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Book/Printed Material Buch der Natur.

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About this Item


  • Buch der Natur.


  • Das Buch der Natur (Book of nature) is a Medieval Latin compendium of science that was edited and translated into German in the 14th century by Konrad von Megenberg, a German scholar and writer who was probably born at Mainberg (Megenberg), near Schweinfurt, Bavaria, in 1309, and died at Ratisbon (Regensburg) in 1374. He studied at Erfurt and then at the University of Paris, where he taught philosophy and theology from 1334 to 1342. In 1342 he moved to Ratisbon, where he was a parish priest and a preacher. Later he became a cathedral canon, and member of the town council. He wrote at least 30 books, of which Das Buch der Natur is the best known. The book is based on a Latin compendium, Liber de natura rerum, by the 13th-century Dominican priest Thomas of Cantimpré, but Konrad made many revisions to the original work, omitting much material and introducing his own observations and corrections. The result is a survey of all that was known of natural history at that time. The book is in eight parts: (1) On mankind, anatomy, and physiology (50 chapters); (2) Heaven and the seven planets, astronomy, and meteorology (33 chapters); (3) Zoology (69 quadrupeds, 72 birds, 20 sea monsters, 29 fish, 37 snakes, lizards, and reptiles, and 31 worms); (4) Ordinary trees (55 chapters), aromatic trees (29 chapters); (5) Herbs and vegetables (89 chapters); (6) Precious and semiprecious stones (86 chapters); (7) Ten kinds of metals; and (8) Streams and waters. Also included is a section on the monstrous human races found in the east. The choice and arrangement of subjects is typical of many medieval encyclopedias. The book was widely read until the 16th century and exists in numerous manuscript copies. It was first printed in Augsburg in 1475. Presented here is a slightly later edition from Augsburg, printed in 1481. World Digital Library.
  • Illustrated with 12 full-page woodcuts, expertly colored in contemporary hand. The first woodcut shows Christ with a chemist and doctor, rendered in contour lines with a suggestion of architectural background. The second is a stunning depiction of Earth and the seven spheres which separate it from the Heavens. The following eight woodcuts depict various forms of animal, fauna and insects followed by an expertly rendered full-page woodcut portrait of a bishop in full regalia. And lastly, a woodcut depicts several grotesque and morphed human figures, echoing the apocryphal images of Mandeville's travels. Each chapter begins with a large decorative woodcut initial and the rest of the text has a three line initial letters in outline.


  • Konrad, von Megenberg, 1309-1374.
  • Thomas, de Cantimpré, approximately 1200-approximately 1270.
  • Bämler, Johann, approximately 1430-1503, printer.
  • Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection (Library of Congress)

Created / Published

  • Augsburg, Johann Bämler, 20 Aug. (Montag vor S. Bartholomaeus) 1481.


  • -  Germany--Augsburg


  • Incunabula--Germany--Augsburg--1481


  • -  A free translation and adaptation of Thomas de Cantimpré's De natura rerum. Cf. G. Ehrismann's Geschichte der deutschen Literatur bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters, 2. T., Schlussband (München, 1935), p. 646.
  • -  LC copy: illus. and large initials colored; ms. foliation; ms. index of 8 leaves bound in. Contemporary stamped brown calf over boards, metal bosses and clasp (broken).
  • -  Printed in black and red.
  • -  Catalogue of books printed in the XVth century now in the British Museum, II, p. 336 (IB.5704)
  • -  Copinger, W.A. Supplement to Hain's Repertorium bibliographicum, 4043
  • -  Goff, F.R. Incunabula in American libraries, C-844
  • -  Library of Congress. Lessing J. Rosenwald collection, 80
  • -  Also available in digital form on the Library of Congress Web site.


  • [194] leaves ([1], [2], and [194] blank, the first and last wanting). woodcuts: illus. 31 cm. (fol.)

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Incun. 1481 .K6

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 48035378

Online Format

  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Konrad, Von Megenberg, De Cantimpré Thomas, Johann Bämler, and Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection. Buch der Natur. Augsburg, Johann Bämler, 20 Aug. Montag vor S. Bartholomaeus, 1481. Pdf.

APA citation style:

Konrad, V. M., Thomas, D. C., Bämler, J. & Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection. (1481) Buch der Natur. Augsburg, Johann Bämler, 20 Aug. Montag vor S. Bartholomaeus. [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Konrad, Von Megenberg, et al. Buch der Natur. Augsburg, Johann Bämler, 20 Aug. Montag vor S. Bartholomaeus, 1481. Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.