Four Books on the Nature and Virtues of Plants and Animals for Medicinal Purposes in New Spain

Description

Francisco Hernández de Toledo (1514–87) was a court physician, who in 1570 was ordered by King Philip II of Spain to embark on a scientific mission to New Spain (as Mexico was then called) to study the medicinal plants of the New World. For seven years Hernández traveled throughout the country, collecting specimens and gathering information on how plants were used by indigenous physicians. He returned to Spain in 1577 with 16 volumes of notes and with numerous illustrations made by three indigenous painters who assisted him in his work. Hernández died in 1587 without seeing his work published. His editor, Recchi, also died, in 1595, without being able to finish the work. Quatro libros de la naturaleza y virtudes de las plantas y animales que estan receuidos en el uso de la medicina en la Nueva España (Four books on the nature and virtues of plants and animals for medicinal purposes in New Spain) is a Spanish translation of the original Latin of Hernández. It was made by Francisco Ximenez, a friar and nurse at the Convent of San Domingo de Mexico, and published in Mexico in 1615. Because none of the handwritten copies that Hernández left in Mexico survived, Ximenez used a copy of Recchi's summary for this edition. Ximenez added some personal observations and removed the illustrations. The translation and new observations as to pharmaceutical methods, doses, and preparations showed an advance in knowledge over the original findings of Hernández, but they were not part of the broader European scientific revolution, which generally bypassed the Spanish science of the day.

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Publication Information

Diego López Dávalos, Mexico

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Title in Original Language

Quatro libros de la naturaleza y virtudes de las plantas y animales que estan receuidos en el uso de la medicina en la Nueva España

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Physical Description

5 unnumbered page, 203 pages, 7 unnumbered pages

Last updated: November 9, 2011