Bernard Trevisan

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Bernard Trevisan (Bernard of Treviso, Bernardus Trevisanus) refers to one or more Italian alchemists. These are often confused, or more accurately the name may refer to a shadowy figure or figures.

Biography[edit]

The figure from the fifteenth century is described as living from 1406-1490. He was born into a noble family in Padua and spent his entire life spending his family fortune in search of the Philosopher's stone.

He began his career as an alchemist at the age of fourteen.[1] He had his family's permission, as they also desired to increase their wealth. He first worked with a monk of Cîteaux named Gotfridus Leurier. They attempted for eight years to fashion the Philosopher's stone out of hen eggshells and egg yolk purified in horse manure.[1]

He is believed to have been influential on the work of Gilles de Rais in the 1430s.[2]

He then worked with minerals and natural salts using distillation and crystallization methods borrowed from Jābir ibn Hayyān and Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi. When these failed he turned to vegetable and animal material, finally using human blood and urine. He gradually sold his wealth to buy secrets and hints towards the stone, most often from swindlers. He traveled all over the known world, including the Baltics, Germany, Spain, France, Vienna, Egypt, Palestine, Persia, Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus, to find hints left by past alchemists. His health had been deteriorating, most likely from the fumes he had created with his alchemy. He retired to the Island of Rhodes, still working on the Philosopher's stone until his death in 1490.

Attributed works[edit]

In the sixteenth century alchemical works were attributed to Bernard. For example, Trevisanus de Chymico miraculo, quod lapidem philosophiae appellant was edited in 1583 by Gerard Dorn. The Answer of Bernardus Trevisanus, to the Epistle of Thomas of Bononia,[3] and The Prefatory Epistle of Bernard Earl of Tresne, in English, appeared in the 1680 Aurifontina Chymica.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ A.E. Waite, The Lives of the Alchemystical Philosophers (London, 1888), 126.
  2. ^ Roland Villeneuve, Gilles de Rais p128, Editions Denoel 1955
  3. ^ Thomas of Bononia being described as physician to Charles VIII of France, king at the end of the fifteenth century.

Further reading[edit]

  • Kibre, Pearl (1970). "Bernard of Trevisan". Dictionary of Scientific Biography 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 22–23. ISBN 0-684-10114-9. 
  • Jaffe, Bernard (1976). Crucibles: The Story of Chemistry, from ancient alchemy to nuclear fission (4 ed.). New York: Dover Publications Ltd. 
  • Kahn, Didier (2003). "Recherches sur le ‘Livre’ attribué au prétendu Bernard le Trévisan (fin du XVe siècle)," in L’Alchimia e medicina nel Medioevo, Micrologus Library IX.

External links[edit]