Alchemist Gift – History
Monks were not well liked
During the time of Alchemist Gift, monks of the 15thand 16th centuries were not known for their good behavior. By the 16th century many of the religious houses had long since lost their sense of purpose. Some, as landlords, oppressed the local population with exorbitant rents. Heavy debts encumbered others that had been poorly managed.
A priory “became a stopping point for Oxford students whose behaviour and ‘slovenly dress’ created complaints and gained the priory a dubious reputation. An Episcopal visitation in the 15th century reported monks missing holy service and visiting the public house instead, and the Prior having absconded.”*
Beer was drunk in some quantity by monks. In fact, those in Abingdon were rationed to twenty pints per day.*
A pamphlet of the time, titled The Supplication of the Beggars, shows how little respect remained for arrogant abbots, ill-educated priests, and the church courts that governed, taxed, and often oppressed the domestic lives of the populace. Its author, Simon Fish, had won popular acclaim by impugning the greed and licentiousness of the abbots, priors, friars, and Summoners, and urging the King to seize the wealth of these puissant and counterfeit, holy and idle beggars.**
**This article was written by Lindsay Clarke and originally published in June/July 2002 British Heritage Magazine
Alchemist Gift Chapter 2
Excerpt 2 Alchemist Gift
When the apples formed and ripened they were so very sweet and succulent that travelers made a new round about path and abandoned the one made by the Roman armies on their way to Gaul, just to pass by the tree to enjoy its shade and to eat its fruit. The shaded area under the tree had an inviting and earthy scent, especially after it rained.
In summer its leaves afforded a shady retreat and trysting place for lovers young and old. A parade of eager students, tired laborers, pretty young maidens, wandering philosophers, religious zealots, pious pilgrims, soldiers, minstrels, orphans, peddlers, thieves and beggars, all found a place to rest and reflect and refresh themselves.
Under that leafy canopy a subtle exchange took place between the tree and this stream of humanity. Like the rain and the sun the tree also absorbed the passions and secrets, hopes and wisdom, desires and depravities of its many visitors as they sat and ate , schemed and dreamed. These flitting emanations were captured in the web work of the tree’s leaves and flowed into its branches and downward deep into its roots. This communion gave the tree a soul and a simple notion of good and evil. This knowledge coursed through every cell of the tree and burst forth giving its fruit curative and thought provoking qualities. Those who ate the apples were inclined to follow their own bent.
Il Patron Mezzi was proud to have this tree on his property. Since the Villa Mezzi was remote all pilgrims were given a Christian welcome. At times Il Signore would chat with those select pilgrims who he knew to be landed or of noble blood. He and La Signora had a kind word for anyone who brought news or an interesting story to share. Everyone was welcome to drink from the spring on the villa side of the path. The iron gates were locked and only noblemen or clergymen (excluding monks and friars) were welcome inside the villa’s walls.
More and more people heard of the miraculous apple tree. There was the story of the little lame girl who regained the use of her leg after just one bite of apple, or the blind soldier whose sight was restored when he splashed apple juice into his eyes. Some accounts had a kernel of truth, others were fanciful fabrications. The people listened and the people came. Along with those who sought a cure for their ailments or looked for spiritual renewal or confidence to follow their dreams, also came those who found advantage in the hopes and weaknesses of others.
At the end of harvest time, when most of the apples were picked and the remaining few were bird pecked or more bruised than not, the path was lined with tents and stalls and folding tables. There were honest sellers who offered the simple necessities such as bread, wine, cheese and honey. The clever and crafty ones, offered apples they bought at market for a copper or two. They claimed the fruit was from the Sacred Tree and sold them for as much as they could.
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A book of the lives of people in the Renaissance and the alchemy that brought them all together with its repercussions on our modern-day hero, Roland..
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