chapter  9
3 Pages

Renaissance botany

WithJ. Heniger

Modern European botany was born in the 15th and 16th centuries, when critical text editions of the works of the classical authors about botany, such as Theophrastos, Dioscorides, and Pliny, were printed. A highly interested host of scholars turned eagerly to Theophrastos' Historia Plantarum and De Causis Plantarum, to Pliny's Historia Naturalis, and to De Materia Medica of Dioscorides. Especially the physicians interested in botany devoted a large part of their energy to writing commentaries on these works. The rise of 16th-century botany owes a good deal to the development of two important aids: the herbarium and the botanical garden. Towards the end of the 16th century botany passed through a crisis. Contrasted with the innovations which Clusius and Caesalpino brought about in 16th-century botany was the work of the Swiss brothers Jean and Caspar Bauhin, who recapitulated and extended the trends in the Dioscorides study to masterly surveys of all the botanical knowledge then known from the earliest days.