I have had this book in my hands numerous times visiting the library, but always another title came first. When my eyes fell on it again last time, I remembered that Baigent/Leigh quoting Yates a lot and I decided to try here once.
As it seems this is the last book of Francis Amelia Yates, first published in 1979 and being her eigth book since 1964. The books may be a bit hard to get after all these years. They are all about western occultism by the way.
The title suggests that the book is fully dedicated to “The Occult Philosophy In The Elizabethan Age”, but in fact this covers only half the book.
As introduction and to make the reader understand the what and why of “The Occult Philosophy In The Elizabethan Age”, the book starts with earlier occultists who precede “Elizabethanism”.
Those occultists are: Ramon Lull (who develloped some kind of Kabalistic kind of philosophy without using Hebrew and who is often regarded as forerunner of the Christian Kabbala) and Giovani Pico della Mirandola (who had a huge occult university in Italy and who is usually regarded as the ‘inventor’ of the Christian Kabbala) in the Renaissance. Johannes Reuchlin and Francesco Giorgi (student of Ficino who was again a student of Pico) in the Reformation. Henry Cornelius Agrippa von Nittesheim (the medieval ‘black sorcerer’) and then a chapter about Agrippa’s theory of ‘inspired melancholy’ which inspired Albrecht Dürer to make the engraving that decorates the cover of the book. The last chapter of part I is about the witch craze.
The second part lives up to the title, but it is the least interesting part. The first chapter about John Dee is still interesting, but the analysation of Edmund Spenser’s poem “The Fairie Queene” and Shakespears, Chapmans and Miltons writings are not too appealing to me.
Again more interesting is part III in which Yates investigates what happened with “Elizabethanism” and detects it in Rosicrucianity, which was the continent version of the philosophy of Robert Fludd (a thinker in the Giorgi-Agrippa-Dee tradition) and Puritanism (a form of Protestantism).
In part II and III also the role of the Jews in England is dealt with.
All in all an alright book. It is thin, but what is better than with for example Baigent and Leigh is that it is not purely historical, but there is also some information about what the occultists actually had to say, however not too much still.