Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal | Cincinnati History Library and Archives

Hauck Botanical Exhibit

Pietro de Crescenzi , ca. 1233-ca.1320

Ruralium Commodorum.
Augustensem [Augsburg]: Iohanne Schussler impressi, 1471.

First Page of Text in the Ruralium Commodorum
First Page of Text

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The earliest book in the Hauck Botanical collection, Ruralium Commodorum, is the first printed work on agriculture and “considered to be the best medieval treatise” (Howlett 1968) on the subject. There are twelve parts covering agriculture, the nature of plants and the fertility of the soil; the products of the fields, their use and culture; the grape-vine; gardens and plants; meadows and woods; and cattle breeding and husbandry.

"The best medieval treatise"

Crescenzi, a Bologna citizen, studied medicine and law at the University of Bologna and later held political and judicial positions in northern Italy. After he retired in 1299, he wrote Ruralium Commodorum, which was completed in 1306 but not published until 1471.

Crescenzi, knowledgeable in the subjects of agriculture and botany, incorporated into his text the agricultural perspectives of the Romans, the botanical perspective of Albert the Great, and the practical perspectives of Italian farmers. Published in Krakow in 1549 and 1571, the book was popular in Poland as a textbook on Italian gardening (Greene 1983, 450).


Greene, Edward Lee. Landmarks of Botanical History, Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1983.
Howlett, Freeman S. “History of Horticulture: Horticulture & Crop Science in Virtual Perspective.” Columbus: Ohio State University, 1968. Course outline on Internet available from; accessed December 21, 2006.

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