Valentin Weigel and Anticlerical Tradition

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Reformation, Renaissance, anticlericalism, mysticism, Paracelsus, Valentin Weigel, Jacob Böhme, German intellectual history


Paracelsus, Valentin Weigel, and Jacob Böhme are not only linked by a clear chain of influence and borrowing; they are all deeply rooted in the Protestant Reformation. However, the tendency to assign Paracelsus to medicine or the Renaissance and to subsume Weigel and Böhme under the anachronistic heading of “German mysticism” has obfuscated their kinship as well as their significance in German intellectual history. Their relegation distorts the breadth of the reform set in motion after 1517. They share an anticlerical tendency and a determination to expand the Reformation beyond doctrine and devotion to encompass other spheres of life and learning. Their reforming antiauthoritarianism found expression both in the nature philosophy of Paracelsus and in the mystical impulses of Weigel and Böhme.


This article was originally published as The Forgotten Reformation. Special edition of Daphnis, co-edited with Bo Andersson and Urs Leo Gantenbein. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2020 (330 pages). “Valentin Weigel and Anticlerical Tradition,” pp. 140-59.