Libavius was born in Halle, Germany, as Andreas Libau. In Halle he attended the gymnasium and studied from the year 1576 at the University of Wittenberg. From 1577 on he studied in the University of Jena in the faculties of philosophy and history. He obtained there the academic degree of magister artium. Additionally he attended the lectures of the faculty of medicine there.
He worked at first as a teacher, from the year 1581 in Ilmenau and from 1586 in Coburg. In 1588 he went to Basel and was promoted to the degree of medicinae doctor and in the same year became a professor of history and poetics in Jena. At the same time he also supervised the disputations in the field of medicine. Libavius died in Coburg where he held the position of the rector of the Gymnasium Casimirianum.
In a survey of the medical profession of his time, he split them up as Galenists, "Chemiatri" and Paracelsians. The second group he subdivided, one type being those relatively conservative in innovations but still interested in chemistry as a source of new drugs: these included Philip Ulstadius as a representative figure in a tradition going back to Avicenna. The other type were hermeticists, opponents of the Paracelsians but bad chemists.
In The Rosicrucian Enlightenment Frances Yates states:
Andrea Libavius was one of those chymists who was influenced up to a point by the new teachings of Paracelsus in that he accepted the use of the new chemical remedies in medicine advocated by Paracelsus, whilst adhering theoretically to the traditional Aristotelian and Galenist teachings and rejecting the Paracelsist mysticism. Aristotle and Galen appear, honourably placed, on the title-page of Libavius's main work, the Alchymia, published at Frankfurt in 1596....Libavius criticized the Rosicrucian Fama and Confessio in several works. Basing himself on the texts of the two manifestos, Libavius raises serious objections to them on scientific, political, and religious grounds. Libavius is strongly against theories of macro-microcosmic harmony, against Magia and Cabala, against Hermes Trismegistus (from whose supposed writings he makes many quotations), against Agrippa and Trithemius — in short he is against the Renaissance tradition.
In 1597, he wrote the first systematic chemistry textbook, Alchemia, which included instructions for the preparation of several strong acids. Some of his writings were published under the name Basilius de Varna.
- Allen G. Debus, The Chemical Philosophy (1977), pp. 170–1.
- Owen Hannaway (1986). "Laboratory Design and the Aim of Science: Andreas Libavius versus Tycho Brahe". Isis 77 (4): 584–610. doi:10.1086/354267.
- Frances Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment RKP 1972
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Andreas Libavius.|
- Rice University article
- Indiana University article**
- Peter Forshaw (2008) "Paradoxes, Absurdities, and Madness": Conflict over Alchemy, Magic and Medicine in the Works of Andreas Libavius and Heinrich Khunrath.
- Online Galleries, History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries High resolution images of works by and/or portraits of Andreas Libavius in .jpg and .tiff format.