Jan B. Hurych

Ramón Lull (sometimes even "Llull" ), also Raymond Lully (but not Jean Babtist Lully :-) or in Latin: "Raymundus Lullus" , philosopher, poet and theologian, was born in Palma de Majorca (approx. between 1232 a 1236) and died in Tunis on 29th June 1315. He spent his childhood at court of Jacob of Aragon, then became a hermit and later entered the order of St. Franciscus. He tried to convert Muslims to Christianity by promoting the study of Oriental languages, but also denounced the Arabic philosophy. He created the language school in Majorca and also lectured at Paris University - quite an honor, considering he didn't have a title yet (per Martin Gardner, see below). He wrote Ars inventiva veritatis (1289) and in 1291 left for Tunis, to preach again.

In 1295, he wrote Dels cinc savis and Petitio Raymundi, urging the Pope Boniface VIII to build missions in the land of Tartars. Sometimes between 1295 and 1296, already in Rome, he wrote his great encyclopedia, Arbre de sciencia. He returned to Tunis (1315), where he wrote Liber de maiori fine intellectus, amoris et honoris and in the same year he died, stoned by Saracens. According to one information, he died on the ship to Majorca, according to others, he died a year later in Majorca, where he is also buried.

He wrote about 300 books, their list is at: http://orbita.bib.ub.es/ramon/ Some of them are in Spanish, the others in Catalonian language and those are still considered very highly today. In his books, he criticized the Arabic "averronism" and tried to teach Arabs Christianity the way they would understand. He also discovered the "logical machine", where he entered the predicates in the form of geometrical bodies and figures and via certain gears he was able to reach certain solutions.

He called this ma chine Ars Generalis Ultima or Ars magna (ars inveniendi veritatem) since it was supposed to discover the secrets of nature. The system is described at:
His Arte electionis is on:
Augsburg edition of the same book is at:
http://www.math.uni-augsburg.de/stochastik/llull/ .

His books were devote to explanation of this m machine and even John Dee was inspired by them in his work on mechanical automatons. He taught that theology and philosophy - while two different sciences, one is based on belief the other on reason - must nevertheless agree together. Contrary to that, Arabs - and even St. Augustin - were admitting that what's good for one may not be proper for the other.

Lull was of course a mystic and didn't make the difference between the "natural" a "supernatural" truth. he tried to prove the religion via reason - they both need each other. His followers also started the chairs for spreading g the teachings of this "Doctor Illuminatus" at universities in Barcelona and Valencia. The Church was aware of dangerous consequences of such teachings and while Raymond d was actually he martyr he was never proclaimed a saint. On the contrary, he was denounced by pope Gregorius XI in 1376 and was later joined by Paul IV. On the other hand, we know that Lull agreed with cruel persecution of Templars by king Philip of France.

The works of Lull were published in Mainz (1721 až 1742), while his books and poems in Catalan became the part of Spanish culture. The Augsburg edition is at:

How does Lull fit in the VM time scale? Well, quite nicely:

1119 - The order of Templars created in Jerusalem
1149 - Cathars (sect of heretics) have their first bishop
1176 -- Sultan Saladin attacked the territory of Assassins and signed the peace with them
1187 -- Saracens overpowered Jerusalem
1190 -- The order of Teutonic (German) Knights created in Acre
1208 -- Albigensian crusade against Cathars
1214 till 1294 -- Roger Bacon, English monk and scientist
1233 -- Creation of Inquisition for suppression of catharism and other heresy
1232 till 1315 -- Ramon Lull
1241 -- Mongols invade Europe and introduce there black powder
1244 -- Massacre of Cathars in Montsegur, France
1254 to 1324 (?) -- Marco Polo
1256 -- King Alfonso of Castile orders the translation of alchemical texts from Arabic. Apparently he himself wrote the Tesoro and something about philosopher stone.
1260 -- Mongolian invasion is stopped..
1266 -- Roger Bacon wrote Opus maius
1267 -- Roger Bacon wrote Opus tertium
1272 -- Provincial Chapter at Narbonne forbids Franciscans to practice alchemy
1273 -- Dominicans are warning monks against the teaching of alchemy
1275 -- Ramon Lull wrote Ars Magna
1265 -- Dante Aligheiri was born
1275 -- First masons appear in Frankfurt. Also Zohar, the second book of Caballa, written by Moses de Leon, in Spain.
1280 -- Roger Bacon, the inventor of reading glasses, rediscovered black powder.
1291 -- Hospitalers are moving to Cyprus.
1307 -- Philip IV suppressed the order of Templars for black magic and sorcery. The Grand Master Jacques de Molay and others were put in prison.< BR> 1313 -- The Templars abolished by Pope.
1314 -- De Molay and other Templars burned alive in Paris.

As we can see, some names around VM appear also in the list. We already mentioned John Dee and later in this article, also Athanasius Kircher. But how about Lull? Do we have reasons to consider him as well? I have found only one reference on Net, I quote: 10 Marz ’03 "El Manuscrito Voynich o Ramón Llull jugando a ser Dios". Mario Pérez- Ruíz. Presentación del libro.It was apparently title title of some lecture given in Argentina, but the text was missing.  

Also, there is something at http://www.meta-religion.com/ :
" Now according to the Alchemist Raymond Lull (1229-1315): In order to make gold we must first have gold and mercury. By Mercury, I understand that mineral spirit which is so refined and purified that it gilds the seed of gold and silvers the seed of silver ." Strange still: The Catholic Encyclopedia does not even mention that Lull was also an alchemist - but who wasn't, at that time? His books on alchemy are only few, however, but it was Dominicans, who succeeded in proclaiming Lull to be a heretic, which accusation was however later withdrawn. It is also interesting that both Roger Bacon and Raymond Lull were Franciscans.

Let us also try to compare the handwriting of Lull, see:
* http://www.math.uni-augsburg.de/stochastik/llull/welcome.html, click there on: Artifitium electionis personarum . It is slightly similar to the comment in the VM, starting "michiton oladabas", atd.", see:
http://www.ic.unicamp.br/~stolfi/EXPORT/projects/voynich/98-11-07-f116-redrawn/ That comment apparently could be the key to the cipher. It is written in Latin script and that could mean that the VM may be even older the Lull :-). The detailed comparison, however, shows no similarity at all.

I also found on Net the comment by Dana Scott:
http://www.voynich.net/Arch/2003/02/msg00112.html, who thinks the word "labadas" is Spanish (another hint leading to Lull?). The page http://www.voynich.net/Arch/2003/02/msg00113.htmlquotes Newbold who thought the comment is from Cabala and René Zandbergen however saw the other meaning of that "Spanish version". Of course, we have to know if Lull was involved also in biology, apothecary arts and medicine. We already know he knew astronomy, astrology, automatons and apparently some magic.

Still, I "rediscovered" in my library the book by famous mathematician Martin Gardner (Science - Good, Bad and Bogus) with the article "The Ars Magna of Ramon Lull" who obviously studied the life and works of Lull in detail. Lull apparently wrote forty books about his system of "Ars Magna" and Gardner's book contains quite a detailed explanation. If you do not have the book, there is also Lull's text - see some links above - translated into English..

Similarly to other scientists, Lull was fascinated by permutations and combinations as well as some geometry. While I was student, similar idea occurred to me: I created the decision matrix, based on weights assigned for the action in question in regard to expressions "I CAN, I MAY, I MUST". It didn't work too well, so I added the verbs I KNOW, I AM ABLE, I CAN HANDLE IT, I WILL MANAGE IT IN TIME" and subsequently gave it up. Lull, on the other hand, took his combinations quite seriously and applied it practically to all sciences existing in his time.

He also had his critics from the very beginning: Francis Bacon was one of them, also Rabelais and Swift. He was however valued high by others: for instance Giordano Bruno and Leibnitz (who was apparently excited by mathematical root of his system). Some even proclaimed that Lull was the father of modern logic and that he contributed to the unification of sciences, etc. The truth is probably somewhere in between. His interests were truly universal - he wrote for instance the book of proverbs, containing 6500 of them. He was also interested in mnemonics, psychology, military tactics, rhetoric and astronomy as well as astrology, which he applied to medicine. There is no wonder that one Spanish university bears his name, La Universitat Ramon Llull. Even Gardner has to admit that Lull was genius, but his works are not studied any more.

Lull was first who used schematic - not only geometrical figures and trees, but also a rotating circles with identified segments, which may give the similar idea to Alberti (1289) for his discovery of rotating cipher wheels. Of course, he didn't think that combination of the terms alone would find the solution to all our problems - he uses them as building blocks and believes that some of them are the axioms, leading to the rest. In that, he reminds us somehow René Descartes who, of course, went much further by renouncing the old scholastic and replaced it with critical reasoning.

The combinational technique of Lull is strictly mathematical - but what he deduced out of it is the different question. Still, even today some serious analytical scientists believe that the computer can "solve" all problems of the world :-). Leibnitz however later departed from Lull's idea - he apparently guessed there is something like today's symbolic logic. Our "logical maps" are, after all, certain expressions of all logic combinations. Some Lull's discoveries are used even today: various diagrams, rotating color wheels for painters, nomograms, etc. Last but not least, even the Think Tank, the hollow sphere with tags of different subjects pulled out by random is using similar idea ( the new, computer version has random number generator). It is possible, that those associations enabled Lull to get deeper insight in different sciences. After all, even Darwin's "tree of life" is using the tree graph, invented by Lull while "parallel thinking" of Edward de Bono is enhancing the inspiration by combination of apparently unconnected ideas and variants.

Lull's research was not based on the formal education of his time but rather on his experimentation similar to Horczicky's research. And one more connection: Athanasius Kircher was Lull's dedicated follower. Well, maybe if he used his rotating diagrams , he could have found the solution of the VM already. Unfortunately, most likely only the wrong solution, as he did for hieroglyphs and so they had to wait for Champollion, after all. But let's not be mistaken: Kircher also designed the mechanical calculator - as well as Leibnitz did - and constructed the Laterna Magica with moving pictures, the principle of which is still used today in our movies.

12th December 2008.