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Michael Maier

Michael Maier (1568–1622) was a German physician, a counsellor to Rudolf II Habsburg and a learned alchemist.


Maier was born in Rendsburg, Holstein, in 1568. He studied philosophy and medicine at Rostock (1587), Frankfurt (Oder) (M.A. 1592), and Padua. He attained in 1596 a doctorate in medicine at Basel, and returned to Rostock to practice the medical profession. He also briefly (c. 1601) practised in Konigsberg and Danzig. Around this time he became interested in alchemy. In 1608 he went to Prague, and in 1609 became the physician and imperial counsellor of Rudolf II. The interest of the emperor in the occult was the reason of his high esteem for Maier. Maier wrote commentary on Hermes Trismegistus and was dedicated, along with the emperor, to researching the secrets of nature.

Between 1611 and 1616, Maier spent time in England at the court of James I, and also served other German princes, particularly the prince of Nassau, a great protector of alchemy. His Atalanta fugiens, an alchemical emblem book, was published in 1617; alongside images, poems, and discussion, it included fifty pieces of music. In 1619 he became the physician of Landgrave Moritz of Hesse. In 1620 he moved to Magdeburg to practice medicine, where he died in 1622 at the age of 54, leaving a noteworthy quantity of unpublished works.

A devout Lutheran all his life, Michael Maier had a strong influence on Sir Isaac Newton. He was also involved in the Rosicrucian movement that appeared around this time.[citation needed]


  • Paul Arnold, Histoire des Rose-Croix, Mercure de France, Paris, 1955.
  • James B. Craven, Count Michael Maier, doctor of philosophy and of medicine, alchemist, Rosicrucian, mystic 1568-1622: life and writings, Berwick: Ibis Press, 2003. ISBN 0892540834
  • H.M.E. de Jong, Michael Maier's Atalanta Fugiens: Sources of an Alchemical Book of Emblems, York Beach: Nicolas-Hays, 2002. ISBN 0877289484
  • John Warwick Montgomery, "Lutheran Astrology and Alchemy in the Age of the Reformation," Ambix: The Journal of the Society for the Study of Alchemy and Early Chemistry, Vol. 11 (June 1963), pp. 65-86.
  • Hereward Tilton, "The Life and Work of Count Michael Maier (1569-1622): Understanding Christian Alchemy in the German Calvinist States," Theology and Religion, Vol. 1 (1999), pp. 23-42.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Michael_Maier". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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