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The Rise of Alchemy in Fourteenth-Century England: Plantagenet Kings and the Search for the Philosopher's Stone Paperback – 1 Oct 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum Publishing Corporation (1 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441181830
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441181831
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.8 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 825,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Jonathan Hughes is a Wellcome Research Fellow at the University of East Anglia. He has taught at the University of East Anglia, University of Roehampton and the Oxford Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. His books include Pastors and Visionaries: Religion and Secular Life in Late Medieval Yorkshire; The Religious Life of Richard III and Arthurian Myths and Alchemy: the Kingship of Edward IV.

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Format: Paperback
Unfortunately there are multiple errors on each page in the introductory chapters, showing that the author is unfamiliar with the history of alchemy before the 14th century.
When we turn to the meat of the book in the 14th century, there are still some factual errors, but also many odd or unexamined interpretations which would mislead the casual reader into thinking there was good evidence for a link between alchemy and Royalty in the 14th century. When read critically, Hughes fails to make a good argument for his thesis and does not properly discuss a number of important and relevant aspects of the alchemy of the period such as the use of cover names.
There are also errors in his references, making it impossible to trace some of his claims, and many smaller statements are not referenced at all, no matter whether they are correct or not. (And many are either wrong, or debateable but there is no room given to the debate, you are just expected to accept what he wrote)
He has at least spent some time reading manuscripts and covering a wide range of secondary works, some of which were new to me and perhaps it has some value for that, but he has not put them together at all well.
Ultimately this book should be avoided unless you are prepared to do the work of sorting out what is accurate from inaccurate.
(A proper discussion of this book would take many thousands of words and not fit into this review section)
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