Johannes de Cuba, Ortus sanitatis

(Strassburg: [Johann Pruss], c.1497 and c.1500)

The Ortus sanitatis is an important early herbal.  There is some debate about the identity of the author but it seems most likely that it was the town-physician of Frankfurt, Dr. Johann Wonnecke von Caub (also known as de Cuba).  The work contains many pictures of plants, animals, birds, fishes, mer-people and stones. When it was published, people believed that animals and plants were on earth to provide cures for diseases, hence the title Hortus sanitatis, ‘The garden of health’. The illustrations, although rather rudimentary, are reasonably faithful to reality and were re-used many times in other works.  One is an alternative to the College’s emblem of a centaur, this time reversed - a man with the head of ass.