The Poison Chronicles: Bryony – Deadly Margins

I’ve written a blog post on White Bryony for the Manchester Museum Herbarium.

Herbology Manchester

Guest Post by Laura Cooper

WP_20170307_08_08_25_Pro Margin Illustrations from The Hours of Jeanne de Navarre. Image Source.

The Hours of Jeanne de Navarre is one of the most famous and beautiful illuminated manuscripts. It is a collection of prayers and psalms for each of the hours of the medieval religious day made for the personal use of the Queen of Navarre somewhere between 1328-1343. The book is lavishly and elegantly decorated with images of saints and angels framed by a naturalistic border. This curling foliage has been referred to as ivy, but was identified by Christopher de Hamel actually white bryony, Bryonia dioica.

Bryony is a notoriously poisonous plant, so the scenes the illuminator painted are far from idyllic. As de Hamel writes in his book Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts,“The world in the medieval margins is not a comfortable place, any more than the gilded life of Jeanne de…

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Author: Laura Cooper

I'm a gap-year student living in the UK, and I have a principle interest in the life sciences and here will be exploring these sciences with a historical, sociological and philosophical perspective. I want to know more about the social and philosophical underpinnings of scientific concepts and to explore their etiology, adoption and development in a holistic manner. Having a good knowledge of these fundamental principles behind scientific ideas is important for scientists to see scientific ideas as malleable things that can be questioned if inadequate, as well as for the non-scientist to appreciate science as a humanistic enterprise which is shaped by our basic human interests.

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