Return To Prior Page Move To A Main Page Return To The Original Page Button
Graden of Health 1497 by Montagnana

{N}Ux muscata ~ 1497 ~ Montagnana ~ Ortus Sanitatis, ...

SOURCE: Ortus Sanitatis, De herbis Et Plantis, De Animalibus et Reprilibus, De Anibus Et Volatilibus, De Pisribus Et Natatilibus, De Lapidibus Et Interrevenis Natreti, De Urinis Et Earumspeciebus, Labula Medicinalis Tum Directorio Generaliper Omnes transtatus.
[TRANSLATION: The Dawn of Health; From herbs and plants to the animals and reptiles, of the animals and the birds and the fishes, from the bones and intravenous nature and urine of these species, medical knowledge at this time, the directory of all general interpretation.]
ALSO SECONDARY TITLE SOURCE DESCRIPTION: Hortus Sanitatis, Vel Tractatus De Herbis Et Plantis, De Animalibus Omnibus Et De Lapidibus: Tractatus De Urinis Ac Earum Speciebus...
[TRANSLATION: A Garden of Health, or Treatise On Herbs and Plants, All Of The Animals, And Of The Stones, Treatise On The Urine Of These Species And.]
AUTHOR: Attributed to Bartolomeo Montagnana.
PUBLISHER: It appears to be published in Madrid by Johannes Pruess.
SCOPE AND PURPOSE OF PUBLICATION: This section is a medical treatise on the use of herbs and plants.
PRINT METHOD: Wood Block (or, woodcuts) printing.
PAPER TYPE: Handmade antique laid paper.

HISTORY: This volume focuses on medical uses of herbs and plants. Some credit this monumental work to Bartolomeo Montagnana (1450–1523) Montagnana worked as an artist, and an engraver. The series is believed to be published in Madrid by Johannes Pruess, in 1497. The text pertaining to nutmeg is divided into two brief sections. Under the first section, "Capitulum.cceiiii" ~ {N}Ux Muscata (translates to nutmeg) provides derivational knowledge of the spice, which is traced back in time through India. Within the second section "Operationes," nutmeg is described useful to "do good and improve smell" and in the "reduction of flatulence, the aide to digest food, to settle the stomach, and cleanse the liver."



                                                                                          FIFTEENTH - CENTURY BOOKS
                                                                                           (Continued from the June 1936 issue)


                                                                                                      JOHANN PRUSS

HORTUS SANTITATIS.                             c. 1499.

Hain *8943.

Printed with gothic type in folio form, in two columns, 55 lines to a column. It has 360 leaves ; the size of a leaf is 313 X 210 mm. , The last eighteen leaves, containing the Registers, have smaller margins and probably come from another copy. The title-page contains the signature of a former owner : "Jaross Ponanski," in late 18th century handwriting. There are numerous old manuscript notes on the margins.

THE Hortus Sanitatis or Ortus Sanitatis (Garden of Health) is perhaps the most comprehensive work on natural history produced in the Middle Ages. It contains all the knowledge then available on plants, beasts, fishes, birds, and minerals, together with their curative uses. In fact, the Hortus Sanitatis is first of all a medical work, and only secondarily a book on natural history. "A popular medicine book it might be called," Dr. Arnold Klebs writes, "but by no means in the sense we attach nowadays to this sort of literature, for it served undoubtedly also in the technical education of the time." And this distinguished historian of medical science further reminds us that the entire structure of modern science rests on such humble beginnings. Indeed, the Latin language as well as the compressed style with its many references to ancient writers show that the work was intended much more for the physician than for the layman.

With woodcuts on almost every page, and printed in a handsome folio form, The Hortus Sanitatis is, besides, a very impressive book. The first half of the volume treats entirely of plants : but even here genre-pictures and all sorts of fabulous designs enliven the illustrative material. Especially the woodcuts representing the animal kingdom of land, air and sea display an immense variety. There is a distinct effort at fidelity in all these drawings : not only the animals but also the plants are clearly recognizable. Yet the pictures are quaint. They are the work of a medieval, late-gothic artist -- or rather artists --without the slightest influence of the Renaissance.

In all fifteenth-century editions, the title is given as Ortus ; but unquestionably "garden" and not "origin" or "source" is meant by the word. It has been suggested that the work became known as Ortus because of the circumstance that in medieval manuscripts the space for the first letter was often left blank for the illuminator ; on the other hand, we find that in many of the manuscripts as well as in the early printed editions the letter O is usually printed in a decorative manner. The contemporary French translation also calls the book Arbolayne, the equivalent of Hortus. The volume recently acquired by this Library is the fourth edition of the work. The original edition was printed at Mainz in 1491 by Jacob Meydenbach ; then Johann Prüss issued three undated editions at Strassburg probably in the years 1496, 1497, and

{PAGE}330                                                                     MORE BOOKS : A BULLETIN

1499.  The copy recently acquired by the Boston Public Library is of the third Strassburg edition.

Three great varieties of herbals were printed in the latter part of the fifteenth century. The first, in Latin, was the Herbarius, the earliest dated edition of which was produced in 1485 by Peter Schoeffer at Mainz : the second, in Germany, was the Gart der Gesundheit, also printed by Peter Schoeffer at Mainz in 1485 ; and the third was the Hortus Sanitatis in Latin, first published, as noted above, in 1491 by Jacob Meydenback at Mainz. The Herbarius influenced the Gart der Gesundheit, and both influenced the Hortus Sanitatis : nevertheless, all three are separate works. There has been, it is true, a considerable amount of confusion in the bibliography of these herbals. The Gart der Gesundheit and the Hortus Sanitatis especially were often mistaken for each other. Dr. Ludwig Choulant's otherwise excellent study of the subject, published in 1857, calls the German work "the smaller" and the Latin work "the larger" Hortus. Unfortunately, the difference in size between the two is slight. Joseph Frank Payne, in his essay published in 1901, largely follows Chaulant's classification , and, if anything, adds to the confusion by using titles like German Hortus Sanitatis, smaller Hortus and Herbarius zu Teutsch almost interchangeably. Dr. Klebs has done a real service to the lore of incunabula by clearing up the matter in his list, which first appeared in 1917. His nomenclature has been adopted in the present article.

The Hortus Sanitatis, as represented by the volume in the Library, consists of six parts. The first is a "Tractatus de herbis" (on plants) in 530 chapters ; the second is a "Tractatus de animalibus" (on beasts) in 164 chapters ; the third is a "Tractatus de avibus" (on birds) in 122 chapters ; the fourth is a "Tractatus de piscibus" (on fishes) in 106 chapters ;the fifth is a "Tractatus de lapidibus" (on minerals) in 144 chapters ; and finally the sixth is a "Tractatus de urinis." There is also a Preface and a General Register.

The author of the Hortus Sanitatis is unknown. To be sure, the Preface contains an intimation of his identity ; but it is difficult to know just how much credence may be given to the statement. Both the Gart der Gesundheit and the Hortus Sanitatis have substantially the same Preface. That of the latter was supposedly written by the physician-author himself, who records that -- besides his sympathy for the poor who cannot pay for the doctor and apothecary --he undertook the work at the persuasion of a certain nobleman "nobilis dominus," who made a journey to the Holy Land, studying o his way all such native plants, animals, and minerals as were used for medical purposes. The nobleman described his own observations and also procured pictures of each object. The writer of the Preface, on the other hand, compiled the rest of the book from the works of Avicenna, Hippocrates, Galen, Serapion, Pliny, Dioscorides, Vincentius, and others. In the Preface to the Gart der Gesundheit the suppositious nobleman speaks in his own person, relating that he undertook his travel to the Holy Land in the company of a painter, himself making studies and descriptions, while the rest of the book was compiled by a physician.

Who was this physician, and who was the traveling nobleman? For a long time Johann de Cube (Johannes de Cuba, or Johann Wonnecke of Caub) was regarded as the author, for his name is mentioned in a suggestive manner at the end of Chapter 76 of the Gart der Gesundheit, although it is entirely absent from the Hortus Sanitatis. After a description of the "bolus armenus" included ...

                                                                                     FIFTEENTH-CENTURY BOOKS                                                                          {PAGE}333

in the former work, there is a remark that a mixture of this clay with "aurum vite" produces a medicine "dicke mail versuecht an vil enden von mir [often used by me] Meyster Johan von cube." It is to be noted, however, that the passage is in contradiction to the content of the chapter itself -- which may indicate that he was merely a proof-reader . . . As to the nobleman who persuaded the physician to compile the work, it has been thought that he was none other than Bernhard von Breydenbach, Chamberlain to Archbishop Berthold of Mainz, who with several noblemen and ecclesiastics really visited the Holy Land in 1484, and whose Peregrinationes was published at Mainz in 1586. Choulant, in his study, examined with great thoroughness the possibility of Breydenbach's identity with the "nobilis dominus" of the Gart der Gesundheit and came to an unfavorable conclusion. The Gart der Gesundheit appeared on 28 March, 1485, while the Peregrinationes was dated 21 February, 1486. It seems impossible that within a few months after his return from the Holy Land Breydenbach, even before he started on his Peregrinationes, was able to publish the Gart der Gesundheit -- unless, of course, in his absence the physician who he mentions had already completed his part. Yet nowhere is the Peregrinationes is there any hint of the existence of the herbal, an omission which would have been altogether unlikely if Breydenbach had a hand in the work. It is true that Breydenbach was accompanied on his journey by a painter -- Erhard Rewich, of Utrecht -- but the woodcuts of the Peregrinationes, which also included eigth animal pictures, are of a very different style from those in the Gart der Gesundheit. As Choulant justly observes, there were many pilgrimages to the Holy Land in those days, and thus some other "nobilis dominus" could easily have been the author of the herbal.

In addition to the Preface, the Hortus Sanitatis -- at least its first edition -- contains also an Epilogue. Unfortunately, this does not offer any information about the author or authors. Jacob Meydenbach, the printer, states with considerable pride that the book "omni diligentia collectum et elaboratum" was produced by him, without mentioning however who did the compiling and elaboration. The fact that the volume extended also to the animals and minerals was, of course, advertised. But the printer was justified in pointing out that the Hortus Sanitatis was different from the Gart der Gesundheit.

For not only the treatises on beasts, birds, fishes, and minerals were new in his work, but also the section on plants was completely rewritten. Some chapters of the German work are lacking in the Latin ; and yet the latter includes nearly a hundred more chapters than the former. The text and the sequence of chapters also differ. Further, each chapter in the Hortus Sanitatis is divided into two parts : the first fives a description of the object and the second -- under the title "Operationes" -- mentions its medical effects.

The woodcuts of the Mainz edition of the Hortus Sanitatis were made by an unknown master, probably by the same artist who illustrated the Ulm edition of the Vita et Fabulae of Aesop and the Speyer edition of the Spiegel Menschlicher Behältnis. Some of the woodcuts of the plants were copied from the Gart der Gesundheit, but on a smaller scale, and even this section includes 151 additional illustrations. There are seven full-page woodcuts, the first representing an assembly of nine physicians. The woodcuts in the Strassburg editions are somewhat smaller than those in the first edition, and their execution is poorer. The Strassburg volumes contain only three full-page illustrations. In the

{PAGE}334                                                                     MORE BOOKS : A BULLETIN

third Strassburg edition --to which the Library's copy belongs -- the large woodcut on the reverse of the title-page shows a pharmacy, a doctor talking to the apothecary. The treatise on urines depicts a sick man in bed, with his parents and a doctor standing at his left side. Both woodcuts were borrowed from the Buch der Chirurgie of Hieronymus Brunschwig, printed by Johann Grüninger at Strassburg in 1497. The page preceding the chapter on beasts contains four pictures : on representing land animals, the second birds, the third fishes, and the fourth minerals. The verso of the same page is occupied by the picture of a skeleton, with the headline "Homo natus de muliere brevi vivens tempore".

The main interest of these woodcuts lies in the fact that it was the first time that the art was employed to depict natural objects, instead of religious and folk scenes, portraits, city views, and coats of arms. The effort at fidelity is the most magnificent feature of these pictures. The most amusing one lies, of course, in their imaginative quality. There are a few genre pictures even in the section dealing with plants. Thus under "Amidum" (starch) a man is pounding something in a mortar ; under "Acetum" (vinegar) a cellar is shown with a row of casks ; under "Aqua" (water) a fountain, with a monkey on its top, is playing. Sometimes the artist, indeed, needed all his ingenuity. In describing the "ambra" (amber), for instance, the author mentions that according to some it is the gum of a fruit growing by the sea, while according to others it is the product of a fish. To reconcile these widely divergent opinions, the artist planted a tree right in the water, with a fish swimming by. Esthetically the most valuable are the illustrations of the treatise on minerals, especially on precious stones. The designer here shows all the characters dressed in Alsatian costumes of the period.

There were about forty different editions of the three great herbals -- Herbarius, Gart der Gesundheit, and Hortus Sanitatis -- during the fifteenth century. Besides Latin and German, they were published in French and Dutch. The Boston Public Library has also several rare sixteenth- century Spanish and English herbals. It has the first edition of Nicholas Monardes's Dos libros . . . de nuestras Indias Occidentales, printed at Seville in 1569, as well as his Primera y segunda y tercera partes de la Historia medicinal . . . de nuestros Indias Occidentales, printed at Seville in 1574. Monardes's work was translated into English by John Frampton, under the title Joyfull Newes out of the neue founde worlde, first published in 1577 and again in 1580. The Library has copies of both editions.

Bought in August 1936.

"Fifteenth - Century Books", More Books (The Bulletin of the Boston Public Library, Sixth Series), Published By The Trustees, Boston,Volume XI, No. 8, Pages 329 ~ 334, October, 1936.

                                                                                                                                                                                  [KLOPFER article © September 2013]