Valentine, Basil
This German adept in alchemical philosophy is commonly
supposed to have been born at Mayence toward the close of the
fourteenth century. As a young man he became a Roman Catholic
priest and entered the Abbey of St. Peter, at Erfurt. He
eventually became its prior, but otherwise very little is known
concerning him, and even the date of his death is not known.
His very existence is believed to be mythical by some authorities.
He appears to have been a very modest person, for according
to Olaus Borrichius, the author of De Ortu et Progressu
Chemioe, Valentine hid all the manuscripts of his writings inside
one of the pillars of the Abbey Church where they might have
remained for an indefinite period, but they were discovered
during a thunderstorm, when a flash of lightning dislodged
them from their curious hiding place. Valentine’s reluctance
for his work to be known may have been prompted by fear of
the Inquisition discovering his researches in alchemy.
Valentine’s works in alchemy certainly mark him as a very
shrewd man and a capable scientist. Unlike much other medieval
literature, his treatises were not all in Latin, some of them
being in high Dutch and others in German. Prominent among
those in his own language is The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony,
first published at Leipzig in 1624. In this work, Valentine extolled
antimony as an excellent medicine. The volume also embodies
a lengthy metrical treatise on the philosophers’ stone,
the writer contending that whoever should discover and use
this must do charitable deeds, mortify the flesh, and pray without
ceasing. Among the alchemist’s further writings are Apocalypsis
Chymica, De Microcosmo degue Magno Mundi Mysterio et
Medecina Hominis and Practica unà cum duodecim Clavibus et Appendice.
All these were originally published in Germany at the
beginning of the seventeenth century, and various passages in
them demonstrate that the author understood the distillation
of brandy and was acquainted with the method of obtaining hydrochloric
acid from saltwater. Reverting to his faith in antimony,
he has been credited with having been the first to extract
this from sulphuret.

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