Article ID: CBB585369113

'Learn to Restrain Your Mouth': Alchemical Rumours and their Historiographical Afterlives (2020)


From around 1700 onwards, a number of sensationalist claims regarding adepts of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries began to appear in alchemical literature. They eventually made their way into standard works of historiography and continue to be repeated as factual. Yet the source for these rumours, a poem attributed to Martinus de Delle, supposedly a chamberlain of Emperor Rudolf II, has largely escaped scrutiny. The only surviving manuscript version currently known is here edited and translated in full for the first time. In the introductory essay, we call into question the existence of De Delle. Through scrutiny of the portrayals of alchemists within the poem, we propose that the author may have been an assayer in Prague. We then draw attention to the roles and effects of rumours within both the history and historiography of alchemy and argue for the importance of taking alchemical gossip seriously.

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Authors & Contributors
Kahn, Didier
Fabiana Lopes da Silveira
Gabrovsky, Alexander N.
Green, Elspeth
Anderson, Penelope
Laetitia Rimpau
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
Palgrave Macmillan
Universitätsverlag Winter
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Colorado at Boulder
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick
Walker & Company
Science and literature
Poetry and poetics
Literary analysis
Science and culture
Alighieri, Dante
Mayer, Bernadette
Richards, Ivor Armstrong
Coolidge, Clark
Wordsworth, William
Thomson, James
Time Periods
Early modern
19th century
18th century
United States
Great Britain
Académie Royale des Sciences (France)

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