Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hello! This will be my final post for the semester. It’s been really fun sharing my articles and books with you and I really hope we were all able to learn along the way-I know I was! I realized I didn’t wrap up the discussion on Friar Henry Daniel, so I wanted to tell you about that. Also, I will be staying with the garden over the summer to get a website up and running! As you know, I’ve been collecting information on plants in Loyola’s Heraldic garden for use on the website. However, Loyola also has a labyrinth right by the garden, complete with mythical and/or significant medieval beasts! These beasts will need to be systematically researched and written up too. This work will probably be done by another intern, so I thought I might use this opportunity to pass the torch on to the next scholar working on our medieval garden.
                 This is a photo of part of our garden, taken by Charles Heinrich in September 2012.  

First, on Friar Daniel, I wasn’t able to find published copies of any of his works, as I told you in a previous blog post. Dr. Gross-Diaz directed me to Jeannette Pierce, an extremely helpful research specialist at Loyola’s library. She told me that, according to the Dictionary of National Biography, Friar Daniel’s works remain in manuscript form at the British Library, so there are no published copies. His works are on plants, including 2 herbals and the treatise on rosemary, and a medical work on “urinoscopy” that are at the Bodleian Library, Trinity College in Cambridge and the British Library. He was skilled in medicine and gardening as well as being a friar.[1] The entry further says,

            “The clinical book is dated to 1379, when it was finished during the summer after three    years of work, hindered by Daniel's obedience as a friar and by serious illness. The herbal was evidently begun soon afterwards and exists in two forms: a detailed but incomplete draft in BL, Arundel MS 42, rich in personal asides; and the regularized but somewhat abridged final version of BL, Add. MS 27329. The latter is divided into two parts, the first covering herbs and the second trees, fruits, and animal and mineral substances used in medicine.

            What little is known of Daniel's life is derived from autobiographical remarks in his             works. They record that he had in his 'young years ... worked seven years to learn', and      had possessed a garden at Stepney beside London, in which he grew 252 kinds of herbs. By 1380 he must have reached a considerable age and had over thirty years' experience of growing rosemary. He had detailed knowledge of the region around Stamford and mentions journeys in Wiltshire, to Bristol, and in Kent and East Anglia. Many accounts of plants in the herbal display a remarkably deep interest in plant ecology and include   some of the earliest records of individual species. He also distinguished between wild and garden plants and provided vernacular as well as Latin names.”[2]

                                                                Friar Daniel's herbal

I don’t know if we can get Friar Daniel’s herbals in the near future: that may be a good project for our next intern. I do know that I have greatly enjoyed the herbals that I’ve found; Henry of Huntington’s Angelicus ortus and William Turner’s New Herball.

Another possible pursuit of study would be the medieval beasts. I discovered the unicorn as a significant beast for medieval peoples. The book The Unicorn Tapestries by Margaret B. Freeman has wonderfully assembled an in-depth study of the symbolism woven intricately into the series of tapestries that show a medieval unicorn hunt. First of all, the unicorn held meaning for Christians specifically as appearing in the Old Testament as a symbol of the Christ to come. This is seen in quotes taken from the King James Version of the Bible: “…his horns are like the horns of a unicorn.”[3] Philosophers and great theologians of the early Church further developed the relationship between the unicorn and Christ. Freeman says that, “by interpreting the unicorn as a Christian symbol, early theologians made possible his acceptance by learned Christians.”[4] Next in literary history came the very popular Physiologus, (forerunner of the Western European bestiary) which included real and “fanciful” descriptions of medieval animals and beasts.[5]

The story that is depicted in the tapestries is the one told in the Physiologus.[6] The 5th tapestry shows the unicorn tamed by a virgin maiden (meant to represent that Christ came to earth through Mary), the 6th tapestry simultaneously shows the unicorn being killed and captured and then brought to the castle of a nobleman and the 7th tapestry is titled “The Unicorn in Captivity,” where he has come back to life, just as Christ did. Freeman tells us “thus the story of the unicorn, in texts and in tapestries, may serve as an allegory for the whole divine plan for the redemption of sinful man.”[7] In addition to his appearance on the tapestries, unicorn horns were highly valued in the Middle Ages.
                              The final unicorn tapestry at the Cloisters Museum at the Met

Well, that’s all for this blog everyone! This internship has truly been a blessing and a pleasure for me and I loved sharing it with you! I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog too, and those of you near Chicago, please remember that we always need volunteers for the Heraldic Garden at Loyola. Take care, and I’ll see you at the garden!

                                      Our beautiful medieval garden

[1] Jeannette Pierce emailed me the entry from the Dictionary of National Biography, written by the great John Harvey (he wrote the article, not the dictionary, although with interests as diverse as Harvey’s I wouldn't be surprised.) Harvey used these sources; C. H. Talbot and E. A. Hammond, The medical practitioners in medieval England: a biographical register (1965) + J. Harvey, Medieval gardens (1990), 118-19; 189-62 + J. H. Harvey, 'Henry Daniel: a scientific gardener of the fourteenth century', Garden History, 15 (1987), 81-93
Archives BL, Arundel MS 42 + BL, Add. MS 27329 + BL, Royal MS 17 A.iii, fols. 13-17 + BL, Royal MS 17 D.i + Bodl. Oxf., MS Ashmole 1404 + Bodl. Oxf., MS Digby 29, fols. 295v-297 + Trinity Cam., MS O.1.13, fols. 77v-82v
[2] Ibid. (1)
[3] Quoted from Deuteronomy 33:17 in Margaret B. Freeman “The Unicorn Tapestries” (Lausanne; Helvetica Press Incorporated, 1976).
[4] Margaret B. Freeman “The Unicorn Tapestries” (Lausanne; Helvetica Press Incorporated, 1976).
[5] Ibid. (4)
[6] Ibid. (4)
[7] Ibid. (4)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hello! I was reading a very interesting article called Ophelia’s Herbal: it traces flowers and herbs and their uses in women’s health. In the study, Lucile F. Newman examines herbals around Shakespeare’s time in order to help us understand Ophelia’s seemingly insane “litany of herbs” that she gives in Hamlet.[1]

Two particular qualities of plants are discussed in the article; as abortifacients and as emmenagogues. In my class on the Bible, my professor first introduced us to the problem of infrequent menstruation that woman faced in the ancient world, and judging from other articles and books that I’ve read this semester, this problem seems to have carried on through the medieval period. Nothing was known yet of the connection between a missed period and a woman’s malnutrition (or even what malnutrition really consisted of) since “men and [most notably] women who lived in this period lacked almost all the scientific medical advances that have become part and parcel to life in the West today.”[2] Because this information was undiscovered, women used emmenagogues to start a missed period.

Although students of Shakespeare’s literature have had differing views on the significance of Ophelia’s speech, Newman makes the intriguing observation that the plants in it, “were widely known and subjects of commonly held belief for author and audience.”[3] Newman cites the 1568 herbal of William Turner, Bartholomew Batman’s 1582 herbal and John Gerarde’s herbal of 1597 as they enumerate some uses for plants. She reports that Turner said “[rosemary] bringth down a women’s fluers”; Gerarde confirms this when he says “wyld rosemary [provokes] the desired sickness.”[4] Newman also says that Turner reports a use of fennel also. Turner obtained this information from the Greek Dioscorides. Fennel, he says, “provoketh flowers.”[5]

All the uses of gardens in the middle ages are widely varied and quite wonderful when you think about it! I’d like to see maybe some fennel and certainly rosemary in our Heraldic garden at Loyola.  Make sure you come visit us sometime!

Rosemary (left) and anise, from the fennel family.

[1] Newman, Lucile F., “Ophelia’s Herbal,” Economic Botany Vol. 33, (1979); 227-232.  
[2] Carol Rawcliffe, “Delectable Sightes and Fragrant Smelles': Gardens and Health in Late Medieval and Early Modern England.” Garden History, Vol. 36, (2008): 3-21.
[3] Whether or not her statement is true that, “the suggestion is not made that…Ophelia was meant to have used [abortifacients and emmenagogues],” is, I think, a debatable question. Newman, Lucile F., “Ophelia’s Herbal,” Economic Botany Vol. 33, (1979); 227-232.
[4] Ibid. (1)
[5] Ibid (1) 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hi guys! I think, I hope, I can now say that Spring has finally come! Winter is actually my favorite, but Spring is much better for our garden! This week, I’ll share with you some facts about medieval traditions and customs in spring.

In their Medieval Book of Seasons, Margaret Collins and Virginia Davis say that “the hot, moist yet temperate conditions of spring, corresponding to the element air and the bodily humor blood (characteristic of the fortunate ‘sanguine’ temperament) favor certain human activities in diet and hygiene.”[1] This seems to be a very favorable climate for growing things, as well as for the other activities discussed. This was the crucial season for planting and growing on a large scale, for ordinary and wealthy alike (although the wealthy had someone do it for them). Medieval farmers prepared the land with ploughs led by strong work animals and manure “carefully husbanded throughout the winter” and then spread on their fields as a nutritious fertilizer.[2] Plowing, fertilizing, harrowing and seeding the land were all part of the medieval farmers’ labor. Harrowing a second time, after the seeds were planted, was a way to keep “greedy birds” away from the newly planted seeds: another method was to have a bowman on guard, ready to “[deter] predators and [acquire] a welcome addition to his dinner table at the same time.”[3]

On a smaller scale, they say “crops could be grown in the croft or the little enclosure around the peasant dwelling”[4] Onions, peas and leaks were grown frequently. Also grown were herbs, which John H. Harvey reports “were to be washed and boiled…and poured over pieces of diced bread.”[5]

Mmmm, sounds good to me! (I’m quite a bread-eater) Come and find out some more about the edible plants in our own medieval garden!

[1] Collins, Margaret B., Davis, Virginia, A Medieval Book of Seasons, (Harper Collins Publishing: New York, 1992).
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] John H. Harvey, “Vegetables in the Middle Ages.” Garden History, Vol. 12, (1984): 89-99

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hi Everyone! The list of info for our plants in the garden is getting full! I only have a few blank spaces left. I’ve found out some interesting facts in my sources that I’d like to share with you.

Margaret B. Freeman, in her thorough and widely-trusted book on the Unicorn Tapestries, gives us a full chapter on plants that appear in these beautiful textile works. However, she does not only state that these plants appear, but she gives us a brief summary of their uses and/or connotations in the Middle Ages. I especially appreciate her use of primary sources, such as her use of “the German Hortus Sanitatis” for the field daisy.[1] In this she finds that daisies are a “cure for excessive sexual desire that might conceivably lead to infidelity.”[2] The Hortus Sanitatis says that daisies make a man’s “fantasy and wicked wishes [turn] to good” and it promises that it will make him “think of the virtue of Saint John and offer a Pater Noster and an Ave Maria and [be] freed from this wicked melancholy without fail.”[3] Perhaps this source reflected the traditional name of “Saint John’s flower.”[4] It was also called oculus Christi (eye of Christ) and maudlin “in honor of Saint Mary Magdaline.”[5]

William Turner also has some uses of the daisy for us. In a previous post I had told you that his herbal, which he called A New Herball, was the first of its kind in the English language, although it is heavily based on older and even ancient texts in Greek and Latin. His entry for daisy says, “this herb driveth away great swellings and wens [sebaceous cysts].”[6] That would probably be very useful information for society that worked so much with their hands.

Speaking of which, remember that our Heraldic garden at Loyola relies on volunteers, so please come and help us sometime! There’s plenty of work to do as we enter spring, and you’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your work as our beautiful garden plants blossom! See you in the garden!

This is an image of the English daisy, which Magaret B. Freeman has a separate entry for. She says that it was often include in paintings and tapestries of the Middle Ages. It was associated, oddly enough, with both the Virgin Mary and Venus. Freeman, Margaret B., “The Unicorn Tapestries” (Lausanne; Helvetica Press Incorporated, 1976).

[1] Freeman, Margaret B., “The Unicorn Tapestries” (Lausanne; Helvetica Press Incorporated, 1976).
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Chapman, George T. L., Marilyn N. Twedle, eds. William Turner “A New Herball,” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hi everyone! I have a fun, ‘new’ recipe for you to try! It’s from a guide and cookbook put together by the Goodman of Paris, an “upright French landowner of sixty,” for his young wife, who would be entering into his household at 15 years old.[1] The whole guide itself was written in the late 14th century, and includes instructions on how to manage the household affairs, an herbal section and recipes “taken from books in his library.”[2] It does sound like an invaluable record of life for the upper-middle class of France at this time, and I would be very happy to see his section on plants and their uses for our herbal. But for now, this recipe I’m going to give you has the, perhaps misleading, name of pottage, but it is NOT every-day peasant fare, rather, this recipe is for a “genteel dish,” as Maggie Black calls it, because it uses fine white bread, wine and “precious white sugar.”[3] The instructions are very detail and thorough, ranging in subjects from issues with the servants to shopping. I guess he wanted her to get it right…well, he meant well anyway, and we get a yummy recipe from it too! Enjoy!

“Cherry pottage                            Wash the cherries and discard the
2 lbs fresh ripe red cherries                                                   stems and stones. Purée the fruit in a
1 ½ cups red wine                                                                   blender with 10 tablespoons of the
6 oz. white sugar                                                                    wine and half the sugar. Add more
2 oz. unsalted butter                                                               wine if needed. Melt the butter in a
8 oz. soft white bread crumbs                                                      saucepan, add the fruit purée, bread-
Pinch of salt                                                                            crumbs, and remaining wine and
                                                                                                sugar, and the salt. Simmer, stirring
Flower heads of small clove pinks                                        steadily, until the purée is very thick.  
or gilded whole cloves (Soluble gold gouache                      Pour in a serving bowl, cover and let
can be used to gild the tops of whole cloves,                                    cool. When quite cold, decorate the
but do not bite them; they stun the taste-buds)                      edge of the bowl with flowers or
                                                                                                [gilded] cloves. And sprinkle coarse
Course white sugar for sprinkling                                         sugar over the center.”[4]

Maggie Black finishes off this yummy recipe by telling us that “any hostess, married or not, would enjoy showing off this pretty recipe.”[5]

[1] Black, Maggie, The Medieval Cookbook, Los Angeles: Getty Publishers, 2012.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid. emphasis added. Also, see my blog on carnations and John Harvey's article "Gillyflower and Carnation" for more discussion on clove pinks. 
[5] Ibid. 
Image appears with recipe in The Medieval Cookbook. 'European Columbines and Sweet Cherry' from Mira calligraphiae monumenta, Joris Hoefnagel, Vienna, Austria, 1291-96. Watercolors, gold and silver paint and ink on parchment. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hi guys! It was a successful week of researching and compiling! And I had a wonderful meeting to get things organized. Our little Loyola garden ‘herbal’ is nearly completed, just have a few flowers to go. Actually, I would like to talk to you today about one flower that we are all very familiar with, and that has in fact appeared since ancient times. The rose is my personal favorite (I think most of us have that phase where we try to find other flowers to like, but really now, what girl doesn’t like roses?) and there are some very interesting and exciting facts in the history of this beautiful flower that holds a continual fascination for us.

Rosa gallica officinalis is the type that we have, and that medieval gardeners had for centuries in their own gardens. In a small article that finishes her dissertation, Hazel Le Rougetel says, “quantities of Rosa gallica [that were] brought back, it is thought, from the Middle East by the Crusaders, were grown for the production of rose conserve. Much earlier, apothecaries had used this rose in medicine and in c.849, Walahfrid Strabo wrote in his poem, Hortulus, 'No man can say, no man remember how many uses there are for Oil of Roses as a cure for mankind's ailments'. Thus, it became known as R. gallica officinalis or the 'Apothecary's Rose'.”[1] So, not only are the lovely and fragrant, but roses were very useful in a society of pre-modern medicine. Some of the more frequent uses involved rose water, which also flavored food. One of my books, an herbal by Henry of Huntington, has poems detailing the uses of each plant. Henry’s poem on roses uses Macer’s voice to tell us this about the rose plant: “It surpasses flowers equally in appearance and in scent,” and therefore, it is “the flower of flowers.”[2] The poem goes on to say that the bloom of rose may “wither,” but it never diminishes in its medicinal potency. Some of those medical uses were for “eye salves” and as a powder to treat “ailments of the mouth.”[3] Furthermore, he says, “every fresh rose, when ground, will destroys all fevers” and, with “mead” it is “soothing.”[4]

In his study of the ‘damask’ rose, Mark P. Widrlechner gives a nice synopsis of the history of roses in general, beginning with the “oldest fossil roses” which are “from the Paleocene.”[5] I learned that the rose is painted in a very early fresco in the palace at Knossos, Crete. Also, the Rosa gallica is probably related to the damask rose through its hybridization with the Rosa phoenicia.[6]

Very interesting and exciting stuff! We do have the lovely Rosa gallica, (‘rose of Provins,’ ‘apothecary rose’) at the Heraldic garden and since it is getting close to spring, do make sure you come and see the garden behind Crown!

[1] Le Rougetel, Hazel, “The Rose of England,” RSA Journal Vol. 136 (1988); 742-744.
[2] Winston Black “Henry of Huntington Angelicanus ortus A Verse Herbal of the Twelfth Century” (Toronto; Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1993)
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Mark P. Widrlechner “History and Utilization of Rosa Damascena” Economic Botany, Vol. 35 (1981); 42-58.
[6] Ibid.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hello again everyone! I have some exciting new books to share with you! The first is a facsimile edition of William Turner’s A New Herball. This was first published in its first part in 1551, the second and third parts coming later. A New Herball is “the very first genuine attempt to identify scientifically, in English, the plants which were of medical use to everyone.”[1] (I strongly encourage students to borrow this book from our library sometime and thumb-through its beautiful illustrations!) I was able to get a lot of good information from this book. As I found out, late medieval doctors were having some of the same trouble that I’ve run into when tracking down sources for our herbal: They could not read Latin fluently. They could not benefit directly from the masters of ancient times, and so they had to rely on word-of-mouth.[2] The need was becoming greater and greater for a compilation of plants’ identification and medical uses, in English, that one physician and botanist finally composed it.[3] The editors also urge us to think of the potential dangers of someone administering medicine or care without knowing what exactly they’re doing![4]

So, this book contains precise descriptions of the plant, and then how to prepare a remedy. For example, “the juice [of oregano] drunken with wine will remedy the bitings of serpents.”[5]

William Turner: A New Herball The front page of William Turner’s 1551 herbal

The second book I have is more ‘just for fun’ although it does tie in nicely to the uses of a medieval garden. The Goodman of Paris was “a rich French landowner” who compiled a little book for his new wife of 15.[6] Included in this was a book of recipes, which Maggie Black has modernized (exact measurements and cooking times were not included in the 14th century) and one of which I include here!

Have fun making this dish from the Middle Ages and I’ll see you later at the Heraldic Garden!

Cabbage chowder
1 ¼ lbs firm-hearted cabbage or 1 ½  lbs open-hearted cabbage or spring greens
8 oz. onions, peeled and finely chopped
8 oz. white part of leeks, thinly sliced into rings
Teaspoon dried saffron strands
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon each ground coriander, cinnamon, sugar
3 ¼ cups chicken or vegetable stock

“The Goodman of Paris has quite a lot to say about cabbages, from the small spring shoots for salads, to the frost-bitten winter leaves; only his recommendation to boil cabbages all morning is best ignored when dealing with a modern vegetable.
            This recipe will make a main-course soup for supper if you add sippets of toast and fried bacon--both well-known medieval additions.
            If using a firm-hearted cabbage, cut it into eight segments and remove the center core. If using open-hearted cabbage or greens, cut off the stalks and cut the leaves into strips. Put into a large pan with prepared onions and leeks. Stir the saffron, salt and spices into the stock, adjusting the amount of salt if required. Cook gently, covered, for about 20 min. or until segments of firm cabbage are tender,”[7]

[1] Chapman, George T. L., Marilyn N. Twedle, eds. William Turner A New Herball, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Anne Van Arsdall stresses the importance of “the unwritten text” in apprenticeship traditions to the practice of medieval medicine. Van Arsdall, Anne, “Reading Medieval Medical Texts with an Open Mind.” In Textual Healing: Essays on Medieval and Early Modern Medicine Ed. Furdell, Elizabeth Lane, Koninklijke; Brill, 2005.  I wonder if the rampant danger caused by this was itself caused in large part by the exclusion of women from the practice of medicine. 
[5] Chapman, George T. L., Marilyn N. Twedle, eds. William Turner A New Herball, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
[6] Black, Maggie, The Medieval Cookbook, Los Angeles: Getty Publishers, 2012.
[7] Ibid.