Regni Christi Frater Count Michael Maier and the Fraternity R.C.
By Hereward Tilton Aries 2002
On account of his leading role as apologist for the elusive Rosicrucian Order, the alchemist Count Michael Maier (1569-1622) came to be known as a man who not only sacrificed his time and fortune on the impossible claims of his art, but who also squandered his talents on the Rosicrucian “imposture”, as Newton would put it when reviewing the Order ’s manifestos and Maier’s defence of them1. By the 18th century the “Fraternity of the Rosy Cross” that had inspired the hopes and fears of early 17th century Europe was widely condemned alongside alchemy as a malicious fraud, and Maier was depicted as one of its chief victims, as the Biographie Universelle makes clear:
It is difficult to know if the society of the Brothers of the Rosy Cross existed elsewhere than in the imagination of some scoundrels, who used it as a means of extorting money from overly credulous people. The Brothers were believed to possess the power to change metals into gold, or to retain their health over many centuries, and to transport themselves with the rapidity of thought through all the lands of the world. This society commenced with a great deal of noise in Germany at the beginning of the 17th century; and Michael Maier was certainly one of its initiates, or rather one of its dupes, since he had the inclination to write up their laws and customs, and took up their defence in his works.........