Albertus Magnus

Albertus Magnus Cover Albertus Magnus - 1193-1280 - was also known as Saint Albert the Great and Albert of Cologne, was a Dominican friar who became famous for his comprehensive knowledge and advocacy for the peaceful coexistence of science and religion. He is considered to be the greatest German philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages. He was the first medieval scholar to apply Aristotle's Philosophy to Christian thought at the time. Catholicism honors him as a Doctor of the Church, one of only 33 men and women with that honor. In the Dominican Order he rose to the position of Bishop of Ratisbourg. Later he was canonized as Saint Albert the Great. He was both student and teacher of alchemy and chemistry, and an alleged magician. He firmly believed in the benefits of botany claiming various plants, rocks, and amethysts improved clairvoyance. Like Aristotle, he thought nature and men's lives were Controlled by the stars and plants. Notably he taught Saint Thomas Acquinas and made several significant contributions to chemistry. Legend has it he turned based metal into gold, but there is no evidence of this in his notes on alchemy. Legend also has it that when a dinner guest of William II, the Count of Holland, on New Year's Day, 1242, Magnus suggested the guests dine outdoors. Wanting a piece of land for a monastery he graciously changed the freezing day into a warm spring afternoon with blooming flowers and singing birds. Albertus' knowledge of physical science was considerable and for the age accurate. His industry in every department was great, and though we find in his system many of those gaps which are characteristic of scholastic philosophy, yet the protracted study of Aristotle gave him a great power of systematic thought and exposition, and the results of that study, as left to us, by no means warrant the contemptuous title sometimes given him of the "Ape of Aristotle." They rather lead us to appreciate the motives which caused his contemporaries to bestow on him the honorable surnames "The Great" and Doctor Universalis. It must, however, be admitted that much of his knowledge was ill digested; it even appears that he regarded Plato and Speusippus as Stoics. Albertus was both a student and a teacher of alchemy and chemistry. He isolated arsenic in 1250, the first element to be isolated since antiquity and the first with a known discoverer. He was alleged to be a magician, since he was repeatedly charged by some of his unfriendly contemporaries with communing with the devil, Practicing the craft of magic, and with the making of a demonic automata able to speak. He was also one of the alchemists reputed to have succeeded in discovering the Philosopher's Stone.

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