Giovanni Cadamosto’s illustrated herbal

The British Library

The British Library

According to medieval herbals, mandrakes (mandragora) could cure headaches, earache, gout and insanity. The plant is said to be particularly hazardous to harvest as the shrieks from the roots cause madness. The best way to obtain it safely was to unearth its roots with an ivory stake, attaching the plant to a dog with a cord. A horn would sound, drowning out the shrieking, startling the dog and causing it to drag out the mandrake. Shown here: ff. 58v–59r

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  • Title: Giovanni Cadamosto’s illustrated herbal
  • Date Created: 16th century
  • Location: British Library, London, UK
  • Location Created: Italy or Germany
  • Type: Manuscript
  • Original Source: Harley MS 3736
  • Rights: Public Domain in most countries other than the UK. For more information visit: https://www.bl.uk/help/how-to-reuse-images-of-unpublished-manuscripts

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