Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM
ANSELM DE BOODT'S DE GEMMARUM ET LAPIDIUM HISTORIA
This paper discusses Anselm de Boodt’s Gemmarum et Lapidum Historia
(The History of Gems and Stones), which was one of the most influential texts on minerals in the seventeenth century. The book was read by a number of scholars, and is especially important for understanding the famed English chemist, Robert Boyle. The first edition of Gemmarum et Lapidum Historia
was published in 1609, while de Boodt worked as the personal physician to the Emperor Rudolf II. (The book was, in fact, dedicated to his employer.) The third and last edition of the 576 page tome was published in 1642 and consisted of two parts. The majority of the book is comprised of the second part, which catalogs methodically hundreds of specific minerals. It describes in detail their various identifying and curative properties, and it is likely this useful detail which gave the book its fame.
This first part, however, is philosophically more interesting because he gives an account of the various causes of minerals. In this regard, de Boodt was influenced by earlier Scholastic authors and the philosopher, Aristotle. Nonetheless, he provides a unique account for the causes of how minerals were formed, and several the ideas expressed within the this part of the text became well accepted throughout the seventeenth century. I will discuss Anselm’s account of the formation of gems and minerals, the influences which helped shaped this account, and the impact which the book later had on the famed scholars of the so-called Scientific Revolution.