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Albrant (sometimes called Albracht, Alebrant, Hildebrant, Hilbrant, Abram or Albertin) was a 13th century German writer who authored a treatise called Rossarzneibuch ("Horse Pharmacopeia". It contains a list of recipes to treat 36 horse diseases, and is one of the few texts in older German literature that have had a strong impact into modern times.
In the oldest manuscripts of his Rossarzneibuch, Albrant is described as a blacksmith and marshal to Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, in Naples; his existence cannot be verified in other documents. The word marshal originally meant "horse groom" (Old High German: marah = horse, schalc(h) = servant) and referred to the stable master or head of the horse stable; their tasks covered all areas of horse husbandry including medical care. Frederick II is considered a great supporter of equine medicine, as several hippologists worked in his circle including other Germans such as a certain Ackermann or Master Maurus. According to research assumptions, Albrant had basic knowledge and is said to have a connection to both the University of Naples, founded by Frederick II in 1224, and the high school of Salerno. Nothing is attested about his further life. It used to be assumed that the horse doctor of Pope Clement IV, whose horse medicine manuscript is contained in Codex 730 of the Einsiedeln Abbey Library, was also Master Albrant, but more recent research approaches contradict this connection.
Master Albrant's horse medicine book was most likely written in Middle High German in the second quarter of the 13th century and thus falls at the beginning of the so-called 'Stallmeister period' (in veterinary medicine, the period between the 13th century and the founding of the first veterinary teaching establishments in the 2nd half of the 18th century). This was initiated around 1250 with the publication of the handbook of horse science (known as De medicina equorum) by Jordanus Ruffus, the chief stable master of Frederick II. Other works created at this time include the veterinary writings of Albertus Magnus and the Marescalcia by Laurentius Rusius, the middle of the 14th century. worked as a veterinarian in Rome. Master Albrant's writing apparently remained uninfluenced by these sources. In comparison to his colleagues, he does not rely on ancient and Arabic models or magical processes, but rather shows empirical approaches and relies on his own observations and experiences. He also differs in his choice of language and target audience: his Rossarzneibuch is the first German-language equine medicine work and was aimed not at scholars, but at practitioners, such as probably knights, warriors, clerics and pilgrims. These aspects are, among other things, reasons for the great popularity of the work, in addition to its practicality, ease of use and ultimately also the great importance of the horse for mobility in the Middle Ages. It played an important role both in rural areas as a farm animal and on the farm for hunting, warfare or message transmission, which is why equine medicine understandably made up the largest part of early veterinary medicine.
The popularity of Master Albrant's Horse Pharmacopoeia is reflected in the extremely large number of traditions. There are currently 218 manuscripts, 8 incunabula and a large number of prints between the 16th and 18th centuries known. This wealth of tradition is particularly striking when compared to the most popular German-language poetry of the Middle Ages, Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, which has 86 manuscripts.
It is assumed that the Rossarzneibuch came from Naples via Friuli to Bohemia and from there spread to Silesia, Lusatia, the Prussian Teutonic Order and Hungary to the Bulgarian border. Aftermaths can be found as far away as the Pyrenees, Italy, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. The writing has been translated into several languages, including: into Latin, Czech, Polish, Russian and Low German. Although influences from Albrant can also be detected in northwest German horse recipes from the second half of the 15th century, it had the greatest impact in the southern and eastern parts of the German-speaking cultural area. The work remained like this until the 18th/19th century. Century the breviary of the Czech farriers. The oldest known manuscript of the Horse Pharmacopoeia is preserved in the Prague University Library and dates from the second half of the 13th century.
As it spread, the specialist prose work underwent a number of changes: recipes were edited, modernized, omitted or added. Horse medicine books from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries had often grown into thick volumes in which only a fraction belonged to the former core collection, which is why assigning a horse medicine book to the Albrant manuscripts is often problematic. In some cases, the character of the text was changed and not only instructions for treating illnesses were included, but also advice for manipulating and correcting defects in the horse, such as dyeing the fur to make a stolen animal unrecognizable. An example of such a heavily modified text is the Rossaventure, a text written in the 14th century in the Lake Constance area, which represents an interface between veterinary medicine and the Artes magicae ("magical arts"). This connection to horse-trading promoted its distribution, but reduced the reputation of the text.
- Gerhard Eis: Meister Albrants Roßarzneibuch: Verzeichnis der Handschriften. Text der ältesten Fassung. Literaturverzeichnis. Konstanz: Terra 1960.
- Gerhard Eis: Meister Albrants Roßarzneibuch im deutschen Osten. Mit einem Nachwort zur Neuauflage. Hildesheim [u. a.]: Olms 1985, ISBN 3-487-08141-5.
- Gerhard Eis: Mittelalterliche Fachliteratur. 2., durchges. Aufl. Stuttgart: Metzler 1967 (= Sammlung Metzler. Realienbücher für Germanisten Abt. D: Literaturgeschichte. M14.).
- Angela von den Driesch: Geschichte der Tiermedizin. 5000 Jahre Tierheilkunde. München: Callwey 1989, ISBN 3-7667-0934-8.
- Bernhard Dietrich Haage; Wolfgang Wegner: Deutsche Fachliteratur der Artes in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit. Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag 2007 (= Grundlagen der Germanistik. 43.), ISBN 978-3-503-09801-9.
- Oliver Pfefferkorn: Die Textsorte Rossarzneibuch in frühneuhochdeutschen Handschriften und Drucken. In: Frühneuhochdeutsch – Aufgaben und Probleme seiner linguistischen Beschreibung. Hrsg. von Anja Lobenstein-Reichmann und Oskar Reichmann. Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag 2011, S. 583–610 (Germanistische Linguistik 213–215), ISBN 978-3-487-14657-7.