Konrad of Megenberg, Das Buch der Natur (Book of Nature)

The first natural history in the German language is the "Buch der Natur" ("Book of Nature") by Konrad von Megenberg (1309-1374), cathedral canon and parish priest of St. Ulrich in Ratisbon who hailed from today's Mäbenberg. Conceived in the form of an encyclopaedia in eight volumes, it comprehends the knowledge about natural history of the late Middle Ages. Its main source is the "Liber de natura rerum" (1240) of the Dominican Thomas of Cantimpré. The "Buch der Natur" ("Book of Nature") provides information on the nature of human beings, on planets and elements, fauna, flora, mineralogy, but also about miraculous fountains and humans. In his thoughts, Konrad stands between the allegorical contemplation of nature and modern ideas of natural science.

It is the aim of the book to gain divine knowledge, even though the issues described acquire their own importance rather than to be bearers of a spiritual sense. When labelling the objects, Konrad used Thuringian, East Frankish and Bavarian terms, which increased the general comprehensibility of the text.

The parchment codex Cgm 38 was probably created during the lifetime of the author. The text was written down by two scribes and the manuscript furnished with red and blue initials with rich fleuronnée décor at the beginning of the chapters. Patron was likely the knight Stefan von Preckendorf.

To the digitised copy