Printing: Renaissance & Reformation

An Exhibit for History 101: European Civlization I

Introduction | Island 1 | Island 2 | Island 3 | Island 4 | Island 5 | Island 6

Island 6 - Printing, Science, and Exploration

Jerome of Brunswick
The vertuose boke of disyllacyon of the waters of all manere of herbes
London, 1527.

This detailed treatise on the preparation of herbal extracts and infusions for medicinal purposes was translated from a German original. The stylized woodcuts of plants, etc., are relatively accurate in scientific terms.

Franciscus Niger, ed.
Astronomici veteres graeci et latini
Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1499.

This is a collection of works by such ancient classical writers on astronomy as Manilius, Theon, etc. Note the illustration of the signs of the zodiac, and the apparent paradox of using the new technology of printing to disseminate pre-Copernican astronomic theory in the age of Galileo.

Claudius Ptolemaeus ("Ptolemy")
Lyons, 1525.

This early printed edition of the atlas of the Roman geographer Ptolemy is here opened to show an overview of the world in the era of the great sea-explorers. This edition was edited by Michael Servetus, later burned alive as a heretic by John Calvin. The contemporary binding is of wooden boards covered with pigskin.

Leo Africanus, ca.1492-ca.1550
Ioannis Leonis Africani Africae Descriptio IX. Lib. Absoluta
Lugd. Batav. [Leiden]: apud Elzevir, 1632.

In the seventeenth century, at the zenith of Dutch mercantilism, Leiden was an international university center, and the pocket editions produced by the Dutch firm of Elzevir, at a standard price of one guilder for 500 small duodecimo pages, became known throughout Europe. This item, reprinting an account of travels through late medieval West Africa by the Spanish Moor Leo Africanus, is also interesting as evidence of continuing European interest in the world beyond Europe.

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