Cookies Policy
X

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Full Access The Petersburg Crucible: Alchemy and the Russian Nobility in Catherine the Great’s Russia *

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

The Petersburg Crucible: Alchemy and the Russian Nobility in Catherine the Great’s Russia *

  • PDF
  • HTML
Add to Favorites

image of Journal of Religion in Europe

This article studies the cultural significance of alchemy among the Russian nobility in St. Petersburg during the reign of Catherine the Great. It is argued that Catherine the Great perceived alchemy as a Western practice promoted by foreign charlatans and by mystically-inclined Freemasons, which threatened to undermine the foundations of her vision of Russia being a beacon of reason and enlightenment. The first section of this paper concentrates on Petr Ivanovich Melissino and examines the manner in which this prominent Russian aristocrat incorporated alchemy as a core component of his seven-grade Masonic Rite. The high-grade system came to prominence in St. Petersburg in the mid 1760s and it is argued that it acted as a focus for Russian and European aristocrats. The second part of this article studies the impact on the Russian nobility of the visit of Cagliostro to St. Petersburg between 1779 and 1780. This section includes an in-depth examination of the empress’s personal response to Cagliostro’s visit, which included a series of remarkable letters to Grigorii Potemkin. The final part of this article studies the public response of Catherine to the attraction of alchemy among her nobility in the 1780s, via the medium of theatrical comedies.

Affiliations: 1: Leverhulme Research Fellow, The Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies, Jessop West Building, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield S3 7RA, UK r.collis@sheffield.ac.uk

10.1163/187489211X612613
/content/journals/10.1163/187489211x612613
dcterms_title,pub_keyword,dcterms_description,pub_author
6
3
Loading

This article studies the cultural significance of alchemy among the Russian nobility in St. Petersburg during the reign of Catherine the Great. It is argued that Catherine the Great perceived alchemy as a Western practice promoted by foreign charlatans and by mystically-inclined Freemasons, which threatened to undermine the foundations of her vision of Russia being a beacon of reason and enlightenment. The first section of this paper concentrates on Petr Ivanovich Melissino and examines the manner in which this prominent Russian aristocrat incorporated alchemy as a core component of his seven-grade Masonic Rite. The high-grade system came to prominence in St. Petersburg in the mid 1760s and it is argued that it acted as a focus for Russian and European aristocrats. The second part of this article studies the impact on the Russian nobility of the visit of Cagliostro to St. Petersburg between 1779 and 1780. This section includes an in-depth examination of the empress’s personal response to Cagliostro’s visit, which included a series of remarkable letters to Grigorii Potemkin. The final part of this article studies the public response of Catherine to the attraction of alchemy among her nobility in the 1780s, via the medium of theatrical comedies.

Loading

Full text loading...

/deliver/18748929/5/1/18748929_005_01_S03_text.html;jsessionid=2p1e741juq597.x-brill-live-03?itemId=/content/journals/10.1163/187489211x612613&mimeType=html&fmt=ahah
/content/journals/10.1163/187489211x612613
Loading

Data & Media loading...

1. Abraham Lyndy , A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
2. Adler Hermann , "“The Baal-Shem of London,”" Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England , Vol vol. 5( 1908): 148173.
3. Allgemeines Handbuch der Freimaurerei , Vol vol. 3( Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 1865).
4. Appleby J. H. , "“Arthur Dee and Johannes Bánfi Hunyades: Further Information on their Alchemical and Professional Activities”" Ambix , Vol 24: 2( 1977): 96109. http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/amb.1977.24.2.96
5. Baehr S. L. ,, "“Alchemy and Eighteenth-Century Russian Literature: An Introduction.”"In Reflections on Russia in the Eighteenth Century: 6 thInternational Conference of the Study Group on Eighteenth-Century Russia , edited by Klein Joachim , Dixon Simon , Fraanje Maarten , 151165( Cologne: Böhlau Verlag, 2001).
6. Barskov Ia. L. , ed., Perepiska moskovskikh masonov XVIII-go veka 1780– 1792 gg . ( Petrograd, Izdanie Otdeleniia russkago iazyka i slovesnosti Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk, 1915).
7. Barsukov Nikolai Platonov , ed., Dnevnik A. V. Khrapovitskogo ( St. Petersburg: A. F. Bazunov, 1874).
8. Bartlett Roger , "“Projects and Peasants: Russia’s Eighteenth Century,”" SSEES Occasional Paper No. 44 ( London: School of Slavonic and East European Studies, 2000).
9. ——, "“Utopians and Projectors in Eighteenth-Century Russia.”"In Russian Society and Culture and the Long Eighteenth Century: Essays in Honour of Anthony G. Cross , edited by Bartlett Roger , Hughes Lindsey , 98115( Münster: Lit Verlag, 2004).
10. Bayer Natalie , “‘Spreading the Light:’ European Freemasonry and Russia in the Eighteenth Century”(Ph.D diss., Rice University, 2007).
11. Beaurepaire Pierre-Yves ,, "“Marie-Daniel Bourrée de Corberon et Karl-Heinrich von Heyking: Deux Itinéraires Maçonniques entre Paris, Varsovie et Saint-Pétersbourg à la Tombée des Lumières.”"In La franc-maçonnerie et la culture russe , edited by Breuillard Jean , Ivanova Irina , 2552( Toulouse: Crims, 2007).
12. Berkov P. N. , ed., Russkaia komediia i komicheskaia opera XVIII veka ( Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1950).
13. Bernheim Alain , "“Johann August Starck: The Templar Legend and the Clerics,”" Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry . (accessed 26 March, 2011).
14. Blum Jean , J.-A. Starck et la querelle du crypto-catholicisme en Allemagne 1785– 1789 ( Paris: F. Alcan, 1912).
15. Bogdan Henrik , Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation ( Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007).
16. Bourré Marie-Daniel , Corberon Baron de ,, Un Diplomate Français a la cour de Catherine II 1775-1780: Journal Intime du Chevalier de Corberon . Edited by Lablande L.-H. , Vol 2 vols. ( Paris: Librairie Plon, 1901).
17. Breuillard Jean , Ivanova Irina , eds., La franc-maçonnerie et la culture russe ( Toulouse: Crims, 2007).
18. Casanova Giacomo , The Complete Memoirs of Casanova ( Salt Lake City: Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, 2004).
19. Catherine, the Great, "“Pis’ma Ekateriny Vtoroi k baronu Grimmu,”" Russkii arkhiv Vol 3( 1878): 5240.
20. Chrysomander, eine allegorische und satyrische Geschichte ( Berlin and Quedlinburg: Biesterfeld, 1774).
21. Collis Robert , "“Maxim the Greek, Astrology and the Great Conjunction of 1524,”" The Slavonic and East European Review Vol 88: 4(Oct. 2010): 601623.
22. Cross A. G. , "“Severnye brattia: nepublikovannaia perepiska I. P. Elagina s Velikoi lozhei Anglii (1772–1780),”"in XVIII vek: sbornik 25 ( St. Petersburg: Nauka, 2008): 272332.
23. Dawson Ruth P. ,, “ "Catherine the Great: Playwright of the Anti-Occult".” in Thalia’s Daughters: German Women Dramatists from the Eighteenth-Century to the Present , edited by Susan L. Cocalis , Rose Ferrel 17-34 ( Tubingen and Basel: A. Francke Verlag, 1996).
24. Derzhavin G. R. ,, Stikhotvoreniia . Edited by Blagoi D. D. , Zapadov V. A. ( Leningrad, 1957).
25. Dixon Simon , Catherine the Great ( London: Profile Books, 2010).
26. Dmitriev Iu. A. , ed., F. G. Volkov i russkii teatr ego vremeni ( Moscow: AN SSSR, 1953).
27. Dumschat Sabine , Ausländische Mediziner im Moskauer Russland ( Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2006).
28. Eidel’man N. Ia ., ed., "“Pis’ma Ekateriny II G. A. Potemkina,”" Voprosy istorii 7-10 and 12 (July–Oct and Dec 1989): 119–131, 111–124, 98–110, 103–116, 108–122.
29. Elagin I. P. , "“Zapiska o masonstve I. P. Elagina,”" Russkii arkhiv , Vol 1( 1864): 586604.
30. Faggionato Raffaella , A Rosicrucian Utopia in Eighteenth-Century Russia: The Masonic Circle of N. I. Novikov ( Dordrecht: Springer, 2005).
31. Faivre Antoine , "“Un Familier des Sociétés Ésotériques au Dix-Huitième Siècle: Bourrée de Corberon,”" Revue des Sciences Humaines , Vol vol. 126( April–June, 1967): 25987.
32. Ferguson John , Bibliotheca Chemica: A Catalogue of the Alchemical, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Books in the Collection of the Late James Young of Kelly and Durris , Vol vol. 1( Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons, 1906).
33. Figurovskii N. A. , "“The Alchemist and Physician Arthur Dee,”" Ambix , Vol 13( 1965): 3551. http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/amb.1965.13.1.35
34. Garrard J. G. , ed,, The Eighteenth Century in Russia ( Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1973).
35. Garrett Clarke , Respectable Folly: Millenarian and The French Revolution in France and England ( Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975).
36. Godwin Joscelyn , The Theosophical Enlightenment ( New York: State University of New York Press, 1994).
37. Golitsyn A. I. , Novye chudaki ili Prozhekter ( Moscow: Universitetskaia tipografiia, 1798).
38. Goodrick-Clarke Nicholas , The Western Esoteric Traditions ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
39. Gorbatov Irina , Catherine the Great and the French Philosophers of the Enlightenment: Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot and Grimm ( Palo Alto: Academica Press, 2006).
40. Heyking Karl Heinrich ,, Aus Polens und Kurlands Letzten Tagen: Memoiren Des Baron Karl Heinrich Heyking . Edited by Heyking Baron Alfons ( Berlin: Verlag von Johannes Räde, 1897).
41. Heywood Thomas , Hogs caracter of a Projector wherein is disciphered the manner and shape of that Vermine ( London, 1642).
42. Ivanoff Boris B. , "“Cagliostro in Eastern Europe (Kurland, Russia and Poland),”" Ars Quatuor Coronatorum Vol 40( 1928): 4590.
43. Jones W. Gareth, Nikolay Novikov: Enlightener of Russia ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).
44. Jonson Ben , The Devil is an Ass ( London, 1631).
45. Karnovich E. P. , Zamechatel’nyia i zagadochnyia lichnosti XVIII i XIX stoletii , 2nd ed.( St. Petersburg: A. S. Suvorin, 1893).
46. Khotinskii M. A. , Charodeistvo i tainstvennyiia iavleniia v noveishee vremia ( St. Petersburg: E. N. Akhmatov, 1866).
47. Kivelson Valerie ,, "“Political Sorcery in Sixteenth-Century Muscovy.”"In Cultural Identity in Muscovy 1359– 1584 , edited by Kleimola A. M. , Lenhoff G. D. 267283( Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Its-Garant, 1997).
48. Kolybel’ kamnia mudrykh, opisannaia neizvesnnym Sheva’le na Frantsyzkom iazyke, a na Nemetskii perevedena I. A. M. S ( Moscow: I. Lopukhin Typography, 1783.
49. Lathrope George H. , "“Count Cagliostro: An Excursion into Eighteenth Century Charlatanism,”" Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine Vol 13: 8( August 1937): 466488.
50. Lenning C. , ed., Encyclopädie der Freimaurerei , Vol vol. 2( Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 1824).
51. Levshin V. A. , Russkie skazki , Vol vol. 5( Moscow: Tipografiia Kompanii Tipograficheskoi 1788).
52. Longinov M. N. , Novikov i moskovskie martinisty ( Moscow: Tipografiia Gracheva, 1867).
53. Lopatin V. S. , ed., Ekaterina Vtoraia i G. A. Potemkin: lichnaia perepiska (1769–1791) ( Moscow: RAN, 1997).
54. Lotman Iurii , "“‘Sochustvennik’ A. N. Radishcheva: A. M. Kutuzov i ego pis’ma k I. P. Turgenevu.”"In O russkoi literature: Stat’i i issledovaniia 1958–1993 , 266283( St. Petersburg: Iskusstvo- SPB, 1997).
55. Madariaga Isabel de , Politics and Culture in Eighteenth-Century Russia . Collected ( London: Longman, 1998).
56. Marcard H. M. , ed., Zimmermanns Verhältnisse mit der Kayserin Catharina II ( Bremen: C. Seyffert, 1803).
57. Maroger Dominique , ed., The Memoirs of Catherine II ( New York: Macmillan, 1955).
58. Masson Claude François , Secret Memoirs of the Court of Petersburg , Vol vol. 2( London, 1802).
59. Maza Sarah , Private Lives and Public Affairs: The Causes Célèbres of Prerevolutionary France ( Berkeley & Los Angeles: The University of California Press, 1995).
60. Mel’gunov S. P. , Sidorov N. P eds., Masonstvo v ego proshlom i nastoiashchem , Vol 2 vols. ( Moscow: IKPA, 1991).
61. Memoires du Comte de Rantzow, ou Les Heures de Récréation à l’usage de la Noblesse de l’Europe ( Amsterdam: Pierre Mortier, 1741).
62. Miller David B. , "“The Lübeckers Bartholomäus Ghotan and Nicolaus Bülow in Novgorod and Moscow and the Problem of Early Western Influences on Russian Culture,”" Viator , Vol 79( 1978): 395412.
63. Montefiore Simon Sebag , Prince of Princes: The Life of Potemkin ( London: Phoenix Press, 2001).
64. Neugebauer-Wölk Monika , Rudolph Andre , eds., Aufklärung und Esoterik: Rezeption – Integration – Konfrontation ( Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 2008).
65. Novikov N. I. ,, Izbrannye sochineniia . Edited by Makgonenko G. P. ( Moscow-Leningrad: Goslitizdat, 1951).
66. O' Malley , Donnels Lurana , "“The Monarch and the Mystic: Catherine the Great’s Strategy of Audience Enlightenment in The Siberian Shaman,”" The Slavic and East European Journal Vol 41: 2( Summer 1997): 224242. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/309734
67. ——, ed., Two Comedies by Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia ( Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1998).
68. ——, The Dramatic Works of Catherine the Great: Theatre and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Russia ( Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006).
69. Önnerfors Andreas , Collis Robert Leverhulme Research Fellow, The Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies, Jessop West Building, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield S3 7RA, UK r.collis@sheffield.ac.uk , eds., Freemasonry and Fraternalism in Eighteenth-Century Russia ( Sheffield: Centre for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism, 2009).
70. Paracelsus, Paracelsus: Essential Readings . Edited by Goodrick-Clarke Nicholas ( Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1999).
71. Patai Raphael , The Jewish Alchemists: A History and Source Book ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).
72. Pekarskii P. P. , Dopolneniia k istorii masonstva v rossii XVIII stoletiia ( St. Petersburg, 1869).
73. Polovtsov A. A. , ed., Russkii biograficheskii slovar’ , Vol vol. 8( St. Petersburg: Tipografiia Glavnago Upravleniia Udelov, 1897).
74. Puckle James , The Club: or, a grey-cap for a green-head. Containing maxims, advice and cautions. Being a dialogue between a father and son ( London, 1733).
75. Pypin A. N. , ed., Sochineniia Imperatritsy Ekateriny II , Vol vol. 1( St. Petersburg, 1901).
76. ——, Russkoe masonstvo XVIII i pervaia chetvert XIX v . ( Petrograd: OGNI, 1916).
77. Rainov T. , Nauka v Rossii XI-XVII vekov ( Moscow-Leningrad: AN SSSR, 1940).
78. Recke Charlotta Elisabeth Konstantia von der , Nachricht von des berüchtigten Cagliostro Aufenthalte in Mittau im Jahre 1779, und von dessen dortigen magischen Operationen ( Berlin, 1787).
79. Richter Wilhelm Michael von , Geschichte der Medicin in Russland , Vol vol. 3( Moscow, 1817).
80. Roganova O. L. ,, "“Komedii Ekateriny Velikoi ‘Obmanshchik,’ ‘Obol’shchennyi,’ ‘Shaman Sibirskii’ v kontekste istorii russkogo masonstva.”"In Ekaterina Velikaia: epokha rossiiskoi istorii , edited by Artem’eva T. V. , Mikeshin M. I 157160( St. Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburgskii nauchnyi tsentr, 1996).
81. Ryan W. F. , "“Alchemy, Magic and Poisons and the Virtues of Stones in the Old Russian Secretum Secretorum,”" Ambix , Vol 37: 1( 1990): 4664. http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/amb.1990.37.1.46
82. ——, The Bathhouse at Midnight: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia ( Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1999).
83. Ryu In-Ho L. , "“Freemasonry under Catherine the Great: A Reinterpretation,”"(Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1967).
84. Rzheutskii Vladislav , "“V teni Shuvalova. Frantsuzskii kul’turnyi posrednik v Rossii Baron de Chudi,”" Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie , Vol vol. 105( 2010), 91124.
85. Scherer Jean Benoit , Anecdotes Intéressantes et Secrètes de la Cour de Russie , Vol vol. 1( London, 1792).
86. Schuchard Marsha Keith ,, "“Dr. Samuel Jacob Falk: A Sabbatian Adventurer in the Masonic Underground.”"In Millenarianism and Messianism in Early Modern European Culture: Jewish Messianism in the Early Modern World , edited by Goldish M. D. , Popkin R. H. 203226( Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2001).
87. Semeka A. , "“Russkie rozenkreitsery i sochineniia imperatritsy Ekateriny II protiv masonstva,”" Zhurnal ministerstva narodnogo prosveshcheniia , No. 2 ( 1902): 343400.
88. Serkov A. I. , Russkoe masonstvo. 1731–2000 gg. Entsiklopedicheskii slovar ( Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2001).
89. Shchebal’skii P. , "“Dramaticheskiia i nravoopisatel’nyia sochineniia Ekateriny II,”" Russkii vestnik , Vol 93( May–June 1871): 105168, 538–579.
90. Simonov R. A. , "“Russkie pridvornye ‘matematiki’ XVI-XVII vekov,”" Voprosy istorii Vol 1( 1986): 7683.
91. Smith Douglas , Working the Rough Stone: Freemasonry and Society in Eighteenth-Century Russia ( DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1999).
92. Smith Pamela H. , "“Alchemy as a Language of Mediation at the Habsburg Court,”" Isis , Vol 85: 1(Mar. 1994): 125.
93. ——, The Business of Alchemy: Science and Culture in the Holy Roman Empire ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).
94. Stroev A. F. , “Te, kto popravliaet fortunu: ” avantiuristy prosveshcheniia ( Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 1998).
95. Stuckrad Kocku von ,, review of Aufklärung und Esoterik: Rezeption – Integration – Konfrontation , by Neugebauer-Wölk Monika , Rudolph Andre , eds., Journal of Religion in Europe Vol 3( 2010): 380382.
96. Svodnyi katalog russkoi knigi grazhdanskoi pechati XVIII veka 1725– 1800 , Vol vols. 1–3( Moscow: Izdanie gosudarstvennoi biblioteki SSSR imeni V. I. Lenina, 1962–1966).
97. Swift Jonathan , Gulliver’s Travels . Vol Vol. 2( London: Jones & Company, 1826).
98. Telepneff Boris , "“Johann August Starck and his Rite of Spiritual Masonry,”" Ars Quatuor Coronatorum Vol 41( 1929): 238284.
99. Tikhonravov N. S. , ed., Letopisi russkoi literatury i drevnosti , Vol vol. 4, sect. 3, ( Moscow: Tipografiia Grachkva i komp., 1862).
100. "“Torzhestvuiushchaia Minerva,”" Moskvitianin (October 1850). Otdel nauki i khudozhestva: 109128.
101. Tröpflein aus dem Brunnen derWahrheit ausgegossen ( Frakfurt am Main, 1781).
102. Tschoudy T.-H de , L’étoile flamboyante ou la Société des Francs-Maçons considerée sous tous les aspects ( Frankfurt-Paris, 1766).
103. Vernadskii G. V. , Russkoe masonstvo v tsarstvovanie Ekaterinyi II ( Petrograd: Tip. Aktsionernogo O-va Tip. Dela v Petrograde, 1917).
104. Welsh David J. , "“‘Philosophers’ and ‘Alchemists’ in Some Eighteenth-Century Russian Comedies,”" The Slavic and East European Journal Vol 8: 2( Summer 1964): 149158. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/305291
105. Wöllner Johann Christoph , Die Signatstern, oder Die Enthüllten Sämmtlichen Sieben Grade der Mystischen Freimaurerei , Vol vol. 3( Berlin: Schöne, 1804).
106. Wortman Richard S. , Scenarios of Power: Myth and Ceremony in Russian Monarchy from Peter the Great to the Abdication of Nicholas II ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).
107. Zotov V. P. , "“Kaliostro: ego zhizn i prebyvanie v Rossii,”" Russkaia starina , Vol 12( 1875): 5083.
http://brill.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.1163/187489211x612613
Loading
Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1163/187489211x612613
2012-01-01
2016-10-01

Sign-in

Can't access your account?
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation