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, history and medicine. 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.
In 1591 he became physician of the city council and one year later superintendent of schools. In 1606 he received the offer to be headmaster of the reestablished Casimirianum Gymnasium in Coburg. He lived in Coburg from 1607 until his dead 1617.
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.
Within 25 years (1591-1616) Libavius wrote more than 40 works in the field of logic, theology, physics, medicine, chemistry, pharmacy and poetry. Sometimes there was something polemic against Jesuit order, Calvinism, Rosicrucian, Hermetiker and Paracelsisten.
In 1597, he wrote the first systematic chemistry textbook, Alchemia, where he described the possibility of transmutation. He showed that cuprous salt lotions are detectable with ammonia, because of the color change to dark blue. Another writing was “Singularia” (1599) with four volumes. It includes a collection of descriptions and discussions about medical academic phenomena. In 1610 one of the first German “Brunnenschriften”, “Tractatus Medicus Physicus und Historia des fürtrefflichen Casimirianischen SawerBrunnen/ unter Libenstein/ nicht fern von Schmalkalden gelegen“ appeared. In the writing „Syntagmatis alchamiae arcanorum“ from 1615 Libavius characterized the 1605 discovered production of tin chloride. However the Franciscan monk Ulmannus already mentioned tin chloride in the writing "Buch der Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit" from 1419. Libavius approved Paracelsus, particularly with regard to chemical medicine, but L. disagreed about astrologic and spiritual constructions.
- Neoparacelsica. Frankfurt am Main 1594
- Tractatus duo physici. Frankfurt am Main 1594
- Gegenbericht von der Panacea Amwaldina, auff Georg vom Waldt davon aussgegangenen Bericht. Frankfurt am Main 1595
- Singularium pars prima … pars secunda. Frankfurt am Main 1595
- Analysis dialéctica colloquii Ratisbonensis. Frankfurt am Main 1602
- Poemata epica, lyrica, et elegica. Frankfurt am Main 1602
- Alchymistische Practic. Frankfurt am Main1603 (Digitalisat)
- Gretserus triumphatus. Frankfurt am Main 1604
- Alchymia triumphans. Frankfurt am Main 1607
- Wolmeinendes Bedencken / Von der Fama, und Confession der Brüderschaft deß Rosen Creutzes. Frankfurt am Main 1616
- 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.
- Dr. Günther Bugge: Das Buch der Grossen Chemiker; first volume from Zosimos to Schönbein, publisher Chemie, GMBH Weinheim/ Bergstr. final pressing 1955, p. 107-124
- Friedemann Rex (1985) (in German). "Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB). 14. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot. pp. 441 et seq.. (full text online) ". In
- 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.