Anderae, Johann Valentin

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Anderae, Johann Valentin

(b. Herrenberg, Württemberg, 17 August 1586; d. Stuttgart, Württemberg, 27 June 1654), theology, Christian learning.

Andreae’s grandfather, Jacob Andreae, was professor of theology and chancellor of Tübingen University. The son of a smith, he has been called the Luther of Württemberg, and was the chief framer of the Formula of Concord (1577). Andreae’s father, Johann, was a Lutheran minister, but seems to have neglected both his family and the ministry to pursue his interest in alchemy. After the father’s death in 1601, Andreae’s mother, Maria Moser Andreae, moved the family to Tübingen. She was also interested in the study of nature, and in her later years gained the position of court apothecary.

In poor health as a child, Andreae received his early education at home. Under the influence of his father and following the custom of the time, he was introduced to wide-ranging studies of classical authors and the secrets of nature. When he entered Tübingen University in 1601, he already had an avid interest in astronomy, mathematics, mechanics, music, and painting, and he had read Josephus, Livy, and Erasmus, as well as Sebastian Münster’s Cosmographia. He pursued these interests at the university, where he found an intellectual milieu very similar to the one Kepler had entered in 1589: one characterized by Lutheran orthodoxy on the one hand and by growing interest in the book of nature and nature mysticism on the other. He received the B.A. in 1603 and the M.A. in 1605, and then officially took up the study of theology, without abandoning his earlier interests. Involvement in some student affair in violation of the university regulations caused him to be expelled in 1607, and he began five years of extensive travel interrupted by periods of residence and study in Tübingen and employment as a private tutor.

Among the teachers who especially influenced Andreae were two who had taught Kepler: the theologian Matthias Hafenreffer and the mathematician Michael Maestlin. In addition he became strongly indebted to another associate of Kepler’s, Christoph Besold, who, although his subject was jurisprudence, took all knowledge for his province. Widely learned in languages, including Hebrew and probably Arabic, Besold read medieval philosophy, the Renaissance humanists, and the German mystics of the later Middle Ages, and admired Paracelsus, Ramón Lull, Nicholas of Cusa, and Pico della Mirandola. It was of great importance to Andreae that he had the use of Besold’s extensive library. Well prepared in languages under Besold’s guidance, Andreae traveled in Germany, France, northern Spain, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. Early in 1611 he visited Lausanne and Geneva, whose Calvinistic social organization so greatly impressed him that he conceived the wish to introduce something similar into his own church. A year later he traveled to Rome through northern Italy, where he visited some of the Platonic academies. He found Rome so foreign to his temperament that he determined to devote his life to Lutheran theology and the service of his church.

Returning to Tübingen in 1612, Andreae studied theology under Hafenreffer, of whose dogmatics he published a synopsis, and mathematics under Maestlin, whose teaching he presented in the Collectanea mathematica (1614). In 1614 he become parson at Vaihingen and married Agnes Elisabeth Grüninger, who bore him nine children. During the years at Vaihingen (1614–1620) Andreae wrote most of the works for which he is remembered. The rest of his life was devoted to writing, the service of religion, and his efforts to create a Christian union. From 1620 to 1638 he was dean at Calw, where in September 1634, after the battle of Nördlingen, he lost practically all his manuscripts, his library, and a collection of art that included works by Direr, Cranach, and Holbein. In 1639 he became court preacher and councillor in Stuttgart, and was in charge of the reorganization of the church in Württemburg. Suffering many disappointments in his efforts for the church and in failing health, he withdrew to Bebenhausen as bishop and abbot in 1650.

Andreae wrote a large number of small works, most of them in Latin; some were published anonymously, and several of them only years after their composition. Although his sole authorship of some works is contested, there is no doubt that he had a share in them. Their general aim was the universal spiritual reformation of mankind, a view shared by the intellectual community at Tübingen, of which he was the best-known and most influential representative. Dissatisfied with the increasing dryness and formality of the Lutheran orthodoxy, he wished to create a Christian union of all believers, joined in pious living and dedicated to the study of nature, reason and the public welfare. These ideas were laid down in a number of works that show a strong debt to the chiliasm of Joachim of Fiore; to Paracelsus and the spiritual reformers of the late sixteenth century, especially Valentin Weigel; and to Campanella, whose manuscripts, which were brought to Tübingen around 1614 by Andreae’s associate Tobias Adami, had great influence there. On the pattern of the Civitas soli, Andreae wrote the typical Christian utopia in his Reipublicae christianopolis descriptio (1619). It was dedicated to Johann Arndt, whose True Christianity was the conceptual source of this new Jerusalem built against all sophistry. In this closely structured society all efforts are bent toward the attainment of the inward spiritual regeneration of each individual, with heavy emphasis on the study of nature, for which all citizens have a strong inclination. Since creation reveals the wisdom and benevolence of God, it is man’s duty to study it closely, learn from it, and apply its lessons. The Book of Scripture is supplemented by the Book of Nature. The center of this society is its college, which offers a detailed division of the sciences and provision for their study, with correct observation and experiment playing a significant role. The pedagogical program includes universal education—even for girls—the study of the mother tongue, and knowledge of nature and the crafts, as well as physical training. It is strongly reminiscent of Bacon’s New Atlantis (1627) and no less specific in its directions for the learned academy.

In 1619 and 1621 Andreae issued a call for the formation of such a society in his Christianae societatis imago and the Christiani amoris dextera porrecta. Both were presumed lost until recently found in the papers of Samuel Hartlib, in the original as well as in translations by John Hall, published at Cambridge in 1647 as A Modell of a Christian Society and The Right Hand of Christian Love Offered. Both have some connection with the Antilia scheme. In the Modell, Andreae says that man now lives in the old age of the world. He also explains that the naturalist is the “treasurer of nature,” studying both the macrocosm and the microcosm, observing the “motions, differencies, uses, and excellencies of all creatures,” and making them “as it were tributaries to mankind.” Andreae is opposed to fables amd sophistry, preferring things to words, experience to conjecture, and events to guesses. His aim is that all men may gain “the highest pitch of humane felicity” and “exhibit both in body and mind a perfect copy of Christian imitation.” It is important for us to understand that the success of this and similar schemes did not depend on the formal organization of such a society: the reformation concerns the individual. The notion of the society is rather to be taken allegorically or metaphorically.

The same general inward reformation, Christian learning, and rejection of all false show of knowledge were also the aim of the works for which Andreae is best known. These are the three so-called original Rosicrucian writings, the Fama fraternitatis (1614), the Confessio (1615), and the Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz (1616). Andreae acknowledged authorship only of the last, written shortly before 1604, but he most likely also wrote the first two, between 1610 and 1612—which in any event came from his group at Tübingen. The Fama talks of Solomon as having reached greater wisdom and insight into creation than any man since Adam before the Fall. But, as the Confessio explains, God has willed that all men shall now, in the last age of the world, gain such universal knowledge as Adam possessed in “truth, light, life, and glory.”

All three works were written in a satirical vein, but the ficion was mistaken for the truth and Andreae soon found himself compelled to reject them as a misunderstood joke; he did this in the Turris Babel sive Judiciorum de fraternitate rosaceae crucis chaos (1619). Hence all the mystification, which has not ceased to this day. There is no proof whatsoever that any fraternity existed before 1614 or that any has legitimately existed since according to the intent of the author. Andreae did not wish to promote occultism, esoteric mysteries, or secret societies—inward reform was mistaken for hidden organization.

Andreae exerted a considerable influence on Comenius, who declared that his interest in pansophy was first roused by the reading of Andreae. During his lifetime, Andreae had connections with a large number of men, including Kepler, Comenius, the circle around Samuel Hartlib and John Duty, and the learned Duke August of Braunschweig-Lüneburg-Wolfenbüttel. Through his devotion to Johann Arndt he also had some influence on what later became known as Pietism.


There is no single comprehensive work on Andreae. His works are hard to come by, and the secondary literature is, with a few exceptions, beset with much confusion.

1. Original Works. Much unpublished correspondence and some manuscripts are in the Herzog-August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. Among Andreae’s most important published works are Vita ab ipso conscripta, F. H. Rheinwald, ed. (Berlin, 1849), German translation by D. E. Seybold, in Selbstbiographien berühmter Männer, II (Winterthur, 1799); Die chymische Hochzeit, Alfons Rosenberg, ed. (Munich, 1957); Confessio, in Winfried Zeller, ed., Der Protestantisumes des 17. Jahrhunderts (Bremen, 1962). pp. 170–185; Christianopolis, F. E. Held, ed. and trans. (New York, 1914); and Christianae societatis imago and Christians amoris dextera porrecta, with John Hall’s translations, in G. H. Turnbull, “Johann Valentin Andreae’s Societas Christiana,” in Zeitschrifit für deutsche Philologie, 73 (1954), 407–432, and 74 (1955), 151–185.

II. Secondary Literature. Works on Andreae are R. Kienast, Johann Valentin Andreae und die vier echten Rosenkreutzer-Schriften (Leipzig, 1926) (Palaestra, No. 152); Paul Joachimsen. “Johann Valentin Andreae un die evangelische Utopie,” in Zeitwende, 2 (1926), 485–503, 623–642; Will-Erich Peuckert, Die Rosenkreutzer (Jena, 1928) and Pansophie, 2nd ed., rev. (Berlin, 1956); Heinrich Hermelink, Geschichte der evangelischen Kirche in Württemberg (Stuttgart, 1949), pp. 138–147; Hans Schick, Das ältere Rosenkreuzertum (Berlin, 1942); Paul Arnold, Histoire des Rose-Croix (Paris, 1955). The last two have good and extensive bibliographies. Arnold’s book is the best introduction to Andreae, and it gives an excellent account of his times and the Tübingen milieu.

Hans Aarsleff