Pietro Crescenzi (ca. 1233- ca. 1320), or Petrus de Crescentius, compiled botanical information from classical Roman authors such as Columella, Cato, and Varro (the so-called Scriptores Rei Rusticae) and presented it in a series of twelve books (subdivided into chapters). To give brief examples of his arrangement, Book 1 describes the environment and management of a farm, Book 9 explains animal husbandry and apiculture, and Book 12 is a calendar of precisely which jobs to perform in which season. Although his sources were classical, Crescenzi's text reflected contemporary practice. The popularity of his text helped to ensure the endurance of these practices into the eighteenth century.
Born in Bologna, Crescenzi worked as a judge in that city until his 1299 retirement to a country villa. Ruralia Commoda, which is often referred to by variant titles such as Opus Ruralium Commodorum, was the product of his experience as a landowner. He wrote it late in life; although scholarly opinion regarding the appearance of the first manuscript varies, the earliest date suggested is 1304, when he would have been about seventy years old. Crescenzi wrote in Latin, the universal scholarly language of the day, but his words were quickly translated into numerous European languages.
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Last updated September 2011.
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