Article ID: CBB001252606

Sir Kenelm Digby and His Alchemical Circle in 1650s Paris: Newly Discovered Manuscripts (2013)


A significant cache of hitherto unidentified manuscripts of Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665) has been discovered in the Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire de Strasbourg. These manuscripts comprise over 5000 pages of material. The documents relate almost entirely to metallic transmutation. About half of the material consists of alchemical treatises (most of them unpublished) by earlier authors --- many relate to the transmuter Noël Picard, known as Dubois, executed in 1637 --- and show Digby's careful comparison of variant readings in order to obtain the best text. The other half contains transcripts from the otherwise lost notebooks of Joseph Du Chesne, Samuel Cottereau Duclos (including several letters from Johann Rudolf Glauber), and others, as well as reports of experiments and processes carried out by a range of informants and by Digby himself. Significantly, these manuscripts bear witness to an important alchemical circle --- of which Digby was a part --- active in Paris during the 1650s and 1660s. The members of this circle traded manuscripts and information, and collaborated on a variety of alchemical projects; several members were also involved in other, better-known, scientific groupings of mid-century Paris.

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Authors & Contributors
Janacek, Bruce
Osler, Margaret J.
Popkin, Richard Henry
Watson, A. G.
Macray, W. D.
Hunt, R. W.
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Sudhoffs Archiv: Zeitschrift fuer Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Azogue: Revista Electrónica Dedicada al Estudio Histórico-Crítico de la Alquimia
HOST: Journal of History of Science and Technology
Medical History
Cambridge University Press
Bodleian Library
Pennsylvania State University Press
Science and religion
Primary literature (historical sources)
Digby, Kenelm
Newton, Isaac
Du Chesne, Joseph
Spinoza, Baruch
Boyle, Robert
Paracelsus, Theophrast von Hohenheim
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
18th century
Early modern
Madrid (Spain)
Paris (France)
Great Britain
Royal Society of London
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

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