Michael Maier [1568-1622]
Count Michael Maier Biography
Doctor of Philosophy and of Medicine,
Alchemist, Rosicrucian, and Mystic.
 by  Alejandro Franz

Atalanta fugiens
A Subtle Allegory
by Michael Maier
Atalanta music
The 'fugues' or canons in midi format


     Rensburg, Holstein, Germany.  1568
     Died: Magdeburg, 1622 (Note: This is misprinted as 1662 in the D.S.B.)
     Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
     Lifespan: 54

     Birth: Rensburg, Holstein, Germany
     Career: Germany
     Death: Magdeburg, Germany

His Father

      Occupation: Government Official

     Michael was probably the son of Johann Maier, an offical of the Duchy of Holstein.
    The Neue deutsche Biographie, on the other hand, says his father was Petrus Meier
    (d. < 1590), a gold embroiderer in the service of Heinrich Rantzaus, Danish governor
    of Schleswig-Holstein.

     A relation of his mother's, Severin Goebel, a well-known physician of Gdansk and
     Koënigsberg, financed his studies.

     No solid information on parents' financial status, although the information about his
     education seems to suggest that they were less than affluent.

     Schooling: Rostock; Padua; Franfurtan Order, M.A.; Bologna; Basel, M.D.; PhD

     He studied first either in Rensburg or Kiel.

     1587, University of Rostock.
     1589, he was in Nuremberg.
     1589-1591, he was in Padua with Goebel's son.
     (The Neue deutsche Biographie has him in Padua in 1595).
     1592, University of Frankfurt a. d. Oder. He received an M.A.
     1596, University of Bologna.
     1596, University of Basel, where he received an M.D.

     It is not known where he got his Ph.D.

     Affiliation: Lutheran

Scientific Disciplines
     Primary: Alchemy

Means of Support

     Primary: Medicine
     Secondary: Schoolmastering, Patronage

     It is presumed that his trip to Padua with Goebel's son (1589-1591) was in the
     capacity of tutor/companion.

     1590, he started practicing surgery without an academic degree
      (which doesn't seem surprising to me).

     Sometime between 1592-1596, he worked at Koenigsberg under the supervision
     of Severin Goebel.

     It seems that before 1600 he was a courtier of Rudolf II and a writer in the
     German chancellery.

     1601, he entered his name on the roles of the University of Koenigsberg as
     Dr Phil. and Dr. Med.,  probably hoping for professional status, but he did not get it.

     1601, he started a medical practice in the White Lion Inn, Gdansk, where he
      dispensed his own cures.

     Around 1608, he returned to Prague as a doctor. in 1609, he entered the service
     of the emperor.

     According to the D.S.B.: 1611 and 1612-1614 were periods of extensive travel,
     first around Saxony, then  to England and Amsterdam.
     According to the Neue deutsche Biographie in 1611-1614, he "entered himself" into
     the court of James I, where he remained for nearly five years.

     Around 1614, he became non-resident physician and chemist for the Kassel court to
     Landgrave Maurice
     of Hesse, but he retained his private practice.

     1618, he travelled to Stockhausen, where he attended a wealthy nobleman named
      von Eriedesel, but he left his household in Frankfurt.

     1618-1622, he became physician to Duke Christian Wilhelm of Magdeburg.

     Types: Physician, Court Official, Aristrocrat, Eccesiastic Official

     Early in his life there was the physician Severin Goebel (see above).
    Though he was a relative, the relationship sounds like patronage.

     Sometime before 1600 he was probably a courtier to Emperor Rudolf II.
     Around 1612, he became physician-in-ordinary to Rudolf, though this appears to
     have been honorary because his name does not appear in court accounts.
     His family coat of arms was augmented by Rudolf and he was named Hofpfalzgraf
     (count Palantine) in 1609. A count Palantine was an imperial official who exercised
     a sort of supervision over the universities and had the right to grant doctorates and the
     title of poet laureate.

     Landgrave Maurice of Hesse was a patron to a certain extent.
     Maier met him in 1611 while fishing for a  job. He dedicated a book to Maurice,
     whereupon he was appointed "Medicus und Chymicus von Haus  aus," but even when
     he was appointed, he did not belong to Maurice's inner circle of alchemical practioners.

     The nobleman von Eriedesel presumably counts as a patron.

     He was physician to Duke Christian Wilhelm, Archbishop of Magdeburg and
     primate of Germany.

     Toward the end of his life, he attempted to cultivate the Danish Prince Friedrich III
      as a patron, but was not sucessful. He dedicated works to him.

     Some evidence exists that supports the idea that he was connected with the English
     court while in England. There are copies of Arcana Arcanissima (ca. 1614) with
     manuscript dedications to both Sir  William Paddy, physician to James I,
     and Sir Thomas Smith,  first governor of the East India Company and treasurer
     of the Virgina Company.

Technological Involvement
     Type: Medical Practice

Scientific Societies
     Memberships: None

   1.Ulrich Neumann, Neue deutsche Biographie,
   2.J.B. Craven, Count Michael Maier
      (Kirwall, Scotland, 1911;repr. London: Dawsons, 1969)
      Communication, and Chemiatry:
   3. The Hermetic-Alchemical Circle of Moritz of Hessen-Kassel.
   4. Le Grand Secret des pyramides de Gizeh.1994 - Editions du Rocher

Michael Maier's   Atalanta fugiens
  Emblems 1 to 5   Emblems 6 to 10    Emblems 11 to 20
Emblems 21 to 30   Emblems 31 to 40   Emblems 41 to 50
Back to Michael Maier Page     The 'fugues' or canons in midi format
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