Inspiring innovation from tradition

The manuscript Sloane 4016 is a large album of botany made sometimes around 1440 in Italy. Although it is traditionally identified as a copy of the well-known Tractatus de herbis (Treatise on medicinal plants), it does not contain the text of this treatise, but only its illustrations.

The major question posed by this manuscript is why it abandoned the text of the Tractatus, giving birth to the new genre of the botanical album.

Significantly enough, the captions of the illustrations provide the names of the plants in the different languages used in the 15th century, all written with the Latin alphabet, however. They hint at the function of the botanical album as an international work that could be used by all the different linguistic groups, whereas the text of the Tractatus could be used only by those who understood Latin.

In this view, the creation of the botanical album is a hitherto unsuspected and very modern phenomenon that sheds a completely new light on the history of botany, botanical illustration and therapeutics. It highlights a process of internationalization and, at the same time, of linguistic specialization coupled with a principle of economy that had not been uncovered so far.

The publishing house Moleiro Editorial, in Barcelona (Spain), has produced a facsimile replica of the manuscript of the highest quality together with a thorough study by Alain Touwaide, the Scientific Director of the Institute. The lavishly illustrated volume of commentary is published in three different languages: English, Spanish and French.

The work is currently offered at a pre-publication discounted price until the end of November. To get the discount, please mention the code "Tractatus 2013" in your inquiry.


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