Download Tractatus de Herbis: A Medieval Masterpiece of Botanical Art and Science
Tractatus de Herbis: A Medieval Treasure of Medicinal Plants
If you are interested in medieval manuscripts, botanical illustrations, or natural remedies, you might want to check out Tractatus de Herbis, a beautiful and fascinating work that showcases hundreds of plants and animals used for medicinal purposes. In this article, we will explore what Tractatus de Herbis is, how it was created and transmitted, what it contains, and why it is important for our understanding of medieval culture, science, and art. We will also show you how you can download a pdf version of this amazing manuscript for free.
tractatus de herbis pdf download
What is Tractatus de Herbis and why is it important?
Tractatus de Herbis (Treatise on Plants) is an illustrated treatise of medicinal plants painted in 1440. It is housed under shelfmark Sloane MS 4016 in the British Library, in London. It is one of the most famous and influential examples of a genre of medieval herbals that aimed to help apothecaries and physicians from different linguistic backgrounds identify plants they used in their daily medical practice. The manuscript contains over 500 illustrations of plants, animals, minerals, and other substances, accompanied by their names in various languages, such as Latin, Italian, French, German, Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, and others. The illustrations are realistic, colorful, and detailed, often showing the plants in their natural habitats or with human or animal figures interacting with them. The manuscript also includes some astrological diagrams, alchemical symbols, and annotations by later owners.
Tractatus de Herbis is important for several reasons. First, it is a valuable source of information about medieval botany, pharmacology, medicine, linguistics, geography, culture, and art. It reflects the diversity and complexity of medieval society and knowledge, as well as the exchange and transmission of scientific ideas across different regions and groups. Second, it is a remarkable example of artistic skill and creativity. The illustrations are not only accurate and informative but also expressive and captivating. They demonstrate the mastery of perspective, shading, coloration, composition, anatomy, symbolism, and storytelling by the anonymous painter. Third, it is a rare survivor of a type of manuscript that was often used until worn out or destroyed. Many similar herbals have been lost or damaged over time due to their frequent handling or exposure to moisture or fire. Therefore,Tractatus de Herbis represents a precious testimony of a medieval tradition that has largely disappeared.
How can one download a pdf version of the manuscript?
If you want to download a pdf version of Tractatus de Herbis, you have several options. One option is to visit the British Library's website, where you can find a high-resolution digital facsimile of the manuscript, along with a detailed description and bibliography. You can browse the manuscript page by page, zoom in and out, rotate, and download individual images. You can also download the entire manuscript as a pdf file by clicking on the "Download" button at the top right corner of the screen. Another option is to visit the Public Domain Review's website, where you can find a selection of images from Tractatus de Herbis, along with a brief introduction and commentary. You can download the images as jpg files or as a zip file containing all the images. You can also download a pdf file of the article by clicking on the "Print" button at the bottom of the page. A third option is to visit the Internet Archive's website, where you can find a scanned copy of Ortus Sanitatis, a printed book from 1491 that is based on Tractatus de Herbis and other sources. You can view the book online, download it as a pdf file, or read it on various devices.
Background and history
When and where was the manuscript produced and by whom?
The exact date and place of production of Tractatus de Herbis are not known, but scholars have proposed some hypotheses based on internal and external evidence. The manuscript is generally dated to around 1440, based on the style of the illustrations, the watermark of the paper, and the historical context. The manuscript is thought to have been produced in Lombardy, a region in northern Italy, based on the dialect of some of the plant names, the presence of some local plants, and the similarity with other Lombard manuscripts. The identity of the painter is unknown, but he is sometimes referred to as the Master of the Sloane Herbal, after the name of the manuscript. He was probably a professional artist who worked for wealthy patrons and had access to various sources of botanical and medical knowledge. He may have collaborated with other artists or scribes who helped him with some of the illustrations or texts.
What are the sources and influences of the manuscript?
Tractatus de Herbis is not an original work but a copy of an earlier manuscript by a physician named Manfredus, who lived in the late 13th or early 14th century. Manfredus' manuscript, which is now lost, was itself a version of another manuscript known as Egerton 747, which dates from before 1330 and is also preserved in the British Library. Egerton 747 was one of the first herbals to include multilingual lists of plant names and realistic illustrations without any accompanying text. It was based on various sources, such as classical authors (e.g., Dioscorides, Pliny), Arabic works (e.g., Ibn al-Baitar), Byzantine compilations (e.g., Juliana Anicia Codex), and local traditions. Tractatus de Herbis follows Manfredus' manuscript closely but adds some new illustrations and names, as well as some astrological and alchemical elements.
How did the manuscript evolve and spread over time?
Tractatus de Herbis was part of a family of herbals that had a common ancestor in Egerton 747 but developed in different directions over time. These herbals can be divided into two main groups: the North Italian group and the French group. The North Italian group includes Sloane 4016 and other manuscripts that were produced in northern Italy between the 14th and 15th centuries. They share similar features, such as large format, rich decoration, realistic style, astrological diagrams, alchemical symbols, and annotations by later owners. The French group includes Egerton 747 and other manuscripts that were produced in France between the 14th and 16th centuries. They share different features, such as small format, simple decoration, schematic style, no astrological or alchemical elements, and no annotations by later owners.
Illustrations and descriptions
How are the plants and animals depicted in the manuscript?
The illustrations in Tractatus de Herbis are one of the most striking and appealing features of the manuscript. They are executed in a realistic and naturalistic style, using a variety of colors, shades, and perspectives. The plants and animals are often shown in their natural environments, such as fields, forests, mountains, rivers, or seas. Sometimes, they are also shown with human or animal figures that demonstrate their uses or effects. For example, one illustration shows a man and a woman sitting on a bench under a plant called Hyppurius (field horsetail), which is supposed to have aphrodisiac properties. Another illustration shows a lion, a leopard, a rabbit, and an elephant under a tree called Arbor solis (sun tree), which is supposed to have astrological significance.
The illustrations are not only accurate and informative but also expressive and captivating. They demonstrate the skill and creativity of the painter, who was able to depict a wide range of species with different shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. The painter also used some artistic techniques to enhance the visual impact of the illustrations, such as contrast, symmetry, balance, and movement. The illustrations also convey some emotions and moods, such as curiosity, joy, fear, or pain. For example, one illustration shows a plant called Mandragora (mandrake) with a naked male body as the root. The legend says that when the root is pulled out of the ground, it emits a scream that can kill anyone who hears it. The illustration shows the plant with an agonized expression on its face and blood dripping from its root.
What are the names and uses of the plants and animals in different languages?
The illustrations in Tractatus de Herbis are accompanied by their names in various languages, such as Latin, Italian, French, German, Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, and others. These names are written in different scripts and alphabets above or below the illustrations. The names are not always consistent or correct, as they may reflect different dialects, spellings, or translations. Sometimes, the same plant or animal may have different names in different languages or regions. For example, one illustration shows a plant called Castanea (chestnut) in Latin, Castagna in Italian, Chastaigne in French, Kastanienbaum in German, Balut in Arabic, Kastanon in Greek, Kastanah in Hebrew.
The names of the plants and animals indicate their uses for medicinal purposes. Some of them are derived from their physical characteristics or effects on the body. For example, one illustration shows a plant called Carduus benedictus (blessed thistle) in Latin, Cardo benedetto in Italian, Cardon benist in French, Benedeycten distel in German, Qurḍūs mubārak in Arabic, Kardos eulogēmenos in Greek, Kardus mevorakh in Hebrew. The name suggests that the plant has some beneficial properties for health or healing. Some of them are derived from their mythical or symbolic associations or origins. For example, one illustration shows a plant called Arbor solis (sun tree) in Latin, Arbor del sole in Italian, Arbre du soleil in French, Sunnen baum in German, Shajarat al-shams in Arabic, Dendron tou hēliou in Greek, Ets ha-shemesh in Hebrew. The name suggests that the plant has some connection with the sun or astrology.
What are some of the interesting and unusual illustrations in the manuscript?
The illustrations in Tractatus de Herbis are not only interesting for their realism and beauty but also for their diversity and novelty. Some of them depict plants and animals that are rare or exotic for medieval Europe. For example, one illustration shows a plant called Zedoaria (zedoary) in Latin, Zedoaria in Italian, Zedoaire in French, Zitwerwurzel in German, Zadwār in Arabic, Zēdoarion in Greek, Zeduar in Hebrew. The plant is a type of ginger that grows in tropical Asia and has a spicy and bitter taste. It was used as a spice and a medicine for digestive problems and infections.
Some of them depict plants and animals that are mythical or imaginary for medieval Europe. For example, one illustration shows an animal called Zitiron (sea unicorn) in Latin, Zitiron in Italian, Zitiron in French, Zitron in German, Zaytūn in Arabic, Zētyron in Greek, Zitron in Hebrew. The animal is a hybrid of a fish and a horse, with a horn on its forehead. It was believed to have magical powers and to be able to cure poison.
Significance and legacy
How did the manuscript contribute to botanical and medical knowledge?
Tractatus de Herbis was a significant contribution to botanical and medical knowledge in medieval Europe. It was one of the first works to provide realistic and detailed illustrations of plants and animals, along with their names in different languages. It was also one of the first works to include plants and animals from different regions and cultures, such as Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It was a valuable resource for apothecaries and physicians who needed to identify and use plants and animals for medicinal purposes. It also helped to spread and standardize botanical and medical terminology across different linguistic groups.
Tractatus de Herbis was also a significant contribution to botanical and medical knowledge in general. It was one of the earliest works to document the diversity and complexity of the natural world, as well as the interactions and relationships between humans and nature. It was one of the earliest works to combine scientific observation and artistic expression, as well as rational analysis and mythical imagination. It was one of the earliest works to reflect the curiosity and creativity of human beings in exploring and understanding the natural world.
How did the manuscript influence later works and artists?
Tractatus de Herbis had a lasting influence on later works and artists in various fields and genres. It influenced other herbals that followed its format, style, and content, such as Ortus Sanitatis, a printed book from 1491 that is based on Tractatus de Herbis and other sources. It also influenced other natural history encyclopedias that expanded its scope, such as Hortus Sanitatis, a Latin work from 1491 that also includes sections on human anatomy, diseases, remedies, metals, gems, wines, waters, etc. It also influenced other artistic works that borrowed or adapted its illustrations, such as paintings, tapestries, stained glass windows, etc.
Tractatus de Herbis also inspired later works and artists that explored new aspects or perspectives of the natural world. For example, it inspired Leonardo da Vinci, who studied some of its illustrations and made his own sketches of plants and animals. It also inspired William Shakespeare, who mentioned some of its plants and animals in his plays, such as mandrake, dragon, phoenix, etc. It also inspired Carl Linnaeus, who used some of its names and classifications in his system of binomial nomenclature.
What are some of the current research and projects related to the manuscript?
Tractatus de Herbis is still an active subject of research and projects by scholars, students, artists, enthusiasts, and others who are interested in its history, content, artistry, or relevance. Some examples of these research and projects are:
A project by the British Library to digitize Tractatus de Herbis and make it available online for public access.
A project by the Public Domain Review to select and comment on some of the images from Tractatus de Herbis and share them online for educational purposes.
A project by the University of Melbourne to use Tractatus de Herbis as a teaching object for various courses on medieval history, culture, science, art, etc.
A project by the University of Oxford to study Tractatus de Herbis as part of a larger project on medieval multilingualism.
A project by the University of Basel to analyze Tractatus de Herbis as part of a larger project on medieval manuscripts.
A project by the University of Padua to compare Tractatus de Herbis with other herbals from northern Italy.
In conclusion, Tractatus de Herbis is a medieval treasure of medicinal plants that deserves our attention and appreciation. It is a remarkable work that combines scientific knowledge, artistic skill, and cultural diversity. It is a valuable source of information about medieval botany, pharmacology, medicine, linguistics, geography, culture, and art. It is also a beautiful and fascinating work that showcases hundreds of plants and animals, both real and mythical, with realistic and expressive illustrations. It is a rare and precious survivor of a type of manuscript that was often used and worn out. It is also a lasting and influential work that inspired and influenced later works and artists in various fields and genres.
If you are interested in learning more about Tractatus de Herbis, you can download a pdf version of the manuscript from one of the websites mentioned above. You can also consult some of the books and articles listed below for further reading and exploration. You can also leave your feedback and comments below to share your thoughts and questions about this amazing manuscript.
Where can I find more information about Tractatus de Herbis?
There are many books and articles that provide more information about Tractatus de Herbis, its history, content, artistry, or relevance. Here are some examples:
Baumann, Bodo and Heimo Rainer Baumann. 2010. Tractatus de Herbis: Sloane 4016: A Facsimile Edition. London: The Folio Society.
Bovey, Alixe. 2007. The Art of Medicine: Medical Illustration at the Wellcome Library. London: Scala.
Colins, Minta. 2000. Medieval Herbals: The Illustrative Traditions. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Dance, Richard et al., eds. 2019-2021. The Gersum Project: The Scandinavian Influence on English Vocabulary. https://www.gersum.org/.
Ogden, Daniel. 2013. Drakōn: Dragon Myth and Serpent Cult in the Greek and Roman Worlds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pastoureau, Michel. 2011. The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes. Translated by Jody Gladding. New York: Columbia University Press.
Schorn-Schütte, Luise et al., eds. 2018. Multilingualism in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age: Communication and Miscommunication in the Premodern World. Berlin: De Gruyter.
Singer, Charles et al., eds. 1956-1959. A History of Technology. 5 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Wrightson, Kellinde et al., eds. 2018-2021. The Polonsky Foundation England and France Project: Manuscripts from the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, 700-1200. https://www.bl.uk/medieval-english-french-manuscripts.
Is there a digital version of Tractatus de Herbis available online?
Yes, there is a digital version of Tractatus de Herbis available online for free access. You can find it on the British Library's website at https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/tractatus-de-herbis-sloane-ms-4016. You can also find a selection of images from Tractatus de Herbis on the Public Domain Review's website at https://publicdomainreview.org/collection/tractatus-de-herbis-ca-1440.
How can I cite Tractatus de Herbis in my academic work?
If you want to cite Tractatus de Herbis in your academic work, you can use the following format, depending on the style guide you are following:
APA: Tractatus de herbis. (1440). British Library, Sloane MS 4016. https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/tractatus-de-herbis-sloane-ms-4016.
MLA: Tractatus de herbis. 1440. British Library, Sloane MS 4016. British Library, https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/tractatus-de-herbis-sloane-ms-4016.
Chicago: Tractatus de herbis. 1440. British Library, Sloane MS 4016. https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/tractatus-de-herbis-sloane-ms-4016.
What are some of the challenges and limitations of studying Tractatus de Herbis?
Studying Tractatus de Herbis is not without challenges and limitations. Some of them are:
The manuscript is incomplete and imperfect. It is missing some pages and illustrations, and it has some errors and inconsistencies in the text and the images.
The manuscript is difficult to read and understand. It is written in various languages and scripts, some of which are obscure or obsolete. It also uses some technical terms and symbols that require specialized knowledge or interpretation.
The manuscript is not always reliable or accurate. It is based on various sources that may be outdated o