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The Green Middle Ages

The Depiction and Use of Plants in the Western World 600-1600

344 pages
Amsterdam University Press
How ‘green’ were people in late antiquity and the Middle Ages? Unlike today, the nature around them was approached with faith, trust and care. The population size was many times smaller than today and human impact on nature not as extreme as it is now. People did not have to worry about issues like deforestation and sustainability.
This book is about the knowledge of plants and where that knowledge came from. How did people use earth and plants in ancient times, and what did they know about their nutritional or medicinal properties? From which plants one could make dyes, such as indigo, woad and dyer’s madder? Is it possible to determine that through technical research today? Which plants could be found in a ninth-century monastery garden, and what is the symbolic significance of plants in secular and religious literature?
The Green Middle Ages addresses these and other issues, including the earliest herbarium collections, with a leading role for the palaeography and beautiful illuminations from numerous medieval manuscripts kept in Dutch and other Western libraries and museums.
Author Bio
Claudine Chavannes-Mazel (1949) studied Art History and Palaeography/Codicology at Leiden University and earned her Ph.D in 1988. Her dissertation topic was the richly illustrated fourteenth-century encyclopaedia, Le Miroir historial that was made for the dauphin of France and is now kept in the Leiden University Library. From 1977-1983, she was part-time teacher of Manuscript Studies and Art History at the Tiele Academy in The Hague (now The Hague University of Applied Sciences). Except for an interval of four years doing research in London, she taught Medieval Art History at the University of Leiden (1979-1983, 1987-1993). In 1993, she was appointed Professor of Medieval Art History at the University of Amsterdam. She has had emeritus status since 2014. Linda IJpelaar (1970) studied art history at the University of Amsterdam, where she received her Master’s degree cum laude. Her areas of specialisation are iconography and the history of the book. In cooperation with the Royal Library in The Hague and the Edam Museum, she curated the exhibition Machtige Boeken! De librije van Edam en de Reformatie. She works on contract as an instructor and contributes to museum exhibitions and publications.