Friday, 21 October 2016

Historia Plantarum (Biblioteca Casanatense, Ms. 459)

F. unknown (p. 541).

Colloquial name(s): Historia Plantarum
Official name(s): Biblioteca Casanatense, Ms. 459

Date: 1395-1400 (source), c. 1400 (source)
Origin: Lombardy region, Italy (source), Milan, Italy (source)

Online facsimile available via: Biblioteca Casanatense MiBACT and World Digital Library

This manuscript is one of several that are derivatives of the Tacuinum sanitatis, a medieval healthy living guide which is a Latin translation of an 11th Century Arab medical treatise, Taqwīm as-sihha bi al-Ashab al-Sitta, written by the Christian physician and philosopher Ibn Butlan of Baghdad (d. 1063) (source). The Taqwīm synthesised a variety of Greek-derived medical science and traditions and considered approximately 280 health-related items including food, drink, climate, bodily activities and clothing (source). The translation into Latin was commissioned by the Court of Naples and Sicily and completed by 1266 (source). This Latin version was copied repeatedly and circulated around Europe, with the first illustrated copies being commissioned in the late 14th Century by northern Italian nobility (source).

Derivative copies merged abbreviated versions of the Tacuinum sanitatis (usually the entries regarding food) with medical encyclopaedias and/or Theoprastus' Historia Plantarum, an early botanical handbook that included the medical uses of plants. This copy consists of the Historia Plantarum followed by some Tacuinum sanitatis entries.

The known extant illustrated copies of the Tacuinum sanitatis and its derivative manuscripts are as follows (source and source):

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