Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $37.69
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 16%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (8) from $37.69   
  • New (5) from $37.69   
  • Used (3) from $46.74   

Overview

What distinguished the true alchemist from the fraud? This question animated the lives and labors of the common men—and occasionally women—who made a living as alchemists in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Holy Roman Empire. As purveyors of practical techniques, inventions, and cures, these entrepreneurs were prized by princely patrons, who relied upon alchemists to bolster their political fortunes. At the same time, satirists, artists, and other commentators used the figure of the alchemist as a symbol for Europe’s social and economic ills.

Drawing on criminal trial records, contracts, laboratory inventories, satires, and vernacular alchemical treatises, Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire situates the everyday alchemists, largely invisible to modern scholars until now, at the center of the development of early modern science and commerce. Reconstructing the workaday world of entrepreneurial alchemists, Tara Nummedal shows how allegations of fraud shaped their practices and prospects. These debates not only reveal enormously diverse understandings of what the “real” alchemy was and who could practice it; they also connect a set of little-known practitioners to the largest questions about commerce, trust, and intellectual authority in early modern Europe.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Chemical Heritage
"Alchemy and Authority does for the history of alchemy what the literature on quacks has done for the history of medicine: it approaches the blurry boundaries that define an individual's success or downfall in a profession and in society. By asking, reconsidering, and answering the questions posed here, Nummedal speaks to historians of alchemy and science as well as to anyone intrigued by history and the mechanisms of economic systems, power, and authority. . . . . Her style is refreshingly concise and engaging. She is one of only a few academic authors who manage to confine and cionsistently pursue their argument . . . and yet manage to write beautiful, effortless prose."-Anke Timmerman, Chemical Heritage

— Anke Timmerman

Bulletin of the History of Medicine
"This is a terrific study, accessible, based in concrete archival research, and well connected to contemporary discussions. It gives new direction to thinking about the role of alchemy in the social and cultural life of early modern Europe. By diffracting the light usually focused on prominent alchemical figures in the history of science and medicine, Nummedal adds a much needed cultural dimension to the understanding of how alchemical identities were shaped in early modern Europe and to how they in turn influenced the social and intellectual world around them."-Bruce T. Moran, Bulletin of the History of Medicine

— Bruce T. Moran

Renaissance Quarterly
"Nummedal's Alchemy and Authority should be read not just by historians of science but also by historians interested in court culture. Her work offers a new look at the dynamic relationship between the construction of natural knowledge and political authority that many historians will benefit from reading."-Darin Hayton, Renaissance Quarterly

— Darin Hayton

German History
"Alchemy and Authority makes a significant contribution to the history of early modern science, and also provides some valuable material for the study of early modern state-building and court culture. . . . This extremely readable and enjoyable book has much to offer historians and literary scholars of a variety of backgrounds."

— Paul Brand

Chemical Heritage - Anke Timmerman

"Alchemy and Authority does for the history of alchemy what the literature on quacks has done for the history of medicine: it approaches the blurry boundaries that define an individual’s success or downfall in a profession and in society. By asking, reconsidering, and answering the questions posed here, Nummedal speaks to historians of alchemy and science as well as to anyone intrigued by history and the mechanisms of economic systems, power, and authority. . . . . Her style is refreshingly concise and engaging. She is one of only a few academic authors who manage to confine and cionsistently pursue their argument . . . and yet manage to write beautiful, effortless prose."

Bulletin of the History of Medicine - Bruce T. Moran

"This is a terrific study, accessible, based in concrete archival research, and well connected to contemporary discussions. It gives new direction to thinking about the role of alchemy in the social and cultural life of early modern Europe. By diffracting the light usually focused on prominent alchemical figures in the history of science and medicine, Nummedal adds a much needed cultural dimension to the understanding of how alchemical identities were shaped in early modern Europe and to how they in turn influenced the social and intellectual world around them."

Renaissance Quarterly - Darin Hayton

"Nummedal’s Alchemy and Authority should be read not just by historians of science but also by historians interested in court culture. Her work offers a new look at the dynamic relationship between the construction of natural knowledge and political authority that many historians will benefit from reading."

German History - Paul Brand

"Alchemy and Authority makes a significant contribution to the history of early modern science, and also provides some valuable material for the study of early modern state-building and court culture. . . . This extremely readable and enjoyable book has much to offer historians and literary scholars of a variety of backgrounds."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226608563
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 825,328
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Tara Nummedal is assistant professor of history at Brown University

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Contents

List of Figures  
Acknowledgments  
Note on Early Modern Weights and Measures  
Abbreviations  
 
Introduction  1
1. Assembling Expertise  
2. The Alchemist’s Personae  
3. Entrepreneurial Alchemy  
4. Contracting the Philosophers’ Stone  
5. Laboratories, Space, and Secrecy  
6. Betrüger on Trial  
Conclusion: The Problem of Authority  
 
Notes  
Selected Bibliography  
Index  

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)