The Mercurial Emperor:
The Magic Circle of Rudolf II in Renaissance Prague

NOA Community Centre (Ferry Centre)
Summertown, Oxford

(click for map etc.)

In this illustrated talk, Peter Marshall will explore the extraordinary galaxy of great minds that gathered at the court of Rudolf II in Prague at the turn of the seventeenth century, attracted by his generous patronage and the spirit of free enquiry. They included such luminaries as the alchemist Sendivogius, the magus John Dee, the astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, the philosopher Giordano Bruno and the artist Arcimboldo. Together they formed the stepping-stone from the medieval world view to the modern.

Like Faust, Rudolf was prepared to risk all in the pursuit of the occult arts and the Philosopher's Stone. The New Hermes Trismegistus, as he was known, paid more attention to the stars than to the affairs of State. In his Chambers of Curiosities, he amassed one of the greatest collections of natural and scientific wonders. But he also had to face the Ottoman Empire, growing religious discord and an ambitious younger brother. As a result he lost his empire and nearly his sanity, but he helped turn Prague into a sparkling crucible of alchemy, astronomy and magic and enabled the city to enjoy a golden age of peace and creativity before Europe was engulfed in the Thirty Years' War.

Dr. Peter Marshall is the author of The Philosopher's Stone, World Astrology and The Mercurial Emperor (published in hardback as The Theatre of the World). He has written fifteen books, which are being translated into fourteen different languages.

£6.00 (Friends £3.00)