Saint Albert The Great (1200? - 1280)

Albertus Magnus is best known as the teacher of Thomas Aquinas. An advocate of Aristotelian philosophy, he is unique among the medieval scholars in that he alone published commentaries of all known works of Aristotle (including some spurious ones).

His publications and lectures earned him great reknown, and he was quoted as readily as Averroes and Avicenna. He was the only scholar of his time to have earned the title "The Great", which was in use even before he died. The Catholic Church has given him the title of "Universal Doctor."

A contemporary of Roger Bacon, Albert the Great was also one of the earliest natural scientists, and contributed greatly to fields that would eventually become biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, geography, and mathematics.

Some parts are taken from

Born 1193 AD. Died 1280. Born of a noble family in the town of Larvigen (Lawingen), in the Duchy of Beuburg on the Danube. For the first 30 years of his life, by all accounts he appeared remarkably dull-witted. He entered a Dominican monastery but made little progress with his studies. However, in middle age his intellect seemed to expand remarkably, so much so the other brothers of the monastery credited divine intervention. In the year 1244, Thomas Aquinas put himself under Magnus' instruction.

Albertus was at that point regarded by his contemporaries as a major alchemist and theologian. Although he claimed inspiration from the Virgin Mary, and had an excellent pupil and reputation through Thomas Aquinas, many actually suspected him of communication with Satan. It should be kept in mind however, at that time, "every great man who attempted to study the secrets of nature was though of as a magician." He did claim magical powers, including the ability to control the weather, which he used to sway local magistrates to endow him the land he required to establish a monastery of his own in Cologne. He did this apparently (according to Lenglet's Historique de la Philosophie Hermétique and Godwin's Lives of the Necromancers) by hosting a feast for the local authorities outside in the middle of winter. When the time came to be seated, even as the gentry shivered, the piles of snow melted, the sun emerged and the birds sang in the trees. And when the feast ended, the snow and cold wind returned.

In the end, however, Albertus Magnus has been viewed as one of the adepts who claimed to have discovered the philosopher's stone and who conducted tests on gold produced through alchemical process. He is also featured in Naudé's classic Apologie des Grands Hommes accusés de Magie, ch. xviii.
Sources :
  • "The Alchymists", from Mackay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (London : 1852), p93-221.
  • Albertus, Magnus, Saint, 1193?-1280. Scriptum primum diui Alberti Magni ordinis predicatorum Ratispone sis episcopi super primum Sententiarum. (Basle, Switzerland : Impressum Basilee mgrm Iacobu de Pfortzen, anno domini 1506)

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