Paracelsus, Swis physician and alchemist, c 1530s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by William Marshall after John Payne. Theophrastus Philippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim Paracelsus (1493-1541) was born in Switzerland, studied at Vienna University, and in 1522 was employed as a military surgeon in the Venetian service. This allowed him to travel widely in Europe and the Middle East learning about alchemy. In 1526 he set up a medical practice in Strasbourg and acquired great fame as a healer. In 1527 he moved to Basel as town physician and lecturer but was exiled in 1538 because of his controversial views. He established the use of chemistry in medicine and was the first to suggest that small doses of what makes people ill can also cure them.