Monday, February 20, 2006

The Book of Nature













The first German natural science book, Das Buch der Natur, was produced by Konrad von Megenberg in around 1350. It wasn't completely original, having relied to some extent upon a 13th century latin manuscript Liber de Natura Rerum by Thomas of Cantimpré.

von Megenberg's 400+ page work was divided into sections describing the known natural world, including mankind, botany, animals and plants, sea creatures, metals and gemstones, water and astrology/astronomy (although I didn't notice anything particular relating to this last section in the present manuscript - but then again, the above rainbows around the town/earth might qualify). Oh...also monsters. All of them.

The work was apparently successful as it was transcribed numerous times and was eventually printed and served as a source text for a couple of centuries. The above images come from a highly illustrated manuscript from the 15th century which was probably specially made for a noble subscriber.

4 comments :

pita said...

and here:
http://www.manuscripta-mediaevalia.de/hs/hs-online.htm

pk said...

Heh - that's where I found it.

But Manuscripta Mediaevalia is just a link site to German manuscripts at univerisites/other sites. It doesn't host anything (I don't think).

aeron said...

It's amusing to see some of these more wild visions of real animals, like the elephant near the bottom of your post. Also, I think I stumbled across another edition of Conrad's Book of Nature with illustrations you might not be familiar with? http://diglib.hab.de/wdb.php?dir=inkunabeln/45-1-phys-2f
The illustrations can be found in the left sidebar.

pk said...

Thanks Aeron. I can't recall if I've seen those woodcuts or not. They are very different to the hand drawn illustrations. No doubt there were various versions. The only vaguely comparable vignette I noticed between the 2 was the 'monster' images but there's no way that they were copied from the same antecedent manuscript.

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