There are many theories about the origin of the VM.
It crossed my mind that I cannot spoil anything if I add my own theory.
I am getting acquainted with the available information only step by step. I am trying not to be influenced by theories of my predecessors and I am considering only the facts and dates that cannot be doubted, such as the date of birthday, the stay in certain place, the works written by somebody, etc.
I "used": in my theory several historical persons. Each person is important and could, in certain sense, contributed to the creation of the VM, even if only indirectly. I put together certain order of importance, from the least important (3) up to the most important (1).
3) Ferdinand II. of Tirol (1529-1595)
The son of Emperor Ferdinand I. and of Anna Jagello,he was the vice-regent in Prague (1547-1566). After the installation of ther new Emperor, he left with wife Filipina Welser for he castle Ambras near Innsbruck. Due to his position and power, he was the important defender of his wife against the accusations by the local informers that she was involved in witchcraft .
2) 2) Filipina Welser (1527- 1580) She was the girl of Welser family from Augsburg, very educated, religiously tolerant and very rich. In the year 1557, she converted to Catholicism so she could marry Ferdinand of Tirol. After the wedding, she did not change her nature: she still loved art and sciences, especially alchemy and healing. Ferdinand of Tirol, who was devoted to his wife, never objected to her interests since he was very tolerant and was - considering he was the Habsburg - a real libertine. One can read more about Filipina in these books:
Karl Beer; Philipinne Welser als Freundin der Heilkunst(1950) Grossing; Kupecká dcera v domě Habsburků (1993) Zora Beráková; Pohár plný vína (a love story from Czech renaissance)
1) Georg Handsch, G.H.; (1529-1578);the physician, alchemist, humanist and poet.
Born in Ceska Lípa, his father was Václav Handsch. G. H. was of Czech origin and was very gifted. He studied in Padua and traveled the most of Italy. After his return to Bohemia, he entered in employment with A. Matthiolli and translated his herbal from Latin into German (1563).He became the personal physician of Ferdinand of Tirol and Filipina Welser. Later, I will describe the reasons I have put him first in the order of importance.
Most of my information about him I got from
Leopold Selfender: Georg Handsch von Limuz-Lebensbild eines Arztes aus dem XVI.Jahrenhunderts.
There are also many links to G.H. on the Internet.
And now about my theory:
It can be objected that Georg Barsch could become the owner of the VM in about 1618, i.e. 40 years after Handsch's death. Of course, Handsch had some relatives, maybe it could be a cousin? The following series results: G.H. > Filipina Welser > Ferdinand of Tirol > Rudolf II. > Jakub Horczicky > Georg Bareš >Ioannes Marek Marci > Atanasius Kircher > ...
I suspect the way it got in Baresch hands was during the ransacking of Horczicky's house after the Prague defenestration in 1618.
The main reasons Handsch could be the author of the VM are:
He was knowledgeable in botanics, some came from his own experience, some feom Mathiolli's herbal. Now in the VM, there are some plants not known today or never discovered yet. How did Handsch get them? There is one explanation:
The Augsburg family of Welsers was very rich. Bartolomeo Welser actually enabled the Emperor Charles V. to send the expedition of 8 ships to Venezuela, by lending him 12 tons of gold. Of course, there were also merchants and soldiers on those ships, but undoubtedly also scientists, such as cartographers, zoologists, geologists, astronomers and botanists. Bartholomeo Welsher was a Lutheran so I assume there was more scientists than priests in the expedition. (To be honest, I do not know if there were any Lutheran missionaries at that time). In the 16th century, there were many plants on the shores of Orinoko and surrounding jungle that could have been similar to those in the VM. It is no wonder they are not known to today's science since they may have been extinct during past 500 years. G.H. could have got the information from the members of the expedition. Being the personal physician of Ferdinand of Tirol and his wife, he did have an opportunity. Especially Filipina, who was so deeply interested in healing, had enough money to get such information. Also, G.H. apparently consulted the astronomical and botanical part of the manuscript with Taddeus Hayek, the famous astronomer, who translated Mathiolli's herbal into Czech language.
The other associated facts:
The pictures in the VM showing the bathing persons shows the great interest of the author in healing and balneotherapy. G.H. visited in 1571 spa Bukovska Kyselka in Western Bohemia and wrote the essay about it. His other works are also related to water, i.e. Die Elbfischerei in Bohmen und Meissen. (last reprint in Prague 1933).
Conclusion: Georg Handsch, in cooperation with Filipina Welser created his manuscript. After his death, it was owned by Filipina and two years later, by Ferdinand of Tirol. He donated the VM to his nephew Rudolph II, knowing about his love for art and sciences. Rudolph, in turn gives the VM to Horczicky, as a token of appreciation for his cure. After the uprising in 1618, the property of Horczicky is ransacked and/or confiscated and somehow gets into the hands of Georg Baresch.
That is all about it. I have found on Internet the information about South/Bohemian University posting the grant (y. 2000) for scientific work on "Ferdinand of Tirol and Bohemia". It should deal about his attitude to Bohemia and various pastimes of the Renaissance nobility. It would also study various archives such as those in Vienna, Prague and the castle Ambras. The monograph should be in print this year. As for the solution of the VM script, I got one interesting idea. To quote Karel Capek, tethe best ideas occur from naivety. I will let it sort in my head and I will write the continuation.
Author: Karel Dudek