Monthly Archives: July 2013

Two Calls for Papers: ‘Scientiae’ 2014 and ‘Revisiting Early Modern Prophecies’

There’s always the danger that blogs turn into some kind of navel-gazing, solipstistic monologue. To avoid that, I’d like to draw attention to two conferences in 2014 that I’m already excited about—in yet another soliloquy. Continue reading

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An ABC of Shady Figures on the Medical Marketplace: ‘A’ for ‘Alchemist’ and ‘C’ for ‘Chymist’

This charlatan is depicted as impressing the audience with his snake-handling.

This Italian mountebank is depicted as impressing the audience with his snake-handling.

As part of a description of the Medical Polity (1638) of his day, Ludwig von Hörnigk (1600–67) included a lengthy chapter on all sorts of shady figures that competed with university-educated physicians. Though the alphebetical ordering of the German is lost in translation, these included: ‘old hags, cut-purses, crystal gazers, village priests, hermits, bankrupters, jugglers, piss prophets, Jews, calf physicians, vagabonds, market criers, messengers, furnace enthusiasts, pseudo-Paracelsians, quacks, rat poisoners, speakers of blessings, conjurors of the devil, fiends, forest gnomes, gypsies, etc.’ (Hörnigk, Politia medica, title page.) Sounds random?

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Johann Philipp Maul and the Healing Waters of Schwelm

Brunnenhäusschen_Schwelm

Built in 1790, this neat ‘Brunnenhaus’ still marks the spot where the healing waters once flowed in Schwelm. In Maul’s own day, there was only a simple wooden construction.

At the truly exciting conference that was ESSWE4 (University of Gothenburg, June 26-29), I presented a paper on the virtually forgotten Johann Philipp Maul (1662-1727). This Reformed Pietist, physician and pharmacist found his life’s calling at the newly discovered healing spring near Schwelm (Germany). And in the course of three publications ranging between 32 and some 1300 pages, he then pleaded the case for Protestant unification. This noble goal was to be achieved through kabbalistic chymistry which, according to him, was ‘entirely different from today’s experimental or mechanical chymistry’ (Maul, Medicina theologica, 16). Interestingly, Maul’s vision of Protestant unity flowed directly from the Schwelm spring—pardon the pun. Continue reading