Heinrich Khunrath
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Heinrich Khunrath (c. 1560 – 9 September 1605), or Dr. Henricus Khunrath as he was also called, was a German
physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English), medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a professional who practices medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintainin ...

physician
, hermetic philosopher, and
alchemist Alchemy (from Arabic: ''al-kīmiyā''; from Ancient Greek: ''khumeía'') is an ancient branch of natural philosophy, a philosophical and protoscience, protoscientific tradition practiced throughout Europe, Africa, China and throughout Asia, ob ...
.
Frances Yates Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Dame Frances Amelia Yates, (28 November 1899 – 29 September 1981) was an English people, English historian of the Renaissance, who wrote books on esoteric history. After attaining a BA and ...
considered him to be a link between the philosophy of
John Dee John Dee (13 July 1527 – 1608 or 1609) was an English mathematician, astronomer An astronomer is a in the field of who focuses their studies on a specific question or field outside the scope of . They observe s such as s, s, , s and ...
and
Rosicrucianism Rosicrucianism is a spiritual and cultural movement A cultural movement is a change in the way a number of different disciplines approach their work. This embodies all art forms, the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', mea ...
. His name, in the spelling "Henricus Künraht" was used as a pseudonym for the 1670 publisher of the
Tractatus Theologico-Politicus Written by the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza, Benedictus Spinoza, the ''Tractatus Theologico-Politicus'' (''TTP'') or ''Theologico-Political Treatise'' was one of the most controversial texts of the early modern period. In it, Spinoza ex ...
of
Baruch Spinoza Baruch (de) Spinoza (; ; ; born Baruch Espinosa; later as an author and a correspondent Benedictus de Spinoza, anglicized to Benedict de Spinoza; 24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Por ...

Baruch Spinoza
.


Life and education

Khunrath was born in
Dresden Dresden (, ; wen, label=Sorbian languages, Upper and Lower Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig. It is the List of cities in German ...

Dresden
,
Saxony Saxony (german: Sachsen ; Upper Saxon Upper Saxon (german: Obersächsisch, ; ) is an East Central German East Central German (german: Ostmitteldeutsch) is the eastern, non-Franconian languages, Franconian Central German language, part o ...
, the son of the merchant Sebastian Kunrat and his wife Anna in the year 1560. He was the younger brother of the Leipzig physician
Conrad Khunrath Conrad Khunrath (1555, Leipzig Leipzig (, ; Upper Saxon: ) is the most populous city in the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony. With a population of 605,407 inhabitants as of 2021 (1.1 million residents in the larger urban ...
. In the winter of 1570, he may have enrolled at the
University of Leipzig Leipzig University (german: Universität Leipzig), in Leipzig Leipzig (, ; Upper Saxon: ) is the most populous city in the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony. With a population of 605,407 inhabitants as of 2021 (1.1 mill ...
under the name of Henricus Conrad Lips. The uncertainties surrounding his life stem from his supposed use of multiple names. It is certain that in May 1588, he matriculated at the
University of Basel The University of Basel (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of ...
,
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_title1 = Fe ...

Switzerland
, earning his '' Medicinæ Doctor'' degree on 3 September 1588, after a defense of twenty-eight doctoral theses.


Career

Khunrath, a disciple of
Paracelsus Paracelsus (; c. 1493 – 24 September 1541), born Theophrastus von Hohenheim (full name Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim), was a Swiss physician, alchemist Alchemy (from Arabic: ''al-kīmiyā''; from Ancient Greek: ' ...

Paracelsus
, practiced medicine in Dresden,
Magdeburg Magdeburg (; nds, label=Low German, Low Saxon, Meideborg ) is the capital and second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony-Anhalt, after Halle (Saale). It is situated on the Elbe River. Otto I, Holy Roman Emp ...

Magdeburg
, and
Hamburg en, Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central (CET) , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central (CEST) , utc_offset1_DST = +2 , postal_code_type = Post ...

Hamburg
and may have held a
professor Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) is an academic An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary education, secondary or tertiary education, tertiary higher education, hig ...

professor
ial position in Leipzig. He travelled widely after 1588, including a stay at the
Imperial Imperial is that which relates to an empire, emperor, or imperialism. Imperial or The Imperial may also refer to: Places United States * Imperial, California * Imperial, Missouri * Imperial, Nebraska * Imperial, Pennsylvania * Imperial, Texas * ...
court in
Prague Prague ( ; cs, Praha ; german: Prag, ; la, Praga) is the capital and largest city A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people ...

Prague
, home to the mystically inclined
Habsburg The House of Habsburg (), alternatively spelled Hapsburg in English (german: Haus Habsburg ; es, Casa de Habsburgo ; hu, Habsburg-család), also known as the House of Austria (german: link=no, Haus Österreich; es, link=no, Casa de Austria), ...

Habsburg
emperor
Rudolf II Rudolf II (18 July 1552 – 20 January 1612) was Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, impera ...

Rudolf II
. Before reaching Prague he had met
John Dee John Dee (13 July 1527 – 1608 or 1609) was an English mathematician, astronomer An astronomer is a in the field of who focuses their studies on a specific question or field outside the scope of . They observe s such as s, s, , s and ...

John Dee
at Bremen on 27 May 1589, when Dee was on his way back to England from Bohemia. Khunrath praised Dee in his later works. During his court stay Khunrath met the alchemist
Edward Kelley Sir Edward Kelley or Kelly, also known as Edward Talbot (; 1 August 1555 – 1597/8),Schleiner 2004. was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spok ...
who had remained behind after he and Dee had parted company (Kelley was arrested on 30 April 1591 as an alleged imposter). In September 1591, Khunrath was appointed court physician to Count Rosemberk in Trebona. He probably met Johann Thölde while at Trebona, one of the suggested authors of the "
Basilius Valentinus upThe ''Peterskirche'', Erfurt, today. Basil Valentine is the Anglicised version of the name Basilius Valentinus, ostensibly a 15th-century alchemist Depiction of Ouroboros from the alchemical treatise ''Aurora consurgens'' (15th century), Z ...
" treatises on alchemy.


Hermetic alchemist

Khunrath's brushes with John Dee and Thölde and Paracelsian beliefs led him to develop a Christianized natural
magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic Ceremonial magic (ritual magic, high magic or learned magic) encompasses a wide variety of rituals of Magic (supernatural), magic. The works included are characterized by ceremony and numerou ...
, seeking to find the secret ''
prima materia In alchemy Alchemy (from Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcont ...
'' that would lead man into eternal wisdom. The Christianized view that Khunrath took was framed around his commitment to
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
theology. He also held that experience and observation were essential to practical alchemical research, as would a
natural philosopher Natural philosophy or philosophy of nature (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', ...
. His most famous work on alchemy is the ''Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae'' (Amphitheater of Eternal Wisdom), a work on the mystical aspects of that art, which contains the oft-seen engraving entitled "The First Stage of the Great Work", better-known as the "Alchemist's Laboratory". The book was first published at Hamburg in 1595, with four circular elaborate, hand-colored, engraved plates heightened with gold and silver which Khunrath designed and were engraved by Paullus van der Doort. The book was then made more widely available in an expanded edition with the addition of other plates published posthumously in Hanau in 1609. ''Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae'' is an alchemical classic, combining both Christianity and magic. In it, Khunrath showed himself to be an adept of spiritual alchemy and illustrated the many-staged and intricate path to spiritual perfection. Khunrath's work was important in Lutheran circles. John Warwick Montgomery has pointed out that Johann Arndt (1555–1621), who was the influential writer of Lutheran books of pietiesm and devotion, composed a commentary on ''Amphitheatrum''. Some of the ideas in his works are Kabbalah, Kabbalistic in nature and foreshadow Rosicrucianism.


Death

Khunrath may have encountered some opposition to his alchemical work because most of his publications on alchemy were published widely after his death. He died in either Dresden or Leipzig on 9 September 1605. The tension between spirituality and experiment in ''Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae'' brought about its banned books, condemnation by the Sorbonne University, Sorbonne in 1625.


Writings

* * :: - Reprint of the first (Hamburg 1595) and second (last) edition (Hanau 1609), together with a transcription of a German translation (18th century). * * * * * * * * *


References


Further reading

* * * * * *


External links


University of Wisconsin-Madison site on Khunrath's ''Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae'' including biography and bibliography.


* [http://www.levity.com/alchemy/portr_34.html Khunrath Portrait]
Heinrich Khunrath at the Galileo Project


* [http://www.alchemylab.com/khunrath.htm "An Interpretation of the Alchemy Lab Drawing" by John Read]
The Alchemy of the Amphitheatrum - a webinar by Peter Forshaw about Heinrich Khunrath on the website of the Ritman Library, Amsterdam.
{{DEFAULTSORT:Khunrath, Heinrich 1605 deaths German occultists German astrologers 16th-century astrologers 17th-century astrologers German alchemists Christian Kabbalists 16th-century German physicians Paracelsians Year of birth uncertain 1560 births 17th-century German physicians 16th-century German writers 16th-century German male writers 17th-century German writers 17th-century German male writers 16th-century alchemists 17th-century alchemists