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Antemurale Alchimiae: Patrons, Readers, and Practitioners of Alchemy in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

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image of Early Science and Medicine

Our understanding of the role and development of alchemy in Poland and Lithuania is still in need of further research. However, it is already possible to present a number of interesting cases, starting with medieval scholars and passing through humanist intellectuals to early modern nobles and burghers. Although Michael Sendivogius was certainly the only Polish alchemist of pan-European stature, there were many others either lured by the dream of the Philosophers’ Stone or motivated by their thirst for knowledge. In some cases that interest seems to be related to the revolution in science (ultimately stemming from Copernicus), while in some others—to religious reformation (including Polish Brethren or Socinians). A brief survey of those individuals and circles is presented, along with some initial conclusions about the alternative channels through which alchemy penetrated the Eastern frontiers of Europe (the Armenian connection).


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