Heinrich Cornelius, named Agrippa von Nettesheim – latinized as Henricus Cornelius Agrippa ab/de (from) Nettesheym/Nettesheim, born 14. September 1486 in Cologne, Germany, died 18. February 1535 in Grenoble, France was a German polymath, theologian, lawyer, medical doctor, philosopher and occult writer. His discussions and writings about magick, religion, astrology and natural philosophy (the precursor to science) and the philosophy of religion are considered to be some of the most important intellectual contributions of his time.

Heinrich Cornelius was born to an impoverished noble family from Cologne. He had one sister. Nothing is really known about his childhood and early youth before he began his studies at the University of Cologne in the College of Liberal Arts on 22 July 1499 as "Henricus de Nettesheym" at the age of 13. Heinrich Cornelius was awarded his baccalaureate degree on 29 Mai 1500 recorded under the name Agrippa von Nettesheim. His academic record in Cologne notes the beginning of his doctoral (or masters degree) studies on 1 July 1500 and ends with the notation of the award of his "licentiate" degree (a degree just below that of a doctorate although in the Middle Ages it might have been an equivalent degree) on 14 March 1502 . Agrippa's autodidactic plan of study included Latin, astrology, theology, the foundations of magical thought, hermetic books, Orphic hymns, Kabbala, Roman law,medicine, mechanics, optics and geometry. In 1502 or 1503 Agrippa moved to Paris to continue his studies where he made the acquaintance of many influential personalities. Around 1507, with the support of some prosperous citizens, Agrippa began a series of alchemical experiments. In 1508 Agrippa embarked on a misadventure in Spain after a friend asked him to help in the reconquest of a castle. Agrippa spent time in Lyon and Autun after which he began lecturing on the Kabbalistic work of Johannes Reuchlin, "De verbo mirifico", at the University of Dole (Burgundy) in 1509. Agrippa's lectures aroused great interest but also criticism from a local Franciscan cleric, Jean Catilinet who characterized Agrippa as a "Judaizing heretic". Agrippa departed Dole in 1510, returning to Cologne where he studied with the teacher, witch theoretician and Abbot Johannes Trithemius. He wrote his three volume "De occulta philosophia" (On the Occult Philosophy), dedicating it to Johannes Trithemius on 8 April, 1510, who urged Agrippa to conceal his occult studies. "De occulta philosophia", the first known systematic approach to the occult, would not be published until 1533.