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Attitude of the Catholic Church towards alchemy.
Extract from James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science: The story of the Papal Relations to Science from the Middle Ages down to the Nineteenth Century, New York, 1908.

Supposed Papal prohibition of chemistry.

A false impression, exactly corresponding to that with regard to anatomy, has been created and fostered by just the same class of writers as exploited the anatomy question, with reference to the attitude of the Popes and the Church of the Middle Ages toward the study of chemistry. This is founded on a similar misrepresentation of a Papal document. When it was pointed out that this Papal document, like Pope Boniface's bull, had no such purport as was suggested, just the same subterfuge as with regard to anatomy was indulged in. If the Papal document did not forbid chemistry directly, as was said, at least it was so misinterpreted, and chemistry failed to develop because of the supposed Papal opposition. These expressions were used, in spite of the fact that, just as in the case of anatomy, it is not hard to trace the rise and development of chemistry, or its predecessor, alchemy, during the years when it is supposed to be in abeyance. Certainly there was no interruption of the progress of chemical science at the date of the supposed Papal prohibition, nor at any other time, as a consequence of Church opposition.

The similarity of these two history lies is so striking as to indicate that they had their birth in the same desire to discredit the Popes at all cost, and to make out a case of opposition on the part of ecclesiastical authorities to scientific development, whether it actually existed or not. The surprise is, however, that the same form of invention should have been used in both cases. One might reasonably have expected that the ingenuity of writers would have enabled them to find another basis for the story on the second occasion. Still more might it have been expected that when the error with regard to the tenor of the Papal document was pointed out to them, a different form of response would be made in the latter instance. The whole subject indicates a dearth of originality that would be amusing if it were on a less serious matter, and does very little credit either to those who are responsible for the first draft of the story, but still less to those who have swallowed it so readily and given it currency.

The story of the Supposed Papal Prohibition of Chemistry was characteristically told by William J. Cruikshank, M. D., of Brooklyn, New York, in an address bearing the title, "Some Relations of the Church and Scientific Progress," published in The Medical Library and Historical Journal of Brooklyn for July, 1905. The writer called emphatic attention to the fact that chemistry, during the Middle Ages, had come under the particular ban of the ecclesiastical authorities, who effectually prevented its cultivation or development. "The chemist," Dr. Cruikshank says, "was called a miscreant, a sorcerer, and was feared because of his supposed partnership with the devil. He was denounced by Pope and priest and was persecuted to the full extent of Papal power. Pope John XXII. was especially energetic in this direction, and in the year 1317 A.D., issued a bull calling on all rulers, secular and ecclesiastical, to hunt down the miscreants who were afflicting the faithful, and he thereupon increased the power of the Inquisition in various parts of Europe for this purpose."

At the suggestion of the editor of the Medical Library and Historical Journal, I answered these assertions of Dr. Cruikshank, pointing out that the Papal document which he mentioned had no such purport as he declared, and that the history of chemistry or alchemy presented no such break as his assertions would demand. Dr. Cruikshank immediately appealed by letter to his authority on the subject, whose words, in the History of the Warfare of Theology with Science in Christendom, though I did not realize it at the time, he had repeated almost literally. In his chapter on From Magic to Chemistry and Physics, Dr. Andrew D. White says: "In 1317, Pope John XXII. issued his bull Spondent pariter, levelled at the alchemists, but really dealing a terrible blow at the beginning of chemical science. He therefore called on all rulers, secular and ecclesiastical, to hunt down the miscreants who thus afflicted the faithful, and he especially increased the power of inquisitors in various parts of Europe for this purpose." It will be seen that, as I have said, Dr. Cruikshank's words are almost a verbatim quotation from this paragraph. It is true that he has strengthened the expressions quite a little and added some trimmings of his own, still I suppose his expressions could be justified if those of President White had a foundation in fact. A little comparison of the two sets of phrases will show how a history lie grows as it passes from pen to pen. Crescit eundo--like rumor, it increases in size as it goes.

In defense of this passage in the History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, Dr. White wrote a letter of reply to Dr. Cruikshank, which was incorporated into Dr. Cruikshank's response to my article in the Medical Library and Historical Journal. I presume that this was done with Dr. White's permission. In this letter he admitted that Pope John's decretal had no such significance as he originally claimed for it, but he still maintained his previous opinion, that this decretal, like Boniface's bull for anatomy, had actually prevented, or at least greatly hampered the study of chemistry. To this I replied with a brief story of chemistry in the fourteenth century, and though that article was published more than a year ago, no admission has been made and nothing further has been published on the subject. The material of the reply to Dr. White, to which as yet there has been no answer, is comprised in this chapter.

As I have already hinted, the most surprising thing about this citation of a Papal decree forbidding chemistry, is that it proves on investigation to be founded on just exactly the same sort of misinterpretation of a Papal document as happened with regard to anatomy. The bull of Pope Boniface VIII. forbidding the boiling of bodies and their dismemberment for burial in distant lands, did nothing to hinder the progress of anatomy, had no reference to any preparations required for dissection, and was not misinterpreted in any such sense until the nineteenth century, and then only for the purpose of discrediting the Popes and their relations to science. Pope Boniface's bull, far from being harmful in any way to education or to the people, was really beneficial, and constituted an excellent sanitary regulation which doubtless prevented, on a number of occasions, the carriage of disease from place to place.

The decree of Pope John XXII., which has been falsely claimed to forbid chemistry, was another example of Papal care for Christendom, and not at all the obscurantist document it has been so loudly proclaimed. Pope John learned how much imposition was being practiced on the people by certain so-called alchemists who claimed to be able to make silver and gold out of baser metals. In order to prevent this, within a year after his elevation to the pontificate he issued not a bull, but a very different form of document--a decretal--forbidding any "alchemies" of this kind. The punishment to be inflicted, however, instead of being the penalty of death, as Dr. Cruikshank, Dr. White and many others have declared, or at least let it be understood from their mode of expression, was that the person convicted of pretending to make gold and silver and selling it to other people, should pay into the public treasury an amount equal to the supposed amount of gold and silver that he had made. The money thus paid into the public treasury was to be given to the poor.

The best way to show exactly what Pope John intended by his decree is to quote the decree. It does not occur in the ordinary collection of the bulls of John XXII., for it was not, as we have said, a bull in the canonical sense of the term, but a Papal document of minor importance. There is an important distinction between a decree and a bull, the former being but of lesser significance, usually referring only to passing matters of discipline. The decretal may be found in the Corpus Juris Canonica, Tome II., which was published at Lyons in 1779. It is among the decrees or constitutions known as Extravagantes.

We quote the decree as it is found in Canon Law:

The Crime of Falsification.

"Alchemies are here prohibited and those who practise them or procure their being done are punished. They must forfeit to the public treasury for the benefit of the poor as much genuine gold and silver as they have manufactured of the false or adulterate metal. If they have not sufficient means for this, the penalty may be changed to another at the discretion of the judge, and they shall be considered criminals. If they are clerics, they shall be deprived of any benefices that they hold and be declared incapable of holding others." (See also the Extravagant of the same John which begins with the word 'Providens' and is placed under the same title.) The decree referred to here was issued by John XXII. against the counterfeiting of the money of France. The fact that the two decrees should be considered by canonists as connected in subject shows just what was thought to be the purport of the first, namely, to prevent the debasement of the currency by the admixture of adulterate gold as well as to protect the ignorant from imposition.]

"Poor themselves, the alchemists promise riches which are not forthcoming; wise also in their own conceit they fall into the ditch which they themselves have digged. For there is no doubt that the professors of this art of alchemy make fun of each other because, conscious of their own ignorance, they are surprised at those who say anything of this kind about themselves; when the truth sought does not come to them they fix on a day [for their experiment] and exhaust all their arts; then they dissimulate [their failure] so that finally, though there is no such thing in nature, they pretend to make genuine gold and silver by a sophistic transmutation; to such an extent does their damned and damnable temerity go that they stamp upon the base metal the characters of public money for believing eyes, and it is only in this way that they deceive the ignorant populace as to the alchemic fire of their furnace. Wishing to banish such practices for all time, we have determined by this formal edict that whoever shall make gold or silver of this kind or shall order it made, provided the attempt actually follows, or whoever shall knowingly assist those engaged (actually) in such a process, or whoever shall knowingly make use of such gold or silver either by selling it or giving it for debt, shall be compelled as a penalty to pay into the public treasury, to be used for the poor, as much by weight of genuine gold and silver as there may be of alchemic metal, provided it be proved lawfully that they have been guilty in any of the aforesaid ways; for those who persist in making alchemic gold, or, as has been said, in using it knowingly, let them be branded with the mark of perpetual infamy. But if the means of the delinquents are not sufficient for the payment of the amount stated, then the good judgment of the justice may commute this penalty into some other (as, for example, imprisonment, or another punishment, according to the nature of the case, the difference of individuals, and other circumstances.) Those, however, who in their regrettable folly go so far as not only to sell moneys thus made but even despise the precepts of the natural law, pass the bounds of their art and violate the laws by deliberately coining or casting or having others coin or cast counterfeit money from alchemic gold or silver, we proclaim as coming under this animadversion, and their goods shall be confiscate, and they shall be considered as criminals. And if the delinquents are clerics, besides the aforesaid penalties they shall be deprived of any benefices they shall hold and shall be declared incapable of holding any further benefices." [The Latin text of this decretal is shown below.]

It is evident that John's decree against "The Crime of Falsification" did not directly forbid chemistry, nor alchemy in the proper sense of the word, nor did it in any way interfere with the study of substances to determine their composition, or the synthesis of materials to produce others, provided there was no pretense of making gold and silver in order to obtain genuine gold and silver from ignorant dupes. There seems to be no doubt that had the famous scheme to obtain gold from sea water, which caused serious loss to so many foolish and even poor people a few years ago, come up during the time of John XXII., he would have prevented it from being so lucrative to its promoters, by publicly denouncing them and promulgating a law for their punishment.

It may be considered that excommunication was not a very severe penalty for such dishonest practices, and that the sharpers who gave themselves to such a profession, which would be about that of the confidence or green goods men of our time, were not likely to be affected much by this merely religious deprivation. It must not be forgotten, however, that in those ages of faith, excommunication became an extremely telling social punishment. It was forbidden that anyone, even nearest and dearest friends, should have anything to do with the one excommunicated until the ban was removed. It was bad enough in a town where everyone belonged to the same church, and all went to church frequently, to be forbidden to go there; it was infinitely worse, however, to have everybody who passed refuse to greet you or have relations of any kind with you. President Hadley, of Yale, said, not long since, that social ostracism is the only effective punishment for such manifest extra legal irregularities, which are yet not so essentially criminal as to bring those guilty of them under legal punishment. The sentence of excommunication was an effective social ostracism--the completest possible. This is an aspect of excommunications usually missed, but well deserving of study by those who resent the use of such an instrument by ecclesiastical authorities. Just as soon as the man repented of what he had done and promised to do so no more, he was received back into the Church, and the ostracism ceased, so long as he did not relapse into his forbidden ways.

When the eminently beneficial character of this Papal document is thus appreciated, it is indeed painful to have to realize, that for its issuance John has been held up more to scorn and ridicule than perhaps has ever been the case for any other single formal document that has ever been issued by an ecclesiastical or political authority. He was simply correcting an abuse in his day, the existence of which we recognize and would like to be able to correct in ours. For this eminently proper exercise of the Papal power, however, his whole character has been called into question, and a distinguished modern educator has used every effort to place him in the pillory of history, as one of the men who have done most to hamper progress in science and education in all world history. The amusing thing is the utter inequality between the document itself and its supposed effects. Of course it had no such effect as President White claims for it, and, indeed, he seems never to have seen the document in its entirety before it was called forcibly to his attention long after his declarations with regard to it were published. The real attitude of Pope John XXII. with regard to education and the sciences, which was exactly the reverse of that predicated of him by his modern colleague in education, will be the subject of the next chapter.

There is another document of John XXII., the bull Super Illius Specula, that has been sometimes quoted, or rather misquoted, and which indeed at first I was inclined to think was the bull referred to by Dr. Cruikshank. This second Papal document, however, was not issued until 1326. It is concerned entirely with the practice of magic. The Pope knew that many people, by pretended intercourse with the devil or with spirits of various kinds, claimed to be able to injure, to obtain precious information, to interpret the future and the past, and to clear up most of the mysteries that bother mankind. We have them still with us--the palmist, the fortune-teller, the fake-spiritist. In order to prevent such impostures, John issued a bull forbidding such practices under pain of excommunication. It is almost needless to say that this Papal document must have effected quite as much good for the people at large as did the previous one forbidding "alchemies," which must have prevented the robbing of foolish dupes who were taken with the idea that the alchemists whom they employed could make gold and silver. Of this second Papal document, this time really a bull, we shall, because President White has given it an even falser construction than the one we have just been discussing, have more to say in the next chapter.

We must return, however, to the decretal Spondent pariter,--the decree supposed to have forbidden chemistry; for as with regard to the bull of Boniface VIII., previously discussed, it seems that it is necessary not only to show that the decree was not actually intended by the Popes to prohibit chemistry, but also it will have to be made clear that it was not misinterpreted so as to hamper chemical investigation. This is indeed a very curious state of affairs in history. First, it is solemnly declared, that certain bulls and Papal documents were directed deliberately against the sciences of anatomy and chemistry by the Head of the Church, who wished to prevent the development of these sciences lest they should lessen his power over his people. Then, when it is shown that the documents in question have no such tenor, but are simple Papal regulations for the prevention of abuses which had arisen, and that they actually did accomplish much good for generations for which they were issued, the reply is not an acknowledgement of error, but an insistence on the previous declaration, somewhat in this form: "Well, the Popes may not have intended it, but these sciences, as a consequence of their decrees, did not develop, and the Popes must be considered as to blame for that." Then, instead of showing that these sciences did not develop, this part is assumed and the whole case is supposed to be proved. Could anything well be more preposterous. And this is history! Nay, it is even the history of science.

When I called attention to the fact that this decretal contained none of the things it was said to, and published the text of it, Dr. White very calmly replied: "Dr. Walsh has indeed correctly printed it, and I notice no flaw in his translation." Instead of conceding, however, that he had been mistaken, he seemed to consider it quite sufficient to add, "I have followed what I found to be the unanimous opinion of the standard historians of chemistry." He did not mention any of the historians, however. I asked him by letter to name some of the standard historians of chemistry who made this declaration, but though I received a courteous reply, it contained no names, and, indeed, avoided the question of chemistry entirely. It is not too much to expect that an historian shall quote his authorities. Dr. White seems to be above this. Some documents that he quotes are distorted, and prove on examination, as we have seen, to have quite a different meaning to that which he gives them. As might be expected, his supposed facts prove to have as little foundation. It will be remembered that he completely ignored or was ignorant of the history of anatomy. He seems to have been just as ignorant of the history of chemistry, in spite of his confident assurance in making far-reaching statements with regard to it. In order to satisfy myself, I went through all of the standard histories of chemistry in German, English and French that are available in the libraries of New York City, and I failed to find a single one of them which contains anything that might be supposed even distantly to confirm President White's assertion.

I may have missed it, and shall be glad to know if I have. I cannot do more than cite certain of them that should have it very prominently, if Dr. White's assertion is to be taken at its face value. Here are some standard historians whom I have searched in vain for the declaration that all of them should have.

Kopp, who is the German historian of chemistry, mentions the fact that there was much less cultivation of chemistry during the fourteenth century than during the thirteenth, but makes no mention of the bull of Pope John as being responsible for it. There are curious cycles of interest in particular departments of science, with intervals of comparative lack of interest that can only be explained by the diversion of human mind to other departments of study. This seems to have happened with regard to chemistry in the fourteenth century.

Hoefer, the French historian of chemistry, mentions the fact that Pope John XXII. took severe measures against the alchemists who then wandered throughout the country, seeking to enrich themselves at the expense of the credulity of the people. He evidently knew of this decree then, but he says nothing of its forbidding or being misinterpreted, so as to seem to forbid chemical investigation. Thomson, the English historian of chemistry, has no mention of any break in the development of chemical science, caused by any action of the Popes, though, to the surprise doubtless of most readers, he devotes considerable space to the history of chemical investigation during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Ernst von Meyer mentions the fact that alchemy was abused by charlatans, in order to make pretended gold and silver, and notes that there was not so much interest in chemistry in the fourteenth as in the thirteenth century, but does not ascribe this fact to the bull of Pope John.

I expected at least that I should find something with regard to the question of the possible influence of the bull in Berthelot's "History of Chemistry in the Middle Ages." [Footnote 17] But though there are various historical topics treated that would seem to imply the necessity for saying something about the bull, if it had any such effect as described, yet there is no mention of it. He mentions the Franciscan alchemists of northern Italy, who lived about this time, and discusses the "Rosarium," written very probably after the date of the bull by a Franciscan monk, but there is no suggestion as to any hampering of alchemy by Papal or other ecclesiastical restrictions.

The French Grande Encyclopedie does not mention it, nor does a German encyclopaedia, also consulted. Even the Encyclopaedia Britannica, in its article on alchemy, makes no mention of the prohibition of alchemy by Pope John XXII., and when the Encyclopaedia Britannica does not mention any scandal with regard to the Popes, then the scandal in question must have an extremely slight or no foundation.

Of course this is what might be expected. Anyone who reads the Papal decree can see at once that it has nothing to do with, or say about, chemistry or chemical investigation. Since, however, an aspersion has been cast upon the progress of chemistry during the Middle Ages, and since it will surely be thought by many people that, if chemistry did not happen to interest mankind at that time, it must have been because the Pope was opposed to it (for such seems to be the curious chain of reasoning of certain scholars), it has seemed well to review briefly the story of chemistry during the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. More will be said about it in the chapter on Science at the Medieval Universities, and here the only idea is to bring out the fact that men were interested in what we now call chemical problems; that whatever interest they had was absolutely unhampered by ecclesiastical opposition; that indeed the very men who did the best work in this line, and their work is by no means without significance in the history of science, were all clergymen; and that most of them were in high favor with the Popes, and some of them have since received the honor of being canonized as saints.

Take for a moment the example of the great English medieval scientist who wrote near the end of the thirteenth century a work on science, which was undertaken at the command of the Pope of his time, to show him the character of the teaching of science at the University of Oxford. Roger Bacon defined the limits of chemistry very accurately and showed that he understood exactly what the subject and methods of investigation must be, in order that advance should be made in it. Of chemistry he speaks in his "Opus Tertium" in the following words: "There is a science which treats of the generation of things from their elements and of all inanimate things, as of the elements and liquids, simple and compound, common stones, gems and marble, gold and other metals, sulphur, salts, pigments, lapis lazuli, minium and other colors, oils, bitumen, and infinite more of which we find nothing in the books of Aristotle; nor are the natural philosophers nor any of the Latins acquainted with these things."

The thirteenth century saw the rise of a number of great physical scientists, who made observations that anticipated much more of our modern views on scientific problems than is usually thought. One of the greatest of the chemists of the thirteenth century was Albert the Great, or Albertus Magnus, as he is more familiarly called, who taught for many years at the University of Paris. He was a theologian as well as a physician and a scientist. His works have been published in twenty-one folio volumes, which will give some idea of the immense industry of the man. Those relating to chemistry are as follows: Concerning Metals and Minerals; Concerning Alchemy; A Treatise on the Secrets of Chemistry; A Brief Compend on the Origin of the Metals; A Concordance, that is, a Collection, of Observations from Many Sources, with Regard to the Philosopher's Stone; A Treatise on Compounds; a book of eight chapters on the Philosopher's Stone. Most of these are to be found in his works under the general heading "Theatrum Chemicum." Thomson, in his "History of Chemistry," says, that they are, in general, plain and intelligible. Albertus Magnus's most famous pupil was the celebrated Thomas Aquinas. Three of his works are on chemistry: The Intimate Secrets of Alchemy; on the Essence and Substance of Minerals; and finally, later in life, the Wonders of Alchemy. It is in this last work, it is said, that the word amalgam occurs for the first time. While Thomas Aquinas and Albertus Magnus were working in France and Germany, Roger Bacon was doing work of similar nature at Oxford in England. Altogether, he has eighteen treatises on chemical problems. Some of these contain wonderful anticipations of modern chemistry. After Roger Bacon came Raymond Lully, who wrote, in all, sixteen treatises on chemical subjects. At about the same time, Arnold of Villanova was teaching medicine at Paris and paying special attention to chemistry. From him there are twenty-one treatises on chemical subjects still extant. Arnold of Villanova died on the way to visit Pope Clement V., the immediate predecessor of John, who lay sick unto death at Avignon.

It is evident, then, that there was no spirit of opposition to chemistry gradually forming itself in ecclesiastical circles, and about to be expressed in a decree by John. The chemists of the thirteenth century had been among the most distinguished churchmen of the period. One of them at least, Thomas Aquinas, had been declared a saint. Another, Albertus Magnus, has been given the title of Blessed, signifying that his life and works are worthy of all veneration. Pope John XXII. had as a young man been a student of these men at the University of Paris, and would surely have imbibed the tradition of their interest in the physical sciences. That he should have unlearned all their lessons seems out of the question.

It remains, then, to see whether there was any diminution of the interest in chemistry after the issue of this decree by John. In the fourteenth century we find the two Hollanduses, probably father and son, whose lives run during most of the century, doing excellent work in science. They frequently refer to the writings of Arnold of Villanova, so that they certainly post-date him. From them altogether, we have some eleven treatises on various chemical subjects. Some of these, especially with regard to minerals, have very clear descriptions of processes of treatment which serve to show that their knowledge was by no means merely theoretical or acquired only from books.

Probably before the end of the fourteenth century there was born a man who must be considered the father of modern pharmaceutical chemistry. This was Basil Valentine, the German Benedictine monk, whose best known work is the "The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony." Its influence can be best appreciated from the fact that it introduced the use of antimony into medicine definitely, and that substance continued to be used for centuries, so that it was not until practically our own generation that the true limitations of its usefulness were found. Valentine described the process of making muriatic acid, which he called the spirit of salt, and taught how to obtain alcohol in concentrated form. Altogether, this monk-alchemist, who was really the first of the chemists, left twenty-three treatises, some of them good-sized books, on various subjects in chemistry. It does not look, then, as though chemistry was much neglected during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

One step more in the history remains to be taken, which brings us down to a man who is more familiar to modern physicians--Paracelsus. Paracelsus received his education just at the beginning of the sixteenth century, before the Reformation began. He was not a man, as those who know his character will thoroughly appreciate, to confess that he had received much assistance from others. He does mention, however, that he was helped in his chemical studies by the Abbot Trithemius, of Spanheim; by Bishop Scheit, of Stettbach; by Bishop Erhardt, of Lavanthol; by Bishop Nicholas, of Hippon; and by Bishop Matthew Schacht.

We have been able to follow, then, the development of chemistry during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries down to the time of the Reformation, and find nowhere any lessening of the ardor for chemical studies, though most of the great names in the science continue to be, as they were before the decree was issued, those of distinguished ecclesiastics. John's decree, then, was neither intended to hamper the development of chemistry, nor did it accidentally prevent those who were most closely in touch with the ecclesiastical authorities from pursuing their studies. Those, of course, who knew anything of the character of the author, would not expect it to interfere with the true progress of science. As we shall see in the next chapter, Pope John XXII. was really one of the most liberal patrons of education and of science in history.

Decree of Pope John XXII. forbidding alchemies, by which he prohibited the pretended making of gold and silver, but is claimed to have hampered the progress of chemistry.
De Crimine Falsi Titulus VI. I Joannis XXII. [circa annum 1317 Avenioni]

Alkimiae hic prohibentur, et puniuntur facientes et fieri procurantes: quoniam tantum de vero auro et argento debent inferre in publicum, ut pauperibus erogetur quantum de falso et adulterino posuerunt. Et si eorum facultates non sufficiunt, poena per judicis discretionem in aliam commutabitur, et infames fiunt. Et si sint clerici beneficiis habitis privantur et ad habenda inhabiles efficiuntur. (Vide Extravagantem ejusdem Joannis quae incipit "Providens" et est sub eodem titulo collocata.)

Spondent quas non exhibent divitias, pauperes Alchimistae; pariter qui se sapientes existimamt in foveam incidunt quam fecerunt. Nam haud dubie hujus artis Alchimiae alterutrum se professores ludificant; cum suae ignorantiae conscii, eos, qui supra ipsos aliquid hujusmodi dixerint, admirentur: quibus cum veritas quaesita non suppetat, diem cernunt, facultates exhauriunt; idemque verbis dissimulant falsitatem, ut tandem quod non est in rerum natura, esse verum aurum vel argentum sophistica transmutatione confingant; eoque interdum eorum temeritas damnata et damnanda progreditur, ut fictis metallis cudant publicae monetae characteres fidis oculis, et non alias Alchimicum fornacis ignem vulgum ignorantem eludant. Haec itaque perpetuis volentes exulare temporibus, hac edictali constitutione sancimus, ut quicumque hujusmodi aurum vel argentum fecerint, vel fieri secuto facto mandaverint, vel ad hoc scienter (dum id fieret) facientibus ministraverint, aut scienter vel auro vel argento usi fuerint vendendo vel dando in solutum: [illegible letter or or mark] verum tanti ponderis aurum vel argentum poenae nomine inferre cogantur in publicum pauperibus erogandum, quanti Alchimicum existat; circa quod eos aliquo praedictorum modorum legitime constiterit deliquisse: facientibus nihilominus aurum vel argentum Alchimicum aut ipso, praemittitur, scienter utentibus perpetuae, infamiae nota respersis. Quod si ad praefatam poenam pecuniarum exsolvendam deliquentium ipsorum facultates non sufficiant, poterit discreti moderatio judicis poenam hanc in aliam (puta carceris, vel alteram juxta qualitatem negotii personarum differentiam aliasque attendendo circumstantias) commutare. Illos vero qui in tantae ignorantiam infelicitatis proruperint, ut nedum nummos vedunt, sed naturalis juris praacepta contemnant, artis excedant metas, legumque violant interdieta scienter videlicet adulterinam ex auro et argento Alchimico cudendo seu fundendo, cudi seu fundi faciendo monetam; hac animadversione percelli jubemus, ut ipsorum bona deserantur carceri, ipsique perpetuo sint infames. Et si clerici fuerint delinquentes, ipsi ultra praedictas poenas priventur beneficiis habitis et prorsus reddantur inhabiles ad habenda.