Surviving alchemical manuscripts of Rudolph II

To the main page

This information is abstracted from P.C. Boeren, Codices Vossiani Chymici, Leiden 1975 available here (search on Vossiani).

The Codices Vossiani are a collection of manuscripts looted by Swedish troops from various places in Germany and Bohemia in the Thirty Years' War, and include some which were taken from Prague Castle and were once owned by Rudolph II. Of these, half originated in Saxony and were given to Rudolph as a set by the mining official Sebald Schwertzer. Others, of disparate origin, can be identified as relics of Rudolph's libraries, some by their sumptuous bindings with the royal coat of arms and some by indirect evidence. The Schwertzer gift was not incorporated into Rudolph's collections.

These manuscripts are now in Leiden University Library, having previously been owned by Queen Christina of Sweden and the classicist Isaac Vossius.

Rudolph II's personal collection

Shelfmark Paper Binding Date Language Previous owner Datable text
F.37 German (Ravensburg) Bound for Rudolph II with Augsburg paper. End of 16th century German Unknown None
Q.3 Austrian (Styria) 16th century 1584 French Johannes Erici None
Q.7 ? German (possibly Regensburg) 16th century 16th century German Unknown Text dated 1570
Q.10 ? Not known German, 16th century 1524 Latin Georg Schilher. None
Q.11 Unknown 16th century 1544 Latin Previously owned by M.D.M. None
Q.22 ? German (Ravensburg) Binding: 16th century Second half 16th century Latin Resembles Q.51 None
Q.31B part I ? French (Champagne) 16th century 1573 Latin, Italian, German Marginal annotations by Rudolph II Autograph manuscript of Petrus Lopicus Xinovius
Q.31B part II ? German (Kempten) As Q.31B I 1592 Latin, German Marginal annotations by Rudolph II None
Q.39 English 18th century 1610 Latin M.D.M. Inscription to Rudolph II on f. 1r. None
Q.40 Austrian (Carinthia) End 16th century End 16th century English, French, Latin Johannes Erici None
Q.50 Unknown Bound for Rudolph II. Early 17th century Latin Unknown Copy of a Heidelberg manuscript of 1523
Q.51 German (Ravensburg) Bound for Rudolph II. 1563 German Unknown None
Q.52 I Written at Zschopau in Saxony Bound for Rudolph II. 1578, 1581, 1583, German Unknown Text by Valentin Weigel (1533-1588).
Q. 52 II German (Bautzen) As Q.52 I. 16th century German Unknown None
Q. 52 III Same paper as Q.52 I As Q.52 I). 16th century German Unknown None
Q.53 German (Ravensburg) Bound for Rudolph II. Second half 16th century German Unknown None
Q.54 German (Ravensburg) Bound for Rudolph II. Second half 16th century Latin and German Unknown None
Q.55 German (Ravensburg) 16th century Second half 16th century German Similar appearance to Q.38 and Q.54. None
Q.56 A German (Bavaria) Beginning 17th century Bound for Rudolph II. Latin and German Carolus Widemann of Augsburg Texts by Paracelsus and Bartholomaeus Karrichter.
Q. 56 B German (Wuertemberg). As Q.56 A. 1568 Latin and German Unknown None
Q.57 Bohemian (Eger/Cheb). Bound for Rudolph II. End 16th century German Unknown Texts by Bartholomaeus Korndorffer
Q.61 Unknown Bound for Rudolph II. Second half 16th century German Unknown Texts by Cornelius Petraeus
O.3 French Bound for Rudolph II. Around 1600 Latin, German Unknown None

Johannes Erici: possibly an assistant to Tycho Brahe, alive in Prague between 1599 and 1601, possibly a Swede in the service of Rudolph II.

Bartholomaeus Karrichter: alive between 1564 and 1676.

Georg Schilher: alive in Vienna between 1550 and 1555.

The Sebald Schwertzer group of manuscripts

Shelfmark Paper Binding Date Language Previous owner Datable text
F.4 German (Dresden). Dresden around 1590. 1577 Latin, German Unknown None
F.5 German (Oberguerig, near Bautzen). Dresden around 1590. 16th century, before 1577 Latin, German Unknown None
F.6 German (Oberguerig, near Bautzen). Dresden around 1590. End 16th century German Unknown None
F.7 German (Dresden). 19th century, Leiden replacing Dresden around 1590. End 16th century German Unknown None
F.8 German (Dresden). 19th century, Leiden replacing Dresden around 1590. 1585 German Unknown None
F.9 ? German (Dresden). 19th century, Leiden replacing Dresden around 1590. 1581 German Previously owned by August Elector of Saxony. None
F.10 German (Dresden and Oberguerig). 19th century, Leiden replacing Dresden around 1590. 16th century, before 1578 Latin, German Unknown Texts by Franciscus Joel and Leonhard Thurneysser.
F.11 German (Dresden and Oberguerig). Dresden around 1590. End 16th century German Unknown None
F.13 German (Dresden). 19th century, Leiden replacing Dresden around 1590. End 16th century German Unknown A letter of 1579 by Leonhard Thurneysser.
F.14 German (Dresden and Oberguerig). 19th century, Leiden replacing Dresden around 1590. End 16th century, after 1577 Latin, German Unknown Texts by Paracelsus.
F.15 German (Dresden and Oberguerig). 19th century, Leiden replacing Dresden around 1590. End 16th century German Unknown None
F.17 German (Dresden). Dresden around 1590. End 16th century German Unknown Texts by Paracelsus.
F.18 German (Dresden and Oberguerig). Dresden around 1590. 1575-1586 Latin, German Unknown Texts by Abraham Behem and Hans Jenitz.
F.21 German (Dresden) Dresden around 1590. End 16th century, after 1572 German Unknown Texts by Paracelsus
F.22 German (Dresden) Dresden around 1590. 1586 Latin, German Unknown None
F.23 German (Dresden and Oberguerig) Dresden around 1590. 16th century, after 1568 German, Latin, Greek Unknown Texts by Emperor Maximilian I, Charles V, Johannes Oporinus.
F.26 German (Dresden and Oberguerig). 19th century, Leiden replacing Dresden around 1590. 1567 Latin, German Unknown Texts by Paracelsus
F.27 German (Dresden) Dresden around 1590. End 16th century Latin, German, Italian Unknown None
Q.43 German (Dresden and Oberguerig) Dresden around 1590. End 16th century German Unknown A dedication to Wilhelm von Oettingen.
Q.58 German (Saxony) Dresden around 1590. 1590 German Unknown None

Franciscus Joel: alive between 1559 and 1579.

Leonhard Thurneysser: 1531-96.

Wilhelm von Oettingen: 1544-1602.

Emperor Maximilian I: reigned 1508 to 1519.

Charles V: reigned 1519 to 1558.

Johannes Oporinus: 1507-1567.

Abraham Behem, brother-in-law of Bartolomaeus Scultetus (1540-1616).

Hans Jenitz: alive between 1558 and 1585.