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Medieval Herbals: Illustrative Traditions


Medieval Herbals: Illustrative Traditions. by Minta Collins. The British Library and University of Toronto Press. 2000. ISBN 0-7123-4638-4 (cloth) 07123-4641-4 (paperback).

This is a beautifully illustrated book about some of the rarest and most beautiful hand-printed books of herbal lore and usage ever written. It offers a tremendous wealth of background information about the ancient herbals that were hand-copied for many centuries in monasteries and libraries throughout ancient times, the Middle Ages, and the early Rennaissance periods. Most interesting are the stories about the people who wrote the herbals and those artists, copyists, and scholars that kept them alive through the ages. The color and black and white reproductions of the various early manuscripts, such as the great Dioscorides Herbal help bring the text alive.

Collins has written a meticulously-researched and scholarly work. Highly recommended for herbalists and herb lovers everywhere who want to know more about the traditions of western herbalism and thoroughly enjoy the process. This is not a casual read, however. Be prepared to follow the author through centuries of details about the lineages of the illustrations and herbal writers.

Christopher Hobbs, L.Ac., A.H.G.