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Equivocal quintessence. Spiritual Alchemy and counterfeit money in 16th-century Spain

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Author(s): Tausiet, María

Journal: Asclepio : Revista de Historia de la Medicina y de la Ciencia
ISSN 0210-4466

Volume: 63;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 319;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Alchemy | Fraud | Counterfeit | Silversmith | Goblins | Trasgos | Santa Engracia Monastery | Counterfeit coin | Alquimia | Fraude | Falsificación | Platero | Duendes | Trasgos | Monasterio de Santa Engracia | Moneda falsa

ABSTRACT
One of the main obsessions of the Early Modern Era was that of determining the notions of true and false, in order to apply them to various fields of knowledge and thus establish the divide between the lawful and the unlawful. This trend was to have a particular impact on the fields of re ligion and science, where it became necessary to distinguish not only between true and false spirits, relics or miracles, but also between genuine and fake astrologers and alchemists. Situated in the middle ground between idealism and materialism, alchemy was prime territory for such tensions, as was demonstrated by a trial held in 1593 at the Jeronymite monastery of Santa Engracia in Saragossa, whose prior accused a friar of making «silver out of smoke and jewels from goblins».Una de las principales obsesiones de la Edad Moderna consistió en determinar las nociones de verdadero y falso para aplicarlas a los distintos campos del saber y, de ese modo, fundamentar la separación entre lo lícito y lo prohibido. Dicha tendencia iba a afectar especialmente a los terrenos de la religión y la ciencia, haciéndose necesario distinguir no sólo verdaderos y falsos espíritus, reliquias o milagros, sino también verdaderos y falsos astrólogos y alquimistas. Situada a caballo entre el idealismo y el materialismo, la alquimia ejemplificaba especialmente dichas tensiones, como se comprobará a través del proceso incoado en 1593 contra un fraile del monasterio jerónimo de Santa Engracia de Zaragoza, a quien su prior acusó de fabricar «plata de humo y joyas de trasgos».
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