In the middle of the fourteenth century, the Franciscan friar John of Rupescissa sent a dramatic warning to his followers: the end times were coming; the apocalypse was near. Rupescissa's teachings were unique in his era. He claimed that knowledge of the natural world, and alchemy in particular, could act as a defense against the calamity of the last days. He treated alchemy as medicine (his work was the conceptual forerunner of pharmacology), and reflected emerging technologies and views that sought to combat famine, plague, religious persecution, and war. In order to understand scientific knowledge as it is today, Leah DeVun asks that we revisit the Black Death, the Hundred Years' War, and the Avignon Papacy through Rupescissa's eyes. The advances he pioneered, along with the exciting strides made by his contemporaries, shed critical light on future developments in medicine, pharmacology, and chemistry.
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