The story of our family...for my sons

Sunday, September 18, 2011

13th Century Sorceror/Alchemist

Once called "the most renowned and feared sorceror and alchemist of the 13th Century", Michael Scott was born in the borders in 1175. His life is the stuff of legend . He's features in Dante's Inferno as one "who knew how the game of magic fraud was played." He also featured in Boccaccio's writing as one of "the greatest masters of necromancy." More recently Walter Scott featured him prominently in the 'Lay of the Last Minstrel.' Michael Scott is reputed to have split the Eildon Hills, ridden the back of a sea monster and, most helpfully, rid the land of plague by shutting the disease up in a secret room in Glenluce Castle.

The truth seems to be that he dabbled seriously in the occult and in areas of "light and suggestion"(hypnosis? ) but as a sideline. He was in fact a brilliant scholar. He studied in Oxford before going to the Sorbonne in Paris where he became known as Michael the Mathematician. He then travelled to Padua where one of his pupils was reputed to be Fibonacci, and then to Toledo where he learned to read Arabic and came into contact with the brilliant scholars of the Muslim world as well as writings of key figures like Aristotle which had been translated into Arabic but were still largely unknown to Christian Europeans.

In Palermo he became Astrologer Royal in the Court of King Frederick 11 with whom he had a great friendship. Before leaving Palermo he predicted the date, time, place and manner of the Emperor's death, details which were later said to have been entirely accurate. After a few years in Germany he then returned to England and then to, it is said, one of the Cistercian monasteries of southern Scotland, possibly Melrose where the turbaned statue beside the tomb above is said to depict him.

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