Plants in Medieval Herbals
Professionally, I'm a botanist / plant ecologist. Medieval understandings and depictions of plants have a great fascination for me, though I'm not particularly interested in modern herbalism. I'm a strong proponent of the use of modern botanical nomenclature (as much as possible) when discussing plants, medieval or otherwise. My article on modern botany for the medievalist
covers the basics.
Many libraries are putting images of their manuscript holdings online, providing an invaluable resource. I've listed a few, and will continue to add more as I come across them.
Links to online manuscripts:
- The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania has images of entire manuscripts, including a 15th century herbal with 192 pictures of (MS LJS419), and a copy of "The Herbal of Dioscorides, Pedanius, Isocrates and Galen", also 15th c. (MS LJS062).
- Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, has a facsimile of Apuleius' "Herbal", dated c. 1070-1100 (Ashmole 1431).
- The Index of Medieval Medical Images, hosted by UCLA, has several herbals, including "Herbarium Apuleii", Yale Medical Library Manuscript 18.
- Vermont MS.2 is an Italian herbal from about 1500, also part of the Index of Medieval Medical Images, and perhaps my favorite extant herbal.
- The Electronic Texts in the History of Medicine project at Yale has facsimiles of several herbals.
- The British Library has two herbals online, Sloane 4016, a 15th century Italian manuscript, and Sloane 1975, a late 12th-century medical and herbal compilation from England or nothern France.