12th Century Medical & Herbal Collection

This beautifully appointed manuscript describes over 200 plants and animals with medicinal (and magical) properties, in multiple colors and gold and silver.

Included in the collection is cannabis. Based on the style of the illumination (compared to its actual morphology), it’s likely the illustrator was basing their image off of a description alone, from hearsay or from another written source. Herodotus mentioned the use of hemp by the Scythians in 400BCE. Cannabis was just starting to become known to Europe in this century, by way of contact with Arab sources.

Translation mine:

Name of this herb: Cannabis. This herb grows in harsh places, and next to roads, and bound to fences. It’s main use is for consecration (fanandum)…


You can read the rest of this herbal, thanks to the British Library. (Entry on cannabis starts at f. 44v

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