Johann was born in 1586, in the town of Herrenberg, not far from Stuttgart.
It's quite the charming, prosperous place, as you can see in the pic - the same when he was a kid.
Johann never enjoyed great health as a kid, and was taught at home, rather than going to school. /2
This was lucky for him, as Johann's parents were pretty amazing themselves.
Johann's mum was Maria Andreae, the court apothecary who worked for the reigning Duke of Württemberg, Frederick I.
Her and Frederick's wife, Sibilylla, regularly dispensed free medicine to the poor. /3
Johann's father (Johann Sr) was essentially mayor of Herrenberg and later an abbot, so not only was he learned, but he also knew a lot of powerful and influential folks. Johann Jr would have learned a lot, listening to his meetings. /4
When it came time to go to university, Johann went to Tübingen, where he lodged in the 'Tübinger Stift' - basically a Lutheran hall of residence. Quite a influential one too.
He made a lot of friends here, and it had a profound effect on how he saw the world. /5
Johann never graduated, it seems, he was expelled.
It would seem that at this time he posted an extremely rude note on a lecturer's door, telling the lecturer exactly what Johannes thought of him... /6
That was *nothing* compared to what he did next, though.
As a huge fan of esoteric themes and the occult, Johann decided he'd have a go at inventing his own secret brotherhood.
His manuscript, 'The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz', first appeared in 1616. /7
Johann probably thought it was all a bit of a clever lark, his tale of a wandering sage having a (very allegorical) adventure.
Thing is, people took it seriously though. Super seriously. The pamphlet began to appear across Europe, swapped and discussed. /8
Soon writers and artists across Europe were adding to the legend of 'The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross' dreamed up by Johann.
Various individuals claimed to be members, or have unearthed new texts relating to it.
It was a fanfic frenzy, an absolute sensation! /9
In fact, Johann's dream of a secret brotherhood improving the world has never left the popular consciousness.
Not only was it an influence on the formation of the (very real) Illuminati in Bavaria, but there are modern groups (some say cults) who claim to be 'Rosicrucians'. /10
Johann would go on to disavow the 'Rosicrucian' idea, claiming it was all youthful folly.
Of course, if you'd told the world about a secret organisation pulling the strings, you would, wouldn't you?
Anyhoo, we're not done... /11
In 1619, Johann dropped his next work 'Christianopolis', in which he talked about the ideal city, in which knowledge would reign supreme, nobody would go hungry and attackers could not overrun. /12 https://archive.org/details/johannvalentinan00andrrich/page/n6 …
Thanks to Mark Rubin on YouTube, you can get a pretty good look at how Johann's utopian city might have turned out. /13 https://youtu.be/T4aGcUrRVng
Thing is, it wasn't just hypothetical for Johann. As the pastor of the German town of Calw, he created the 'Christliche Gottliebende Gesellschaft', or 'Christian God-loving Society' of rich citizens and organisations, and used the money to build schools and hospitals. /14
When Calw was almost completely destroyed during the Thirty Years War, the town was able to recover much faster than most, because his society had so much money ready to spend on rebuilding - in fact, the town *grew*. /15
Oh, and he was also a member of the 'Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft' or 'Fruitbearing Society', a brotherhood of scholars dedicated to standardising German across the Holy Roman Empire. He even had a codename, 'The Soft'
Totally something an Ascended Grandmaster would do! /17
After a long and fruitful (geddit) life, Johann died in 1654, Abbot of the monastery of Bebenhausen, which having visited, I can tell you is the perfect place to stash the leader of a secret brotherhood in relative comfort. Hidden in plain sight! /18
I like Johann because he represents a strain of utopian positivity in a world that was, to put it bluntly, gone fucking crazy.
During a time of war and religious turmoil, he managed to bring people together, both locally and across Europe, to at least think of solutions. /19
You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.
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