Distilling Reliable Remedies: Hieronymus Brunschwig’s Liber de arte distillandi (1500) Between Alchemical Learning and Craft Practice
MetadataShow full item record
Tillmann, T. (2014). Distilling Reliable Remedies: Hieronymus Brunschwig’s Liber de arte distillandi (1500) Between Alchemical Learning and Craft Practice. Ambix, 61 (3), 236-256. https://doi.org/10.1179/0002698014Z.00000000060
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis at http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/0002698014Z.00000000060.
Hieronymus Brunschwig’s Liber de arte distillandi, written in German and first published in Strasbourg in 1500, was the first printed manual on the distillation of medicinal waters. Although influential among early modern audiences and well-known to modern scholars, its intriguing blend of intellectual and practical traditions has thus far received little attention. This paper identifies these strands in Brunschwig’s technical instructions and shows how they intertwine in the production of reliable remedies. Exploring the intellectual dimension of Brunschwig’s work, I argue that his concept of distillation is shaped by an alchemical understanding of matter, especially by the writings on ‘quintessence’ of the fourteenth-century alchemist John of Rupescissa. To realise this concept in the workshop, Brunschwig emphasises the central importance of the body and its senses to ensure true craftsmanship. Brunschwig’s printed manual was as much a product of skilled artisanal practices as the distilled waters it describes, and I argue that it was shaped by the same concerns about technical precision and reliability.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1179/0002698014Z.00000000060
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/260374