
secretary, made Count and member of his council.

Finally, Heinrich Kunrath was also familiar to Rudolph; we know little about
his life, except that he was born at Leipzig and obtained a medical diploma
at Bale in 1588, where he defended his thesis brilliantly on the subject De
Signatura Rerum. According to Elias Ashmole, quoting Dr Dee¹s Journal,
Kunrath was already a celebrity in 1598. He was at the court of Rudolph in
1598 and died in Dresden in 1605. ³

And, on a ³Commentary by John Eberly² on the same website:

³Cryptography fascinated Maier, and often anagrams and other sophisticated
word play enter into his works, weaving a secret subtext that requires a
certain intellectual dexterity of the reader. It has been mentioned above
that he employed classical mythology in his multi-dimensional alchemical
presentations, and in Atalanta, -and many of his other works- this synthetic
approach is distilled to perfection. Maier believed that classical tales
contain the formula of the alchemical art, disguised as argot, a language
the adept Fulcanelli would describe as "peculiar to all individuals who wish
to communicate their thoughts without being understood by outsiders...a
spoken cabala." 

Far away you remain, O you profane ones! (The inscription found on the
keystone of the arch in the emblem entitled "The Portal to the Ampitheatre
of Eternal Wisdom" by Heinrich Khunrath (1560-1605))"