Saturday, June 25, 2016

1300s Gardens - Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) - 1400s Illuminations


Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French. Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 6 On herb gardens (folio 157)   These workers are maintaining raised beds. De Crescenzi noted that these hot beds were constructed by putting fresh dung in a pit & either putting soil over it & planting in the soil, covering over the plants with a shelter in inclement weather.

Piero de’Crescenzi’s 12 book treatise, the "Liber Ruralium Commodorum" (On the Rural Arts) is the most important work on agriculture & gardens written during the middle ages. Piero de Crescenzi wrote "Liber Ruralium Commodorum" in 1305.

Book 1 - the best location & arrangement of a manor, villa, or farm
Book 2 - the botanical background needed to raise different crops
Book 3 - building a granary & cultivation of cereal, forage & food 
Book 4 - on vines & wine-making
Books 5 & 6 - arborculture &horticulture, including 185 plants useful for medicine & nourishment
Book 7 - meadows and woods
Book 8 - on gardens
Book 9 - animal husbandry & bee-keeping
Book 10 - hawking & hunting
Book 11 - a general summary of the book
Book 12 - a calendar of duties and tasks, month by month. 

Italian attorney & land-owner Crescenzi relied heavily on Roman agricultural principles, although he supplemented these traditions with contemporary medieval ideas natural sciences & medicine. Crescenzi took much of his information from Roman authors, such as Cato, Columella, Varo, & Palladius. 

Crescenzi’s treatise surveys building, managing, & maintaining an agricultural estate & even devotes an entire book of his treatise to pleasure gardens, before the development of villa gardens in the Renaissance. 

By the late 15C, his work was widely available in manuscript & print editions & was owned by many in the lavish villas around Rome, Florence, & Venice. 

Manuscript copies of Ruralia Commoda were popular (over 100 copies are known), making it an excellent candidate for the new technology of printing. The editio princeps appeared in 1471- in Latin, un-illustrated, it was printed by Johann Schüssler of Augsburg. Another 36 incunable editions exist, most printed in Germany. 

The treatise remained one of the most popular works of its kind until the 17C, when the Aristotelian precepts on which it was based were nearly smothered by the empirical methods of more recent developments in science.


Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French.  Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 5 On trees (folio 112v)



Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French. Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 5 On trees (folio 112v) b   Crescenzi advised: "Trees are to be planted in their rows, pears, apples,  & palms, & in warm places, lemons. Again mulberries, cherries, plums, & such noble trees as figs, nuts, almonds, quinces, & such-like, each according to their kinds, but spaced twenty feet apart more or less."


Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French. Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 7 On meadows and groves (folio 201v) For decorative features using trees, Crescenzi suggests willow & popular trees, densely planted with other plants & vines, "cut out into the shape of towers & crenellations." 



Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French. Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 8 On pleasure gardens (folio 205v)



Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French. Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 10 On hunting (folio 265r)



Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French. Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 11 On regulating a rural operation.  Piero de' Crescenzi gave advice on breeding pheasants, which he believed were more noble & more beautiful than any other bird in the garden or farm.  He also wrote that garden parks often were stocked with wild beasts. 

He advised, "Of the gardens of royal personages & powerful & wealthy lords. And inasmuch as wealthy persons can by their riches & power obtain such things as please them & need only science & art to create all they desire. For them, therefore, let a great meadow be chosen, arranged, & ordered, as here shall be directed. Let it be a place where the pleasant winds blow &  where there are fountains of waters; it should be twenty 'Journaux' or more in size according to the will of the Lord & it should be enclosed with lofty walls. Let there be in some part a wood of divers trees where the wild beasts may find a refuge. In another part let there be a costly pavilion where the king & his queen or the lord & lady may dwell, when they wish to escape from wearisome occupations & where they may solace themselves."

"Let there be shade & let the windows of the pavilion look out upon the garden but not exposed to the burning rays of the sun. Let fish-pools be made & divers fishes placed therein. Let there also be hares, rabbits, deer & such-like wild animals that are not beasts of prey. And in the trees near the pavilion  let great cages be made & therein place partridges, nightingales, blackbirds, linnets, & all manner of singing birds. Let all be arranged so that the beasts & the birds may easily be seen from the pavilion. Let there also be made a pavilion with rooms & towers wholly made of trees...”

14C Italian manuscript Treatise on Rural Economy by Pietro de' Crescenzi (c 1233-1320)



14C Italian manuscript Treatise on Rural Economy by Pietro de' Crescenzi (c 1233-1320)

Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09  Title page of a vernacular translation of the De agricultura of Piero Crescentio, printed by Capcasa in Venice in 1495


No comments:

Post a Comment