IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 215: What Are They Good For?: Properties of the Natural World and their Human Use

Monday 7 July 2008, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:John B. Dillon, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Paper 215-aA Medley of Pagan Elements and Christianity: The Recipe for Hildegard's Lapidary
(Language: English)
Jayna Brett, University of Western Ontario
Index terms: Medicine, Pagan Religions, Religious Life
Paper 215-bThe Use of Plants and Animal Substances in the Book of the Antidotarie (G.U.L. MS Hunter 513, ff. 37v-97v)
(Language: English)
Teresa Marqués-Aguado, Departamento de Filología Inglesa, Universidad de Málaga
Index terms: Manuscripts and Palaeography, Medicine, Science
Paper 215-cCookery for the Elite: Late Medieval Recipes and the Humours
(Language: English)
Caroline S. Yeldham, Independent Scholar, Stevenage
Index terms: Daily Life, Medicine, Social History

Paper -a:
During her self-imposed isolation at St. Rupertsberg, Hildegard of Bingen is presumed to have written the celebrity medical treatise, the Physica. Serious scholarship on Hildegard’s medical texts is still rather sparse. The fourth of the nine books in Hildegard’s Physica, Stones, has only just started to receive attention from scholars following the recent debate about its inclusion in the Physica. In accordance with the tradition of multifarious medieval lapidaries, Stones is complicated with regards to both its composition and its sources. I will argue that Hildegard’s De lapidibus depends on the fusing of Pagan and Christian ideas both in terms of the conversation between religion and medicine, as well as their respective lapidary traditions. By determining the influences on and sources of Hildegard’s book on stones, we can begin to define the lapidary as a new medieval genre in terms of scientific thought, style and purpose.
Paper -b:
In medieval times, plants and substances of animal origin were commonly used as ingredients when preparing various medicines, such as ointments, oils, etc. The preparation of these ailments was recorded in different kinds of scientific and medical treatises written at that time, such as antidotaries. This is the case of the Book of the Antidotarie contained in Glasgow University Library, MS Hunter 513 (ff. 37v-97v), which comprises recipes and instructions on how some of these substances were used. For the purpose, a cursory manuscript description will be provided, and then the ingredients used in the recipes and their textual organisation will be dealt with.
Paper -c:
The intrinsic nature of ingredients is defined by the Galenic theory of the humours. It was necessary to create balance between the 4 humours, which involved 4 levels of danger. Safety lay in the cook’s art of blending ingredients and techniques to achieve balance.

A selection of late medieval English recipes will be examined to see whether the humours are balanced, with specific attention to exotic foodstuffs. Late medieval European comparisons may indicate why some ingredients were acceptable in some places but elsewhere were excluded from diet of the elite.