De furore Britannico: The Rosicrucian Manifestos in Britain

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‭The Rosicrucian manifestos of 1614–1615 were published in England in 1652, based on a translation that circulated for at least twenty years in manuscript copies in England and Scotland. The manifestos were introduced in a preface by the Welsh alchemist Thomas Vaughan (1623–1666), who had published a series of short books on aspects of alchemy and esoteric knowledge. Ignoring the radical religious and political overtones of the Rosicrucian message developed in Germany, Vaughan emphasized the limitations of European science and the power of the learning that Christian Rosenkreuz was said to have brought from the Arab world. He concentrated on the Rosicrucians’ ‘physical work’ in alchemy, but he understood it as having implications for beyond the physical world in the celestial and supercelestial worlds.‬

  • 3

    ‭HuffmanRobert Fludd13–14.

  • 4

    ‭DebusEnglish Paracelsians49.

  • 15

    ‭BurtonAnatomy of Melancholy281; also see 383.‬

  • 16

    ‭BurtonAnatomy of Melancholy59. The Rosicrucians’ reputation as reformers is based on a misreading of the satiric sketch on ‘the reformation of the whole world’ appended to early German editions of the Fama but not included in Vaughan’s edition.‬

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  • 17

    ‭AdamsonMuses Threnodie32.

  • 19


  • 20

    ‭DenisonWhite Wolfe37 38. For the tradition of public pronouncements from this pulpit see Morrisey Politics.‬

  • 22

    ‭WardSimple Cobler17–18.

  • 23

    ‭WilkinsEcclesiastes71. The comment was added to the third edition (1651) and did not appear in the earlier versions of 1646 and 1647. Contemporaries would have found in the italicised words following ‘Theologie’ an allusion to Job 88.2: ‘Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?’‬

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  • 31

    ‭HillWorld Turned Upside Down14.

  • 34

    ‭MoreSecond Lash172.

  • 35

    ‭MoreSecond Lash174; for comments on Gnosticism see More Enthusiasmus L8 recto.‬

  • 36

    ‭VaughanAnima Magica Abscondita42.

  • 38

    ‭AndreaeChymische Hochzeit20. The words (rephrased from Aeneid 6.258) are written over the entrance to the royal palace where Christian Rosenkreuz performs the chemical wedding. Because Vaughan did not read German it seems possible that he had access to an English translation of Andreae’s allegory which concerns the transmutation of consciousness that Vaughan discusses in the same paragraph.‬

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  • 42

    ‭Vaughan ed.Fame and Confession4; cf. Andreae Fama Fraternitatis 1615 (Frankfurt edition) 17. There has been much speculation about the identity of ‘Damcar’ as the corrected text reads. It seems to be modern Thamar in Yemen which in the late medieval world was the capital of the Sabean empire. See Willard ‘Strange Journey’ 661 and note.‬

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  • 45

    ‭MonodSolomon’s Secret Arts39. The statement applies to the period 1650–1815 with which this excellent study is concerned. For Vaughan’s role in promoting the Rosicrucian message see 38–44.‬

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  • 49

    ‭Josten ed.Elias Ashmole566. Josten identifies ‘Dr. Flood’ as a visitor from Italy but he was more likely Fludd’s adopted son the London physician Robert Fludd Jr.; see ‘Fludd Dr Robert Junior’.‬

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  • 52

    ‭MS Ashmole 1478revised by Ashmole in MS 1459; see McLean ‘Manuscript Sources’ 273 and 284.‬

  • 54


  • 55

    ‭AshmoleTheatrum Chemicum Britannicum476. Compare Confession 42: ‘those should not be defrauded of the knowledge thereof whom (although they be unlearned) God hath not excluded from the happiness of this Fraternity’.‬

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  • 57

    ‭Pryce ed.Fame and Confession8. Pryce supposes there were ‘at least three or four intermediaries of deteriorating copyists between the prototype and its final petrification in print.’‬

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  • 58

    ‭McLean‘Manuscript Sources’279.

  • 59

    ‭McLean‘Impact of the Rosicrucian Manifestos’174.

  • 60

    ‭Pryce ed.Fame and Confession4–8; Willard ‘Rosicrucian Manifestos in Britain’.‬

  • 61

    ‭Van der KooijFama82–83.

  • 62

    ‭Van der KooijFama78–79; McLean ‘Manuscript Sources’ 282.‬

  • 63

    ‭MoreObservations71. A ‘breeching boy’ is ‘a young scholar still subject to the birch’ i.e. a whipping boy: ‘breeching n.2b’ Oxford English Dictionary Online (2013) Date accessed: 3 November 2013.‬

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  • 74

    ‭See Willard‘Strange Journey’675–678.

  • 81

    ‭AgrippaThree Books1.

  • 82


  • 86

    ‭VaughanFame and Confession58 63.

  • 88

    ‭MaierThemis Aurea103; c.f. Vaughan Fame and Confession b2 verso—b3 recto.‬

  • 89

    ‭WaiteBrotherhood of the Rosy Cross328; see 375–376. On Waite’s Fellowship see Willard ‘Acts of the Companions’ 269–273.‬

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  • 90

    ‭WaiteBrotherhood of the Rosy Cross363.

  • 92

    ‭WebsterExamen Academiarum26; see Debus Science and Education.‬

  • 93

    ‭WardVindiciae Academiarum46; see note 23 above.‬

  • 94

    ‭HallVindiciae Literarum199.

  • 95

    ‭HallVindiciae Literarum215; see Hessayon ‘Calvert’ and Hill World Turned Upside Down 300–302.‬

  • 97

    ‭ChurtonInvisible History340. Wood Athenae Oxonienses vol. 2 254 consulted with Ashmole about the book and lists it with Vaughan’s publications calling Vaughan ‘a zealous brother of the Rosie-Crucian fraternity’.‬

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  • 99

    ‭ButlerHudibras1.523 539–542; 32–33.‬

  • 100

    ‭On Heydon see Willard‘John Wilson’s Satire’139–141.

  • 101

    ‭WaiteBrotherhood of the Rosy Cross388.

  • 109

    ‭EdlinPrae-Nuncius Sydereus34–41. In theory the conjunctions would continue through the constellations every 200 years and would make a complete cycle every 800 years. Modern astronomy has found the conjunctions occur at intervals slightly less than 20 years. The last great conjunction occurred in the sign of Taurus in the summer of 2000.‬

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  • 118

    ‭YatesRosicrucian Enlightenment126–138.

  • 120

    ‭See PuttenhamArte of English Poesie1; Phaedrus 244a–245c.‬

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