by Rembert Dodoens (1517-1585)

Rembert Dodoens is the first Belgianbotanist of world-wide renown. He was born in Malines in 1517 and was acontemporary of Plantin. Dodoens studied medicine at Louvain and latervisited the universities and medical schools of France, Italy, and Germany,eventually becoming a physician. His success as a doctor granted him considerableinfluence in England. In 1574, he accepted an invitation from the EmperorMaximilian II to be court physician at Vienna. Dodoens then remained physicianwith the new Emperor, Rudolph II, on the death of Maximilian. Finally in1582, he received a Chair of Medicine at Leyden University, where he thendied in 1585.

Dodoens' interest in the medicalaspect of botany lead him to write several botanical works. Cruydeboeck,an herbal in Flemish, was published in 1554 by Jan van der Loe of Antwerp,and was illustrated by 715 woodcuts of plants. Many of the illustrationswere copies from those in the the octavo edition of Fuch's herbal. Thetext of Dodoens' herbal is not a translation of Fuchs, as many assume.Instead, Dodoens used Fuchs as his model for the description of each plant.The method of arrangement is his own. He indicates the localities and timesof flowering in the Low Countries, information that could not have beenderived from an earlier writer.

As the first edition was produced,a French issue simultaneously appeared under the title Histoire desPlantes. The translation was carried out by Charles de l'Ecluse. Dodoensmade additions to the work as he supervised the production of the book.His work eventually became known in England through Lyte's translation.

Images from Cruydeboeck

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