Crescenza Calendar, c. 1475
Happy Medieval Monday! January means repairs and preparation. Did you know?
Jumping down another medieval rabbit hole in my current examination of medieval calendars, I happened upon this lovely little artpiece. It's from a manuscript printed in the mid to late 1400s and that manuscript was a reprint of an agricultural manual written by Pietro de' Crescenzi between 1304 and 1309.
Of course, gardener and student of the medieval period that I am, I had to learn more about this manual and the man who wrote it.
Pietro de' Crescenzi was born in Bologna around 1235. He became a lawyer and judge, practicing from around 1269 to 1299. In his later years -- he died in 1320 -- his time was spent between Bologna and his country estate. During his retirement, surely inspired by his rural retreat, he compiled a work he called Ruralia commoda, also known as Liber ruralium commodorum -- Book of Rural Benefits.
Frontispiece of the De agricultura in the vernacular edition of Matteo Capcasa, printed in Venice in 1495.
Dedicated to King Charles II of Naples, it became the gardening manual of kings! In 1373, King Charles V of France requested that it be translated into French. It became extremely popular during the High Medieval era into the early Renaissance. Translated into many languages, it eventually became the first agricultural book in print. Henry VIII had a copy in his library. It is said that he consulted it for the design of the gardens at Whitehall (1540s).
Henry VIII's copy of Ruralia Commoda, Royal Collection Trust
The work is divided into twelve sections, but surprisingly (at least, I was surprised), the sections don't represent months. Each section focuses on a certain task or tasks, the last chapter being a calendar of the agricultural year. It's evidently a very interesting read, with both sage advice and wild explanations. Crescenzi studied and sorted information, some dating back to ancient times.
I can't seem to find an English version or if there even is an English version. You might disagree, but I think a copy, possibly even a modern one, would be a lovely addition to a gardening or medieval library.
For more Medieval Monday, be sure to stop by Mary's Tavern, author Mary Morgan's beautiful blog.
Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!
Learning about gardening from such a lovely book would enhance the joy of growing the plants it describes. In the time period it was written you'd have to be a king to be able to afford your own copy.
LOL! Kim, you're so right! It wouldn't have been cheap! Thanks so much for visiting. :)
What a fascinating post, Anastasia! Pietro de' Crescenzi lived a long life. As a gardener, I would enjoy having a copy if the book was ever translated into English. Happy Medieval Monday!
His age -- impressive, right? I like to think it was all that gardening and writing. :)
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