JF Ptak Science Books Post 2102
Well, it's not really the Batman as culture currently knows the name, but Stephen Batman (d. 1584) whose published work heavily incorporating a Medieval natural history text was probably one read/consulted by Shakespeare. The earlier work was the beautifully-named book by Bartholomaeus Anglicus, All the Properytees of Thyings, which was published in Westminster in 1495 (and also known as De proprietatibus rerum, also translated as On the nature of things, or On the properties of things), which was originally written around 1225. The book was a bestiary, a marvelous encyclopedia, a collection of all things as known in the 13th century--it would be interesting to represent all that is know today and compact it into a workable, logical, usable (printed !) book of a thousand pages. The question of organization of knowledge would be the key, of course, and how to make one flow to another complimentarily as practicable...it would be an interesting project (for someone else) to try and arrange the basis of human knowledge in a finite space like that.
Batman produced his own version of the book incorporating the 400-year-old information with some of his own, and found the book a printer in 1572--Batman uppon Bartholome, His Booke De Proprietatibus Rerum; newly corrected, enlarged, & amended, with such Additions as are requisite, unto every severall Booke. Taken foorth of the most approved Authors, the like heretofore not translated in English. Profitable for all Estates, as well for the benefite of the Mind as the Bodie was a storehouse of knowledge, right and wrong.
I came upon the book today because one of its images is on the front cover of a book that I just unpacked. H.W. Seager, author of Natural History in Shakespeare's Time, being Extracts illustrative of he Subject as he knew it.... ("printed for Elliot Stock" of London in 1896) must've found the image compelling enough to reproduce it in gold leaf. Batman's image was of a crocodile, which now being told what it is probably looks more like itself than a dragon--Batman himself took issue with the current London practice of buying the skins, which he found to be a laughable thing ("we know not how to bestow our money"), establishing that people had too much money and not enough sense on what to do with it. In any event, I like the image.