The need to distinguish accurately between Ramon Llull and the Pseudo-Ramon Llulls did not present itself until the contributions of positivist criticism began to be felt in the beginning in the 18th century with the Vindiciae Lullianae(1778) of Father A. R. Pasqual, and with the eight monumental volumes of the Mainz edition in Latin. Even so, the editor of this series, Ivo Salzinger, still took into consideration aspects of Pseudo-Lullian alchemy. It was not, therefore, until the 19th and 20th centuries that Llull’s posterity took a scientific and academic point of view: from Volume 29 of the Histoire Littéraire de la France by É. Littré and B. Hauréau (1885), to the bibliographical research of E. Rogent and E. Duran, to the historico-literary research of A. Rubió i Lluch and J. Rubió i Balaguer, to the philosophical investigations of the Carreras y Artau brothers, to the foundation of contemporary Lullism by F. Stegmüller (the Raimundus-Lullus-Institut, of the University of Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany) and the foundation of the journal Studia Lulliana by S. Garcías Palou.
Llull’s reception from the 14th century to the present day cannot be presented in a linear manner, given the diversity of fields and of nuclei of activity implied by Lullism.
Llull’s first close contacts in Paris, Peter of Limoges and Thomas Le Myésier, were faithful interpreters of their master’s spirit; the latter oversaw the valuable task of re-copying and diffusing Ramon’s thought, which gave rise to the Breviculum, a luxury codex, decorated with miniatures, and to the Electorium magnum, which was an extensive manual of Lullism (incorporating an anthology), based upon the Arts of the second phase. These are two tools which today are considered as indispensable as Llull’s own original texts.
The fact that certain other disciples in the 14th century from Catalonia and Valencia should use Llull’s name to produce apocryphal texts of a spiritual cast, unpopular with the ecclesiastical hierarchy, led to the implacable persecution unleashed by the Dominican inquisitor Nicholas Eymeric. In 1376 Llull’s Art was condemned by the pontifical court of Avignon and in 1390, by the University of Paris. Despite the sentence of absolution in 1416, the shadow of heterodoxy cast itself over Llull during the whole of the 15th century and significantly tainted the transmission of his works. It was for this reason that the first theologians of any stature to consider themselves Llull’s heirs, such as Raymond Sibiuda or Nicholas of Cusa, chose to keep the name of their master quiet.
We are aware of the existence of Lullian schools in Majorca and Barcelona, founded in the 14th century and active throughout the 15th. They were centres of bibliographical reference and places for teaching, in which interpreters whose writings we know, such as Pere Daguí, came to work. It is known that these schools, at the time of their founding and in the midst of persecution by the Inquisition, were authorised to teach the Art in its applications to medicine, astronomy and philosophy, but not to theology.
Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros (1436-1517) founded a chair of Lullian philosophy and theology at the University of Alcalá, which started the tradition for a persistent Lullism in Spain during the Siglo de Oro. Thus the Court of the Austrias became involved in the cause of Ramon’s canonisation; in a different field, the architect who planned the Escorial for Phillip II, Juan de Herrera, became interested in the geometrical aspects of the Art, as is shown in his work Tratado del cuerpo cúbico conforme a los principios y opiniones de Raimundo Lulio (1582).
Llull’s theological and metaphysical legacy also spread across Renaissance Europe, through the trail left by the Art in philosophers such as Nicholas of Cusa. The transformation of Ramon Llull into a mystic, deprived of an intellectual dimension, yet aided by grace, was also a phenomenon of the beginning of the 16th century. This was how Llull appeared in the works of certain Parisian humanists such as Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples or Charles de Bouvelles. The humanists’ interest in Llull is shown by the upsurge in editions published both before and throughout the 16th century in France and in Italy, where there had been active groups of the his disciples since the 15th century, as in Padua, for example.
In the Europe of the 16th century, however, readers valued, above all, the totalising dimension of Llull’s system, as a method for integrating all types of knowledge, along the lines of the encyclopedism of Peter Ramus (1517-1572) and of Guillaume Budé (1468-1540), who sought the outlines of a single science, convinced that all the disciplines which made up knowledge showed marked similarities between their components, and that it was possible to establish bridges of communication between them. The numerous commentators upon Llull in the Renaissance and the Baroque period were testimony to the interest of the Art from the point of view of dialectical or rhetorical creation: Bernard de Lavinheta, Explanatio compendiosaque applicatio Artis Raymundi Lulli (1523); Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, In Artem brevem Raymundi Lulli (1533); Pierre Grégoire, Syntaxis Artis mirabilis (1583-87); Johann Heinrich Alstead, Clavis artis lulliane (1609); Athanasius Kirchner, Ars magna sciendi (1669). One of the most singular Lullists of this period was the controversial philosopher Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), the author of many short works upon Llull, which were gathered together in the compilation of Lullian and Pseudo-Lullian material, alongside interpretative texts, which was destined to establish the official image of Llull for more than a century: the anthology of Lullian works edited by Lazarus Zetzner in Strasburg in 1598 and repeatedly reprinted three times during the 17th century. (See: Raimundus Lullus, Opera. Reprint of the Strasbourg 1651 edition, Introduction by Anthony Bonner, “Clavis pansophiae. Eime Bibliothek der Universalwissenschaften in Renaissance und Barock” 2,1 (Stuttgart-Bad Canstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1996).
17th- and 18th-century Lullism
The positions taken for or against Llull by the most famous thinkers of the 17th century, therefore, took the selection we have referred to as its starting point, a selection which conditioned both Descartes’ rejection and Leibniz’ enthusiasm; it is a fact that Isaac Newton had a copy of Zetzner’s anthology of Lullian works in his library. And Leibniz, on the basis of this same source, delivered a favourable judgement regarding the Ars combinatoria as a method of mechanising the foundations of knowledge and of infallibly distinguishing truth from falsehood. Llull represented the constant point of reference in the project of constructing a universal language based upon a logico-deductive general science and linked to a generative encyclopedia, on which many worked in the 17th and 18th centuries.
When the first guides to the history of medieval science appeared at the beginning of the 20th century, Llull’s name took a place among the masters of the 13th century (Saint Albert, Saint Thomas, Roger Bacon…), but it was necessary to wait until the second half of the century for someone to arrive at a working explanation of the degree to which Llull’s science depended upon the Art and of how it fitted into the intellectual context of his day. This has been made possible by the studies of F. Yates, R. Pring-Mill, A. Bonner, with substantial contributions by M. Pereira, J. Gayà, F. Domínguez, J. M. Ruiz Simon and by Catalan historians of the Arabic tradition, J. M. Millàs, J. Vernet and J. Samsó. It was also in the second half of the 20th century that critics were able to outline the role of Llull’s logic and the value of his ontology. Charles Lohr, in particular, considers Llull to be one of the founders of metaphysics in the period of the Renaissance. The contributions of historians, such as J. N. Hillgarth, have been essential in identifying the documented outlines of the historical Ramon Llull.
An important aspect of current studies on Ramon Llull is the critical editions of his works. The Latin works are published in the ROL series (Raimundi Lulli Opera Latina, Corpus Christianorum. Continuatio Medievalis by Brepols publishers (Turnhout, Belgium) and the Catalan works in the NEORL series (Nova edició de les obres de Ramon Llull, Patronat Ramon Llull (Palma de Mallorca-Barcelona). The ROL series reached Volume 38 in 2017 and consists of editions of Llull’s later works, since they are being published in inverse chronological order (the Mainz edition from the 18th century only provided the early works). The NEORL series reached Volume 15 in 2018 and complement the 21-volume ORL series (Obres originals de Ramon Llull, which were published in Palma de Mallorca between 1906 and 1950).
Studies upon Llull of every variety appear throughout the world, the majority of which are reviewed in the bibliographical bulletin of the journal Studia Lulliana.
To know more...
See: T. and J. Carreras Artau, Historia de la filosofia espanyola. Filosofia cristiana del segle xiii al xv, facsimile edition, Vol. 2 (Barcelona: Institut d’Estudis Catalans, 2001): the history of Lullism occupies pp. 9-437; Del frau a l’erudició. Aportacions a la historia del lul·lisme dels segles XIV al XVIII = Randa, 27 (Barcelona, Curial Edicions, 1990).