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The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (Routledge Classics) Paperback – October 12, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Zestful, stylish, full of suggestive ways forward, Yates's bold reassessment of Rosicrucianism is provoking, exhilarating and indispensable.' - Diarmaid MacCulloch, BBC History Magazine

About the Author

Dame Frances Yates (1899 - 1981). English scholar who brought about the revival of interest in the historical role of the occult sciences, demonstrating their link with the rise of modern science.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2nd edition (November 11, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415267692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415267694
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mark Newbold on August 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book began a revolution in encouraging scholars and laypersons to take the role of Esoteric movements as a legitimate element in the study of Western history. Though there have been recent disputes with some conclusions drawn by Dame Yates in this work, it still remains a pioneering document of historical research. The recent collection of essays by Christopher Bamford, "The Roscicrucian Enlightment Revisited" goes toward validation of much of this work. A seminal book in esoteric studies, highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the books featured in the annotated bibliography that I am writing. It is not some occult handbook; rather, it is a concise history of this movement during the 17th century, written by an eminent Renaissance scholar.
If you really want to know what was happening in Great Britain and Europe during this period, what brought about the Rosicrucian Manifesto and Confessio - and why - this is the book to read. Dame Frances Yates' clarity in setting down this underground movement, how these men communicated and disseminated their thoughts and beliefs (which were considered heretical to the church and treasonous to the politics of their day)is an enlightening revelation.
It is to these men, who fought for the freedom from Church strictures to study mathematics, philosophy and science openly, that we should give our thanks today. These are the great minds who held a utopian vision: Johann Valentine Andreae, Giordano Bruno, Elias Ashmole, John Dee, Sir Phillip Sidney, Thomas Vaughan, Francis Bacon, Robert Fludd, Michael Maier, Tommaso Campanella, and others (the only person missing is Sendivogius). These are the alchemists who were responsible for the later advancement into rational science.
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Format: Paperback
Wonderful book. Highly recommended. The book is a history of a very overlooked portion of the role that the so called "occult" has played in the formation of modern science and medicine. It traces with wonderful skill, the foundations of the Royal Society. It shows Bacon was FIRMLY entrenched in the lore of alchemy and hermeticism. Those early scientists were indeed the last of the great alchemists. She goes on to show the link between the "invisible college" and the rise of objective thought that culminated with the Renaissance. In the process she charts the greater part of Pre-Renaissance history! If you have an interest in the esoteric foundations of science, then this is a worthy expenditure of your time.
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Format: Hardcover
_The Rosicrucian Enlightenment_ by Renaissance scholar Frances Yates is a fascinating account of the Rosicrucian movement in seventeenth century Europe and its relationship to various political intrigues of the time. Yates begins by remarking that in referring to Rosicrucians she is not referring to any of the modern day occult groups which go under this name and by referring to "enlightenment" she is not referring to the historical period known as the "Aufklarung" in which philosophers attempted to shed light on the darkness of superstition. Rather, Yates suggests that certain documents referred to as the "Rosicrucian manifestos" published in seventeenth century Germany brought about an enlightenment in which other intellectuals attempted to copy from them and incorporate elements of Rosicruicianism into their utopias. The word Rosicrucian refers at once to the semi-mythical (at least believed to be mythical by most modern scholars) hero of the manifestos Christian Rosencreutz but also to the Rosy Cross (combining "Rose + Cross" or perhaps "Ros" (dew) and "Crux" in an alchemical interpretation). Yates emphasizes two aspects of the Rosicrucian movement. First, she wants to ground this movement in the Hermetic philosophy, cabbalism, and magical traditions of the Renaissance (emphasizing her earlier studies on such Renaissance figures as Giordano Bruno and Marsilio Ficino). Second, she wants to emphasize the influence of the Elizabethan magus John Dee on Rosicrucianism.

Yates begins by describing a "royal wedding" between Princess Elizabeth and Frederick V, Elector Palatine of the Rhine. These two became known mockingly as "the Winter King and Queen of Bohemia" after Frederick's failed attempt to take the throne of Bohemia and their flight from Prague.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book to be invaluable in clearing the factual fog around the original Rosicrucians. The author was a scrupulous and brilliant historian who has not, as far as I can find, been seriously challenged on her major conclusions by another scholar of similar standing and specialty. The reviewers of this book who claim Dames Yates made "HUGE assumptions" and "misinterpretations" do not cite sources for these claims. Not to do so is, at best, a disservice and at worst, indicative that the sources are not of the same caliber as Dame Yates.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Frances Yates is well-regarded for her superb study "Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition" (1964). This book (1972) is a sequel. It places the murky origins of Rosicrucianism in the context of the religious and political rivalries of the early 17th Century. It is an extremely engaging and fascinating study which, unfortunately, was not carried through to its logical end-point--it reads like a draft of a bigger and more definitive book. But a wonderful draft it is!
At this moment there is a danger that the collections of the Warburg Institute, which made all of Yates' work possible, may become unavailable to scholars or even dispersed. These collections are irreplaceable--they are the hard core of scholarship in 16th-17th century cultural evolution. If this book inspires you, please inform yourself and do whatever you can to help preserve this resource for posterity.
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