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
Butler, Judith
Largier, Niklaus
Francois, Anne-Lise
Marshall, Peter H.
Kahn, Didier
Timmermann, Anke
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
Science and Education
Walker & Company
University of California, Berkeley
MIT Press
CNRS Éditions
University of Chicago Press
Princeton University
Science and literature
Poetry and poetics
Literary analysis
Science and culture
Primary literature (historical sources)
Darwin, Erasmus
Alighieri, Dante
Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
Wordsworth, William
Shelley, Percy Bysshe
Time Periods
Early modern
18th century
19th century
Great Britain
United States
Prague (Czechia)
Académie Royale des Sciences (France)
Lichfield Botanical Society

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