Early modern era
The 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries were the great age of herbals, many of them available for the first time in English and other languages rather than Latin or Greek. The first herbal to be published in English was the anonymous Grete Herball of 1526. The two best-known herbals in English were The Herball or General History of Plants (1597) by John Gerard and The English Physician Enlarged (1653) by Nicholas Culpeper. GerardТs text was basically a pirated translation of a book by the Belgian herbalist Dodoens and his illustrations came from a German botanical work. The original edition contained many errors due to faulty matching of the two parts. CulpepperТs blend of traditional medicine with astrology, magic, and folklore was ridiculed by the physicians of his day, yet his book - like GerardТs and other herbals - enjoyed phenomenal popularity. The Age of Exploration and the Columbian Exchange introduced new medicinal plants to Europe. The Badianus Manuscript was an illustrated Aztec herbal translated into Latin in the 16th century. The second millennium, however, also saw the beginning of a slow erosion of the pre-eminent position held by plants as sources of therapeutic effects. This began with the Black Death, which the then dominant Four Element medical system proved powerless to stop. A century later, Paracelsus introduced the use of active chemical drugs (like arsenic, copper sulfate, iron, mercury, and sulfur). These were accepted even though they had toxic effects because of the urgent need to treat Syphilis. John Gerard aka John Gerarde (1545 Ц 1611 | 1612) was a botanist and herbalist. He maintained a large herbal garden in London. His chief notability is as the author of a big Ц 1480 pages Ц and heavily illustrated Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes. First published in 1597, it was the most widely circulated botany book in English in the 17th entury. Except for the additions of a number of plants from his own garden and from North America, Gerard's Herbal is largely an English translation of Rembert Dodoens Herbal of 1554, itself also highly popular (in Dutch, Latin, French and other English translation). Gerard's Herball is profusely illustrated with high-quality drawings of plants, with the printer's woodcuts for the drawings largely coming from Dodoens' book and from other Continental European sources. A couple of decades after Gerard's death, his Herbal was corrected and expanded (to about 1700 pages), which strengthened the book's position in the 17th century. The botantical genus Gerardia is named in his honor. Nicholas Culpeper (18 October 1616 Ц 10 January 1654) was an English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer. His published books include The English Physician (1652) and the Complete Herbal (1653), which contain a rich store of pharmaceutical and herbal knowledge, and Astrological Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick (1655), which is one of the most detailed documents we have on the practice of medical astrology in Early Modern Europe. Culpeper spent the greater part of his life in the English outdoors cataloging hundreds of medicinal herbs. He criticized what he considered the unnatural methods of his contemporaries, writing: "This not being pleasing, and less profitable to me, I consulted with my two brothers, DR. REASON and DR. EXPERIENCE, and took a voyage to visit my mother NATURE, by whose advice, together with the help of Dr. DILIGENCE, I at last obtained my desire; and, being warned by MR. HONESTY, a stranger in our days, to publish it to the world, I have done it." Culpeper came from a long line of notable people including Thomas Culpeper, the lover of Catherine Howard (also a distant relative) who was sentenced to death by Catherine's husband, King Henry VIII.