This book has been an intellectual adventure to read, all 600-plus pages of it. The Scientific Revolution, Ralph Bauer argues, carries a connotation of “the discovery of new worlds” in nature. In historiography, the early modern revolution in cosmology has long been connected to the Age of Discovery in cosmography. Yet the two things remain conceptually distinct. We can indict Christopher Columbus for the violence of conquest but not Galileo for the discovery of spots on the sun. Yet what if discovery and conquest were conceptually intertwined from the very beginning? The Alchemy of Conquest completely reframes the concept of the Scientific Revolution by taking medieval nominalism and alchemy seriously.

Bauer traces the origins of the categories of discovery and conquest back to the thirteenth-century Renaissance, particularly to the rise of Franciscan nominalism, artisanal alchemical experimentation, and the late medieval spiritual conquest...

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