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Anselmo Castelo Branco: Profiling an Alchemist Prophet

In: International Journal of Divination and Prognostication
Author:
José Vieira Leitão Centro de História da Sociedade e da Cultura, Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Coimbra Coimbra Portugal

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Abstract

The prophet, alchemist, and physician Anselmo Castelo Branco, while not an unknown name in Portuguese letters, still stands as a largely misunderstood author of the intellectually troubled Portuguese eighteenth century. He is mostly known for his alchemical opus, the Ennoea, and so far scholars have only given superficial attention to his non-alchemical works, leading to significant bias.

While not denying Castelo Branco’s relevance as a medical and alchemical writer, this article hopes to be the first to offer a detailed reconstruction of this author’s biography as well as an extensive analysis of all his known written works. Besides his known contributions to the sciences, his ideas on the Portuguese messianic cult of Sebastianism, prognostication, and the definition of accurate prophecy are analyzed, revealing a complex and nuanced vision which aimed to harmonize the fragmented fields of Portuguese eighteenth-century messianism and millenarianism.

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