Pristina Medicamenta: Ancient and Medieval Medical Botany, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Pristina Medicamenta

Ancient and Medieval Medical Botany, 1st Edition

By Jerry Stannard, Katherine E. Stannard


348 pages

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Hardback: 9780860787730
pub: 1999-03-15
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Jerry Stannard assembled a legendary collection of materials on the history of botany from Homer to Linnaeus, and his mastery of the field was acknowledged as incomparable. However, his work was sadly cut short by his death, and so did not result in the ultimate synthesis he envisioned; the present volume, and its companion, Herbs and Herbalism in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, bring together his important output in articles and studies. In this selection of papers on pharmacy and medical botany, from the classical period to 1500, Stannard combined philological expertise with the scientific perspective of modern pharmacology to measure the descriptive accuracy and therapeutic efficacy of Materia Medica from Hippocrates to the Renaissance. His sources included not only the obvious technical treatises but also works of literature and the traditions of folklore especially in Italy. Three studies of the scholastic botany of Albertus Magnus form the centrepiece of the collection, and the detailed indexes cover both common and scientific names of plants.


'Pristina Medicamenta stands as one of the most outstanding contributions to the study of classical and Medieval botany currently in print' Herbs- Journal of the Herb Society 'Jerry Stannard probably did more than any man this century to kindle academic interest in ancient medical botany, yet his death in 1988 scarcely attracted more than a single obituary. So Variorum’s two selected collections, issued as a tribute to his memory, are extremely welcome…These volumes stand together as the most outstanding contribution to the study of classical and mediaeval botany currently in print.' Historic Gardens Review '… a work that belongs in every history of medicine library.' Sudhoffs Archiv

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction, John M. Riddle; Bibliography of publications by Jerry Stannard; Ancient World: Hippocratic Pharmacology; Pliny and Roman botany; Medicinal plants and folk remedies in Pliny, Historia naturalis; Lucianic natural history; Materia Medica and philosophic theory in Aretaeus; Marcellus of Bordeaux and the beginnings of medieval Materia Medica; Lost botanical writings of antiquity; Byzantium: Byzantine botanical lexicography; Aspects of Byzantine Materia Medica; Medieval West: Benedictus Crispus, an 8th-century medical poet; Medieval Italian medical botany; Greco-Roman Materia Medica in medieval Germany; Albertus Magnus and medieval herbalism; The botany of St. Albert the Great; Identification of the plants described by Albertus Magnus, De vegetabilibus, lib. VI; Bartholomaeus Anglicus and 13th-century botanical nomenclature; Vegetable gums and resins in medieval recipe literature; A 15th-century botanical glossary (Huntington Library MS HM 64); Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General