Caterina Sforza’s Experiments with Alchemy

Lecture by Meredith K. Ray. Given at New York University’s Florence campus on February 3, 2015.

Caterina Sforza (1463-1509), regent of Imola and Forlì and progenitrix of the Medici Grand Ducal dynasty, had a keen interest in scientific experiment. She collected over four hundred alchemical, medicinal, and cosmetic recipes, and corresponded with other alchemical adepts about materials and laboratory techniques. Her example reflects a more general fascination with secrets that enthralled courts throughout early modern Europe, giving rise to a lively market for such information. It also offers an opportunity to explore some of the ways in which women—and men—engaged with scientific culture on the cusp of the Scientific Revolution in pursuit of health, beauty, wealth, and power. Not only is Caterina Sforza’s experimental activity emblematic of the wider panorama of women’s involvement in early modern scientific culture, but it also situates her at the origins of a Medici interest in alchemy and experiment that stretched well into the seventeenth century.

Meredith K. Ray is associate professor of Italian at the University of Delaware and the author of Daughters of Alchemy: Women and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy, forthcoming from Harvard University Press. Her first book, Writing Gender in Women’s Letter Collections of the Italian Renaissance (Toronto, 2009), was awarded an American Association of Italian Studies (AAIS) book prize. She has received grants and fellowships from organizations including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Renaissance Society of America, and the American Association of University Women.

Alchemy on the Cutting Edge: Theoretical Innovations and the Pursuit of Transmutation

Free lecture featuring Lawrence M. Principe, Drew Professor of the Humanities, Department of the History of Science and Technology, John Hopkins University.

It is widely believed that chemistry and alchemy parted company around the end of the 17th century. Chemistry became a modern science, alchemy withered away as a false pursuit. The historical reality is, however, very different. The separation of transmutational pursuits from “acceptable” chemistry was complex, having little to do with scientific developments. Recent archival discoveries show that prominent chemists continued to pursue transmutation until at least the 1760s. Even in the 19th century, new chemical ideas sparked more than one reconciliation between alchemy and chemistry. This lecture explores the resilience of transmutational aspirations and their adaptability to new chemical theories.

Un roman alchimique à Strasbourg. Les Noces Chymiques de Christian Rose-Croix 1616-2016.

Un roman alchimique à Strasbourg. Les Noces Chymiques de Christian Rose-Croix 1616-2016. Ein alchimistischer Roman in Straßburg. Die Chymische Hochzeit des Christian Rosencreutz 1616-2016.

Recherches germaniques. hors-série n° 13 / 2018.

Sous la direction de Jean-Pierre Brach et Aurélie Choné.

Leer más “Un roman alchimique à Strasbourg. Les Noces Chymiques de Christian Rose-Croix 1616-2016.”

Los Schloss y la Alquimia.

Hoy he estado en el Schloss Neuschwanstein, el castillo romántico por excelencia. El edificio en si y la historia de su construcción son fascinantes.

Ideado por Luis II de Baviera cuando era un niño. Se sitúa al lado del Schloss Hohenschwangau, donde pasó largas temporadas en su infancia, frente a una cascada natural.

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The Chymistry of Isaac Newton.

Red de páginas electrónicas financiadas por la Indiana University y el Imperial College London. Trata de integrar las nuevas investigaciones realizadas en medios académicos sobre las prácticas alquímicas de Newton con la edición electrónica de sus manuscritos de temática transmutatoria. También la comprensión de sus notas a través de la reproducción de los experimentos que describe en sus cuadernos. Leer más “The Chymistry of Isaac Newton.”

Newton project.

Interesante proyecto que busca catalogar y editar la obra completa de Isaac Newton, incluídos los textos alquímicos y teológicos que han salido a la luz en las últimas décadas. El importante volumen de esta producción literaria ha estimulado al Imperial College de Londres y la Universidad de Cambridge a iniciar en 1998 un estudio sistemático de estas obras. Leer más “Newton project.”