The Sword and the Crucible. Count Boldizsár Batthyány and Natural Philosophy in Sixteenth-Century Hungary
In the sixteenth century a new type of practitioner emerges in Europe: the aristocrat who not only supports creative activities, but is personally involved in the projects he finances. The courts of noblemen and other wealthy individuals are transformed into new sites of knowledge production where medicinal waters are distilled, exotic plants cultivated, and alchemical experiments pursued. This new fascination with nature, and the wish to explore and exploit its explicit and hidden mechanisms, was an intellectual trend that spread all over Europe, reaching even the easternmost parts of the Habsburg Monarchy. The Hungarian Count Boldizsár Batthyány (c.1542–1590), a powerful aristocrat and formidable warrior, was also a passionate devotee of natural philosophy. His Western Hungarian court was the focal point of an intellectual network which comprised scholars—such as the renowned botanist Carolus Clusius—physicians, book dealers, and fellow aristocrats from Central Europe and used his connections to exchange objects and information. Batthyány’s biography, his extensive correspondence and up-to-date book collection on natural philosophy—especially alchemy, Paracelsian medicine, and botany—reveals that wealth, mobility and intellectual curiosity allowed him to share the enthusiasms of his Western European counterparts, and make the Muses speak even among arms.
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Ádám alchemists alchemy alchimia Andreas Archives aristocrats Balassi Bálint Balthasar Batthyány Basel Báthory Batthyány Boldizsár Batthyány family Batthyány from Vienna Batthyány’s Béla Bibliothek Boldizsár a könyvbarát Boldizsár Batthyány Budapest Carolus Clusius Chemical Clusius-Codex collection contemporary correspondence Count Culture Dorica Early Modern edited Elias Corvinus Emperor Erastus Erzsébet Felician Ferenc Batthyány Ferenc Nádasdy France garden Gáspár Géza Pálffy Güssing György Zrínyi Habsburg Monarchy Herberstein History humanist Hungarian intellectual István Beythe István Monok Iványi Jahrhundert János Johannes Homelius John Dee Katalin Svetkovics Kingdom of Hungary könyvtára Körmend körmendi Közlemények Kristóf Batthyány laboratory László letter levéltár libri lord Magyar magyarországi Mary of Hungary Maximilian medicine Miklós Miklós Zrínyi Monok Múzeum natural philosophy Németújvár Ottoman Ötvös painter Pálffy Paracelsian Paracelsus Paris Patronage Perna Péter physician Pistalotius plants portrait Pozsony reformáció Régi Renaissance Rohonc Science seventeenth century Sixteenth Century Studies survive Szalónak század században Szeged Szigetvár török Történelmi története