As useful as it is beautiful: Robinet Testard's gold-plated masterpiece of naturopathy for the Count of Angoulême

Book of Simple Medicines

France — Late 15th century

Book of Simple Medicines

Book of Simple Medicines

France — Late 15th century

  1. This spectacular work by Robinet Testard addresses the properties and compounds of natural medicine

  2. This gorgeously illuminated medical manual was made at the behest of Count Charles of Angoulême (1459-96)

  3. Often ennobled with elements of gold leaf, it is a masterful specimen of the French Renaissance

Libro de los Medicamentos Simples

Book of Hours of the Weaving Virgin

Frog

Among the elegant and artful depictions of various flowers with medical applications, we find this naturalistic illustration of a sweet-looking frog. These amphibians are an important part of the ecosystem and possess cultural importance across the world. In folklore, frogs are used as metaphors for those possessing hidden talents in spite of their appearance. Medieval theologians distinguished between land and water frogs, regarding the former as righteous while the latter were sinful.

Book of Simple Medicines

FP. Fv VI #1 National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Alternative Titles:
  • Libro de los Medicamentos Simples
  • Livre des Simples Médecines
  • Libro delle Medicine Semplici
  • Buch der einfachen Heilmittel
  • Libro delle Medicine Semplici
  • Livro dos Medicamentos Simples
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Imageof
Price Category: €€€
Edition available
Price: Login here!
  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The Book of Simple Medicines arose in early 15th century France. It is a how-to manual about medicine, as it was practiced in the Middle Ages. The work was made by the French illuminator Robinet Testard and contains an unbelievable plethora of beautiful and informative illustrations.

Book of Simple Medicines

The medicine of the Middle Ages traces back to the knowledge of ancient scholars. Medicines made from plants and animals as well as mineral substances were used for the treatment of various sicknesses. The Book of Simple Medicines is a comprehensive how-to manual, which contains the information about the properties and compounds of natural medicine. The highly detailed work is decorated with an astonishing variety of beautiful book illustrations. It is one of the most noteworthy codices of medieval European art.

French Book Art

The codex originated from 15th century France and was produced for Count Charles of Angoulême and his wife Louise of Savoy. It consists of 5 book sections. These are concerned with plants and flowers, trees and resins, metals and minerals, animal products, and other materials. Following these explanations is a collection of 115 outstanding miniatures. The French text is based on the Latin explanations of the physicist Mattheaus Platerius, De medicinis simplicibus. In the 12th century, he compiled one of the most influential medical how-to manuals, which was translated into various languages during the Middle Ages. This treatise was enlarged with new findings in the French book of medicines.

Characteristic Painting

The breath-taking miniatures of the book were very likely produced by the master Robinet Testard. The artist almost never signed his works, which complicates an unambiguous assignment. To be sure, Testard was employed at the court of Count Charles of Angoulême as a princely valet of the family at the end of the 15th century. The depictions show the botanical, faunal, and mineral substances and sometimes the persons for whom the use of these medicinal substances were intended. Sometimes the scenes were ennobled with elements of gold leaf. This artistically valuable treatise about the medicine of the Middle Ages is counted among the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts of the French Renaissance. Today the original edition of the document is found in the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Libro de los Medicamentos Simples
Livre des Simples Médecines
Libro delle Medicine Semplici
Buch der einfachen Heilmittel
Libro delle Medicine Semplici
Livro dos Medicamentos Simples
Size / Format
340 pages / 35.5 x 26.0 cm
Origin
France
Date
Late 15th century
Illustrations
386 illustrations
Artist / School
Libro de los Medicamentos Simples

Book of Simple Medicines

Obtaining Aloe, Gold, Alum, and Antimonite

Robinet Testard’s masterful medical handbook is not only concerned with botanical medicines, but with the use of animal and mineral substances as well. The work includes depictions of how these substances were obtained, such as in the four scenes presented here.

Three of these images show men digging for various mineral substances, but the fourth in the upper-eft corner is odd: it appears to show a man fishing for sticks in a river. Using a net on a long pole, the man is acquiring “Aloe”, but this term should not be confused with the genus of succulent plants, but rather a resin made from saturated wood, probably agarwood, also known as aloeswood. It has been mentioned in medical texts as old as the 1st century Materia Medica by Dioscorides.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Book of Simple Medicines“

Libro de los Medicamentos Simples
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Book of Simple Medicines – FP. Fv VI #1 – National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Imageof

Libro de los Medicamentos Simples

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 2000
Limited Edition
987 copies
Binding
Brown leather with gold decoration
Commentary
1 volume by osé María López Piñero, Natacha Elaguina and Carlos Miranda
Languages: Spanish, English
Price Category: €€€
Edition available
Price: Login here!
  1. Matching Works
  2. Matching Background Articles

Matching Works

Flora Sinensis

Flora Sinensis

A special herbarium with 23 hand-colored woodcuts: the first systematic encyclopedia concerning the botany of distant China

Experience More
Tacuinum Sanitatis in Medicina

Tacuinum Sanitatis in Medicina

Made for an Italian noble family: 206 miniatures for the text of the famous doctor Ibn Butlan with many scenes of everyday life

Experience More

Matching Background Articles

Publisher