Today, probably the least known
of the leading early Rosicrucians - although certainly the most
charismatic - is the prophet Philip Ziegler. 1
Sadly, for over a century now the considerable amount of material,
particularly in manuscript form, on his English experiences has
been largely lost sight of.
Ziegler was born in Wuerzburg in
Germany in the late 16th century, possibly in 1584. His reforming
parents were obliged to leave their home state about 1585, and
he seems to have led a constantly wandering life. After studying
law, he became a private teacher at Augsburg in 1609. Two years
later he was teaching at Zurich. During this period he developed
a talent for prophecy. On his account he was "called of God
to be a prophet" in 1609. His brother Sebastian made prophecies
about him. 2
For three years he was active "as a second Joseph".
The "Philippum Ziglerum" who edited an abridgement of
De Bry's Grand Voyages under the title of America Erfindung
in 1617 is surely our man. The original of this work was partly
compiled by Gotthard Arthusius of Danzig, often considered to
be the author of the well known Rosicrucian polemic Fortalitium
Scientiae (1617), who wrote a Rosicrucian "Reply"
attached to Andreas Huenefeldt's Danzig edition of 1615 of the
Rosicrucian manifestos. 3
Ziegler is known to have visited Basel, Worms, Speier and Strassbourg.
The alchemist Figulus met him on the 18th December 1617. 4
Important comments were made on
Ziegler by the Danish scientist, Ole Worm, who maintained a correspondence
from 1616 onwards preparatory to writing a polemic against the
Rosicrucian phenomenon. In 1618 Worm wrote to Jacob Fincke at
Strasbourg: "I have been very pleased with your descriptions
of this crazy king of Jerusalem; if these Rosicrucians regard
him as their pioneer, then one can wholly deduce from him what
one should think of the others I request you in your next
letter to inform me whether he has said where the new college
is situated, and whether he has tried to lure certain persons
into his society". In August 1620 Worm wrote to Anders Jacobsen
Langebaek, "I have once seen this Ziegler person of whom
you wrote in Heidelberg; also then he pandered to such like; similar
things have been written to me from Giessen as you wrote in your
letter; for also there he cultivated his sweet melancholy in a
similar fashion, and tried to spread it around". 5
Ziegler was in Nuremberg in February
1619. He carried a small red rose into the wine market and began
preaching to the assembled Junkers and Buergers, prophesying that
Matthias, the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor, would die on the 18th
March. The authorities had him brought to the Rathaus for cross-examination.
On the 12th March he left town. By this time he was calling himself
"king of Jerusalem", the "sceptre of the Kings
in Zion", and a Rosicrucian Brother. 6
His travels thereafter are dizzying: he was at Frankfurt on Main
in 1620, then turned up in Holstein, Denmark, Sweden (an active
Rosicrucian centre as early as 1617), Berne, France and Prague. 7
There were periods in Belgium and Holland; a manuscript of his
in the Ashmole collection in the Bodleian Library tells us he
was working in Groningen and Amsterdam in 1624. He managed to
publish a few tracts: De Bry printed his Harmonia doctrinae
et vitae Salvatoris nostri J.C. in 1620. In 1622 came Anti-Arnoldus
and also Anti-Negelius oder gruendlicher Beweis ,
which ran to four editions. 8
Although no contemporary French
writer named Ziegler specifically, we can infer that he was at
the centre of the extraordinary events occurring in that country
in 1623. There is an excellent report given in the Mercure
françois (vol IX 1622-24). 9
It tells of how the Rosicrucians were to be found in all the hostelries
of Germany, and of how one "brother" had renounced baptism
and belief in the Resurrection. Thirty six brothers were circulating
in Europe, six each assigned to Spain, Italy, France and Germany.
Four had gone to Sweden, two each to Switzerland, Flanders, Lorraine
and Franche comté. Six had lodged in Paris at the "Marests
du Temple" in the Faubourgs Saint Germain, but had disappeared
without paying their "hosts". Gabriel Naudé wrote
contemptuously of the Rosicrucians a "Torlaquis" (Sufis)
and "Cingaristes" (Gipsies). A general assembly of Rosicrucians
was reported to have been held in Lyons on the 23rd June 1623. 10
Marin Mersenne accused them of following
Hermes Trismegistus and practicing kabbalism. It was vaguely
hinted that they had some association with the mystical Spanish
sect, the Illuminati, some of whom were present in Paris. Much
comment was aroused by the placard they put up in Paris in 1623,
which read, "We the delegates of the Main College of the
Brothers of the Rosy Cross, are making a visible and invisible
visit to this City We show and teach without books or signs
how to speak all kinds of languages of the countries where we
wish to be be in order to draw our fellow-men from deadly error". 11
By calling themselves "delegates of the Main College"
of the Rosicrucians, a tacit admittance was made of the existence
of at least another, probably rival, "College" of Rosicrucians.
France appears to have become too hot for the "Main College":
and by June 1625 the magistrates of Harlem were being warned that
the Rosicrucians who had been active in Paris had suddenly descended
on the United Provinces. 12
England was Ziegler's last refuge.
According to the great diplomat J.J. de Rusdorff, who served the
exiled Elector Palatine, and who was writing in November 1626,
the "frenetic prophet" Ziegler had been in England a
year and a half, calling himself God's secretary. For a time he
had been tranquil, then finally he became "enragé"
and the talk of all London with his reveries. He indulged in Alchemy,
claiming to make gold. He had made approaches to Risdorff, the
Duke of Buckingham and the Archbishop of Canterbury. 13
The death of James I in March 1625 had come as a relief to a movement
forces underground for several years. With Charles on the throne
the Rosicrucians felt free again to stride boldly in the public
Now Ziegler was ready to make his
play for fame and fortune. Rusdorff tells us that Ziegler's existence
came to the ears of Charles I through the agency of a gentleman
of his privy chamber, Sir David Ramsay. This rough and ready,
rather uncouth Scot, sometimes known as "Ramsay Redhead from
Fife", deserves extended attention in his own right. He had
been a groom of the bedchamber to Prince Henry at his death in
1612. In 1631 Ramsay was ready to become the centre of intense
controversy when Lord Reay accused him of trying to implicate
him in a plot to overthrow Charles I and put the Marquis of Hamilton
on the throne. Ramsay was goaled for a while and it was even decided
at one stage to settle the matter between Reay and him-self by
an anachronistic procedure of the Court of Chivalry - by a duel.
This extreme was not reached. Ramsay was treated lightly, consid-ered
guilty of "wild talk" and no more, and given money by
Charles to lose himself abroad. In June 1632 a correspondent wrote
to the Marquis of Hamilton that "You will do yourself much
right to provide some place for David Ramsay with the king of
Sweden, for the king himself is so displeased with his behaviour,
that he is utterly lost in this place. He is to be set at liberty,
giving in security (whereof I am one) not to meddle with Mackay
[the Clan], neither at home nor abroad " 14
Ramsay's relationship with Ziegler
must surely have arisen through his Palatinate connections. Gilbert
Burnet wrote "there is a letter from the King of Bohemia
in my hands, wherein he recommends him [Ramsay] to the King as
one who had served him faithfully in Germany". After the
Reay scandal blew up, Sir Thomas Roe wrote to Elizabeth, Queen
of Bohemia (Charles' sister), that "Your Majesty's name was
used in court in his defense by Ramsay, in my opinion, not to
purpose, and he was reprehended. He is not a man on whose discretion
to rely." 15
There is one last association of
Ramsay's, who lived to 1642, worth mentioning. Among the most
renowned of Scottish masonic lodges in Edinburgh Lodge (Mary's
Chapel), whose surviving minutes date back to 1599. In August
1637 a group of courtiers were initiated into the Lodge's membership.
Among them was David Ramsay, described as one of the King's special
servants. This Lodge appears to have had ongoing Rosicrucian associations.
In July 1647, Dr William Maxwell, physician in ordinary to Charles
I, was admitted as a member. Maxwell is reputed to have been a
close friend of Robert Fludd. A book was published under his name
said to be jointly written with Fludd. Present at Maxwell's initiation
was that famous "Patron" of the Rosicrucians, Sir Robert
The rumour still circulated in the eighteenth century that the
Rosicrucians had been absorbed into freemasonry. The record of
Mary's Chapel seems strong supportive evidence for this claim.
But to return to Ziegler: a letter
to the Rev. Joseph Mead (23rd November 1626) from the professional
newsletter writer John Pory delightedly explained, "But the
sweetest news, like marchpane, I keep for the banquet. Now the
French ambassador is departed, a certain heterochta ambassador
is coming upon the state. A youth he is, I hear, with never a
hair on his face; and the principal by whom he is sent is
the President of the Society of the Rosy Cross; whose said ambassador,
on Sunday afternoon, hath appointed to come to court, with thirteen
coaches. The proferrs he is to make to his majesty are no small
ones; to wit - if his majesty will follow his advice, he will
presently put three millions into his coffers, and will
teach him a way how to suppress the Pope; how to bring the Catholic
King on his knees; how to advance his own religion all over Christendom;
and lastly, how to convert Turks and Jews to Christianity; than
which you can desire no more in this world." 17
Some thought this all a plot aimed at the Duke of Buckingham.
Another letter given by Thomas Birch
(27th November) throws further light on Ziegler: "There is
a stranger hath been two years in London who told
the Prince Palatine, at the beginning of his election to the Crown
of Bohemia, of all the misfortunes and calamities which have befallen
him since that time, and nevertheless advised him to accept it." 18
Alas, the "ambassador"
failed to turn up on the appointed Sunday afternoon. Rusdorff
tells us who this was: "a little child, son of Dr. Web, the
physician " Dr Web, surprisingly, appears to have been
a Roman Catholic. He refused to allow his boy to be party to Ziegler's
plan, thus aborting the strategy. Ziegler, however, had crossed
the line of decency by writing to Charles I. Rusdorff told his
master, the Elector Palatine, that what he had predicted concerning
Ziegler had come to pass; and that the prophet, with his secretaries
and servants, had been imprisoned. All his private papers were
seized, in which were found his "follies". Rusdorff
speculated that after he had shown a little repentance, Ziegler's
liberty would be returned to him. 19
A letter to "Dr Wunderlichium" (28th September 1632),
possibly written by Hartlib, after dismissing Ziegler as a "fraudulent
hypocrite", mentioned that a penniless "Hibernian"
counselor to the King's son had been involved in the affair, and
that the Queen (presumably Elizabeth the "Winter Queen",
Charles' sister) had intervened to save Ziegler's life. 20
There is a claim that a Rosicrucian "college" was meeting
in London in 1630; 21
if this was the case, it possibly means that Ziegler had again
Official papers show us why Ziegler
was regarded as rather more than a joke. First, however, they
tell us he was apprehended with one Peter Wundertius; his association
with the "legate" of the French King, Dr Rusdorff, was
noted. There was a letter found addressed to Peter Count Gavria,
requesting a "Bible of his Dutchman". Apparently "divers"
of Ziegler's things were pawned with Dr Waganor, an Essex physician. 22
Although there is not a trace of
Ziegler's own papers at the Public Record Office, we have an excellent
description of what they contained under the title of "Dangerous
passages out of the Bookes & papers of Philip Ziegler
Out of the first Book titled Origenicas Reformas totius mundi".
According to this summary, Ziegler threatened to punish all kings
that would not submit themselves to the sceptre of his reformation.
He threatened to depose Philip of Spain with the help of the English
and the Dutch. He claimed to be of the royal blood of Scotland,
and King Charles was his son-in-law. The official writer then
examines Ziegler's "Anabaptisticall Dreams". The prophet
claimed that the use of logic and other human learning was lawful
among Christians, and that a bloody reformation was intended.
He supported his arguments with the testimony of the King and
the Archbishop of Canterbury; and gave a transcript of De Cousin's
Tables of the policy of the Church of England.
Other seized papers included a summons
of all the establishments of Christendom for a general council
to be held at Constance for the Reformation of the World. There
was a proposal for the destruction of 300,000 of the nobility;
and a scheme for a two fold structure for God's Kingdom on earth,
ecclesiastical and civil, under which the inferior religious magistrates
would rise against their superiors. Joachimite chiliasm is all
too evident in Ziegler's three stage theory of history: the World's
first age was that of creation; the second, of redemption; the
third to come, that of sanctification. 23
With these revelations, we come to understand the basis of the
accusations of Anabaptism laid at the door of Rosicrucianism by
writers such as Neuhusius at Danzig. 24
The Anabaptism they had in mind, of course, was that of the German
peasant revolutionary movement of the 16th century. What we see
in the career of Ziegler, with its pattern if "entryism"
into the liberal networks of power and influence then prevailing,
is a rough equivalent of latterday Trotskyism; he certainly promoted
a kind of naive strategy of permanent revolution, in which the
key lever was to be the overthrow of Catholic power in Europe.
His appeal was largely geared - as was the case with Rosicrucianism
generally - to the university trained intelligentsias. And again,
we can find a parallel to the Rosicrucian turmoil that beset various
academic centres after 1614 in the Students Movements of 1968.
It is no accident, surely, that Ziegler's investigators noted
his activity at Oxford. 25
Elias Ashmole had a correspondent,
a Mr Townesend, who gave the great manuscript collector a brief
note on the prophet: Dr John Dee "Is acknowledged for one
of ye Brotherhood of ye R.C. by Philip Zieglerus By
divers relations which I have heard, I am induced to believe that
he [Ziegler] understood neither the true Theory not Manual Operation
of the great work [alchemy]. In my time in Oxford, he was accused
to have stoll'n the booke he called Monas Hieroglifica [by Dee]
out of All Soules College in Oxford (out of ye Library there). 26
Ashmole's collection includes what
appears to be autograph manuscripts of important tracts by Ziegler.
Responsio et Cynosura sive vera Prophetarum , written at
Groninger and Amsterdam in 1624 and London in 1626, is a compilation
of the thoughts of various prophets relating to the imminent downfall
of the Holy Roman Empire. Ziegler claimed - quite absurdly - that
the Hungarian Johannes Montanus Strigoniensis, who died in 1604,
was of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood. He quotes from Robert Fludd's
Macrocosmos, and mentions a work he wrote in 1621, Alzeani.
He particularly assails a critic called Matthias Ebinger. The
other tract, Argumentum Origenicium, is a similar prophetic compilation,
which quotes William Gouge's views of the role of the Jews in
the destruction of the Holy Roman Empire. Ashmole also owned a
separated single sheet with a poem on it by Joan Brocatius transcribed
from a book printed at Caslov. It appears to be in the same hand
as the Ziegler tracts; written on the back of this leaf are the
words, "To my father in law Mr Brakin." 27
What happened to Ziegler thereafter
remains a blank: either death was not long in coming or he settled
for total obscurity. Thee other Zieglers were active in England
and Scotland in the early 17th century; whether they were related
at all to the prophet, I cannot say. Hans Ziegler of Nuremberg,
a mining engineer, was employed by Sir David Lindsay at Edzell
Castle, helping to design the gardens, with their curious hermetic
ornamentations, in the 1600's. 28
At Exeter College, Oxford, a Calvanist and Rosicrucian centre,
a Mark Zigler from the Palatinate was a student in 1624-5. Lastly,
Lewis Ziegler, agent to Lord Craven (the principal financial backer
of Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia), had frequent dealings with the
German under-secretary of state, George Weckherlin, in the 1630's,
some of which, I believe, had a strong Rosicrucian tinge. 29
1. See Joecher Allgemeines Gelehrten
Lexicon (1751) column 2202. Also Gottfried Arnold Unpartheyischen
Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historie (1715) 96a and 99ab. Also Das
Erbe des Christian Rosenkreutz published by Bibliotheca Philosophica
Hermetica, Amsterdam (1988) pp. 82, 83 & 88.
2. Das Erbe des Christian Rosenkreutz
op. cit. p.83. Public Record Office State Papers 16/540 419.
There is a reference to a "Philipp Ziegler" in Repertorien
des Hessischen Staatsarchivs Darmstadt 10/1 Schlitzer Urkunden
p.154 for Feb. 24 1592.
3. Das Erbe des Christian Rosenkreutz
op. cit.p.83. See Kloss's masonic bibliography. Curt von Faur
German Baroque Literature (1958) p.33.
4. Das Erbe des Christian Rosenkreutz
op. cit. pp.83,82.
5. Breve fra og til Ole Worm
ed. H.D. Schepelern vol.I pp. 34,49.
6. W.E. Peuckert Das Rosenkreutz
(2nd ed.) pp. 129-30.
7. On Sweden, Sten Lindroth Paracelsismen
i Sverige (1943) p.425. On activity there in 1617 see
my article "Rosicrucianism: the first blooming in Britain"
in The Hermetic Journal (1989) p.33. P.R.O. State Papers
8. Bodleian Library Ashmole MS 1149
v. Das Erbe des Christian Rosenkreutz op. cit. p. 88.
9. Mercure françois
(1622-24) vol. 9. pp. 372-377.
10. G. Naudé Instruction
à la France sur la verité de l'histoire des Freres
de la Roze-Croix (1623) p. 31. "Torlaquis" can be
translated as "dervishes", who were a branch of the
Sufis. Roland Edighoffer Les Rose-Croix p.9.
11. F.A. Yates Giordano Bruno
(Vintage ed.) p.408. W.R. Shea "Descartes and the Rosicrucians"
Annali dell' instituto e museo di storia della scienza di firenze
(1979) fas. 2 pp. 32-3.
12. Speigel Historiael (1967)
p. 219 (A.G. Van der Steuer "Johannes Torrentius").
13. Mémoires et Négociations
sécrètes de Mr. de Rusdorf (1789) ed. E.G. Cuhn
14. Cuhn op. cit. o. 785.
However, an anonymous newletter given by I. Disraeli in Curiosities
of Literature vol. iii (1866) pp. 464-5 talks of "David
Ramsey of the Clock"as transmitting the letter to the King.
Ramsay, a fine clockmaker to the King, was a mad alchemist and
student of the occult. But Rusdorf, being close to the centre
of affairs, carries much greater authority in the question. He
writes of "Sir David Ramsay", whom he must have known
personally, as if his Master, the Elector Palatine, knew well
whom he meant. Both Ramsays are in the Dictionary of National
Biography. I. Grimble Chief of Mackay (1965) p. 9.
15. G. Burnet The Memoirs of
the Lives and Actions of James and William Dukes of Hamilton and
Castle-Herald (1852 ed.). I. Grimble op. cit. p. 5.
16. David Stevenson The First
Freemasons: Scotland's Early Lodges and their Members pp.
27 & 28.]
17. T. Birch Court and Times
of Charles I vol. I pp. 172-3.
I. Disraeli op. cit. pp.
18. T. Birch op. cit. p.
19. Only one Dr Web is listed in
W. Munk The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London
vol I, whose first name is unknown. See p.169. He came before
the College's Censors in 1616, being a doctor of medicine of Padua
of twelve years standing. In March 1626 the College reported him
to the parliamentary commissioners as a Roman Catholic. Cuhn op.
cit. pp. 786-7. Ziegler seems to have written more than one
letter to the King. A copy of one, with translation, is in British
Library MSS Cotton Jul. C.V. Cuhn op. cit. pp. 790.
20. British Library MSS Sloane 648
21. Article on Rosicrucianism in
22. P.R.O. State Papers 46/127 f.
221. State Papers 16/540 f. 419 I. Rusdorff served both
the French and the Elector Palatine.
23. P.R.O. State Papers 16/540 419
ff. For other Ziegler prophecies see British Library Add. MSS.
28,633 fs. 140-1. (Johannes Ghiselius album amicorum).
24. Henricus Neuhusius Pia et
Utilissima Admonitio de Fratribus R . . C . . (1618).
25. P.R.O. State Papers 46/127 f.
221. There was Rosicrucian agitation at Rostock and Giessen universities.
For some decades there had been a steady growth in student intakes
in both German, England and Scotland, paralleling the pre-1968
student boom of Europe and America.
26. Bodleian Lib. Ashmole MS 1446
27. Bodleian Lib. Ashmole MS 1149
v, vi & viii.
28. Proc. of Soc. of Ant. of
Scotland vol. LXV p. 134. There are chemical receipts by Hans
Ziegler in the University of Leiden Library: Voss. Chymm. F. 17.
29. Register of Exeter
College, Oxford p. cvii. See Weckherlin's diary, now jeld
in the British Library (no ref. number assigned at time of writing).
The entry for an unknown day in December 1636-7 reads, "I
did write a letter to Mons. Ziegler and One to Sir William Boswel".
Over Ziegler's name is drawn the sign of the Rosicrucians 5. On
an unspecified date in February 1634 Weckherlin wrote, "To
Mr Ziegler sending him gloves." Robert Plot, writing in the
1680's, explained that it was the custom with the freemasons that
a newly admitted member send gloves to the other members.