Liebster Award Nomination!

I have been nominated by the Liebster Award by Fionn of Broider Me ‘Bethan (Grazie!) You can find her blog at


She wrote: “I really enjoy your blog, so I have nominated you for a Liebster Award, (which you are free to accept or refuse.) The Liebster Award is basically an award that is by bloggers, for bloggers. It’s passed from person to person to encourage connection and support within our writing community, and to aid in the discovery of new and upcoming bloggers. Thanks for the great blog!”

I accept this award and am paying the compliment forward by linking back to Fionn’s blog and nominating 5 blogs to receive the award. I nominate Anna Attiliani, Jeanne Clifton, THL Peryn, Belphoebe, and Esperanza Navarra. There is also a variation where you ask the nominees to answer a set of questions. My questions for the bloggers are:

If you could choose be born in any particular historical time (year) and place what would be they be?

What is your biggest inspiration for continuing your living history journey?

What (and where) is your favorite living history event?

Here are links to some (mostly) Italian focus living history blogs that I really enjoy following. I hope that you enjoy them as well!

And here are some blogs that Fionn loves:

Is That An Apres
It’s About Time
American Duchess
Dawn’s Dress Diary
The Parti-Coloured Fleur
Madame Guillotine
A Damsel in this Dress

Leonardo da Vinci’s Resume

(From blog post by Robbie Gonzalez)

Today, Leonardo da Vinci is renowned for being one of the Renaissance’s most illustrious polymaths – but back in the late 15th Century, the artist, inventor and all-around genius still had to job hunt like the rest of us. And yes, his resume was… intimidating.

leonardo da vince resume meme

“Before he was famous… Leonardo da Vinci was an artificer, an armorer, a maker of things that go ‘boom’,” writes Marc Cenedella, on his blog devoted to job searching and recruiting advice. “And, like you, he had to put together a resume to get his next gig. So in 1482, at the age of 30, he wrote out a letter and a list of his capabilities and sent it off to [Ludovico Sforza, regent, and later Duke,] of Milan.” (The letter, it seems, made a lasting impression; Ludovico would become a longtime patron of da Vinci’s, and is remembered especially for commissioning The Last Supper.)

Included with daVinci’s letter was a silver lyre of his own creation, sculpted in the shape of a horse’s head. He references the lyre in item eleven of his missive, the translation of which appears below (a digitized copy of the original letter, at the end of the post:

Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things which, in part, shall be briefly noted below.

1. I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
2. I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.
3. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded on a rock, etc.
4. Again, I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry; and with these I can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and with the smoke of these cause great terror to the enemy, to his great detriment and confusion.
5. And if the fight should be at sea I have kinds of many machines most efficient for offense and defense; and vessels which will resist the attack of the largest guns and powder and fumes.
6. I have means by secret and tortuous mines and ways, made without noise, to reach a designated spot, even if it were needed to pass under a trench or a river.
7. I will make covered chariots, safe and unattackable, which, entering among the enemy with their artillery, there is no body of men so great but they would break them. And behind these, infantry could follow quite unhurt and without any hindrance.
8. In case of need I will make big guns, mortars, and light ordnance of fine and useful forms, out of the common type.
9. Where the operation of bombardment might fail, I would contrive catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other machines of marvellous efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of offense and defense.
10. In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.
11. I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and also I can do in painting whatever may be done, as well as any other, be he who he may.

Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to the immortal glory and eternal honor of the prince your father of happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.

And if any of the above-named things seem to anyone to be impossible or not feasible, I am most ready to make the experiment in your park, or in whatever place may please your Excellency – to whom I comment myself with the utmost humility, etc.

leonardo da vince resume 391r

More on Leonardo’s inventions at

Alys’ SCA Persona Schtick

On Sunday, April 5, 2015 this was posted on one of my favorite SCA blogs. Since it has to do with persona play I thought I’d reblog it here for you. You can read more on Alys’ blog here


Writ of Execution for Fergus MacRae

Several weeks ago I was going about my business in the Royal Room sorting scrolls, when I was asked, “Hey Alys, do you know anything about period writs of execution?” Why yes, yes I do :-)

As part of an ongoing bit of court schtick, and as an excuse to roll out a new persona after 25 years, +Clark Wright arranged with the Crown to have his old persona executed when he stepped down as Baron of Carolingia. And, because +Edward Grey and +Thyra Eiriksdottir are some of my best enablers EVER, they let me compose a 16th cen. Scots writ of execution based on the 1584 document issued against one of the men convicted of assassinating Lord Darnley, husband of Mary Queen of Scots. +Soto Erik then did some fantastic last minute calligraphy.

Part of the fun of putting this text together was reading through the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue for various crimes of which Fergus was guilty. I’ve footnoted the text with definitions and notes where appropriate. All definitions are from the Dictionary.

In the judiciall court of our supreme lord and ladie Edward and Thyra, hald in the Baronye of Carolingia upon 4 Aprill in the fourtie-ninth year of the Societie. Sectis vocatis, curia affirmata.[1]

Fergus MacRae, being indytit and accusit of gret myscheiff and sundrie wrangwous and unlegall deeds, to wit: impudencie[2], proprusion[3] and glipstair[4] of Royall landis and gudes, novell dissaisine[5] of gudes and scheipe[6], and fyre-raising[7]. The saide Fergus being foundin giltie of the abuve written crymes, it is here-by disponit and ordanit that the saide Fergus be punissit thairfoir with all rigour by tynsell[8] of landis and guidis and by extinctioun of fame, titillis, honour and memorie conforme to the lawis of this realme. Therefore, we decretit and ordanit that the said Fergus suld be had to ane geibbett beside the mercatt croce of the said burgh of Carolingia, his heid thair to be strukkin from his body; further that all his landis, heretageis, offices and possessionis, takis, stedingis, cornis, cattell, actionis, debtis, obligationis, guidis movable and unmovable, and utheris quhatsumevir quhilkis pertenit to him suld and aucht apertene to our soverane lord and ladie and to be applyit to theyr use be reasoun of escheat of foirfalture, to be uptakin, usit and disponit by the Croune at theyr pleasour, as the proces devisit thairapoun bairs. So commandit, decried and ordanit by Edward the Kyng and Thyra the Queene.

[1] In the original Writ, the entire introductory part is in Latin, with the body of the text in Scots. Because I was doing this text very quickly, with a short deadline, I did not have time to put my entire adapted introduction into Latin. But I left the formal convocation of the court that way, because it looked cool. “Sectis vocatis, curia affirmata” means “suits were called and the court affirmed.” 
[2] Impudency, -encie, n. Effrontery, insolence.
[3] (Proprision,) Proprusion, n. Illegal encroachment or enclosure of real property.
[4] Glipster, -stair, n. Illegal occupation or seizure of another’s land or property.
[5] Novell dissaisin(e), n. Wrongful ejection or eviction from landed property or dispossession of goods. (In other words, he’s the mean landlord throwing other people out of their homes).
[6] Because who will speak for the sheep?
[7] (Fire-,) Fyre-, Fyir-rasing, n. Also: -rysing. Malicious or hostile kindling of fire.
[8] Tynsal(l, Tinsal(l, -el(l, n. The losing (of possessions, etc.); loss, destruction, harm, detriment.

Putting the Creative in Creative Anachronism


Italian historical dress as inspiration for modern costuming :)

Originally posted on The Stillroom Book:

So, ever since I was a little kid, my favorite holiday has been Halloween.  I suppose it’s no surprise that the SCA would appeal to me, since the holiday for me was about being able to dress up and be someone else.  Now, since becoming an adult, I’ve tried to hang on to the fun by dressing up for work, decorating the house, and going to parties with friends.  But the last few years have seen a bit of a slump for me.  We don’t have a lot of kids in my neighborhood, and most of them do the Mall Trick or Treat instead.  Almost no one else decorates their house.  There haven’t been many parties local to me, and I’m not much for the amateur hour bar crawl.  Long story short, I just haven’t been feeling it.

This year, I came up with an idea for couples costumes for…

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Portrait of Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni by Domenico Ghirlandaio


Of course all this symbolism is even more interesting as I prepare for my ceremony! In this blog post the author discusses the elements of Ghirlandiao’s portrait of Giovanna Tornaburoni.

Portrait of Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1488)

“Giovanna was the wife of Lorenzo Tornabuoni who came from the wealthy Florentine banking family and whose father, Giovanni was Domenico Ghirlandaio’s patron. We know this is the image of Giovanna as at the time of her marriage to Lorenzo a series of bronze portrait medals with her image were made to commemorate the event and the likeness of the figure on the medal and in the painting is undeniable. Lorenzo and Giovanna married in June 1486 but sadly she died giving birth to her second son in 1488, at just twenty years of age. As the portrait was completed after she died, it is thought that it could be looked upon as a kind of remembrance painting. The painting hung in her husband’s private rooms in the Tornabuoni Palace.

We see Giovanna before us, half-length, in a somewhat rigid profile. In her hands she clasps a handkerchief. Giovanna is dressed in the most sumptuous way. She wears a giornea which is an open-sided over-gown, which is brocaded. The design on the brocade features the letter “L” and a diamond. The “L” is her husband, Lorenzo’s initial and the diamond was the Tornabuoni family emblem. There is no doubt that she is one of Florence’s élite by the way she wears her hair in the very latest Florentine fashion. The jewels she wears around her neck comprise of two rings and pendant which were given to her by Lorenzo’s family as a wedding gift. If you look closely at the pendant she wears you will also notice a matching brooch designed in the shape of a dragon which lies on a shelf behind her. The jewel with its dragon, two pearls and a ruby formed a set with the pendant hanging from a silk cord around her neck. Behind her, on the shelf, is a prayer book which is thought to be the libriccino da donna (little ladies’ book). Above the book hangs a string of coral beads which have been identified as a rosary. Ghirlandaio’s inclusion of this prayer book and the rosary in the painting was testament to Giovanna’s religious beliefs and her piety.

What did Ghirlandaio think of his sitter? Will we ever know? Actually the answer lies within the painting itself because just behind Giovanna’s neck we can see attached to the shelf a cartellino. A cartellino (Italian for small piece of paper) was a piece of parchment or paper painted illusionistically, often as though attached to a wall or parapet in a painting. On the cartellino added by Ghirlandaio in this painting are the words:




which translates to:

“…Would that you, Art, could portray her character and spirit ; for then there would be no fairer painting in the world..”.

At the bottom there is the date:


By these words there is no doubt Ghirlandaio is excusing himself to Giovanna for his belief that he has not been able to show her real inner beauty. These are fine words from our artist but in fact they were not quite his own as they are a slight variation on the words of an epigram (a short and concise poem) of the Latin poet Marcus Galerius Martial, whose works were all the rage with the Florentine aristocracy of the day.

My featured artist today was born Domenico di Tommaso Curradi di Doffo Bigordi. The name was derived in part from his father’s surname Curadi and the surname of his grandfather Bigordi. He was born in Florence in 1449, the eldest child of Tommaso Bigordi and Antonia di ser Paolo Paoli. His father was a goldsmith and was well-known for creating metallic garland-like necklaces which were worn by the ladies of Florence, and it was for that reason that Domenico was given the nickname Il Ghirlandaio (garland-maker). Domenico worked in his father’s jewellery shop and it was during his time there that he started sketching portraits of customers and passers-by. According to the famous biographer of artists, Giorgio Vasari, Domenico’s father decided to afford his son some formal artistic training and had him apprenticed to the Florentine painters, Alesso Baldovinetti and later Andrea del Verrocchio.

Domenico will always be remembered for his exquisite detailed narrative frescos in which he would incorporate portraits of the local aristocracy resplendent in their finery. Many of his frescos appeared in local Florentine churches. In 1482, he also completed a Vatican commission for Pope Sixtus IV – a fresco in the Sistine Chapel entitled Calling of the First Apostles. The frescos he will probably be best remembered for were two major fresco cycles, which he completed with the help of his brothers, Davide and Benedetto along with his brother-in-law, Bastiano Mainardi, who was one of Domenico’s pupils.”

Originally posted on my daily art display:

Portrait of Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1488) Portrait of Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1488)

When you walk around an art gallery I wonder how long you spend in front of each painting.  I suppose it depends on the type of painting and whether it is part of a crowded special exhibition when you are jostled from one painting to the next by a crowded sea of viewers.  I suppose it also depends on your time management as if you are coming to the end of your allotted time you tend to jump from one picture to the next in a desperate attempt to not miss a single one, although in a way your hurried state probably means that the last few painting remain just a blur in your mind.   So why do I ask this question about time management and carefully appreciating the paintings before us?   The answer is that during a recent visit…

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The Florentine Farmacia

(by Susan Brunn Puett, B & J. David Puett, PhD)


Ricettario fiorentino di nuovo illustrato 1597 p72

Image of Copies of two pages from the 1597 edition of the Ricettario fiorentino di nuovo illustrato: Page 72 showing saffron (zafferano) as one of the included ingredients. From the Swiss electronic library of the ETH-Bibliothek Zurich.

The contemporary pharmacy conjures an image of a store replete with medicines, medical paraphernalia, and at least one professionally trained pharmacist to offer advice and fill medical prescriptions. Earlier European pharmacies (apothecaries), beginning in the Middle Ages and continuing through the Renaissance and post-Renaissance, were the primary venue for patients seeking medicinals and also for artists procuring pigments. Indeed, Florentine artists were initially organized into a sub-group within the Guild of Doctors, Apothecaries, and Grocers, established in 1293 and one of the seven major Guilds (Arti Maggiori), thus documenting the close interaction between apothecaries, medicine, and art.

The history of pharmacies is long, with every culture developing a pharmacopeia that used as ingredients one or more herbal plants, animal parts, and inorganic components in an attempt to cure specific and non-specific illnesses. In time this knowledge was shared with neighboring communities and in certain geographical areas became widely disseminated. Physicians and apothecaries in Renaissance Florence benefited either directly or indirectly from the input of many cultures, notably Rome, Greece, the Middle East, Egypt, and probably India. Beginning in the Middle Ages Florentine apothecaries could be found as stand-alone shops, in hospitals, and in monastic orders. One common practice was for apothecaries to pay a salary to physicians for seeing patients in their shops, with the resulting prescriptions being filled by the attending pharmacist (apothecary). In 1558 some 46 apothecaries were registered in Florence. This article focuses on the role of those Renaissance Florentine apothecaries that were mainly housed in monastic and independent shops, serving the dual purpose of dispensing not only medicinals, but pigments and materials for pigment preparation.

In the monastic setting, both nuns and friars in many of the orders were trained to prepare and dispense medicinals, mainly herbal, most of the plants being grown in gardens belonging to the mother church. An example of an apothecary that evolved to become an outlet for both medicinals and pigments was the speziera at the Dominican church and convent of Santa Maria Novella. Beginning in the fourteenth century as a small infirmary for the use of the friars living at Santa Maria Novella, the apothecary was later expanded to a spice and drug shop. Although it closed for about twenty years in the late sixteenth century, it reopened in 1612 under the direction of Fra’ Angiolo Marchissi. An herbal specialist was hired to prepare medicines for the friars and also for the greater Florentine community. In time artists began to frequent the apothecary in order to obtain pigments, particularly those difficult to prepare in their own studios.

Today the site of the original apothecary houses the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, selling soaps, perfumes, and lotions. One can visit the monastic herbal preparation rooms that contain apparati from the 1600s, including mortars and pestles, pharmaceutical jars, glass vessels, mixing bowls, ovens, and distillation equipment (Figure 2). Currently there is an experimental garden next to a small area originally used by the friars for cultivating their herbs, as was common practice. The former chapel and frescoed sacristy now serve as the central sales room and library, respectively, of the present day shop.

Another early entry into the field was Santa Caterina da Siena, a convent affiliated with the Dominican church, San Marco, and heavily influenced by the illustrious Dominican Prior, Savonarola. The Order was founded in 1496 and chartered in 1509. Originally the nuns began with a small apothecary in which medications were prepared and provided at little or no cost to the poor. As their reputation grew, they continued to expand into larger quarters and began to dispense not only medications but also pigments.

The apothecaries had at their disposal pharmacopeias and art-related treatises delineating recipes for medicinals and pigments, respectively. Artists in their individual workshops developed recipes for preparing pigments using organic, mainly plant-based, and inorganic materials, e.g. minerals, byproducts of glass making, and others. A major codification of those preparation techniques was published by the Tuscan painter, Cennino Cennini, near the end of the fourteenth century or the beginning of the fifteenth century. His treatise, Il Libro dell`Arte, is a valuable compendium that also contains discussions of artistic techniques. After purchasing pigments from apothecaries, artists prepared them with a medium to produce the consistency of paint desired. For both apothecary and artist, knowledge of the ingredients and of the parameters involved in timing and level of grinding were crucial.

As with pigments, a standardization of medicinal recipes and preparation techniques was necessary to ensure high quality and consistency. In Florence, the first official European pharmacopeia was published by the College of Physicians and the Guild of Apothecaries in 1499 (1498 in the calendar being used at the time). This volume, Ricettario fiorentino (commonly known as the Nuovo riceptario) was compiled by the Physician Master Hyeronimo, a project supported by the Dominican Prior Savonarola. This opus was revised over the years with a widely used version published in 1597, the Ricettario fiorentino di nuovo illustrato (see Figure 1 for frontispiece). Shortly after the publication of the original Ricettario fiorentino, the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova published another Ricettario in 1515, compiled by Hectorre di Lionello di Francesco Baldovinetti, in which numerous contemporary physicians contributed over 1,000 recipes for medicinal purposes. Also, recipes were included from Galen (second century AD), who had at his disposal numerous recipes from Greek and Roman sources, as well as several of the leading Islamic physicians, Avicenna, Rhazes, and Mesue.


distillation aparatus from farmacia di santa maria novella

Fig 2: A distillation apparatus located in the museum of Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy.

In many cases the same or similar techniques of preparation were used for both pigments and medicinals. For example, techniques included grinding (with a mortar and pestle), heating, sifting, straining, distillation, and others. With the exception of simple grinding and mixing, the more sophisticated methods were generally left to apothecaries who were much better prepared, equipped, and trained than artists and physicians in dealing with the myriad ingredients that composed many of the recipes.

In discussing the preparation of several pigments, Cennino often urged artists to seek the expertise that apothecaries provided. For example, when fabricating marine blue, Cennino advised using a druggist’s covered sieve for sifting the pounded lapis lazuli. The resulting powder was then added to a melted combination of pine rosin (obtained from a druggist), gum mastic, and new wax; the parameters, including amounts, technique, and timing, were exacting. The procedure involved straining, mixing, storage for three days interspersed with reworking, and finally adding warm lye to extract the blue, the timing of which determined the grade of blue. In this, the apothecary and the artist had cooperating roles. The apothecaries’ proficiency was also recommended by Cennino when preparing vermillion made by alchemy. According to Cennino the process was exceedingly tedious. “I advise you to get some of that [vermillion] which you need at the druggist for your money, so as not to lose time in the many variations of this procedure.”

As was true with the overlapping techniques, both disciplines also drew upon the same ingredients. One of the many ingredients often used in recipes for pigments as well as medicines was saffron (zafferano), Crocus sativus L. In the case of saffron for yellow pigment preparation, the instructions provided by Cennino were as follows:

You should put it on a linen cloth over a hot stone or brick. Then take half a goblet or glassful of good strong lye. Put the saffron in it; work it up on the slab. This makes a fine color for dyeing linen or cloth. It is good on Parchment…and if you want to make the most perfect grass color imaginable, take a little verdigris and some saffron; that is, of the three parts let one be saffron.

In addition to being used as pigments, the stigmas and petals of saffron have been used in many cultures for medicinal purposes and are present in multiple recipes for Renaissance herbal medicines. For example, in the Ricettario fiorentino, zafferano appears in a list of frequently used herbs (Figure 1 shows a page from the 1597 edition of the Ricettario fiorentino di nuovo illustrato). For medicinal purposes it was recommended for use both externally and internally for problems with the liver. Pains in the liver and spleen could be treated with a poultice (to be placed on the body) that contained saffron and twelve other ingredients. For the treatment of blockages, a syrup with saffron and seven other components were mixed with honey, making the concoction more palatable to drink. An early recipe for mithridatum was used by King Mithridates of Pontus, who also added ingredients in his attempt to concoct an antidote to poison. In later times it became known as theriac and was even given to plague victims in Florence, but only to those patients who could afford the high price. Various recipes were developed, but saffron was generally one of the constituents. It is of interest that recent investigations have documented the effectiveness of saffron in medical treatment of depression, cancer, and other disorders.

An inorganic ingredient used in both pigments and medicinals was lead white (biacca di piombo) [2PbCO3·Pb(OH)2]. Lead white was prepared in early times by the alchemists and later adapted by apothecaries. A widely used method was to allow contact between metallic lead and acetic acid vapors in the presence of carbon dioxide, followed by scraping and recovering the white crust that forms. In the Renaissance it was dispensed to artists by apothecaries in lumps or small cakes for later grinding. Again quoting from Cennino, “The more you grind this color, the more perfect it will be.” It was applied to panels and walls in tempura and used to lighten all colors.

For medicinal purposes lead white was a popular ingredient for treating pains in the womb. A wax poultice was made by heating together rose oil, white wax, and lead white. After cooling, the mixture was placed on the lower abdomen in the hopes of bringing relief.

From the above discussion it is clear that a close relationship developed between apothecaries, artists, and physicians in Renaissance Florence. Each group contributed to the others, with the apothecary sites serving as a focal point promoting synergy through the three disciplines.


Primary sources
Cennini, Cennino d`Andrea. The Craftsman`s Handbook “Il Libro dell` Arte”. Translated by Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1960. [Unabridged and unaltered republication of the Thompson translation originally published by Yale University Press, 1933. (The original publication by Cennini was sometime in the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century.)]
Hyeronimo, Master. Ricettario Fiorentino di Nuovo Illustrato. Florence: Il Collegio di Medici, 1597. [This is a later edition of the compendium first published in1498 (in the present calendar 1499)].

Secondary sources: books

Henderson, John. The Renaissance Hospital: Healing the Body and Healing the Soul. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.
Park, Katharine. Doctors and Medicine in Early Renaissance Florence. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985.
Siraisi, Nancy G. Medieval & Early Renaissance Medicine: An Introduction to Knowledge and Practice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.
Strocchia, Sharon T. Nuns and Nunneries in Renaissance Florence. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.

Secondary sources: articles

Abdullaev, F.I., and J.J. Espinosa-Aguirre. “Biomedical Properties of Saffron and Its Potential in Cancer Therapy and Chemoprevention Trials.” Cancer Detection and Prevention 28.6 (2004): 426-432.
Bhargava K, Vijaya. “Medicinal Uses and Pharmacological Properties of Crocus sativus Linn (Saffron).” International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 3.S3 (2011): 22-26.
Moshiri, Esmail, Afshin Akhondzadeh Basti, Ahamad-Ali Noorbala, Amir-Hossein Jamshidi, Seyed Hesameddin Abbasi, and Shahin Akhondzadeh . “Crocus sativus L. (Petal) in the Treatment of Mild-to-Moderate Depression: A Double-Blind, Randomized and Placebo-Control Trial.” Phytomedicine 13.9-10 (2006): 607-611.
Norton, Stata. “The Pharmacology of Mithridatum: A 2000-Year-Old Remedy.” Molecular Interventions 6.2 (2006): 60-66.
Schmidt, Mathias, Georges Betti, and Andreas Hensel. “Saffron in Phytotherapy: Pharmacology and Clinical Uses.” Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift 157.13-14 (2007): 315-319.
Strocchia, Sharon T. “The Nun Apothecaries of Renaissance Florence: Marketing Medicines in the Convent.” Renaissance Studies 25.5 (2011): 627-647.


Siraisi, Medieval, 18.

Park, Doctors, 29.

Strocchia, Nuns and Nunneries, 13.

Strocchia, “The Nun Apothecaries,” 630.

Cennini, Craftsman’s.

Henderson, Renaissance Hospital, 297-301.

Cennini, Craftsman’s, 37.

Ibid., 24.

Ibid., 29-30.

Henderson, Renaissance Hospital, 326.


Norton, “Pharmacology.”

Abdullaev and Espinosa-Aguirre, “Biomedical.”

Moshiri, Basti, Noorbala, Jamshidi, Abbasi, and Akhondzadeh, “Crocus.”

Schmidt, Betti, and Hensel, “Saffron.”

Bhargava, “Medicinal.”

Cennini, Craftsman’s, 34.

Henderson, Renaissance Hospital, 329.

The Histomap

4,000 Years of World History in One Epic Chart

First published in 1931, this ambitious “Histomap” by John B. Sparks attempts to distil four thousand years of world history starting in 2000 B.C. The histomap was first printed by Rand McNally. It sold for $1 and the five foot long map was folded into a green cover. According to Slate:

“The chart emphasizes domination, using color to show how the power of various “peoples” (a quasi-racial understanding of the nature of human groups, quite popular at the time) evolved throughout history. It’s unclear what the width of the colored streams is meant to indicate. In other words, if the Y axis of the chart clearly represents time, what does the X axis (marked as “relative power of contemporary states, nations, and empires”) represent? What’s the meaning of “power” to the mapmaker? And did Sparks see history as a zero-sum game, in which peoples and nations would vie for shares of finite resources? Given the timing of his enterprise—he made this chart between two world wars and at the beginning of a major depression—this might well have been his thinking.”


If you find the text in the chart below too small, click the image to see a higher resolution. You can also view a zoomable version at the David Rumsey Map Collection.

[via Slate]