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The perversion of nature: Johannes Baptista Van Helmont, the Society of Jesus, and the magnetic cure of wounds.


In 1621, the Flemish physician Johannes Baptista van Helmont (1579-1644) published a treatise on the magnetic cure of wounds, his De magnetica vulnerum curatione, that met with a widespread and negative reaction from academics throughout Europe. In the course of proceedings launched against him by ecclesiastical authorities in the Low Countries, Van Helmont claimed that his work had been published, without his permission, by the Jesuit priest Jean Roberti (1569-1651) after Van Helmont had sent a private copy of his work to Roberti's brother. It is this accusation of Jesuit interference made by Van Heimont on which I will focus here, as I attempt to place Van Helmont's work, and his subsequent accusation against the Jesuit order, within the context of the institutional and pedagogical goals of the Society of Jesus in the first decades of the seventeenth century. I will argue that the negative publicity garnered by Van Helmont's treatise provided a valuable opportunity for the Society in its ongoing struggle to assert and defend its place in early modern intellectual culture, an opportunity inspired in part by the overt incommensurability between Van Helmont's unique explanation for the magnetic cure of wounds and the more traditional, Scholastic natural philosophy promulgated by the Jesuit order. The Society's desire to publicly defend its firmly entrenched natural philosophical system from heterodox and potentially dangerous alternatives provides an explanatory model for both the wider Jesuit attacks against the phenomenon of the weapon salve, which was the contentious topic of Van Helmont's treatise, and Van Helmont's own accusation of Jesuit involvement in the illicit publication of his work.

A recent historiographical foray into the realm of the weapon salve has attempted to unravel the complex philosophical debate to which Van Helmont himself was explicitly responding with his 1621 De magnetica vulnerum curatione. This debate, between the Marburg physician Rudolph Goclenius the Younger (1572-1621) and the Jesuit Jean Roberti, has been characterized by Carlos Ziller Camenietzki as fundamentally theological in scope and origin: "The debate over the weapon salve revolved around two opposing notions of Divine Providence which guided the respective arguments." (2) Though a preoccupation with religious issues did lie at the core of Jesuit discussions about nature, I wish to argue instead that the weapon salve was part of a larger debate concerned with changing conceptions of nature and the varying intellectual and institutional responses to those changes. This debate was made explicit in the respective projects of Rudolph Goclenius and Johannes Baptista van Helmont, as well as in the public and acrimonious responses to those projects by individuals like Jean Roberti.


As a topic of natural philosophical discussion, the weapon salve enjoyed an extensive history that ranged from the last decades of the sixteenth century through to the eighteenth. (3) Called variously the "armary unguent," "magnetic unguent," "powder of sympathy," and "powder of vitriol," it was reputed to heal wounds without being applied directly to them. (4) Though virtually every account of the weapon salve differed with respect to its composition and mechanism of action, all agreed that it was able to effect a clean and painless cure over considerable distances, usually when brought into contact with traces of blood from the wounded individual. Thus, a bloody weapon used to inflict an injury could be smeared with the salve which would then effect a cure.

The phenomenon of healing over great distances not only captured the collective imagination of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries--demonstrated both by extensive natural philosophical debates concerning its efficacy and by its incorporation into aspects of popular culture--but also went on to intrigue the modern world as well; the weapon salve was sometimes linked to animal mesmerism in the nineteenth century, and played the role of an ingenious if disturbing tool in the determination of longitude as described in a recent novel by Umberto Eco. (5)

The exact origins of the weapon salve were almost entirely unclear from its first appearances in early modern culture, and largely remain so today. It was widely attributed by many of its contemporaries to the itinerant physician-mystic Paracelsus (1493-1541), and though some modern historians have found references to the salve in the writings of Paracelsus, others claim that this attribution is false and derived from pseudo-Paracelsian texts. (6) Nor was Paracelsus considered the only possibility; for example, Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665) claimed to have learned the secret of his "powder of vitriol," a substance identical in operation to the weapon salve, from a Carmelite friar who himself had been taught by a wandering Oriental mystic in the Far East. (7) Upon closer inspection, however, Digby's claims rapidly lose credibility; he went on to boast that he had single-handedly introduced this "wondrous medicament" to the Western world, a miraculous feat as descriptions of the curing of wounds over great distances had appeared decades before Digby himself.

In fact, one of the earliest references to the weapon salve (outside of the contested Paracelsian sources) appeared towards the end of the sixteenth century in the influential Magiae naturalis libri viginti of Giovanni Battista della Porta (1535-1615); the 1589 edition of the Magiae included a brief description of the salve and attributed its discovery to Paracelsus. (8) It was then published several times in successive Latin and vernacular editions, disseminating the idea of the weapon salve to a wide audience. (9)

Other influential and widespread publications soon began discussing the weapon salve as a topic of medical and natural philosophical interest. In 1608, Oswald Croll (1560-1609) published his Basilica chymica, a treatise devoted to a predominantly Paracelsian iatrochemistry. Croll devoted several pages to the preparation and application of the weapon salve, again attributing it to Paracelsus and couching much of his discussion in astrological language. (10) He also included an easy-to-follow recipe for preparation of the salve, recommending not only usnea--moss, lichen, or other growths--scraped from a human skull, and mumia--remnants, usually preserved, of human flesh and blood--but also bear or boar fat, dried boar brains, powdered maggots, and red sandalwood.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, then, we find discussions about the weapon salve disseminated across much of Europe. Its supposed links to Paracelsus, however, quickly provoked controversy and dissent. Andreas Libavius, in 1594, published his Tractatus duo physici in which he argued specifically and vociferously against the weapon salve; this in itself is hardly surprising, as Libavius was a vocal opponent of anything that smacked of Paracelsianism. (11) He claimed that the activity of the weapon salve was unnatural, and was therefore diabolically effected. (12) Note, however, that Libavius did not deny that the weapon salve worked its cures on distant wounds; this tacit belief in the efficacy of the salve would characterize the vast majority of discussions in which it was involved through the entirety of the seventeenth century. Even when the weapon salve was a focus for criticism, its opponents--with some exceptions--appeared willing to concede that the salve really did heal wounds over distances. Indeed, it is characteristic of these discussions that questions concerning whether the weapon salve actually operated as claimed were rarely asked; most focused solely on questions of how and why.

Libavius was neither the first nor the last to identify demonic or diabolical intervention as the primary cause behind the activity of the weapon salve; numerous detractors employed the Devil in attempts to dispute the nature of the salve's activity. (13) The popular and contentious reputation enjoyed by the weapon salve eventually reached its apex in 1662 with the publication in Nuremberg of the Theatrum sympatheticum. (14) Compiled and edited by Sylvester Rattray (fl. 1650-1666), the Theatrum was the most comprehensive collection of works devoted to the weapon salve ever produced. More than 700 pages in length, it provides an excellent demonstration of both the volume and complexity of thought produced on this subject. Rattray himself appended a work of his own devoted to theories of sympathy and antipathy to the beginning of his compilation, and his fascination with the topic is clear from the considerable effort and, presumably, expense required to procure and compile literally dozens of previously-published works into a single volume. Moreover, the weapon salve was still discussed in a variety of contexts after 1662. Dutch editions of the Theatrum continued to be published around the close of the seventeenth century, and the sympathetic powder was defended by medical students at Harvard University in the first decade of the eighteenth century. (15) Kenelm Digby's treatise on the weapon salve went through twenty-nine editions, and it was being published as late as 1749 in France, almost a century after its original publication there. (16)

The contentious and oft-debated reputation of the weapon salve was directly inspired by its unique place in the natural philosophy of the day. To a significant degree, early modern responses to the weapon salve, both positive and negative, revolved around the explication of occult activity in nature. In this context, "occult" refers to what is hidden or insensible--for example, the means by which the magnet attracts iron, or the reason why certain flowers turn to follow the sun's movement across the sky. Occult phenomena or qualities posed significant problems for the traditional Scholastic philosophy then prevalent in the West because the hidden causes of occult phenomena were labelled as inexplicable in standard Aristotelian thought. (17) Consequently, with the intellectual movement against Scholasticism initiated by some natural philosophers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, occult causes and phenomena assumed a role of greater importance. Where Scholastic thought had failed to provide an explanation for the hidden causes of things, the explicitly anti-Aristotelian reformers of this period found an opportunity to demonstrate simultaneously the inadequacies of the old philosophical framework and the superiority of the new. (18)

Because the means by which the weapon salve communicated its healing power to a wounded patient was hidden from the senses, it became a convenient and oft-discussed example of occult activity in nature, and thus represented simultaneously a challenge to traditionalists and a welcome opportunity for their detractors. The lack of direct contact between the salve and the actual wound appeared to violate the Aristotelian precept against action-at-a-distance, and thereby challenged a fundamental principle of Scholastic physics as it was then taught and understood. Consequently, many explanations for the activity of the weapon salve came into conflict with the Scholasticism that had been codified in the Jesuit order as part of its philosophical curriculum, and challenged the Society's attempts to establish both intellectual and institutional authority for itself in the seventeenth century.

The weapon salve's apparent incommensurability with Scholastic physics can be amply demonstrated by the brief but important exchange that took place in England between the controversial physician Robert Fludd (1574-1637) and an obscure country parson named William Foster (1591-1643). Fludd, who was known for his enthusiasm for all things mystical and who had embraced a decidedly eclectic natural and medical philosophy involving various elements of Paracelsianism, hermeticism, and Neoplatonism, was an ardent supporter of the weapon salve in the first decades of the seventeenth century. (19) In 1631, he was virulently attacked by William Foster, who published his Hoplocrisma-spongus, or, A sponge to wipe away the weapon-salve as a direct and scathing attack on not only the weapon salve, but also Fludd himself.

Foster's argument for the unnatural efficacy of the salve was predicated on a simple Scholastic argument: because the weapon salve operated without physical contact with the wound, it violated the long-standing Aristotelian prohibition against action-at-a-distance and, thus, nature itself:
 [The weapon salve] workes not naturally, because it workes
 after a different manner from all naturall agents. For 'tis a rule
 amongst both Divines and Philosophers that; Nullam agens
 agit in distans. Whatsoever workes naturally, workes either by
 corporall or virtuall contact. (20)

According to Aristotelian physics, motion or change can be imparted from an external agent only through direct physical contact. Most Aristotelians agreed that nothing could be moved except by something already in motion, a vital cornerstone in the construction of an Aristotelian universe. (21) Thus, the curative change wrought by the weapon salve should, in Scholastic natural philosophy, be possible only through direct contact between the salve and the wound. This was not, however, a philosophical rule to which most supporters of the weapon salve adhered, Robert Fludd and Johannes Baptista van Helmont foremost amongst them.

Foster went on to proclaim the only possible cause behind the activity of the salve: "The Divell is then implicitly invoked, when any man attempts to bring any thing to passe, by meanes which have neither naturall vertue, nor divine institution thereto." (22) Implicating the Devil as the source of unnatural phenomena has a long pedigree, but it took on increasingly complex dimensions in the seventeenth century with the appearance of the "new philosophies" and their concerted attacks on traditional Scholasticism. (23)

The response of Robert Fludd to Foster's attack was swift and decisive. In that same year, 1631, a treatise appeared with the evocative title, Dr. Fludd's Answer unto M. Foster or, The Squeesing of Parson Poster's Sponge. Within, Fludd promised that he would "maintaine Theologically the Cure of the Weapon-Salve, to be good and lawfull," and "demonstrateth the mystery of the weaponsalve's cure, by a Theophilosophical discourse, and sheweth how it is grafted or planted by God in the Treasury of Nature." (24) What followed was a convoluted discussion of the weapon salve, couched in Fludd's "theophilosophy" and thus drawing on both Scriptural and natural philosophical arguments. To Foster's defence of the Scholastic dictum, "Nullam agens agit in distans," Fludd replied:
 First, concerning that Axiome in Philosophy, I know and can
 prove it by experience to be false. For the tire heateth: the
 lightning out of the cloud blasteth ad distans ... the Loadstone
 doth operate upon Iron ad distans.... I affirme, and it is evident
 to every man's capacity, that this medicine doth cure ...
 by a Simpathetical property, which doth operate ... betweene
 the beginning and end magnetically and occultly or mystically. (25)

Fludd thus challenged traditional Scholastic thought, demonstrating the falsity of what he took to be an antiquated philosophical dictum. Drawing instead on Scripture, Fludd argued for a sympathetic power present in human blood that would draw like to like, even over vast distances; blood smeared on a sword would, once treated with the weapon salve, migrate to its original source, carrying the healing unguent with it, and effecting the cure.

William Foster's attack was not motivated by the mere possibility of diabolical intervention, but by its seeming necessity; if the salve appeared to operate contrary to nature as defined by Scholastic thought, it could only do so with the assistance of the Devil. (26) The encounter between Johannes Baptista van Helmont and Jean Roberti was motivated, at least in part, by the same incommensurable divide between an ostensibly natural phenomenon and the traditional definition of nature it violated.


Bore in 1579 and living most of his life in the Spanish Netherlands, Van Helmont was a product of the Flemish landed gentry, within which he also married in 1609. (27) He attended the university at Louvain, but was thoroughly dissatisfied with the state of learning there, both in philosophy and in medicine. As a point of interest, he studied for a brief time with Martin Del Rio (1551-1608), a Jesuit whose most famous work, the Disquisitionum magicarum libri sex, represents perhaps one of the greatest discussions of magic from this period. (28) Van Helmont was as dissatisfied with the Jesuit's teachings as with the education he received in medicine and philosophy, but this dissatisfaction did not prevent him from acquiring a medical degree in 1599. (29) He demonstrated a particular interest in the application of chemistry to the art of medicine, probably motivated by a desire to reform academic medicine as it was then taught in the universities; indeed, like many of his contemporaries, Van Helmont believed in the necessity for a complete reformation of learning as it was then understood and promulgated, a point that he emphasized strongly in his own preface to his great medical work, the Ortus medicinae. (30)

The publication, in 1621, of his De magnetica vulnerum curatione embroiled Van Helmont in a series of events that would follow him the rest of his life. His treatise contained several pointed rhetorical jabs at the Jesuit order and a theologically-unorthodox connection between the activity of the weapon salve and the healing powers ascribed to holy relics. These were minor points in his overall argument, however, and the reaction to Van Helmont's treatise during the fifteen years following its publication seems incommensurate with the impact we might expect from these sporadic and relatively minor details. Instead, I believe it was Van Helmont's philosophically unorthodox explanation for the weapon salve, as well as his explicit challenge to the intellectual authority of the Society of Jesus, that together roused the ire of Europe's academic community. Alongside several public condemnations from theologians and physicians alike, an investigation was launched by the Spanish Inquisition and Van Helmont was eventually imprisoned under house arrest until 1636. Official proceedings against him were not suspended until 1642, two years before his death, and his name was not officially rehabilitated until 1646, when his widow petitioned the local ecclesiastical authority. (31)

As mentioned earlier, Van Helmont's De magnetica was an explicit response to an ongoing debate that had started in 1608 with the publication of a work devoted to a form of medical astrology ascribed to Paracelsus. Written by Rudolph Goclenius the Younger, who was then a physician and professor at the university of Marburg, this particular work contained a brief description of the weapon salve, framing its activity in suitably Paracelsian, astrological language. (32) Marburg, at this time, was an important centre of both Paracelsian and Calvinist thought, and Goclenius was using the weapon salve to endorse an already popular system of natural philosophy. (33)

The following year, 1609, saw the publication of Jean Roberti's response, his Brevis anatome, a brief but highly effective refutation of Goclenius's tract. (34) Roberti was bore in 1569, and received his doctorate in theology from the university at Mainz before joining the Jesuit order in 1593. Over the course of his life, he taught at Douai, Trier, and Mainz, dying in Namur in 1651. (35) Roberti's last published work on the weapon salve appeared in 1621, as a response to Van Helmont; his remaining works were devoted to theological issues and were often framed as responses to Protestant tracts, Indeed, Roberti appears to have published very little that was not an explicit response to the work of others, particularly Protestants.

Over the following decade, Goclenius and Roberti continued to publish responses to one another, usually at intervals of one to two years and with an increasing degree of complexity and venom. (36) Their ongoing debate finally concluded in 1621, probably due as much to the fact that Goclenius died in that year as to the fact that Johannes Baptista van Helmont publicly entered the fray with his De magnetica vulnerum curatione. (37)

In the De magnetica, Van Helmont began by castigating Goclenius for his error in explicating the mechanism whereby the weapon salve effected its cure. Goclenius had argued for an astrologically-defined sympathy operating between the wounded individual and the salve, and Van Helmont was quick to advance his own explanation of a pervasive magnetic force that was responsible not only for the activity of the weapon salve, but for the entirety of occult phenomena as well.

Though initially couched as a natural philosophical response to the erroneous claims advanced by Goclenius, bowever, the real target of Van Helmont's treatise was Jean Roberti. His animosity towards the Jesuit priest is perhaps understandable, given Roberti's frequent and public refutations of the weapon salve, but some have also speculated that the local presence of Jesuits following the Spanish occupation of the Low Countries may have inspired Van Helmont's rhetorical jabs at a convenient personification of the Society. (38) For example, in discussing the important ingredient of usnea or moss scraped from a human skull, Van Helmont suggested that one head would be as good as another: "For if a Jesuit, being put to death by hanging or another kind of martyrdom, is left in a position to receive the influence and obedience of the stars, his head, like the skull of a thief, will yield a crop of moss, equivalent in use, equally ripe.... (39) In another passage, when addressing the question posed by adversaries of the weapon salve as to "why the world had to wait for Paracelsus" to develop so wondrous a medicament, Van Helmont slyly asked in return why the world had to wait for the arrival of Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, which was, after ail, "so helpful to the whole world." (40)

Quite aside from these petty digs at the Jesuits, however, Van Helmont's treatise made explicitly clear the respective intellectual domains appropriate to theologians and to natural philosophers. Atone point he claimed that "Nature ... did not call Theologians to be her interpreters, but desired only Physicians to be her sons ..." and Van Helmont followed by asserting that "the theologian should inquire about God, and the naturalist about Nature." (41) At a later point, Van Helmont simultaneously skewered Roberti and his Scholastic principles: "The Censor [in other words Roberti] ... presumes to understand, using his sharp intellect and the study of Aristotle's Physics, a survey of all of nature and of those things lying under the moon...." (42) In fact, throughout much of his treatise Van Helmont argued that theologians in general, and Jesuits in particular, had no business discussing natural philosophical points with those better qualified to do so, namely, physicians or naturalists. Roberti, he concluded, ascribed the activity of the weapon salve to the Devil because he was ignorant of natural causes, with the added implication that Roberti's ignorance originated from a slavish devotion to Scholasticism. Thus, Van Helmont was openly challenging the Jesuit prerogative to participate in natural philosophical debates while simultaneously denigrating the value of their Scholastic philosophy.

It bears mentioning at this point that the Jesuits did not, in fact, enjoy a simple or unchallenged right to engage in the natural philosophical culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which explains in turn why Van Helmont's challenge could have inspired a strong response from the Society in the form of Jean Roberti. At stake here was the issue of authority--who did possess the right to speak out on topics of philosophical importance? This is a question of growing interest amongst historians of early modern science, (43) and one that bas also been applied to the scientific activity of the Jesuits as well. For example, Martha Baldwin has noted how another member of the Society, Athanasius Kircher (1602-80), attempted to express and defend his authority in the course of a debate on sympathetic healing; for at least some of Kircher's contemporaries, the professed authority on which he predicated his philosophical claims was neither assured nor unproblematic. (44) Indeed, throughout much of the seventeenth century the credibility of Jesuit natural philosophers was subject to questioning, debate, and outright skepticism by those outside the Society, a fact that provides a crucial backdrop for Van Helmont's challenge to Jesuit participation in natural philosophical debates of the time. (45)

Van Helmont's jabs at the Jesuits were not, however, the only seemingly problematic material in his treatise on the weapon salve. He attributed an "elective power" or "sensible knowledge" to the magnet by which it somehow knew and chose to orient itself towards the north, an idea that was extremely difficult to reconcile with an orthodox Catholic theology. (46) More dramatically, he also compared the activity of the weapon salve to the curative powers ascribed to many relics of saints. The physical remains of individuals recognized as saints and martyrs by the Catholic Church were long venerated for their supposed ability to heal the ailments of those who visited their shrines. Van Helmont, however, explained that the means by which relics effected their cures were comparable in causation to the activity of the weapon salve, with only one important difference: because the curative activity of the relics was supernatural, there was no necessity for contact between the relic and the affiicted individual; the weapon salve, conversely, did require a form of contact, but between the salve and the blood left on the weapon, not between the salve and the wound. (47)

In framing his argument in these terms, Van Helmont was stepping perilously close to religious heterodoxy. Relics were understood to cure miraculously through the direct intervention of God rather than through natural means. Although Van Helmont's comparison between the activity of relics and that of the weapon salve constituted only a small part of the treatise, it undoubtedly provided a significant opportunity for his detractors, particularly given the religious atmosphere of the early seventeenth century; Protestants were publicly denying the efficacy of relics, and in some cases destroying them altogether.

In short, then, Van Helmont's work on the magnetic cure of wounds was marked by elements of theological heterodoxy and an overtly anti-Scholastic natural philosophy. It also directly challenged the prerogative of the Society of Jesus to participate in the natural philosophical culture of the time, a challenge that had already been made by others. Taken together, these points offer an explanation for the widespread and violent reaction from theologians and academic physicians in the years following its publication.

Another facet of this negative reaction, and one that I will mention only briefly here, may have been a growing anti-Paracelsian sentiment that first appeared in northern Europe in the 1620s and 1630s, a sentiment inspired by significant changes in religious and intellectual contexts. Jole Shackelford has suggested that a perceived connection between Paracelsianism and the controversial Rosicrucian calls for reform circulating in the first decades of the seventeenth century led many academics in Denmark to reject Paracelsian doctrines. Denmark had considerable influence in northern Europe at the time, suggesting that this anti-Paracelsian sentiment could easily have spread to the Low Countries around the time that Van Helmont was under attack. (48) It thus seems plausible that the popular attribution of the weapon salve to Paracelsus probably played some role in the subsequent reaction to Van Helmont's work.

The first published response to Van Helmont's treatise on the weapon salve was penned by Jean Roberti, and appeared almost immediately. (49) Though hardly unusual in itself, it presaged a much wider and more injurious response that extended over the next two decades. The medical faculty at Louvain, where Van Helmont had received his medical degree, denounced the work as a "monstrous pamphlet" in 1623, (50) and the following year saw a published denunciation in which twenty-four propositions from Van Helmont's treatise on the magnetic cure of wounds, as well as three propositions ascribed to Paracelsus, were condemned by individuals in both the theological and medical faculties of Louvain, the medical faculty at Douai (a town where Jean Roberti had taught for a time as professor of theology), and several academic physicians at both Cologne and Liege. (51) Many of Van Helmont's propositions were identified as heretical, particularly his comparison between the activity of healing relics and that of the weapon salve, and the treatise on the magnetic cure of wounds was soundly and unequivocally dismissed as dangerously unorthodox while Van Helmont himself was accused of "perverting nature" in the service of the diabolically-inspired Paracelsus. (52)

In 1627, Van Helmont was summoned before an ecclesiastical official of Mechelen and ordered to publicly recant his claims concerning the weapon salve, which he apparently agreed to do. (53) No explanation was provided for the six years between the original appearance of the De magnetica vulnerum curatione and this first official ecclesiastical response. Van Helmont's published responses to the condemnations issued in 1624, in which he addressed each of the twenty-four points while claiming to practice a pious and orthodox Catholicism, were met in 1630 by another set of condemnations issued by theological professors from Louvain. (54) These were followed, in 1634, by a reprinting of the original condemnations from 1624, now supported and signed by academics from the Low Countries, Spain, Germany, France, and Italy. (55) In a relatively short space of time, the name of Johannes Baptista van Helmont had become infamous across much of Europe.

What is significant about these proceedings, at least in the context of the present paper, is Van Helmont's claim that he had not published the De magnetica himself, and that the Jesuits through their agent, Jean Roberti had illicitly secured its imprimatur at Paris, having convinced a Church official there to sign off on the book's publication after it had failed to receive an imprimatur in the Low Countries. (56) According to Van Helmont's allegation, he had sent a manuscript copy of his treatise to Remacle Roberti (the brother of Jean) at his request, and shortly thereafter it had appeared in print. (57) Again, no explanation for why Van Helmont made this unusual move appears in his official allegation.

Corneille Broeckx, having transcribed the documents pertaining to the proceedings launched against Van Helmont and his treatise, appeared reluctant to support this claim of Jesuit involvement in the publication of the De magnetica. (58) Broeckx, who has a voluminous publication history focused around the history of Belgian medicine, framed his interpretation of Van Helmont's unfortunate encounters with the academic establishment of the time as vengeful and petty attacks waged by traditional Galenists against a heroic but doomed reformer of medicine. Indeed, Broeckx claimed the Jesuits had no reason to illicitly publish Van Helmont's work. (59)

I would argue, however, that Van Helmont's accusation is open to a different interpretation. His implication of the Jesuits in the publication of his treatise suggests that he believed the Society of Jesus had a vested interest in first publicizing, and then openly attacking his explanation for the activity of the weapon salve. But was Van Helmont's assumption justified? After devoting some twelve years to a consistent and public refutation of the weapon salve as described and defended by Rudolph Goclenius, it does seem plausible that Jean Roberti saw an opportunity to strike a critical blow at a popular and contentious phenomenon irreconcilable with standard views of nature as derived from Scholastic philosophy. Whether he actually published the treatise in order to more effectively and publicly attack its philosophical foundations, however, is a trickier question.

In defence of Van Helmont's accusation, consider the surrounding circumstances. As Van Helmont's first major publication, his treatise on the magnetic cure of wounds seems a particularly poor choice for a number of reasons, not least amongst them its theologically unorthodox elements. (60) Corneille Broeckx and Walter Pagel both have portrayed Van Helmont as a reformer of academic medicine, and both have similarly cast his work on the weapon salve as a daring attack on traditional medical teaching, but it seems unlikely that Van Helmont would willingly risk his academic respectability by attacking traditional medicine in such theologically heterodox terms while living and publishing in the Catholic Low Countries. Broeckx and Pagel both, I believe, have ascribed too heroic and altruistic a character to the subject of their studies.

Though I agree that Van Helmont's desire to reform medicine as it was taught in the universities probably motivated his unorthodox approach to healing as exemplified in this particular work, his public disgrace in the wake of the condemnations levelled against him could not fail to damage the manner in which his ideas, reformatory or otherwise, were received. For example, Broeckx published a letter from a seventeenth-century physician that nicely demonstrates the adverse affect of Van Helmont's sullied reputation on the wider reception of his anti-Galenic medical writings. The letter is from a Dr. Moreau, professor of medicine at Paris, and it discusses one of Van Helmont's earliest anti-Galenic works, his Febrium doctrina inaudita, noting as it does so that Van Helmont's reputation as a heretic reflects poorly on his medical theories. (61)

While the likelihood of Van Helmont's voluntarily publishing such a theologically-suspect work in this particular context appears very small, it would be fruitless to pursue the question further without more evidence either for or against his accusation of illicit Jesuit activity. Like early modern discussions of the weapon salve, I believe we should concern ourselves less with whether Roberti actually did publish Van Helmont's treatise on the magnetic cure of wounds, and more with why Van Helmont might have accused the Jesuits of doing so. What I have argued thus far is that Van Helmont's encounter with Jean Roberti and the Jesuit order took place within a wider context of great complexity, in which the problematic question of occult phenomena played a central role in both the defence and abrogation of traditional Scholastic natural philosophy. The Society of Jesus, as a Counter-Reformatory force in early modern Europe, had a vested interest in preserving the Scholastic philosophy that was so intimately linked to a traditional and orthodox Catholic theology, and it was the Society's dependence on this traditional interpretation of nature that led a member of the Society, in Van Helmont's mind, to publicize his unorthodox treatise before attacking its fundamental philosophical tenets for all of Europe to see.


Founded in 1540 by order of Pope Paul III, the Society of Jesus was inspired by the vision of St. Ignatius Loyola, who acted as the Society's first general until his death in 1556. From the first, the Jesuits played a prominent role in the Church's response to the Reformation, assuming the role of an intellectual elite within the Church so as to battle simultaneously the philosophical and theological heresies of Protestants. (62) Indeed, from its inception the Society embodied a strong commitment to philosophical education. In the Constitutions of the order, established shortly after its founding, Loyola identified two primary authorities in the intellectual and educational life of the Jesuits: Thomas Aquinas in theology and Aristotle in philosophy. (63) Aquinas had fashioned a theology in the thirteenth century that operated in tandem with Aristotelian philosophy, and the Society applied its own interpretation to both authorities to create a form of Scholasticism that was both unique and highly complex. (64)

At the Society's founding, there already existed a plurality of Scholastic interpretations operating simultaneously throughout Europe. (65) As one might expect, different institutions developed individual interpretations of Scholasticism over time in response to varying pressures and preoccupations, thus shaping a multiplicity of intellectual and pedagogical approaches to medieval Scholastic thought. The Jesuits were well aware of this multiplicity, which perhaps explains the flexible approach to Scholasticism that was codified in their educational program: so as to engage more effectively with the rival Scholastic philosophies promulgated by other groups, particularly Protestants, the Jesuits required a highly-adaptable breadth of interpretative and pedagogical practices. (66)

The Society also demonstrated a great deal of flexibility in its response to, and sometimes its adaptation of, natural philosophical ideas that were explicitly not Scholastic in tenor. Though my argument here focuses solely on the Scholastic program of Jesuit philosophy and pedagogy, it is also true that members of the Society enjoyed a relative freedom to examine and, in some cases, adapt a host of other philosophical tenets to their own use. A good example of this would be the explicit interest of several seventeenth-century Jesuits in the art of alchemy, as discussed by Martha Baldwin. (67) Clearly, then, the Society did not practice a strict or hidebound allegiance to Scholastic philosophy. Nonetheless, a reliance on Scholasticism remained at the very core of Jesuit philosophy and pedagogy, fostered to a significant degree by the focus on both Aristotle and Aquinas that was codified in the earliest years of the Society.

The existent multiplicity of Scholastic interpretations also necessitated the firm and constant defence of the Society's own unique interpretation of Scholastic thought, explaining not only why Jesuits so quickly and efficiently produced their own natural philosophical works in the decades following the establishment of their order, but also the emphasis they placed on education, both theological and philosophical.

As a Catholic institution, the primary goal of the Society was the eternal salvation of the laity. According to Loyola and successive generals of the Society, this was to be accomplished by active preaching, missionary work, and education. Indeed, the importance of education was evidenced in part by the rapid proliferation of their schools throughout Europe. In 1579, for example, the Jesuits administered a total of 144 colleges, and by 1607 that total had risen to 293. (68) Envisioned as environments in which orthodox Catholic doctrines could be disseminated to successive generations of European youth--a purpose congruent with the Church's wider goals in the Counter-Reformation--these colleges sought to educate their pupils in basic grammar and writing, as well as in rhetoric, philosophy, and theology. (69) Their educational goals also extended to the loftier realm of the universities; immediately following the inception of the Society in 1540, Jesuits were sent to several of the largest universities in Europe at the time--for example, Paris in 1540, and Louvain in 1542. (70)

Consequently, in order to accomplish their self-avowed goal of salvation through education and to publicly defend the Catholic faith against the heretical claims of Protestant authors, the Jesuits were forced to define and promulgate their interpretation of Scholastic natural philosophy not only within the confines of their own schools, but also in the wider arena of early modern intellectual culture. The Society's participation in this wider culture took place not only in the universities, as increasing numbers of Jesuits were sent to occupy teaching positions therein, but also in the printing houses that produced the hundreds of natural philosophical and theological works penned by Jesuit authors. Given their desire to educate the masses, perhaps we can better understand the obvious advantages available to them in their public attacks against the phenomenon of the weapon salve, made by their representative, Jean Roberti, amongst others. We can, too, better understand the reasoning behind Van Helmont's accusation of Jesuit involvement in the publication of his work.

In his numerous responses to Rudolph Goclenius, the Jesuit priest Jean Roberti was establishing the Society's prerogative to participate in contentious and public philosophical discussions of the time while simultaneously preserving the Scholastic principles on which Jesuit intellectualism was based neither this prerogative, nor these Scholastic principles, went unchallenged at the time, necessitating some program of defence. In the figure of Van Helmont, who not only voiced strong objections to traditional Scholastic thinking but had also claimed that Jesuits had no right to participate in the study of nature, Roberti may have seen an opportunity to further reinforce these prerogatives. It is thus plausible to conjecture that, in holding up Van Helmont's treatise on the weapon salve to an injurious public scrutiny, Roberti would have demonstrated simultaneously the authority of the Society to participate in the intellectual culture of the time and the infallibility of the Scholastic principles on which the Society's intellectual authority was predicated.

It is worth noting that when the Society codified the appropriate topics for philosophical education in its 1651 Ordinatio pro studiis superioribus--a document intended as a general guide for teachers within the Society--the weapon salve was explicitly excluded as an appropriate topic for teaching. (71) This demonstrates, at least in part, the Jesuit desire to single out this particular phenomenon in the defence of their Scholastic philosophy in a period when that philosophy was being widely questioned.

Nor was Jean Roberti the last Jesuit to address the controversial topic of the weapon salve. Twenty years following the original publication of Van Helmont's De magnetica, Athanasius Kircher, whom I mentioned earlier, published his Magnes; sive, De arte magnetica, an extended discussion of the invisible magnetic force that Kircher believed to pervade the universe. (72) Therein, in a section concentrating on magnetic medicine, Kircher devoted eight pages to a systematic and acerbic refutation of the properties ascribed to the weapon salve by the English physician Robert Fludd, who had already been publicly attacked on the subject by William Foster some ten years earlier.

That Kircher chose to focus his attack on Fludd is interesting, in part because Fludd had been dead for four years by the time the Magnes appeared and was thus unlikely to pen a response, and in part because Fludd's highly controversial reputation made it possible for Kircher to denigrate the weapon salve without expending a great deal of effort. Drawing on the Neo-Aristotelian tradition that had recently been promulgated by a number of contemporary Jesuits in the study of magnetism, Kircher employed a two-pronged attack on Fludd's interpretation of the weapon salve, one that was both philosophical and theological in scope. (73) His final conclusion labelled the weapon salve contemptuously as "pseudomagnetical," its activity thus patently not natural as was that of the magnet, and in this we see strong echoes of both the claims made by Roberti against the weapon salve and their motivations. (74) The issue at stake between Van Helmont's explication of the weapon salve and Roberti's response was the definition, or redefinition, of nature. Kircher, twenty years later, made another attempt to define what was natural by demonstrating that the weapon salve lay entirely outside of the boundaries defined, in part, by a Neo-Aristotelian, Scholastic philosophy.

In the course of this project, I have suggested that the circumstances surrounding Van Helmont's encounter with the Society of Jesus were informed by intellectual and institutional frictions that already existed in a wider context. The Jesuits had as one of their primary goals the education of the laity, both in theology and in philosophy. Moreover, the avowed purpose of the Society in the troubled years of the Counter-Reformation involved its participation in the wider intellectual culture of the time, in order to better draw ranks against the arguments--whether theological or natural philosophical--of Protestant heretics.

In shaping their pedagogical and philosophical activities around Scholasticism, however, the Jesuits found themselves engaged in a struggle for authority with the anti-traditionalist approach of the new philosophies, Van Helmont's own philosophy amongst them; he undoubtedly represented a challenge to traditional ways of thinking, both in his reformatory opinions about academic medicine and in his patently non-Scholastic explanation for the activity of the weapon salve. Van Helmont's claim of Roberti's illicit publication of the De magnetica vulnerum curatione seems more plausible when set against this complex backdrop.

(1) I wish to thank Lawrence M. Principe for his patient reading of innumerable drafts of this paper, which has also benefited from the comments and critcisms of the factulty and students of the Program in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at the Johns Hopkins University, to whom this paper was originally presented in April of 2002, and the helpful suggestions made by three anonymous readers. Portions of this paper were also made possible by a Smithsonian Institution Graduate Student Fellowship, and by the invaluable assistance of Ronald Brashear and Kirsten van der Veen, both of the Smithsonian's Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, and of Ray Kondratus of the National Museum of American History.

(2) Carlos Ziller Camenietzki, "Jesuits and Alchemy in the Early Seventeenth Century: Father Johannes Roberti and the Weapon-Salve Controversy," Ambix, 48 (2001), 83.

(3) Perhaps the best resource for the history of the weapon salve is available in Lynn Thorndike (ed.), History of Magic and Experimental Science (New York, 1958), chapters VII and VIII, in particular.

(4) Daniel Stolzanberg has pointed to a distinction in terms and identity between "weapon salve" and "sympathetic powder," with the latter used almost exclusively by the middle of the seventeenth century and omitting the human ingredients often described in preparations of the former see his "The Sympathetic Cure of Wounds: A Study of Magic, Nature, and Experience in Seventeenth-Century Science" (MA thesis, Indiana University, 1998), pp. 8- 9. For purposes of clarity, however, I will use solely the former term in this paper, while I acknowledge here the complexity discussed by Stolzenberg.

(5.) William Bynum, "The Weapon Salve in Seventeenth-Century English Drama," Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 21 (1966), 8-23; C. Broeckx, "Interrogatoires du Docteur J. B. van Helmont sur le magnetisme animal," Extrait des Annales de l'Academie d'Archeologie de Belgique, 1856; Umberto Eco (trans. William Weaver), The Island of the Day Before (New York, 1996)--Eco has a rather sinister English physician (possibly inspired by Robert Fludd) using the weapon salve and a perpetually-wounded dog in attempts to ascertain his longitude at sea.

(6) Camenietzki, "Jesuits and Alchemy," pp. 83, 84; Walter Pagel, Joan Baptista van Helmont: Reformer of Science and Medicine (Cambridge, 1982), p. 9; Stolzenberg, "Sympathetic Cure," p. 6.

(7.) Sir Kenelm Digby, Of the Sympathetick Powder: A Discourse in a Solemn Assembly at Montpellier, Made in French ... 1657 (London, 1669). Digby's claim echoes the early modern preoccupation with associating wonders with the Far East; see, for example, Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750 (New York, 1998), pp. 27-39.

(8.) Giovanni Battista della Porta, Magiae naturalis libri XX (Naples, 1589).

(9.) Camenietzki, "Jesuits and Alchemy," p. 84.

(10) Oswald Croll, Basilica chymica philosophicam propriam laborum experientiam ... (Frankfurt, 1608); the section devoted to the weapon salve appears on pp. 278-282. Croll's Basilica chymica was later translated into English by an anonymous "Lover of Chymistry" with the title, Basilica chymica, & Praxis chymiatricae, or Royal and Practical Chymistry (London, 1670). Therein, the section devoted to the weapon salve is entitled, "The Sympathetick Oyntment, or Stellate of Paracelsus," and can be round on pp. 173-178.

(11) Andreas Libavius, Tractatus duo physici: prior de impostoria vulnerum per unguentum armarium sanatione Paracelsicis usitata commendataque (Frankfurt, 1594). More information about Andreas Libavius and his anti-Paracelsianism can be found in Owen Hannaway, The Chemists and the Word: The Didactic Origins of Chemistry (Baltimore, 1975).

(12) Camenietzki, "Jesuits and Alchemy," pp. 85-86.

(13) Again, Thorndike's history of the weapon salve provides many examples; in particular, chapter VII, p. 503.

(14) Sylvester Rattray (ed.), Theatrum sympatheticum auctum, exhibens varios authores.... (Nuremberg, 1662).

(15) These editions were probably variations of the large 1662 edition, and included: Theatrum sympateticum, Ofte Wonder-Tooneel des Natuurs Verborgentheden (Amsterdam, 1681), and an edition of the same title that was published by Jan ten Hoorn in Amsterdam, 1697. For reference to the Harvard defences, see William Newman, Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey, an American Alchemist in the Scientific Revolution (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1994), p. 35.

(16) Stuart Clark, Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe (Oxford, 1997), p. 270; the French edition is mentioned in Thorndike, History, chapter VII, p. 507. This 1749 edition is included in the Dissertation sur le taenia ou ver-plat; dans laquelle on prouve que ce ver n'est pas solitaire; avec une lettre sur la poudre de sympathie (Paris, 1749).

(17) In this context, I am using a general definition for "Scholasticism," which is understood here as the institutionalized Aristotelianism prevalent in most universities from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries. A useful analysis of the origins of Western Scholastic thought is available in Edward Grant, The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional, and Intellectual Contexts (Cambridge, 1996). An excellent synopsis of early modern Scholastic difficulties with occult causes and phenomena can be round in Keith Hutchison, "What Happened to Occult Qualities in the Scientific Revolution?" Isis, 73 (1982).

(18) Brian Copenhaver has outlined more specifically the myriad ways in which occult phenomena were discussed and disseminated in the seventeenth century; see his "Natural Magic, Hermetism, and Occultism in Early Modern Science," in David C. Lindberg and Robert S. Westman (eds.), Reappraisals of the Scientific Revolution (Cambridge, 1990), pp. 261-301. See also his "A Tale of Two Fishes: Magical Objects in Natural History from Antiquity through the Scientific Revolution," Journal of the History of Ideas, 52 (1991).

(19) Fludd's natural philosophy was complex, and several historians have traced elements of his thought to Neoplatonic and hermetic roots in the Renaissance; for example, Joscelyn Godwin, Robert Fludd: Hermetic Philosopher and Surveyor of Two Worlds (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1991). Allen Debus has also contributed a great deal to the current scholarship on Fludd; examples abound in his The Chemical Philosophy: Paracelsian Science and Medicine in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Mineola, New York, 2002).

(20) William Foster, Hoplocrisma-spongus: or, A sponge to wipe away the weapon-salve (London, 1631), p. 5.

(21) Aristotle, Physics, as provided in Jonathan Barnes (ed.), The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation (Princeton, 1995), I, 202a4-a20 in particular.

(22) Foster, Hoplocrisma-spongus, p. 17.

(23) This is explained in part by changing conceptions of what was considered "natural". Though too extensive a topic to be dealt with here, an excellent example of the early modern preoccupation with diabolical and demonic activity and its utility in particular natural philosophical debates is available in Clark's Thinking with Demons (see n. 15 above).

(24) Robert Fludd, Dr. Fludd's Answer unto M. Foster., or, The Squeesing of Parson Foster's Sponge. ordained by him for the wiping away of the Weapon-Salve (London, 1631), p. 1.

(25) Ibid., p. 29.

(26) An excellent overview of the early modern distinction between the natural and the unnatural, which lay at the heart of Foster's argument, can be found in Dennis Des Chene, Physiologia: Natural Philosophy in Late Aristotelian and Castesian Thought (Ithaca, New York, 1996).

(27) Pagel, Joan Baptista van Helmont, p. 2.

(28) Martin Del Rio, Disquisitionum magicarum libri sex (Louvain, Belgium, 1599).

(29) Pagel, Joan Baptista van Helmont, pp. 5-6.

(30) A more accessible version of the Ortus is available in its somewhat unreliable English translation, the Oriatrike, or Physick refined (London, 1662); on the subject of Van Helmont's desire to reform contemporary medicine, sec the section entitled, "The Author's Promises," that appears at the very beginning of the work.

(31) Pagel, Joan Baptista van Helmont, pp. 8, 13. Further biographical information on Van Helmont is available in Walter Pagers entry for "Helmont, Johannes (Joan) Baptista van" in Charles Coulston Gillespie, (ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York, 1972), VI, 253-59.

(32) Rudolph Goclenius, Tractatus de magnetica vulnerum curatione (Marburg, 1608). For biographical detail on Goclenius, see the entry for "Gocklenius, Rodolph" in A. Dechambre (ed.), Dictionnaire Encyclopedique des Sciences Medicale (Paris, 1883), pp. 9,471-72.

(33) For an interesting discussion of Marburg and its Paracelsian ties to the German aristocrat Moritz of Hessen, see Brute T. Moran, The Alchemical World of the German Court: Occult philosophy and chemical medicine in the circle of Moritz of Hessen, 1572-1632 (Stuttgart, 1991).

(34) Jean Roberti, S.J., Brevis anatome.... (Louvain, 1609).

(35) Further biographical information for Roberti can be round in A. de Backer (ed.), Bibliotheque des ecrivains de la Compagnie de Jesus (Liege, 1876), III, 223; J.P. Graussem, "Roberti, Jean," in the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique (Paris, 1937), pp. 13, 2754-56.

(36) This exchange included the following works: Goclenius, Tractatus novus de magnetica vulnerum curatione.... (Frankfurt, 1613); Goclenius, Synarthrosis magnetica, opposita infaustae Anatomiae Joh. Roberti D. Theologi, et jesuitae.... (Marburg, 1617); Roberti, Metamorphosis magnetica Calvino-Gocleniana, qua Calvino dogmatistae.... (Liege, 1618); Roberti, Goclenius Heautontimorumenos: id est curationis magneticae et unguenti armarii ruina.... (Luxembourg, 1618).

(37) Johannes Baptista van Helmont, De magnetica vulnerum curatione ... disputatio contra opinionem D. Joan. Roberti.... (Paris, 1621).

(38) This possibility is raised by Walter Pagel in his entry for the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, p. 253.

(39) As the original 1621 editions of Van Helmont's treatise are now almost impossible to find, I have used the version that was posthumously published in his Ortus medicinae by his son: Johannes Baptista van Helmont, "De magnetica vulnerum curatione," as published in his Franciscus Mercurius van Helmont (ed.), Ortus medicinae (Amsterdam, 1648), p. 756. Translations from the Latin are mine unless otherwise noted.

(40) Van Helmont, "De magnetica vulnerum curatione," pp. 758, 759.

(41) Ibid., p. 750.

(42) Ibid., p. 760.

(43) One of the better-known studies of the creation and expression of authority in science from this period is Steven Shapin's A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century England (Chicago, 1994).

(44) Martha Baldwin, "The Snakestone Experiments: An Early Modern Medical Debate," Isis, 86 (1995), 394-418.

(45) Michael John Gorman, "From 'The Eyes of All' to 'Usefull Quarries in philosophy and good literature': Consuming Jesuit Science, 1600-1665," in John W. O'Malley, S.J., Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Steven J. Harris, and T. Frank Kennedy, S.J. (eds.), The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540-1773 (Toronto, 1999), pp. 170-89.

(46) Van Helmont, "'De magnetica vulnerum curatione," pp. 761 and 774 respectively.

(47) Ibid., p. 757.

(48) Jole Shackelford, "Rosicrucianism, Lutheran Orthodoxy, and the Rejection of Paracelsianism in Early Seventeenth-Century Denmark," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 70 (1996), 181-204.

(49) Jean Roberti, S.J., Modesta responsio ad perniciosam disputationem Io. Baptistae ab Helmont.... (Luxemburg, 1621). Interestingly, Roberti's work was published by Reuland alongside Van Helmont's De magnetica vulnerum curatione, though whether this was done at the Jesuit's request is unknown.

(50) Pagel, Joan Baptista van Helmont, p. 12.

(51) In the mid-nineteenth century, Corneille Broeckx published transcriptions of all public documents pertaining to Van Helmont's tribulations following the appearance of his De magnetica vulnerum curatione; for the condemnations of 1624, see Broeckx, "Notice sur le manuscrit Causa J.B. Helmontii," Extrait des Annales de l'Acaddmie d'Archeologie de Belgique (1852), p. 312.

(52) Pagel, Joan Baptista van Helmont, p. 13.

(53) Broeckx, "Notice sur le manuscrit Causa J.B. Helmontii," p. 303.

(54) Ibid., pp. 290-300.

(55) Ibid., p. 312.

(56) Van Helmont's claims were recorded in his 1627 response to the condemnations of 1624, which is transcribed in C. Broeckx, "Interrogatoires du Docteur J. B. van Helmont sur le magnetisme animal," pp. 310-13.

(57) Ibid., p. 313.

(58) Ibid., p. 310.

(59) Ibid., pp. 310-11.

(60) For a chronological list of Van Helmont's published works, see Pagel's entry in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography.

(61) Broeckx, "Notice sur le manuscrit Causa J.B. Helmontii," pp. 309-10. The work in question is Johannes Baptista van Helmont, Febrium doctrina inaudita ... (Antwerp, 1642).

(62) John W. O'Malley, S.J., "The Historiography of the Society of Jesus," in O'Malley, Bailey, Harris, and Kennedy, The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, pp. 3-37. Further information about the Catholic Church in the era of the Counter-Reformation can be found in: R. Po-chia Hsia, The World of Catholic Renewal, 1540-1770 (Cambridge, 1999); Michael A. Mullett, The Catholic Reformation (London, 1999).

(63) Charles H. Lohr, S.J., "Les jesuites et l'aristotelisme du XVIe siecle," in Luce Giard (ed.), Les jesuites a la Renaissance: Systeme educatif et production du savoir (Paris, 1995), p. 79.

(64) The theology and philosophy of Thomas Aquinas is extremely complex; for further elaboration, see Norman Kretzmann and Eleonore Stump (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas (Cambridge, 1993), especially the contributions therein by Joseph Owens and Mark D. Jordan. Rivka Feldhay discusses the unique Jesuit interpretation of this philosophy in her Galileo and the Church: Political Inquisition or Critical Dialogue? (Cambridge, 1995), especially chapters 6-9.

(65) Lohr, pp. 84-85.

(66) Paul-Richard Blum, "L'enseignement de la metaphysique dans les colleges jesuites d'Allemagne au XVIIe siecle," in Giard, Les jesuites a la Renaissance, p. 99.

(67) Martha Baldwin, "Alchemy and the Society of Jesus in the Seventeenth Century: Strange Bedfellows?" Ambix, 40 (1993), 41-64.

(68) "Introduction," in Christopher Chapple (ed.), The Jesuit Tradition in Education and Missions: A 450-Year Perspective (Scranton, 1993), p. 7; Francesco C. Cesareo, "Quest for Identity: The Ideals of Jesuit Education in the Sixteenth Century," in Chapple, The Jesuit Tradition in Education and Missions, p. 17.

(69) Ibid., p. 19.

(70) Feldhay, Galileo and the Church, p. 111. For more information on early modern universities, see: Helga Robinson-Hammerstein (ed.), European Universities in the Age of Reformation and Counter Reformation (Dublin, 1998); John Gascoigne, Science, Politics, and Universities in Europe. 1600-1800 (Brookfield, Vermont, 1998).

(71) Camenietzki, "Jesuits and Alchemy," p. 98.

(72) Athanasius Kircher, S.J., Magnes; sire, De arte magnetica opus tripartitum (Rome, 1641).

(73) On this Neo-Aristotelian school of thought, see Stephen Pumfrey, "Neo-Aristotelianism and the Magnetic Philosophy," in John Henry and Sarah Hutton (eds.), New Perspectives on Renaissance Thought: Essays in the History of Science, Education, and Philosophy (London, 1990).

(74) Kircher, Magnes, p. 784.

Mark A. Waddell

John Hopkins University
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Date:Aug 1, 2003
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