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The World of Plants in Renaissance Tuscany: Medicine and Botany

Series: The History of Medicine in Context

By: Cristina Bellorini(Author)

284 pages, 27 b/w illustrations


Hardback | Jan 2016 | #228610 | ISBN-13: 9781472466228
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £94.99 $125/€108 approx

About this book

In the sixteenth century medicinal plants, which until then had been the monopoly of apothecaries, became a major topic of investigation in the medical faculties of Italian universities, where they were observed, transplanted, and grown by learned physicians both in the wild and in the newly founded botanical gardens. Tuscany was one of the main European centres in this new field of inquiry, thanks largely to the Medici Grand Dukes, who patronised and sustained research and teaching, whilst also taking a significant personal interest in plants and medicine. This is the first major reconstruction of this new world of plants in sixteenth-century Tuscany. Focusing primarily on the medical use of plants, The World of Plants in Renaissance Tuscany also shows how plants, while maintaining their importance in therapy, began to be considered and studied for themselves, and how this new understanding prepared the groundwork for the science of botany. More broadly this study explores how the New World's flora impacted on existing botanical knowledge and how this led to the first attempts at taxonomy.


List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations


Chapter 1
- Plants and Medicine at the Court of Cosimo Francesco, and Ferdinando de' Medici
- The Construction of a Cultural Identity
- The Importance of the Name Medici: Cosmas and Damian
- The Grand Dukes' Commitment to Medicine
- The Fonderie
- Plants and Gardens
- Conclusion

Chapter 2
- Medical Botany at the Re-founded University of Pisa
- Cosimo I's Cultural Project and the University
- Luca Ghini and the New Teaching of materia medica
- Ghini's Placiti and Lectures
- Andrea Cesalpino
- Cesalpino's Herbarium (1563): A First Attempt at Plant Classification
- Cesalpino's De plantis
- Conclusion

Chapter 3
- New Ways of Studying Plants
- Gardens of Simples
- Herbaria
- Field Trips
- Botanical Illustration
- Cosimo's Scrittoio
- Brunfels and Fuchs
- The Debate on Images
- Iacopo Ligozzi
- Conclusion

Chapter 4
- Plants from the New World
- The New plants
- Florence and Discovery
- American Plants in the Nuovo ricettario fiorentino
- Luca Ghini on the French Disease
- Gabriele Falloppio's Tractatus de morbo gallico
- New plants in Mattioli's Discorsi
- Nicolas Monardes's Historia Medicinal
- American Plants in Cesalpino's De Plantis
- Conclusion

Chapter 5
- The Nuovo ricettario fiorentino and the Understanding of Therapy
-  The First Edition of the Nuovo ricettario fiorentino
- The Evolution of the Ricettario
- The Penetration of Paracelsus's Theories into Tuscany
- Plants and Chemistry: Distillation
- Plants and Therapy in Paracelsus's Herbarius
- The Doctrine of Signatures
- Conclusion

Chapter 6
- Theory and Practice
- Medical Practice in the Faculty of Medicine
- Three Texts of Mercuriale on Quartan Fever
- Some Cases of Fever in the Medici Family
- Cosimo I's Illness in 1572
- The Account Books of the Speziale al Giglio
- Simples
- Medicines
- Conclusion


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Cristina Bellorini received her PhD from the History Department at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her current research project is a study of sixteenth-century agrarian and horticultural history in Italy, based on archival sources in Florence and Milan.

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