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Sources: Primitive Psycho-therapy And Quackery


philosopher, and cabalist, of noble ancestry, was born at Cologne, on

the Rhine, September 14, 1486. Having received a liberal education and

being by nature versatile, he became in his youth a secretary at the

Court of the German Emperor, Maximilian I.

He served moreover in the army under that monarch, during several

Italian campaigns, and by
eason of gallantry, won the spurs of a

knight. Becoming averse to the profession of arms, he studied with

avidity law, medicine, philosophy, and languages, and in 1509 became

Professor of Hebrew at Dole, in the department of Jura, France. Here his

caustic humor and intemperate language involved him in quarrels with the

monks, while his restless disposition impelled him to rove in search of

adventure. He visited successively London, Pavia, and Metz, where he

became a magistrate and town orator.

Having expressed opinions contrary to the prevalent beliefs in regard to

saints and witches, he was forced to depart abruptly. We next hear of

him as a practising physician in Fribourg, Switzerland. Thereafter he

became a vagabond and almost a beggar. Like his contemporary,

Paracelsus, he advanced the most paradoxical theories during his

adventurous career, which latter was partly scientific and partly

political, but always turbulent. Finally he established himself at

Lyons, where he again practised medicine, and became physician to Louise

of Savoy, Regent of France, and the mother of Francis I. Here Agrippa

soon fell into disgrace and was banished. In 1528 he joined the Court

of Margaret of Austria, ruler of the Netherlands, at Antwerp. On the

publication of his work, "On the Vanity of the Sciences," he was

imprisoned for a year at Brussels.

Upon his release, he returned to Lyons, where he was again detained in

custody, on account of an old libel against his former patroness.

His death occurred at Grenoble, France, February 18, 1535.

Agrippa was possessed of great versatility and learning, but his

writings are tinctured with bitterness and satire. He has been described

as restless, ambitious, enthusiastic, and credulous, a dupe himself and

a deceiver of others. His career was a continuous series of

disappointments and quarrels.

Yet he was an earnest searcher after truth, who was fain to attempt the

unlocking of Nature's secrets, but did not hold the right key.

Profoundly superstitious, he taught, for example, that the herb,

Verbena officinalis, vervain, would cure tertian or quartan fevers

according to the manner in which it was divided or cut. Agrippa has been

tersely described as a "meteor of philosophy."