Historia Plantarum


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Illuminated Facsimiles

Historia Plantarum

ALTERNATIVE TITLES – Tacuinum Sanitatis – Medizinische Enzyklopädie Kaiser Wenzels.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION – Codex on parchment, dimensions 433 x 285 mm, 295 folios (590 pages).
BINDING – There are no traces of the original 14th century binding. The 19th-century binding in brown leather was restored in 1999-2000. The current cover in green velvet on beechwood boards was made by the Istituto Centrale di Patologia del Libro (ICPAL) in Rome.
ORIGIN – Italy (Milan).
DATING – Late 14th century (1396-1400).
PATRONAGE AND OWNERS – The manuscript was produced at the court of Gian Galeazzo Visconti (b. 1351, d. 1402), as a gift for Wenceslaus IV (b. 1361, d. 1419) also known as Wenceslaus of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia from 1363 until his death. The eagle of Wenceslaus is depicted on f. 21r. The same eagle also appeared in the coat of arms at the bottom of f. 1r, but was later covered. In the 15th century the codex became part of the library of Matthias Corvinus (b. 1443, d. 1490) also called Matthias I, King of Bohemia from 1469. It is evidenced by the coat of arms on f. 1r, which was painted above the eagle of Wenceslaus IV, whose silhouette can still be glimpsed. Other possible owners of the manuscript were the Portuguese physician Rodrigo da Fonseca (b. 1550, d. 1622) and Cardinal Girolamo Casanate (b. 1620, d. 1700). On f. 295v also appears a probable note of possession dated 1546, which, however, has not yet been given a certain interpretation.
PRESENT REPOSITORY – In the 18th century the codex was acquired by the Biblioteca Casanatense in Rome, where it is still preserved.
GENRE – Treatises / Secular books, Medicine / Botany.
CONTENT – The work is by an anonymous author. It illustrates and describes the therapeutic properties of many plants, as well as animals and minerals. It is therefore more than a simple medical herbarium: it is an authentic encyclopaedia of natural sciences that provides an important picture of medical and therapeutic knowledge in Italy at the end of the Middle Ages. It is a very rich book, which was produced as a gift for a prestigious recipient: due to its sumptuousness an apothecary or a physician would hardly have been able to possess it.
LANGUAGE – Latin. Among the numerous marginal notes some are in Hungarian, added by a later hand.
SCRIPT – Blackletter.
SCRIBE – The manuscript was transcribed by only one scribe, with the exception of f. 1r-v.
DECORATION – The manuscript is richly decorated with more than 500 miniatures of plants (e.g. f. 98r, f. 197r and f. 226v), more than 80 miniatures of animals (e.g. f. 254v and f. 259r) and more than 30 miniatures of minerals. There are also depictions of tools and scenes portraying episodes of everyday life. Usually the miniatures occupy the upper part of the page, but there are many that fill almost the entire page. Finally, we find initials of varying workmanship inserted within architectural motifs or phytomorphic, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic decorative elements.
ARTISTS – The rich decorative apparatus is largely attributed to Giovannino de’ Grassi (b. 1350, d. 1398) and his son Salomone. Giovannino de’ Grassi gained international fame mainly as a draughtsman and illuminator, but was also an architect, sculptor and painter. From 1391 to 1398 he worked as an engineer on the construction and decoration of Milan Cathedral. For the refinement of his style as an illuminator, see the famous Book of Hours executed for Gian Galeazzo Visconti, and the Sketchbook now in the Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai in Bergamo.
STYLE – Gothic.
EXTERNAL LINKS – Biblioteca Casanatense (digitized manuscript) – Manus Online (detail sheet).

Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles

Taccuinum – Tractatus de Herbis – Tratado Plantas Medicinales


Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document – The facsimile reproduces as close as possible the physical characteristics of the original document, with the aim to substitute it in the scientific research and in the libraries of the bibliophile collectors. Trimming and composition of the leaves reproduce the profile and structure of the original document. The binding might not correspond to that of the original document as it appears at the present moment.
PublisherFranco Cosimo Panini Editore (Modena, 2002).
Series – Biblioteca Impossibile.
Limited edition – Unique and unrepeatable print run of 750 copies, marked with Arabic numeration from 1 to 750. The Publisher guarantees that no further copies will be made.
Certificate of authenticity – The certificate at the colophon with the imprinted copy number is authenticated by the Publisher and the Biblioteca Casanatense.
Binding – Green velvet binding with strap-and-pin mechanisms, cornerpieces with convex-shaped bosses on both boards, central metal boss on the front board.
Commentary – Commentary in Italian consisting of a CD-ROM and two volumes, size 24 x 31 cm, over 780 pages in total, colour and b/w plates. Texts by Angela Adriana Cavarra, Vera Segre Rutz, Annamaria Torroncelli, Isabella Ceccopieri, Carlo Federici, Mauro Di Vito. Translation of the manuscript text into modern Italian by Ennio Lazzarini.
Slipcase – The facsimile is contained in a green wooden slipcase with a leather belt.

Copyright photos: Illuminated Facsimiles

About The Author

Franco Cosimo Panini Editore