Anglicanus Ortus: A Verse Herbal of the Twelfth Century (Studies and Texts. (Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies)

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9780888441805: Anglicanus Ortus: A Verse Herbal of the Twelfth Century (Studies and Texts. (Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies)
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Henry, archdeacon of Huntingdon, England (ca 1088-ca 1154) has been admired for centuries as the author of the monumental "Historia Anglorum." The recent discovery of the "Anglicanus ortus" opens a new window onto this important English author as well as onto the uses of poetry and the knowledge of medicine in medieval England. Written entirely in Latin verse, the "Anglicanus ortus" describes the medicinal uses of 160 different herbs, spices, and vegetables. Henry drew on centuries of learned medicine to compose this work, employing the medical knowledge of ancient authors like Pliny the Elder and Dioscorides and of medieval scholars like Walahfrid Strabo, Macer Floridus and Constantine the African. This critical edition is based on the five extant manuscripts and includes a complete English translation on facing pages and a commentary on every poem. An extensive introduction describes the manuscript witnesses in detail, examines Henry's poetic skill and use of sources, and establishes the place of the "Anglicanus ortus" in a pivotal era in the history of medicine and natural philosophy.

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It is a joy to welcome the "editio princeps" of Henry of Huntingdon's poetic Herbal, which had been lost from the days of John Leland until its recent rediscovery. The text is based on five manuscripts identified in stages over the last fifteen years by Bernd Ruppel, George Rigg, and the present editor, Winston Black. None of the manuscripts witnesses the complete text: Dr Black has skilfully unravelled the convoluted textual history in order to reassemble the work. This reconstruction increases Henry's surviving poetic output fivefold. It also reveals the "Anglicanus ortus" as one of the crowning achievements of medieval medical poetry, remarkable for its unusual metres and subtle wordplay and original in its deft reworkings of earlier sources. This superb edition, with its scholarly introduction, translation, and commentary, will come as a surprise to those who hitherto have considered Henry of Huntingdon primarily as a historian and will allow a complete reassessment of him as an accomplished and erudite poet. -- Diana Greenway, Institute of Historical Research, University of London

About the Author:

Winston Black is the Haslam Postdoctoral Fellow for the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His research and publications focus on the teaching and transmission of medicine and law in the High Middle Ages, particularly the composition and transmission of Latin didactic and mnemonic poetry.

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