murreyandblue

A great WordPress.com site

Archive for the tag “plants”

Myths about the murderous mandrake….

 

Mandrake – from Wikimedia

“….in the Mediterranean there grows a…murderous plant called the mandrake. Its roots can look bizarrely like a human body, and legend holds that it can even come in male and female form. It’s said to spring from the dripping fat and blood…of a hanged man. Dare pull it from the earth and it lets out a monstrous scream, bestowing agony and death to all those within earshot….”

Ew. But it is true that these beliefs—and many others, including that a dog had to be sacrificed in order to drag the plant from the ground!—were held of this plant, Mandragora officinarum. I have taken the above quote from this post

In ancient times, the mandrake root was used by the Greeks to produce an anaesthetic for surgery. This use was continued into the Middle Ages. The Greeks also used it as an aphrodisiac, calling it the ‘love-apple of the ancients’. It was, of course, associated with the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. The Bible relates that to the ancient Hebrews, it was used to induce conception.

courtesy of Michael Ramstead, Fine Art Print

At her trial of 1431, Joan of Arc was accused of carrying mandrake with her as a means of controlling the minds of others. And by the 16th century, in England, mandrake was still so much in demand for its various properties, that bryony roots were being crafted to appear like mandrake, and then sold as such.

To read more of this ‘dangerous’ plant, go here

And yet it looks so innocent!

Mandragora officinarum
Advertisements

Yet another target for the Cairo dwellers

de Noailles

Last autumn, we reblogged posts to illustrate that the denialists of the history world, quite apart from their antics with respect to Richard III, quoted an obviously non-existent part of a document about Edward II and cited a book on botany, with reference to John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, that he couldn’t have owned because it was clearly published after his death, mentioning Queen Victoria who acceded two years after Chatham’s death.

This next case concerns two of the Seymour brothers, of whom Thomas,

Sudeley

Somerset

Baron Sudeley, was Lord Admiral and Edward, Duke of Somerset, was Lord Protector to Edward VI – both being roles in which Richard had served before succeeding. Sudeley was beheaded for treason in 1549 during Somerset’s Protectorate before the Duke fell in early 1552. Hester Chapman, a 1950s biographer of Edward, quoted the French ambassador, Antoine de Noailles, that John Dudley, then Earl of Warwick but later Duke of Northumberland, had persuaded Somerset to execute his brother.

Edward VI

 

Northumberland

As Christine Hartweg explains, Skidmore, who wrote about the boy king more recently, made the same claim yet de Noailles did not arrive in England until May 1553, a matter of weeks before Edward’s death, as his papers, published in five parts, show and he did not write about previous events.

The Poison Garden….a list of plants to avoid….!

aconitum_napellus_bee_2_100706_2

http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/default.htm

While going through some of my very large list of Favourites from my days of Regency writing, I came upon a site that I think will be of interest to those devoted to the mediaeval period. And writers concerned with that period, because let’s face it, if we need to bump a character off, poison is a good way of doing it. Right?

But these plants were important to mediaeval society for all manner of reasons, and most of them on this site were around in England then. Some weren’t, of course, having been introduced later. So a comprehensive list of poisonous plants, most with pictures as well, is both interesting and useful. Especially as some of them as deceptively lovely. “Come and pick me,” the flowers whisper. “Come and eat me,” wheedle those scrumptiously treacherous berries. Over the centuries too many unfortunate souls have listened to these blandishments.

I discovered this site some years back, and as you will see, it’s still going strong. Well done to the owner!

http://wildflowerfinder.org.uk/ Another very useful site, especially for those who do not live in the UK. It’s all about the wild flowers to be found here. Shakespeare often refers to flowers, which is all very well for the British, but must be puzzling to those who live abroad. So here is a very comprehensive site, complete with lots of pictures.

We are all interested in the flowers that Richard would have known, too!

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: