I talked with Roejen and Lobo over at Project Archivist about one of Dee and Kelley’s great patrons, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. He provided material support and political protection for alchemists, astrologers, scientists, and artists of all stripes. Perhaps not the most glittering court (he was a melancholic recluse who preferred the world to come to him), but he created a golden age of early modern science in Prague.
Here are some images of the Mad Emperor himself, some of the art he favored, and a disturbing family tree. All images Wikipedia Commons unless otherwise noted:
Evans, R. J. W. (1973). Rudolf II and His World: A Study in Intellectual History, 1576-1612. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fučíková, E. (1997). Rudolf II and Prague: The court and the city. Prague, New York, and London: Prague : Prague Castle Administration ; London ; New York : Thames and Hudson.
Marshall, P. (2006). The Magic Circle of Rudolf II: Alchemy and Astrology in Renaissance Prague. Walker & Company.
Nummedal, T. (2007). Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
I lived in Georgia half my life so of course I’d never heard of Lake Lanier’s legends until I read about them on an Australian paranormal news site. Evidently its got a giant catfish and ghosts, the latter the paranormal result of leaving entire towns (and cemeteries?) intact beneath its muddy waters.
The Ghost Rockets Investigational Portal is a searchable database of Swedish military UFO reports. It’s also the starting point for a crowdsourcing effort to tag and translate the documents into English.
The original Globe Theater is long gone, but The Curtain has been found. It seems the archaeologists are rushing to outpace impending new construction over this Shakespearean theater, but there will be a visitors’ center for the dig once excavation is complete.
More London: “A series of talks on alchemy and magic” are planned for June 4th and 5th to support the restoration of Brompton Cemetery. Featuring all the hits: Dee, Faust, Paracelsus, and even a theremin concert. Ah, to be in Merrie Olde…
I mean my biweekly link dumps of witches, occultists, strange/obscure history, and academic papers. Why do I post these (apart from their vague relevance to the work in progress)?
Well, I was a strange child. And I had help.
I grew up on an irregular diet of “Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World” and the occasional surprise “In Search Of” when it aired at odd times on TBS. Also one side of my family nurtured an interest in UFOs, ghosts, cryptozoology, and other Forteana/paranormalia: I remember reading my grandmother’s back issues of Fate Magazine from around age 8, and books got passed around through the mail and at holiday get togethers.
I think the cryptozoology thing grew out of the usual childhood fascination with dinosaurs. My interest was intense enough that by elementary school I was making papier-mâché Loch Ness monsters and a faked plaster cast of a Bigfoot footprint for school projects.
I can’t remember my teachers’ reactions.
Various family members expressed everything from skeptical interest to full on belief – dinner table conversation could go on for hours. As a child I was fairly uncritical about it all; as a teenager I became more skeptical but sought out anything that made my eyebrows jump – conspiracy theories, alien abduction, prank religions – for the sheer WTFery, if nothing else. I can’t remember how many times I checked High Weirdness by Mail out of the library (oh hey, now there’s an online version!).
And yes, in the 1990s I was a dedicated X-Phile. So many of the stories were already familiar, and the writers did a wonderful job with the source material!
As an adult I’m more detached but my interest remains, though I’ve grown so hard-headed it’s difficult to believe in anything I can’t hit with a hammer, so to speak. At the same time I recognize that subjective experience is relevant to the experiencer, objectively provable or not. In the end it’s not about aliens or ghosts or witches, but about people and how they integrate the unexplained into their lives.
Still, my inner curious child still aches to know: what really happened? What did they really see/experience/find? Through writing fiction I can speculate with the luxury of not having to prove anything, and I have the freedom to make up answers.
I could (maybe I will) do a whole separate post about growing up as a history buff. Suffice it to say I’m not terribly surprised that two lifelong interests collided to have me writing about Elizabethan magicians ~30 years later.
What about you? Do you have any childhood obsessions that still inform your creative pursuits today? Tell me in the comments!
Call for papers: Histories of Magic and Sexuality – another Twitter find, for academic sorts. 1000-1500 word essays on this subject “[relating] to any geographical area and must have a strong historical focus. Essays exploring the premodern and early modern periods and regions outside of Europe and the US are encouraged.” Closing 5/15.