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Re: VMs: Evidence review
> [Jeff:] I have always taken it on trust that the VMS
was actually owned by
> Emperor Rudolph. As my current thinking is now based
on this I
> would like to review the actual evidence.
> [Jan:] So your "solid" evidence is actually only
> information, providing Dr. Raphael was told about it
> Rudolph :-).
> [Stolfi:] Besides the problem of it being third-hand
> information, one should
> note that Rudolph's hypothetical acquisition of the
> VMS is unlikely to
> have happened after 1611. I know of no evidence that
> Raphael had much
> contact with Rudolph:
> So Rudolf's involvement is based on story that Marci
> had heard at
> least 21 years earlier, from Raphael who had learned
> it some 35 years earlier...
I fully agree about the first 21 years. However,
given his role with the court, he might have had
access to accounts showing him that the VMs was
Either way, whether one should doubt such oral
tradition without any counter-evidence is
Quite practically, I think it is:
- completely sensible that such a document
appeared at Rudolf's court and that he
actually bought it
- not particularly relevant, since this ends
the backward trail, unless some other record is
On the role of Jacobus de Tepenec, his name is
on the first page, so even if he did not put it
there personally (a hypothesis that requires further
evidence IMHO), it could well have been written
by the subsequent owner (meaning: of/from JdT).
That puts the MS in Prague in 1622 with some
likelyhood. It is in Prague in 1637 anyway...
Again, nothing controversial about the fact
that Rudolf bought it.
(He may never have handled it, but that's another
> One argument against the story: according to all
> specialists, the VMS
> author is not Bacon. So if Raphael was right, Rudolf
> had been deceived.
> Could that happen when he had so many knowledgeable
> people at his court?
This is indeed one of the really mysterious parts
of the Marci letter. Why would they think it was
Bacon's? Was Bacon's reputation a left-over of the
presence of Kelly?
> Another argument: One would expect that a manuscript
> bought by an
> emperor for so much money would show some sign of
> it, e.g. a decent
> rebinding, a seal, whatever...
This was also suggested by Manfred Staudinger.
There are many possible explanations, so it is not
a very strong argument IMHO.
Note that the VMs does also not appear in the
catalogue of Rudolf's museum.
> Another argument: Baresch was in contact with Marci
> since 1622, so he
> should have known Raphael's story through Marci; yet
> Baresch's 1637
> letter does not mention Bacon nor Rudolf (nor
> Jacobus's "signature",
> BTW). It seems strange that he would omit such an
> important detail
> when trying to convince Kircher to study the
Maybe he thought it was more important to mention
that it supposedly contained oriental knowledge.
In fact, I am pretty convinced that this is the case.
He probably did not believe the Bacon story and
Marci's words seem to reflect his doubt about
this story as well. Perhaps this bit of
'information' from Raphael came after 1637...
> I give it 1% chance that the VMS was ever owned by
> Rudolf, 10% chance
> that it was owned by Jacobus, 1% chance that it ever
> was in England,
> 0% chance that it was ever seen by Dee or Kelley.
> But anyone is free to choose his/her own
To summarise, this entire episode doesn't worry
me too much: the sequence of events makes sense
and whether it's true or not doesn't change much
in finding out what the MS could or could not be.
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