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Old 11-03-2016, 02:35 PM   #1
Bruno
 
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Default Herbs for Cooking, Healing and Divers Uses

When I was a small child child, I found this book on my mother's bookshelf and fell in love. Small wonder I'm a giant nerd now.

Herbs for the Mediaeval Household for Cooking, Healing and Divers Uses Freeman, Margaret B. (1943)

It's out of print, but the publisher (The Metropolitan Museum) has put up an OCR'd PDF for free download, with the original art and layout intact.

The text is based on 17th-18th century herbals, which in turn are based on herbals going back to the ancient greeks. It's layed out in a readable version of medieval blackletter and formatting (no paragraphs, just inline paragraph marks) and some archaic punctuation. It is illustrated with 15th century engravings. There's also some modern commentary on the herbs.

This book is screaming to be the herbalist PCs reference manual.

I was delighted to find it again online. It's a shame I can't share the physical object with you, but thanks to the generosity of the publisher I can at least share the beautiful content.


EDIT: another good one from the same site is Sweet Herbs and Sundry Flowers: Medieval Gardens and the Gardens of The Cloisters.
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Old 11-03-2016, 02:55 PM   #2
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Default Re: Herbs for Cooking, Healing and Divers Uses

Nice! Thanks for sharing that.
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Old 11-03-2016, 04:12 PM   #3
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Default Re: Herbs for Cooking, Healing and Divers Uses

I acutally own both of these. Hand-me-downs from my Nana.
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Old 11-03-2016, 09:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: Herbs for Cooking, Healing and Divers Uses

Thank you, these sorts of books are always interesting.
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Old 11-04-2016, 01:40 AM   #5
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Default Re: Herbs for Cooking, Healing and Divers Uses

So much reading, so little time ...

Thanks, this will help a lot with a new character I'm playing.
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Old 11-04-2016, 06:35 AM   #6
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Default Re: Herbs for Cooking, Healing and Divers Uses

I'd also recommend Nicholas Culpeper's The Complete Herbal (also known as The English Physician) from 1652, which does a good job of collecting various folk beliefs as well as practical remedies. Here's a typical entry:

ALKANET

Names. Besides the common name, it is called orchanet, and Spanish bugloss, and by apothecaries, enchusa.

Description. Of the many sorts of this herb, there is but one known to grow commonly in this nation; of which one take this description; it hath a great and thick root, of a reddish colour, long, narrow, hairy leaves, green like the leaves of bugloss, which lie very thick upon the ground; the stalks rise up compassed round about, thick with leaves, which are lesser and narrower than the former; they are tender, and slender, the flowers are hollow, small, and of a reddish colour.

Place. It grows in Kent near Rochester, and in many places in the West Country, both in Devonshire and Cornwall.

Time. They flower in July, in the beginning of August, and the seed is ripe soon after, but the root is in its prime, as carrots and parsnips are, before the herb runs up to stalk.

Government and virtues. It is an herb under the dominion of Venus, and indeed one of her darlings, though somewhat hard to come by. It helps old ulcers, hot inflammations, burnings by common fire and St. Anthony's fire, by antipathy to Mars; for these uses, your best way is to make it into an ointment; also, if you make a vinegar of it, as you make vinegar of roses, it helps the morphew and leprosy; if you apply the herb to the privities, it draws forth the dead child. It helps the yellow jaundice, spleen, and gravel in the kidneys. Dioscorides saith, it helps such as are bitten by a venomous beast, whether it be taken inwardly, or applied to the wound; nay, he saith further, if any one that hath newly eaten it, doth but spit into the mouth of a serpent, the serpent instantly dies. It stays the flux of the belly, kills worms, helps the fits of the mother. Its decoction made in wine, and drank, strengthens the back, and easeth the pains thereof: It helps bruises and falls, and is as gallant a remedy to drive out the small pox and measles as any is; an ointment made of it, is excellent for green wounds, pricks or thrusts.

The book was revised repeatedly over the following centuries, and it's often hard to say when any given edition might have been written. It's available on Project Gutenberg as well as piecewise at http://www.complete-herbal.com/completeherbal1814.htm .
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Old 11-08-2016, 12:19 AM   #7
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Default Re: Herbs for Cooking, Healing and Divers Uses

Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
I'd also recommend Nicholas Culpeper's The Complete Herbal (also known as The English Physician) from 1652, which does a good job of collecting various folk beliefs as well as practical remedies. Here's a typical entry:

ALKANET

Names. Besides the common name, it is called orchanet, and Spanish bugloss, and by apothecaries, enchusa.

Description. Of the many sorts of this herb, there is but one known to grow commonly in this nation; of which one take this description; it hath a great and thick root, of a reddish colour, long, narrow, hairy leaves, green like the leaves of bugloss, which lie very thick upon the ground; the stalks rise up compassed round about, thick with leaves, which are lesser and narrower than the former; they are tender, and slender, the flowers are hollow, small, and of a reddish colour.

Place. It grows in Kent near Rochester, and in many places in the West Country, both in Devonshire and Cornwall.

Time. They flower in July, in the beginning of August, and the seed is ripe soon after, but the root is in its prime, as carrots and parsnips are, before the herb runs up to stalk.

Government and virtues. It is an herb under the dominion of Venus, and indeed one of her darlings, though somewhat hard to come by. It helps old ulcers, hot inflammations, burnings by common fire and St. Anthony's fire, by antipathy to Mars; for these uses, your best way is to make it into an ointment; also, if you make a vinegar of it, as you make vinegar of roses, it helps the morphew and leprosy; if you apply the herb to the privities, it draws forth the dead child. It helps the yellow jaundice, spleen, and gravel in the kidneys. Dioscorides saith, it helps such as are bitten by a venomous beast, whether it be taken inwardly, or applied to the wound; nay, he saith further, if any one that hath newly eaten it, doth but spit into the mouth of a serpent, the serpent instantly dies. It stays the flux of the belly, kills worms, helps the fits of the mother. Its decoction made in wine, and drank, strengthens the back, and easeth the pains thereof: It helps bruises and falls, and is as gallant a remedy to drive out the small pox and measles as any is; an ointment made of it, is excellent for green wounds, pricks or thrusts.

The book was revised repeatedly over the following centuries, and it's often hard to say when any given edition might have been written. It's available on Project Gutenberg as well as piecewise at http://www.complete-herbal.com/completeherbal1814.htm .
I couldn't swear to the other stuff but I doubt you could kill a snake instantly and I am pretty sure that anything pungent enough to use for cauterization is impractical for midwifery even as an abortificent. At the least I should think a branding iron more reliable if more drastic for cauterization.
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Old 11-08-2016, 04:58 AM   #8
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Default Re: Herbs for Cooking, Healing and Divers Uses

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Originally Posted by jason taylor View Post
I couldn't swear to the other stuff but I doubt you could kill a snake instantly and I am pretty sure that anything pungent enough to use for cauterization is impractical for midwifery even as an abortificent. At the least I should think a branding iron more reliable if more drastic for cauterization.
It seems to imply more an antiseptic effect than a cauterising one, but even then a strong vasoconstrictor might well be both effective in arresting bleeding and in bringing on labour and arresting post-partal haemorrhage.

I note that none of the things called alkanet or bugloss on Wikipedia appear to match the description however...
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Old 11-08-2016, 05:26 AM   #9
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Default Re: Herbs for Cooking, Healing and Divers Uses

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Originally Posted by The Colonel View Post
I note that none of the things called alkanet or bugloss on Wikipedia appear to match the description however...
You'd be looking for this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkanna_tinctoria

The great thing about Culpeper is that he collects all the legendry he can find. There are lots of herbs that are listed as "effectual against the biting of serpents" because in England there are basically no snakes dangerous enough to kill you anyway, so it's a fairly safe claim to make, and makes the herbalist sound cool. (Vipera berus, the common adder/viper, can kill, but it's unusual; 14 deaths in the hundred years from 1876 to 1975, none since.)
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Old 11-09-2016, 08:02 PM   #10
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Default Re: Herbs for Cooking, Healing and Divers Uses

Besides, with a herbal like this what you often want is for your fantasy herbalist to brew up something that he can swig to produce anti-reptile poison, or saliva that reveals the Reptilians, or douses roaring bonfires with a spit. ;^)
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