The Random Herbalist: Charlemagne, St. Gall, and the History of Medicine

The history of medicine, a fascinating subject, shows how people began to understand more and more about the corporeal body. Herbs played a big role in the evolution of this understanding, and medieval monasteries encapsulated this knowledge: The curriculum of these cathedral schools embraced originally the Trivium, (arithmetic, grammar, music), and the Quadrivium (dialectics, rhetoric,…

The Random Herbalist: The Hortus Eremitje

Charlemagne had a shovel in every monastic garden, or so it seems:* As early as the days of Charles the Great (Charlemagne) the cloister owned outside property, and just as at Canterbury we must conclude that the plan of St. Gall meant the orchards and vineyards to be outside. The whole time of Charles the…

At the Tables of the Monks: Charlemagne Loved Cheese (Part IV)

A possibly apocryphal story, told  in many places --- print and Internet --- reads something like this: After a long day of traveling, the emperor Charlemagne stopped at a bishop's residence to rest, conveniently at dinnertime. In a ninth-century biography of Charlemagne, written by an erudite monk at St. Gall monastery in Switzerland, the author…