By Alec Ryrie
An earl's son, plotting homicide via witchcraft; conjuring spirits to discover buried treasure; a stolen coat embroidered with natural silver; crooked gaming-houses and brothels; a terrifying new sickness, and the self-trained health practitioner who claims he can deal with it. this can be the realm of Gregory knowledge, a doctor, magician, and consummate con-man at paintings in sixteenth-century London. Drawing on formerly unknown files to reconstruct this striking man's occupation, Alec Ryrie takes us throughout the cut-throat enterprise of early glossy medication, all the way down to Tudor London's gangland of fraud and arranged crime; from the realm of Renaissance magi and Kabbalistic conjurers to street-corner wizards; and into the chaotic, exhilarating spiritual upheavals of the Reformation. at the means, we learn the way Tudor England's dignified public face and its rapacious underworld have been in detail attached to one another. Gregory Wisdom's profession is an item lesson in the right way to conjure up wealth and respectability from not anything in a turbulent age. And it presents a different glimpse right into a global intoxicated with new rules, the place it was once very unlikely to understand particularly what to believe--or who to belief.
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Additional resources for The Sorcerer's Tale: Faith and Fraud in Tudor England
He accused 16 The Nobleman the magician of mocking him and making a fool of him. He insisted that both his money and the contract should be returned to him. Wisdom was unfazed. If the ring had failed to work that night, he explained, most likely it was because Lord Henry ‘had had to do with some woman’ while wearing it; Wisdom clearly knew that Lord Henry mixed gambling with other pleasures. Such immorality would have broken the holy spell which the angels had placed on the ring. In other words, it was Lord Henry’s own fault.
The 1542 Act against Conjurations claimed that people searching to know ‘in what place treasure of gold and silver should or might be found or had, in the earth or other secret places . . have digged up and pulled down an inﬁnite number of Crosses within this realm’. If Lord Henry’s greed was tickled by this idea, he was at least not alone in believing that X might mark the spot. Wisdom had his attention, and continued. He did not, he claimed, know how much money was buried under this particular cross, but—as luck would have it—he did have a spirit which he kept in a crystal, which he could send to ﬁnd out.
In particular, this tradition held that fever was caused by an excess of blood, the humour which was understood to be a form of ﬁre. Bleeding patients was one of the physician’s most versatile treatments—and if a person is bled severely enough, it will indeed temporarily reduce a fever, although it may well also be fatal. The physician’s particular forte, however, was diagnosis: the difﬁcult art of discerning the true nature of an illness beneath the mess of symptoms, an art made more difﬁcult by learned physic’s determination to ﬁt diseases to the categories bequeathed by the ancients.