Medicina in the Alchemical Writings Attributed to Raimond Lull (14th–17th Centuries)

  • Michela Pereira
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 140)


In fifteenth century Florence an illiterate goldsmith called Lorenzo da Bisticci suddenly catapulted to fame as a physician. In the words of John of Arezzo, “Bistichius quidam florentinus faber argentarius atque homo litterarum ignarus repente summus in tota urbe evasit medicus.”1 As other manuscripts indicate, Lorenzo had applied his craft knowledge to the use of medicinal waters, obtaining a wonderful medicine which was compared to Christ the Saviour himself. Such was the primacy he attained among contemporary physicians that he was considered a king amongst them.


Sixteenth Century Fifteenth Century Unique Body Potable Gold Secretum Maximum 
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  1. 19.
    R. Lulli, Testamentum, MS Oxford, Corpus Christi College (hereafter CCC) 244, f. 46ra: “Alchimia est una pars celata philosophie, magis necessaria, de qua constituitur una ars que non apparet omnibus, que docet mutare omnes lapides preciosos et ipsos reducere ad verum temperamentum et omne corpus humanum ponere in multum nobilem sanitatem et transmutare omnia corpora metallica in verum solem et in veram lunam per unum corpus medicinale universale ad quod omnes particulars medicine reducuntur”. Cf. the “vulgata” text edited in J.J. Manget, Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa (Geneva, 1702), vol. I, p. 763.Google Scholar
  2. 20.
    Concerning the pharmacological use of the aqua ardens see Palmer (cit. above n. 11) and bibliography cited by him, p. 115; F. Sherwood Taylor, “The Idea of the Quintessence” in Science, Medicine and History, Charles Singer Presentation Volume, ed. E.A. Underwood (Oxford, 1953), pp. 247-65; R. Halleux, “Les ouvrages alchimiques” (cit. above n. 5), pp. 246-50; C.A. Wilson, “Philosophers, Iósis and Water of Life”, Proceedings of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society (Literary and Historical Section), 19 (1984), pp. 86–93.Google Scholar
  3. 23.
    Albert the Great, De mineralibus, esp. Book III; cf. R.P. Multhauf, The Origins of Chemistry (London, 1966), p. 184; and C. Crisciani, “La “Quaestio de alchimia” fra‘200 e‘300”, Medioevo. Rivista di storia della filosofia medievale 2 (1976), p. 132.Google Scholar
  4. Albert was aware of the proper medical meaning of the elixir, but was not concerned with it in his works (cf. De mineralibus, I,1). For the metaphoric use of the term “medicine” in Hellenistic protochemical texts see J. Needham, “Il concetto di elisir e la medicina su base chimica in Oriente e in Occidente”, Acta Medicae Historiae Patavinae, 19 (1972–73), pp. 15–16.Google Scholar
  5. 29.
    Scholarly views concerning the alchemical corpus attributed to Arnald may be grouped into two opposite trends: a) that of accepting a few works, including the Rosarius, as authentic (P. Diepgen, “Studien zu Arnald von Villanova: III. Arnald und die Alchemie”, Archiv für Geschichte der Medizin 3 (1910), pp. 369–96.Google Scholar
  6. cf. L. Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science 8 vols. (New York, 1923-58) III, pp. 52–84.Google Scholar
  7. J. Garcfa Font, Historia de la alquimia en España (Madrid, 1976), pp. 103-22.Google Scholar
  8. R. Halleux, Les Textes alchimiques (Turnhout, 1979) pp. 105-106.Google Scholar
  9. b).
    that of denying that Arnald wrote anything alchemical: J. A. Paniagua, “Notas en torno a los escritos de alquimia atribuidos a Arnau de Vilanova”, Archivo Iberoamericano de historia de la medicina 11 (1959), pp. 404–19.Google Scholar
  10. J.J. Payen, “Flos Florum et Semita Semite, Deux traités d’ alchimie attribués ä Arnaud de Villeneuve”, Revue d’ histoire des sciences 12 (1959), pp. 289–300. Whether or not one accepts Arnald as author of the Rosarius, the origin of this text dates back to a fourteenthcentury tradition: see M. Berthelot, “Sur quelques écrits alchimiques, en langue provençale, se rattachant ä 1’ école de Raymond Lulle”, in La Chimie au Moyen Age (Paris, 1983; reprinted Amsterdam, 1967), p. 354; and Payen.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 39.
    The Baconian authorship of this treatise is denied convincingly by A. Paravicini Bagliani, ”Ruggero Bacone autore del‘De retardatione accidentium senectutis’?” Studi Medievali, Serie Terza, 28 (1987) pp. 707–28.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

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  • Michela Pereira

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