From the Star:
The anthology, dedicated to female readers, is known today as Biblioteca Nazionale. Written in Middle English, it predates by centuries many modern women's magazines such as Chatelaine, Cosmopolitan and Redbook. But just like modern women's magazines, it offers advice aplenty – everything from ways to ease childbirth to how to lure a rabbit out of its warren.
The document, which is part of a collection in the Naples Library, was likely one of a number of books that were produced in the latter half of the Middle Ages as paper replaced parchment, says medieval specialist Dr. James Weldon, soon to be chair of the English and film studies department at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Weldon stumbled upon it while doing research on Lybeaus Desconus – one of the romance tales in the anthology. "It really is a valuable manuscript," said Weldon. And it reveals a lot about women in the Middle Ages.
In total, there are 140 recipes or prescriptions in the anthology; most are medicinal but some are of a more domestic nature, giving instructions on how to make sealing wax, quince preserve and a broth thickener. The recipes all incorporate elements that were considered appropriate for women's activities, Weldon said.