Prophecy, Alchemy, and the End of Time John of Rupescissa in the Late Middle Ages
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In the middle of the fourteenth century, the Franciscan friar John of Rupescissa sent a dramatic warning to his followers: the last days were coming; the apocalypse was near. Declared insane by the Christian church, Rupescissa had spent more than a decade confined in a papal prison, wrapped in chains and locked under a staircase in the hopes of a quick and quiet death. Nevertheless, ill treatment did not silence the friar's apocalyptic message.Religious figures who preached the end times were hardly rare in the late Middle Ages, but Rupescissa's teachings were unique. He claimed that knowledge of the natural world, and alchemy in particular, could act as a defense against the plagues and wars of the last days. His melding of apocalyptic prophecy and quasi-scientific inquiry inspired a new genre of alchemical writing and a novel cosmology of heaven and earth. Most important, the friar's research represented a remarkable convergence between science and religion.In order to understand scientific knowledge today, Leah DeVun asks that we consider Rupescissa's life and revisit the critical events of his age-the Black Death, the Hundred Years' War, the Avignon Papacy-through his eyes. Rupescissa's work used alchemy for medicinal purposes-the conceptual forerunner of the science of pharmacology-and best represents the new technologies and views that sought to combat famine, plague, religious persecution, and war. Rupescissa was a compelling personality, and he and his contemporaries pioneered developments that were critical to modern medicine, pharmacology, and chemistry.
List price: $95.00
Copyright year: 2009
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 3/3/2009
Size: 6.30" wide x 9.25" long x 0.90" tall
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