The Lion's Blood: Alchemy, Apocalypse, and Gender in Reformation Europe


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the Huntington Library during academic year 2010-2011


This project uses Anna Zieglerin’s dramatic rise and fall at a ducal court in the 1570s as a way to explore the intersection of science, gender, and faith in Reformation Germany. One of the few women alchemists about whom we have extant sources, Zieglerin practiced alchemy, recorded recipes for a golden oil called the lion’s blood, and attracted the support of a German duke. At the same time, she articulated an eschatological program in which she, as a “new Virgin Mary,” would use the lion’s blood to repopulate the world in preparation for the Last Days. In positioning her body and alchemy at the center of a spectacular cosmic drama, Zieglerin offers an opportunity to explore the porous boundary between science and religion in the era of the Reformation.