Stirling Castle in Scotland has planned a wonderful list of events for the Easter holiday on the 7th and 8th of April. One of the items on the list that caught my eye was the visit of a 1,000 year old wizard, James IV’s personal alchemist, John Damian, who attempted to fly from the castle walls.
Damian was an eccentric (I’m not sure eccentric is an apt description) Italian clergyman to the court of James IV of Scotland at Stirling Castle. His failed attempts at medicine, alchemy, and flying prompted satirical attacks by poet William Dunbar a well-known Scottish poet.
His Italian name was actually Giovani Damiano de Falcucci. The records of the Scottish Exchequer refer to him ast the “French Leech” or “Master John the French Leech”. His name first appears in the records in January 1501.
John surpervised the building of the alchemical furnaces at Stirling Castle and Holyroodhouse in order to produce the “quinta essential” (the fifth element). He was then named Abbot of Tongland.
Court entertainment was apparently part of his duties and he organized the dances in Edinburgh at New Year in 1504. Three years later John tried to fly from the battlements of Stirling Castle. Since I’m perfectly aware that it’s a long way down it’s amazing that, although he was unsuccessful, he was unharmed.
The records of the Scottish Exchequer lists sums of money lost by the King playing cards with the clergyman card shark, as well as, betting at shooting matches.
After Damian resigned as Abbot of Tongland in 1509, King James wrote to Pope Julius II requesting that a pension of200 ducats should be awarded. Damian is still on record at the kings court a few months before the battle of Flodden in Northumberland, England, on September 9, 1513. The Scots army led by King James IV invaded and an English army led by the Earl of Surrey. Victory went to the English and James IV was killed in the battle. He was the last monarch in Britain to die in battle.
Click on Stirling Castle to read more about the Enchanted Easter celebration.
Click on Wikipedia to learn more about John Damian