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Additional info for Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire
30 Sömmering’s reading list demonstrates how print culture both preserved and invigorated this ancient and medieval alchemical tradition. As the sixteenth century neared its end, however, consumers of alchemical literature increasingly supplemented these older texts with more modern authorities. Thus, for example, when in 1578 the Bohemian nobleman and alchemist Bavor Rodovsky´ mladsˇí z Hustirˇan (1526–ca. 33 Rodovsky´’s desire to translate Paracelsus into Czech is an indication of the Swiss reformer’s importance as an alchemical authority in the decades after his death in 1541.
Complicating matters further, alchemy also fell between the two institutions that traditionally oversaw the transfer of knowledge and expertise in early modern Europe: guilds and universities. Towns did not organize alchemists into guilds as they did members of other professions, such as surgeons, butchers, or tailors, suggesting that alchemy was not quite a craft trade. If interested and hopeful adepts could not sign up for guild apprentisceships, neither could they enroll at a university to access alchemical secrets.
Paracelsus himself, in fact, was the best-known advocate of gathering wisdom from a variety of sources. ” 64 This model of education— from folk as well as learned sources—was profoundly influential for later practitioners of both medicine and alchemy. The alchemist Christoff von Hirschenberg probably had Paracelsus’s travels in mind when he appealed to the Bohemian magnate Vilém Rozˇmberk for patronage in 1583. ” 65 32 chapter one Princes themselves were unlikely to travel the Holy Roman Empire in search of bits of alchemical wisdom, but they could collect experienced alchemists who had.