By Tara Nummedal

What exclusive the genuine alchemist from the fraud? this question lively the lives and labors of the typical men—and sometimes women—who made a dwelling as alchemists within the 16th- and seventeenth-century Holy Roman Empire. As purveyors of sensible concepts, innovations, and remedies, those marketers have been prized by means of princely buyers, who relied upon alchemists to strengthen their political fortunes. while, satirists, artists, and different commentators used the determine of the alchemist as an emblem for Europe’s social and monetary ills.

Drawing on legal trial documents, contracts, laboratory inventories, satires, and vernacular alchemical treatises, Alchemy and Authority within the Holy Roman Empire situates the typical alchemists, mostly invisible to fashionable students beforehand, on the heart of the advance of early smooth technology and trade. Reconstructing the workaday international of entrepreneurial alchemists, Tara Nummedal exhibits how allegations of fraud formed their practices and clients. those debates not just exhibit tremendously diversified understandings of what the “real” alchemy was once and who may possibly perform it; additionally they attach a suite of little-known practitioners to the biggest questions about trade, belief, and highbrow authority in early smooth Europe.

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