Turner, William

d. 1568

The Seconde Parte of William Turner's Herball: Wherein are Conteyned the Names of Herbes in Greke, Latin, Duche, Frenche and in the Apothecaries Latin and Somtyme in Italiane.

Here unto is joyned also A Booke of the Bath of Baeth in Englande set furth by William Turner. Cologne: Imprinted at Collen by Arnold Birckman, in the yeare of our Lorde 1562. Second work has separate t.p. and separate paging. Title page reads: A booke of the natures and properties as well of the bathes in England as of other bathes in Germany and Italy. References: STC 24366, 24351. Includes index. With: Turner, William. A New Herball. London: Imprinted by Steven Mierdman, anno 1551. ASU copy includes the errata slip "Errours in fidures." tipped in at Gg2.

The legend of the mandrake plant was still very prevalent in the 15th century. The mandrake plant was regarded by the ancients as both magical and medicinal. Some writers suggested that it could be fatal to the gatherer unless it was harvested according to a prescribed ritual. The roots of the mandrake were supposed to be shaped like a fully formed, miniature human body which would emit a tiny scream when uprooted. Although many writers expressed doubts about this legend, artists frequently gave a stylized human form to illustrations of this plant. Disreputable herbalists took advantage of the expectations of a gullible public and sold appropriately crafted root plants as "mandrakes." In the mid-15th century William Turner fought against such superstitions in science, denouncing the myth of the mandrake root, specimens of which "come to be sold in England in boxes, with heir and such forme as a man hath, are nothyng elles but folish feined trifles, and not natural. For they are so trymmed of crafty theves to mocke the poore people with all, and to rob them both of theyr wit and theyr money." The legend lingered for Gerard to decry again in the 16th century.

Subjects: Botany--Pre-Linnean works; Medicinal plants; Vegetables; Hydrotherapy.


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