The Mirror of Health: Food, Diet and Medical Theory 1450-1650
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These slender booklets from Historical Management Associates are the work of an organization dedicated to historical re-enactment in the UK. They are written with a stickler’s attention to historical precision and a conviction that nothing is too arcane to investigate. Some of the books are simple transcriptions of period manuscripts; others represent significant original research, as in Cattle Farming and Grazing Management, which is 52 pages long but cites 36 sources, many of them published in the 17th century.
From the introduction:
“Dietaries and regimens as they were known, and collections of remedies, were among the most popular non-fiction books of the 16th and early 17th centuries. Many of them cost no more than 6d, some as little as 2d or 3d, and went through sixteen and seventeen editions in a century… I have sought to set out these dietary theories together with the recommendations made from them as to what one should and should not eat, and discussions of the various benefits or otherwise of different foodstuffs. I have also looked at other advice concerning health contained in the dietaries such as exercise and sleep.”