1st Edition

The World of Plants in Renaissance Tuscany Medicine and Botany

By Cristina Bellorini Copyright 2016
    276 Pages
    by Routledge

    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    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, this book 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



    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



    Chapter 3

    New Ways of Studying Plants


    Gardens of Simples


    Field Trips

    Botanical Illustration

    Cosimo’s Scrittoio

    Brunfels and Fuchs

    The Debate on Images

    Iacopo Ligozzi



    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



    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



    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









    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.