Albertus Magnus (1193/1206 - 1280)



Albertus Magnus (1193/1206 - November 15, 1280), also known as Saint Albert the Great and Albert of Cologne, was a Dominican friar who became famous for his comprehensive knowledge and advocacy for the peaceful coexistence of science and religion is considered the greatest German philosopher of the Middle Ages. He is one of only 33 people to be honored by the Catholic Church as a Doctor of the Faith and was the first person to apply Aristotelian philosophy to the Church's doctrines. In addition to his philosophical greatness, Magnus was also a renowned scientist and was most proficient in Alchemy and chemistry. He isolated arsenic in 1250, the first element to be isolated since antiquity and the first with a known discoverer.

Toxicological Perspective

Albertus had many passions. When he was not updating Aristotle's writings in relation to catholic dogma or commenting on musical performances of his time, he found time to isolate arsenic in 1250. It was the first element isolated since antiquity.

He was also an alchemist who was rumored to have been the first to discover the Philosopher's Stone.


Albertus was born sometime around the end of the twelfth century in Padua, Germany on the banks of the Danube. He was educated in Padua where he was highly steeped in Aristotle's writings. He only entered the holy orders after he had a vision of the Virgin Mary and he became a member of the Dominicans where he studied theology. He received his doctorate and was made a provincial leader of the Dominicans and continued to teach - Thomas Aquinas was one of his pupils - until he was made Bishop of Regensburg. After a short stint here, he quit and spent the remainder of his life preaching throughout Europe.

Albertus' writings were collected after his death and amounted to 38 volumes. The covered such subjects as logic, theology, botany, geography, astronomy, mineralogy, chemistry, zoology, physiology, and phrenology, all of it the result of logic and observation. Much of his writings were interpretations and reworkings of Aristotle's works to align with church dogma. He believed that religion and science were compatible and did not present mutually exclusive viewpoints.


Albertus Magnus - Wikipedia