Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Rosicrucian enlightenment by Frances…

The Rosicrucian enlightenment (original 1972; edition 1996)

by Frances Amelia Yates

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6611233,623 (4.24)6
A history of the role that the occult has played in the formation of modern science and medicine, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment has had a tremendous impact on our understanding of the western esoteric tradition. Beautifully illustrated, it remains one of those rare works of scholarship which the general reader simply cannot afford to ignore.… (more)
Title:The Rosicrucian enlightenment
Authors:Frances Amelia Yates
Info:Barnes & Noble (1996), Hardcover, 269 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

The Rosicrucian Enlightenment by Frances A. Yates (1972)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 6 mentions

English (8)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (2)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
While I learned bits of history that I had been unaware of it is difficult to fully comprehend this work without more background in the traditions referenced.
  ritaer | Aug 23, 2023 |
A small gem of a work on a cloudy historical period in Europe. ( )
  JayLivernois | Apr 23, 2019 |
The suggestion of hidden knowledge, which all sorts of secret societies thrive on, is deeply fascinating to me. I am a perfect target for the suggestion of knowledge, the hints and cryptic allusions. And I'm an academic, an atheist, a sometime cynic. I know it is nonsense. But the fascination lies in the stories. And I'm a sucker for a good story.

At the centre of all the mystical posturing of the Freemasons, and all the others of the same ilk, is the myth of the Rosicrucian Society. It is tantalising in its vagueness and its reference to harmonies, orders and secret knowledge. But the trouble with allusions to vast secret knowledge is that when you look at it more closely it inevitably turns hollow, boring -- all silly ritual and vagueness.

This is where Frances A. Yates comes in. And I love her for it. She retains the excitement of finding out "what it is all about" by cutting through the high-flying nonsense and grounding it in real historical development. I am aware that the illusion of getting to the Truth of the matter is again illusory, but I much prefer this illusion to the intangible secret society one; and since I am not reading this academically but in order to learn something for fun, I am not unhappy with her turning the birth of the Scientific Revolution into a Grand Narrative. It is a much better one than the myth that Science grows whole and pure, based in Rationality alone, from the Deep Dark of the Middle Ages.

Yates' thesis is that the Rosicrucian Manifestos (which she analyses in some detail) are allegories about, or at the very least allude strongly towards, the Palgrave (or Elector Palatine) Fredrick V, based in Heidelberg, who married Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of James I (and VI, mustn't forget Scotland), and made a bid for the throne of Bohemia (which he gained, and then lost again in 1620, which earned him the name of ``Winter King'', as that was how long he had reigned). Those vaguely familiar with the Thirty Years War will recognise the importance of this. It then goes further, and combines dynasty politics with intellectual history and scientific development. Heidelberg was, after all, once of the great centres of European learning.

I freely admit that part of the reason why I love this book is that it is based in precisely the type of history-writing I adore. I don't want to read about farmers and fishermen. I want kings and queens, dynasty politics, religious intrigue, great thinkers and stories. There are limits to the stories you can tell about the farmers and fishermen. And, perhaps more importantly, it is all about the pleasure of recognition. Part of the appeal is the connection made between two parts of history which I have always approached separately.

I tend to compartmentalise history. I think of James I/VI and I think Macbeth and Shakespeare, Gunpowder Plot, Francis Bacon and his position between Elizabeth I and Charles I. Thinking of the movements in Europe at the same time, my mind runs to the religious conflicts, the Habsburgs, Bohemia, the (second) Defenestration of Prague and the Thirty Years' War. Similarly, Scandinavian history in my mind has got its own separate box, and there is another for the Mediterranean. I always get a rush when I get to join them up and see how they fit together. I suppose that makes me a geek.

Yates envisions the Palatinate as a link between the developments in England and those in Bohemia. She makes a very convincing case for this link, basing much of it in the figure of John Dee, a major English mystic. This book is only one in a number of studies she has made of the esoteric tradition(s) in Europe in combination with the seeds of the Enlightenment. The weak point, I suppose, is that tendency to want to make the whole of it into one tradition. The influences she traces are very persuasive, and while I sometimes felt that she read too much into a detail, the thesis as a whole is terribly seductive. Certainly to me.

It could be that her way of writing appeals to me so much because it is reminiscent of literary interpretation. In fact, much of it is literary interpretation. She traces references to Spenser (after grounding him in the Order of St. George), and this mix of literature and history not only triggers a number of my intellectual pleasure points, it paints a delicious swirl of colour around what is too often presented as a black and white, dreary story of Progress of Mind, bringing Kepler, Newton, Descartes and the like down to history from the rarefied heights of scientific development. All the while tracing the development of the story of the Rosicrucian Order (or the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross) in its changing manifestations.

I love it. ( )
3 vote camillahoel | Nov 8, 2010 |
For someone seeking to understand both the concepts and the transmission of symbolism, this is an excellent primer. For those with black and white mirrors, it's a bit of tough sledding at times but Yates ties things together quite nicely to give a well-reasoned explanation for so many things that we don't understand today. For the symbolically uninitiated, there will be a lot of "Aha!" moments. ( )
1 vote minfo | Oct 1, 2009 |
Interesting and straightforward look at an oddity of European History. ( )
1 vote AuntieCatherine | Apr 26, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

Belongs to Publisher Series

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

A history of the role that the occult has played in the formation of modern science and medicine, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment has had a tremendous impact on our understanding of the western esoteric tradition. Beautifully illustrated, it remains one of those rare works of scholarship which the general reader simply cannot afford to ignore.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Current Discussions


Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (4.24)
2 1
3 8
3.5 1
4 26
4.5 3
5 24

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 197,673,102 books! | Top bar: Always visible