Establishing the Canon: George Ripley and his alchemical sources.

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George Ripley, Canon of Bridlington (ca. 1415 to ca. 1490) was one of England's most famous alchemists, whose alchemical opera attracted study and commentary throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and were printed and translated both in England and abroad. Yet Ripley's frequently baffling texts have proved resistant to scholarly interpretation. This paper attempts to unravel some of Ripley's alchemical theories and practice, firstly by identifying his major sources, and secondly by gauging his response to these texts. For instance, although Ripley's interest in the corpus of alchemical texts pseudonymously attributed to Ramon Lull is well documented, it transpires that his best known work, the Compound of Alchemy, or Twelve Gates, is actually based not on a Lullian work, but on a Latin treatise that Ripley attributed to the little-known alchemist, Guido de Montanor. Further clues to Ripley's alchemical thought can be obtained by considering his handling of a potential conflict between his two authorities, Lull and Guido. The resulting insights into Ripley's alchemy provide an instrument for assessing which of Ripley's pseudoepigraphic works can be truly called "canonical".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-208
Number of pages20
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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