Dee also met men interested in esoteric studies of subjects like the Kabbalah, alchemy and magic. John Dee was already famous for his knowledge and expertise in the fields of mathematics, astrology, classics, astronomy, navigation, history and the antiquities. Dee was not content to just absorb the information in books alone. He went on tours of England to seek out first-hand knowledge and experience of things as different as buried treasure, hauntings, the recording of ancient monuments and ancestral coats of arms. He was indeed a typical Renaissance Man. Dee met Gerolamo Cardano, an Italian Renaissance mathematician, physician, and astrologer in 1552. Together the two investigated the ever-chimerical perpetual motion machine, as well as a gem that was believed to have magical properties. Dr. John Dee was an innovator in many different areas and in his middle years many people came to his Thameside home at Mortlake to ask him about practical and esoteric matters. In 1554, Dee was offered a readership of mathematics at Oxford University, which he declined as he was busy with other things. In 1555 Dee became a member of the Worshipful Company of Mercers, whose goal was to act as a trade association for general merchants, especially for exporters of wool and importers of velvet, silk and other luxurious fabrics. The word mercero in Spanish has a meaning similar to haberdasher.
Queen Elizabeth I, for whom Dee had selected a coronation date for astrologically, met with him regularly although he was never given the status he felt he deserved. Dee also became famous as an author, especially for his preface to Euclid and for Monas Hieroglyphica, which is a work describing cosmic unity represented by the glyph at the top of the page. However, Dr. John Dee's life was anything but smooth and free of bumps and bruises. In 1555 he was imprisoned for casting enchantments against Queen Mary. Dee appeared before the Star Chamber, which was an English court of law set up to ensure the enforcement of laws against prominent people, who would normally be so powerful that no ordinary court would ever convict them of any crimes. Dee exonerated himself in this affair. After this he was turned over to the Catholic Bishop Bonner for religious examination. His strong and lifelong penchant for secrecy probably made matters worse for him at this time in his life. The episode with Bonner and the Star Chamber was merely the latest scandal perpetrated against him. Dee and Bonner became close associates after the affair was over. Dee presented Queen Mary with a visionary plan for the preservation of old manuscripts, books, etc and the foundation of a national library, but his proposal was not taken up. Instead he expanded his personal library at his house in Mortlake, tirelessly expanding his library with books from England and the European continent. Dee's library, outside of the centers of learning in England, became famous for the wealth of information it contained and was visited by many scholars.
I hope to be able to continue this new series at a halfway decent clip-I can't promise anything, as it seems when I do things go the opposite way that I had intended. I would like to have the next post in this series here by the 18th-hopefully earlier. There is a lot of background history and other things I think I could include in this series if I can keep my energy level somewhat higher than it has been-and lately I would make Abe Vigoda look like Lance Armstrong! If this starts to get ridiculously long between posts there is a "guide" by which I can finish things up much faster, but I am hoping that doesn't happen. Thanks again all of you for your friendly, insightful, intelligent comments! I hope to be around tomorrow (unless a handsome dark looking fellow decides to sweep all 195 pounds of me off my feet and "take me to his mansion in the sky"-haha remember that one anybody??:) For today I think I will collapse into a sweat soaked puddle in the middle of my kitchen and drown myself in a glass of iced tea! Peace and best to all of you!