The 20 Most Famous Alchemists in History

There are Famous alchemists Which had an important role in the development of scientific knowledge, especially in the field of chemistry, where they were key to achieve a modern evolution.

The human being has always been interested in the occult, the origin and composition of things. Alchemy is not only a proto-scientific practice, but a philosophical discipline that tried to understand the composition of things and thus recreate objects of value, such as lead-based gold.

The 20 Most Famous Alchemists in History

The earliest evidence of alchemical practices can be found in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The aim of the alchemists was the creation of the philosopher's stone which, it was believed, could not only convert metals into gold but help man to achieve longevity or eternal life.

Since ancient times, metals such as gold, mercury, lead, copper, iron and tin became famous. Then people believed that within Earth, they underwent a natural transformation whose final product was gold. That is why the alchemists wanted to get the key to this transformation.

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Top 20 most famous alchemists in history

1- Hermes Trismegistus


The mythical Hermes Trismegistus is considered by most alchemists as the father of this science. In addition, he is also considered a connoisseur of the pre-Flood history.

This mythical figure was conceived as a result of the fusion of the Egyptian god Thoth, god of wisdom, and the Greek god Hermes, messenger of the Olympic gods.

It was Hermes Trismegist who formulated the principles of alchemy: principles of gender, cause and effect, rhythm, polarity, correspondence, vibration, and spirituality.

2 - Greek Sages


The Greeks, like Aristotle, Plato, and Empedocles, developed the concept that all things are made up of four elements: air, water, fire, and earth, and the three elemental principles, salt, mercury, and sulfur.

The philosophical postulate of Aristotle That all elements and things tend to perfection, was interpreted by the alchemists as the principle of the perfect proportion of these elements, ie that when the elements are mixed in the perfect proportion they are converted into gold and the other metals Are mixtures where the perfect proportion has not been respected.

3- Geber


The most famous alchemist in the Arab world was the philosopher Abu Musa al-Sufi, known as Geber in the West. This sage was born in Kufa (Iraq) and lived in Tus (Khorasan, Iran), where he established a scientific laboratory.

Geber's works are a compilation of all that was known about chemistry until then. Geber considered that the metals were made of sulfur and mercury.

Many scientists question the existence of Geber since it is not known where he lived, although some believe it may have been in Seville.

His most important book is The sum of the perfections of the magisterium , Because thanks to him the silver nitrate was discovered. Other outstanding works of the philosopher are The Seventy Books , The Book of the Balance , The Eastern Mercury , The Book of Glory , The meeting book Y The pure book .

4- Al-Razi


Another famous Arab alchemist was Al-Razi, who lived in Baghdad in the 9th and 10th centuries. Razi classified the materials into bodies and spirits. The bodies are stones, glass, salts and others. The spirits are mercury, sulfur, ammonia, etc.

The aim of his researches was to determine the formula of the creation of the gold by means of catalytic reactions. Ar Razí wrote a book on saline solutions. This is considered to be related to the Arab tendency to use mineral remedies, rather than plant remedies like elsewhere in Asia.

5- Ko Hung


In ancient China alchemy also developed in parallel. Researchers consider the 3rd century BC. As the beginning of the development of alchemy in the Celestial Empire, a time when the famous alchemist Ko Hung lived.

Others consider that only a historical document, such as the imperial edict dated 144 BC, where the creation of gold is prohibited, can be considered as evidence of alchemical practices.

In the body of the lady of Tai, discovered in an archaeological expedition and dating from the second century bc, you can find remains of pure cinnabar, which according to the Chinese alchemical texts, was recommended to consume.

6- Al-Biruni


In ancient India, according to the memoirs of an 11th-century Persian physician Al-Biruni, Hindus practiced a science similar to alchemy, which was called Rasayana. Centuries later Marco Polo recounts the practices of an ascetic Hindu sect, practicing ingestion of sulfur and mercury. At Sarva-darsana-samgraha , A Hindu philosophical treatise describes the science of mercury as one of the practices by which liberation can be attained.

7- Avicena


More famous as a physician, the alchemist Abū Ali al-Husayn, known in the West as Avicenna, wrote the famous Book of remedies . This book represents a classifying study of minerals, rocks and metals. Avicenna determined that there are four types: stones, sulphides, fusible substances and salts.

He was criticized by his fellow alchemists for he believed that transmutation could not affect the inner nature of metals, but only their appearance.

8- Teófilo Presbítero


An important European alchemist of the twelfth century was Teófilo Presbítero, of whom little is known about his life. Its main treaty Schedula diversarum artium Was an important compilation of all the alchemical knowledge of the time.

In this treatise, Priest details chemical processes to obtain remedies and potions, a detailed description of the placement of stained glass and the instruments and descriptions of how they were manufactured is then different metallic objects.

9- Nicolás Flamel


It is considered that the French alchemist, also scribe and copyist, Nicholas Flamel possessed the ability to create the Philosopher's Stone.

According to the scholars of his life, during the Hundred Years War, Flamel obtained an ancient manuscript on alchemy and since then dedicated his life to study it and decipher its mysteries.

His goal led him to travel to Spain and meet the most important connoisseurs of ancient Greek and Kabbalah, which is a school of esoteric thought in Judaism.

This personage has had much influence in the popular culture and is frequently mentioned in studies and novels on the alchemy, as in The pendulum of Foucault Or in harry potter and the Philosopher's Stone .

His book The Book of Hieroglyphic Figures Is considered the most famous Western text on Alchemy. In it, Flamel talks about his efforts to get the philosopher's stone and the creation of homunculi. A homunculus is an agent or copy of a human being.

10- Paracelsus


It was believed that the Swiss astrologer, physician and alchemist Paracelsus succeeded in the transmutation of lead into gold. The name Paracelsus was adopted by the doctor in honor of the Roman doctor Celso (I d.C.).

After a doctorate in medicine at the University of Ferrara, Paracelsus dedicated himself to the study of minerals and his goal was to find a way to cure all human diseases.

His main book was The great surgery , In which he defended the importance of alchemy for medicine. Thanks to his studies, Paracelsus identified the symptoms of many diseases and was the first to identify the disease due to overwork.

In the epitaph of Paracelsus in the Church of San Sebastián it is affirmed that this healed all kinds of horrendous diseases.

11- St. Albert the Great

The philosopher, geographer and theologian St. Albert the Great stood out for his studies of alchemy. In 1250 he discovered arsenic, which is a toxic metalloid. Alberto Magno worked at the University of Paris, where he devoted himself to the translation of ancient texts into Latin.

His work was more encyclopedic, he was charged not only to classify and describe the experiments of other alchemists and to add their own considerations on them. His work laid the foundation for the work of his disciple St. Thomas Aquinas.

12- Saint Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas was a philosopher and theologian who excelled in various areas of knowledge. In its Treaty of the Art of Alchemy , Which is divided into eight chapters, Aquino deals with topics such as the manipulation of matter and its change of state (solid to liquid) and the composition of mercury and how to prepare it in the laboratory. This treaty was preserved to this day in its entirety.

13- Roger Bacon

The scientist, theologian and alchemist Roger Bacon, better known as 'Doctor Mirabilis', allegedly wrote the Treaty Alchemy Speculum Alchemiae . This treatise is divided into 7 chapters, which explains from the definition of alchemy to how to apply alchemical knowledge in medicine.

He is also considered the author of Voynich Manuscript . Because the manuscript is in an unknown language, it only assumes its possible content starting from the images that it contains. His best known work is Opus tertium , The Opus magnum .

14- Trevisano

In the 15th century lived the famous adventurer Trevisano. This Venetian alchemist was introduced by his father into alchemical science and studied al-Razi and Geber. He traveled throughout Europe and Asia for sixty years searching for the secret of the philosopher's stone. It is considered that at his 82 years, before dying on the island of Rhodes, he discovered the secret of transmutation.

15- George Ripley

In the fifteenth century also lived George Ripley, author of The compendium of the alchemist , The twelve doors that lead to the discovery of the philosopher's stone Y Liber Duodeces Portarum .

All his works, in addition to his generous donations, made society believe at the time that Ripley had really discovered the secret of transmutation.

It is said that Ripley donated generous sums to the knights of the island of Rhodes so that these they fought against Ottoman Empire. Thanks to his experiments antimony became a popular remedy in Europe.

16- Arnau de Vilanova

The outstanding doctor Arnau de Vilanova treated important personalities of the clergy and the monarchy of his time, gaining the grace of these last ones.

He is the author of the works Medicinalium introductionum speculum , Regime Sanitatis ad regum Aragonum And other treaties. his Treaty on Artificial and Pharmaceutical Wines , His use of alcohol in medicine and other innovations are considered related to his alchemical experiments. He translated the treatises of Avicenna.

17- Juan de Peratallada

The religious Juan de Peratallada dedicated much of his life to developing the perfect formula of quintessence, which is the fifth element or ether of things. According to Peratallada, this element can be found in the spirit of wine, when it is distilled several times.

His research helped develop the method of alcohol distillation. He is considered one of the precursors of latroquímica.

18- Enrique Cornelio Agripa

The historiographer Enrique Cornelio Agripa de Nettesheim was an outstanding investigator of the occult. In his work De occulta philosophia libri tres Agripa Describes in detail different occult practices such as magic and alchemy. Due to his ideas he was constantly persecuted in Europe.

19- John Dee

The astrologer, navigator, mathematician and consultant of Queen Elizabeth I John Dee also excelled in alchemy. He spent many years of his life trying to communicate with the angels. Their goal was to understand the language of creation and to achieve the pre-apocalyptic unity of peoples.

In spite of studying different occult sciences and practices, Dee considered that all his acts help him to discover and to understand"the pure truths"of the life and the human being.

During his lifetime Dee accumulated the largest library in England and one of the largest in Europe at the time. After his death was published a work on his contacts with the angels that was extremely popular in England. His friendship with Edward Kelley, famous medium of the time is also the object of speculation.

20- Edward Kelley

The alchemist and medium Edward Kelley, friend of John Dee, is one of the most prominent figures in Alchemy.

Some believe that thanks to his ability to contact the spirits and his collaboration with John Dee, he discovered the secrets of transmutation.

According to eyewitness accounts, Kelley was able to turn metals into gold using red powders and potions. The French alchemist Nicolas Barnaud wrote that when Kelley appeared before King Rudolf II of Prague, he transmuted half a kilo of mercury into gold.