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A Dip into the Medieval World: Rosemary

Rinse with rosemary to grow hair the length of Rapunzels'

Many people’s lives were not documented in the medieval ages; however, herbs and plants are a pathway to understand what their daily lives may have been like.

Rosemary is my all time favorite herb. It wasn’t until my 20’s that I became aware of it, its shape, texture, and even its name. This would be unlikely in the medieval world. Plants and herbs such as rosemary were used consistently for medicine, decoration, clothing, etc.

If you were a bride, it was likely that you would wear a crown made of rosemary on your wedding day.

I wonder how many womens’ memories were laced with the scent of rosemary when they remembered their wedding days? Based on the state of their relationship, would it bring a smile onto their face or cause their stomach to churn if they came across the scent, perhaps during a walk in the forest to gather wood for the hearth?

Rosemary’s understood uses throughout the medieval period included cleaning teeth, causing firm and strong feet, blister prevention, nightmare prevention, a good sauce (that’s a no-brainer), improving the earth of one’s vineyard, a snake and scorpion repellent, and protecting your books from being eaten by worms.

I have yet to experience having a book of mine eaten by worms, but I might place a rosemary sprig inside one just for decorative purposes.

The above uses were written about by a merchant named Zibaldone da Canal. Due to his choice of listing some specific uses of rosemary, we can hypothesize about what his life may have been like. Did he sell books, and if so, were they often destroyed by worms? Perhaps he had been bitten by a scorpion and the experience had been so terrifying that scorpions turned his dreams into nightmares, hence why he kept a sprig under his pillow. I can imagine him swishing his feet in a stream, and then applying a rosemary balm before continuing on the path with his wagon filled with goods to be sold. Zibaldone may have met someone, perhaps that’s why rosemary’s ability to clean teeth is toward the top of his list.

Anyways, I will not be fighting off scorpions anytime soon, but one of my favorite ways to consume rosemary is to add a few drops of essential oil into olive oil used for homemade pizza.

Can you think of a story about why Zibaldone may have had to use rosemary?

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