Fama Fraternitatis

(ca. 1610)


We cannot be sure of the precise intended audience of the Fama or even how far its author was committed to its distribution. Its contents suggest its usefulness to persons desiring reform of university learning. One such was Johann Combach, philosophy professor at Marburg. He published his response to the manuscript in a preface to his Metaphysicorum liber singularis (“Peculiar Book of the Metaphysicians”) in 1613. Combach shared Andreae’s sense that the university system needed reform if it was to properly educate students subjected to its systems. Combach took the Fama very much in the practical sense Andreae had almost certainly intended. Combach’s response is only the second known printed response (after Haslmayr’s) to the Fama Fraternitatis.

Haslmayr’s response relied on the fact that he was a devotee of Paracelsus’s religious writings, hidden by Paracelsus and not intended to be revealed until after his death. Paracelsus believed in a perpetual “hidden” or...

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The cartographer Gerhard Mercator (Library of Congress)

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