Arnaldus de Villanova (ca. 1235–1311)
Famous early alchemist who was also an astrologer, diplomat,
and social reformer. He was regarded as a great authority
on alchemy and is cited in many histories of the subject. Born
in a Catalan family near Valencia, he was educated by Dominicans
and studied medicine at Naples. His medical skill brought
him a great reputation, and he treated kings, popes, and other
famous people, which gave him reason to travel widely in
Spain, France, Italy, and North Africa. He studied languages
and was fluent in Arabic, Greek, and Latin. He became a favorite
physician of James II, king of Aragon, and in 1285 he attended
King Peter III of Aragon and was rewarded with the
professorial chair of the University of Montpellier and a castle
in Tarragona. However, his frank criticisms of the clergy of his
time made many enemies in the church, and in 1299, during
a diplomatic mission to Paris on behalf of James II of Aragon,
he was arrested by order of the Holy Office and charged with
heresy in his book on the Antichrist. After strong protests on
his behalf to the King of France and Pope Boniface VIII, he was
released in 1301.
He wrote many books on medicine and alchemy, although
some works ascribed to him are probably wrongly attributed.
During a visit to Naples, he met the famous alchemist Ramon
Lully. In addition to his writings on alchemy, Arnaldus conducted
some practical experiments. He died on a voyage from
Sicily to Avignon, where he had been summoned to attend
Pope Clement V, who was ill. Arnaldus was buried in Genoa.
His major work on alchemy, The Treasure of Treasures, Rosary
of the Philosophers, was published in Italian and Latin. There is
a lengthy account on Arnaldus in Histoire littéraire de la France
by J. B. Hauréau, 1881.
Sources
Waite, Arthur Edward. Alchemists through the Ages. Blauvelt,
N.Y. Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1970.

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