Michael Sendivogius

The podcast episode on Michal Sedziwoj (Michael Sendivogius)

Michal Sedziwoj (1566–1636) Michał Sędziwój (Michael Sendivogius, Sędzimir) alchemist, philosopher, and medical doctor. His noble family that was part of the Clan of Ostoja. – interesting clan. they “chose” their members more than a true bloodline. He studied in Vienna, Altdorf, Leipzig and at Cambridge. His acquaintances included John Dee and Edward Kelley. In the 1590s he was active in Prague, at the famously open-minded court of Rudolf II. In Poland he appeared at the court of King Sigismund III Vasa around 1600, and quickly achieved great fame, as the Polish king was himself an alchemy enthusiast. He developed ways of purification and creation of various acids, metals and other chemical compounds. He discovered that air is not a single substance and contains a life-giving substance-later called oxygen 170 years before similar discoveries by Scheele and Priestley. He correctly identified this ‘food of life’ with the gas (also oxygen) given off by heating nitre (saltpetre). This substance, the ‘central nitre’, had a central position in Sędziwój’s schema of the universe. In 1604 Sendivogius’ most important work — based on the number of editions. 56 editions until 1787 — has been published: “De Lapide Philosophorum Tractatus Duodecim”. The treatise was printed in Prague and its title was changed to “Novum Lumen Chymicum” in later editions. The 12th tract explains that the origin of heat would be motion. Motion causes water to rise as steam.

Eventually the Hapsburg emperor (Rudolf II) granted him land in Bohemia and Moravia where he settled He was lured to the court of Duke Friedrich of Wuerttemberg at Stuttgart in 1605, who had noticed Sendivogius’ claim in De lapide philosophorum (1604) to possess the secret of the philosopher’s stone. The Duke put Sendivogius in prison. Sigismund III, Rudolf II, and several German princes intervened and Friedrich grew alarmed. He arranged for Sendivogius to escape and put the blame on his court alchemist, Heinrich Muehlenfells, who was condemned to die. ..suposedly (mentioned by Rudolf Werner ) was sent by the emperor to other courts as a spy… and since he did also work for the Polish King Zygmunt III, was a Polish nobleman and was at some points married to Ferdinand II sisters (two of them).. He did help in some diplomatic errands, such as negotiating the Poland’s access to the black sea with the Hapsburgs. However priorities shifted during the 30 year’s war and alchemy fell out of favor as finances went toward the war. He died in obscurity

Works and legacy

“A New Light of Alchemy”, (Latin original published in 1605), were written in alchemical language, in effect a secret code which was understandable only by other alchemists. it talks about how god’s will enters earth, which is “windy and porous” and is distilled in the bowels of the earth the four elements are transmutated into all metals etc. …all metals are the same, just silver is “done” sooner than gold etc.. He took the philosopher’s stone as fact supposedly received philosopher’s powder from someone

How to make gold?

Why does metal not give off seeds like fruit? Because it’s not ripe.. it gets corrupted; conditions are not good enough.. the seed is the philosopher’s gold.. just really pure gold.. that can create more gold So, how to ripen gold? It needs water.. remember aqua regia? solvents and acid.. that. OR the water of life.. no biggie. AND heat for 7 months.. maybe 10. fire. Funny story of an alchemist talking to mercury trying to find the stone.. Are you THE mercury or is there another? Isaac Newton read his work In Kraków’s Wawel castle, the chamber where his experiments were performed is still intact. Summary Had a very important influence both in court life among the poles and hapsburgs, and even some german princes. he moved in very interesting circles like edward kelley and famous scientists of his time. Had a very practical way of making gold (if you could understand it) and was very influencial after his time. Bibliography: the alchemist reader from stanton j. linden, which has an exerpt from a new light of alchemie



Influenced by

Ramon Llull
Albertus Magnus
Bernardus Trevisanus


Isaac Newton

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