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Renaissance Polymath Dr. John Dee: The Story of "the Queen’s Conjurer"

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Dr. John Dee was an accomplished mathematician, astronomer, scientist, doctor, and alchemist who spent his life trying to unravel the secrets of the universe. As an adviser to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I of England, he was a true son of the Renaissance, and some called him “the Queen’s Conjurer.”

John Dee was born in 1527, in London, England. John Dee received a good overall education and excelled in astronomy, geography, Latin, and Greek, but mathematics remained his passion. He was rewarded in due course, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree, and was made a founding fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1546. The following year, he took to astronomy, spending many evenings observing the stars and taking measurements. Between 1547 and 1551, he visited Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. It was at the Old University of Louvain in Belgium that John Dee’s philosophical outlook underwent a dramatic change.

Queen Mary passed away in 1558, and her sister Elizabeth ascended the throne. The new Queen trusted him and made Dr. John Dee a royal astrologer and her adviser. He counseled the Queen in matters of science, exploration, astrology, and medicine.

One of Dr. John Dee’s greatest contributions to England was his profound knowledge of geography. In an effort to preserve England’s intellectual heritage of ancient and medieval manuscripts, Dr. John Dee also built one of the greatest private libraries of his time at his home in Mortlake by the River Thames.

Dr. John Dee devoted many years of his life to studying and practicing alchemy. He was probably best known for his mysticism and his belief that he could talk to angels.

Dr. John Dee, the mathematician, astrologer, and alchemist, passed away in 1608. He left behind a legacy of rare manuscripts and artifacts, and has been touted as a true-to-life wizard, whose genius and influence helped us see the link between science and spirituality and continues to inspire people to seek the meaning of life.
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