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Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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Whilst looking for information about medieval English alchemists, I found mention of the John Sawtre in the lists of manuscripts in the BL (in Stowe 1070), and Frunitor in Thorndikes History etc, saying that he had written a short alchemical treatise in 1456, and oddly enough this is also found in Stowe 1070.

Further investigation finds nothing else on Robert Frimytor, and the manuscript in question is at least 16th century if not containing bits from earlier times, and was owned by John Dee.  Having examined the manuscript in question, I suspect it is 16th century, although I am not an expert.  As usual my inability to read the handwriting has rather stymied any understanding of the text, which otherwise could be quite interesting as another piece of information about English alchemy, assuming it is actually an individual treatise.

John Sawtre is even more interesting.  I can find no mention of him in Thorndike, but it seems that he did actually exist as a monk in England in the late 14th/ erly 15th century, but Singer seems to say that a 15th century Breviloqium containing quotes from famous  alchemists is attributed to Sawtre, but it isn't quite the same as the Radix Mundi attributed to Sawtre in 14th century manuscripts and printed in 1525 in Germany. 

 

So, does anyone know any more?  As usual I can't read the handwriting, but the manuscripts do seem to be on alchemical topics and would be interesting to check against others.  I am learning Latin and slowly that is making sense at least. 

Also can anyone point me in the direction of translations of Lull or Villanova that are rooted in the medieval period? 

Paul Ferguson
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Whilst looking for information about medieval English alchemists, I found mention of the John Sawtre in the lists of manuscripts in the BL (in Stowe 1070), and Frunitor in Thorndikes History etc, saying that he had written a short alchemical treatise in 1456, and oddly enough this is also found in Stowe 1070.

Further investigation finds nothing else on Robert Frimytor, and the manuscript in question is at least 16th century if not containing bits from earlier times, and was owned by John Dee.  Having examined the manuscript in question, I suspect it is 16th century, although I am not an expert.  As usual my inability to read the handwriting has rather stymied any understanding of the text, which otherwise could be quite interesting as another piece of information about English alchemy, assuming it is actually an individual treatise.

John Sawtre is even more interesting.  I can find no mention of him in Thorndike, but it seems that he did actually exist as a monk in England in the late 14th/ erly 15th century, but Singer seems to say that a 15th century Breviloqium containing quotes from famous  alchemists is attributed to Sawtre, but it isn't quite the same as the Radix Mundi attributed to Sawtre in 14th century manuscripts and printed in 1525 in Germany. 

 

So, does anyone know any more?  As usual I can't read the handwriting, but the manuscripts do seem to be on alchemical topics and would be interesting to check against others.  I am learning Latin and slowly that is making sense at least. 

Also can anyone point me in the direction of translations of Lull or Villanova that are rooted in the medieval period? 



I think it's a case of ye olde funnie spellynges:

Robert Frunitor = Robert Barker = Friar Bungay (q.v.)

John Sawtre = John Santry (q.v.)


Regarding mediaeval translations of Llull and Villanova, the only one I know of off-hand is Abraham ben Mesulam Abigdor's translation into Hebrew of Villanova's medical text, 'Medicationis parabole'. Abigdor lived from 1351 to 1402. I will see if I can track down some more.

Last edited on Tue May 25th, 2010 10:31 pm by Paul Ferguson

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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Friar Bungay - yes, thats a point. 

 

Its not so much medieval translations I am after, as more moder translations into english or Latin, that I therefore havea  hope of understanding.  I'm still trying to work out what from the Theatrum chemicum Britanicum is trustworthy as being copied from medieval originals (although they probably had trouble reading them as well) and what is more modern interpretations. 


Although another odd question occured to me - if John Dastin was reasonably popular, as attested to by the various copies of his works and the pseudonymous ones that existed at that time as well, why do we not apparently have any mention of him in Norton's Ordinal?   He mentions nearly everyone else yuo could possibly want to. 

Last edited on Tue May 25th, 2010 11:15 pm by Alexander Guthrie Stewart

Paul Ferguson
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Friar Bungay - yes, thats a point. 

 

Its not so much medieval translations I am after, as more moder translations into english or Latin, that I therefore havea  hope of understanding.  I'm still trying to work out what from the Theatrum chemicum Britanicum is trustworthy as being copied from medieval originals (although they probably had trouble reading them as well) and what is more modern interpretations. 





There is an old page here which contains useful links to translations of Llull's works, including the Lullian Arts project:

http://www.robotwisdom.com/ai/llull.html

There is a modern English translation of Villanova's treatise on wine, which he wrote in Latin. I suppose this falls broadly within the scope of 'early chemistry'. It is mentioned here:

http://historyofscience.com/G2I/timeline/index.php?id=2560

For the record: a facsimile of von Hirnkofen's translation of this treatise into German, which was actually the first printed book on wine (1478), is available here:

http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/0003/bsb00035103/images/index.html?id=00035103&fip=67.164.64.97&no=9&seite=7

I think the wine treatise is authentic Villanova, but I'm not sure about the alchemical stuff.

Last edited on Wed May 26th, 2010 03:22 pm by Paul Ferguson

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Thanks.  The robot wisdom site has a lot of dead links however. 

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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Am I the only person to notice that the anonymous verse in Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum on page 434 of the 1652 edition are from manuscript Harley 2407.  Of course they are anonymous, and I can't tell if they are late 15th or well into the 16th century in date. 

All I can say is there seem to be lots of alchemical manuscripts which are basically the personal notebooks of various individuals from the period, in which they noted down interesting bits of information or copied borrowed books.  I feel it aught to be possible to do something with them, I'm just not so sure what. 

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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Well if we are believe wikipedia, there is an Elizabethan play called Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, however the Bungay there is supposed to be based upon Bacon's contemporary Thomas Bungay. 

And it so happens that there is a Bongeye in Suffolk. 

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:History_of_Norfolk_5.djvu/272

Now it seems to be known as Bungay. 

 

 

Paul Ferguson
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Well if we are believe wikipedia, there is an Elizabethan play called Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, however the Bungay there is supposed to be based upon Bacon's contemporary Thomas Bungay. 

And it so happens that there is a Bongeye in Suffolk. 

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:History_of_Norfolk_5.djvu/272

Now it seems to be known as Bungay. 

 

 


I got the Bungay bit from this document from the University of Missouri:

http://cctr1.umkc.edu/tkvk-namelist.pdf

Note yet another variant: Robert Barkarbourne.

The Bungay in question is discussed here:

http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/7057128/Edward-IV-and-the-Alchemists

Last edited on Thu May 27th, 2010 10:46 am by Paul Ferguson

Paul Ferguson
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Thanks.  The robot wisdom site has a lot of dead links however. 

Yes, last updated in about 2002 or something. A shame, because there's still some very useful info on there, and I like the 'Google sez' thing at the top which shows what we are up against when researching alchemists who lived in times when spelling was even more capricious than it is in our own.

By the way, what is the precise nature of your researches? I know you are a chemist.

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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Well if that is a list of historical names then it could be hellpful, but I can't see enough context there for it to be of any use.  Nice try though. 

Paul Ferguson
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Well if that is a list of historical names then it could be hellpful, but I can't see enough context there for it to be of any use.  Nice try though. 

Bit more context here, top of page 89:

http://www.adam-matthew-publications.co.uk/digital_guides/ren_man_series1_prt1/documents/DetailedListing-Reel7-11cont.pdf

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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Well if that is a list of historical names then it could be hellpful, but I can't see enough context there for it to be of any use.  Nice try though. 

Sorry, it was a disembodied document and I had to drill down to find out what it was. It's explained here:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:aMVDiPEQyL8J:cctr1.umkc.edu/evk-readme.pdf+tkvk&hl=en

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There is a text attributed to Sawtre 'The booke … concerning the Philosophers Stone' in 'Five treatises of the Philosophers Stone' (london, 1652), pp.17-46

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Do you think that the R.B on page 436 refers to the very last 4 lines between rules or to all the verses headed 'The whole scyence'. I seem to have a note that R.B. is Richard Bostocke.

Paul Ferguson
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Alan Pritchard wrote:
There is a text attributed to Sawtre 'The booke … concerning the Philosophers Stone' in 'Five treatises of the Philosophers Stone' (london, 1652), pp.17-46

Available on microfilm:

http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/2715863/Details?lookfor=subject:%22Alchemy+-+Early+works+to+1800.%22&max=145&offset=18

There is an article about the 'Radix mundi' by Dorothea W. Singer in Speculum, VIII, 80-6.

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Not just Wikipedia! By the playwright Robert Greene (see DNB). The following from the online DNB:
'In The Honorable Historie of Frier Bacon and Frier Bongay (1589, printed 1594), ingeniously staged magical devices link the rival magicians to the rival wooers of Margaret, daughter of the Keeper of Fressingfield. Academia is satirized in the episode of the brazen head, which speaks oracular truths while Friar Bacon sleeps and his foolish subsizar Miles dozes. The Scottish Historie of James the Fourth (1590?, printed 1598) makes even freer use of known historical figures, as the king's villainy fails to dislodge Ida's modest love for her social equal. Although Selimus and Frier Bacon are named on early title-pages as Queen's Men's plays, the latter was also performed by Lord Strange's Men and Sussex's Men during the 1590s. Frier Bacon probably remained longest in repertory; the 1630 edition claims a recent performance.'

There is a recent edition published in 1963.

Also a study in Ambix 1975 by Lynn V. Sadler 'Alchemy and Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay'

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And on Early English Books Online, for those lucky enough to have access.




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