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Marie Addyman

Abstract

William Turner (c.1508-1568) was the first English natural historian to provide records of plants, birds, fishes, and mineral spas. His field experience modified his understanding of the received master texts; but at the same time it could sometimes be restricted or confused by both the need to match up to a classical model and by the available conceptual framework. This chapter addresses three aspects implicit in his field observations: the concept of “learned empiricism” current in his time; the material constraints which determined where and how he could undertake field work, exemplified by the four years he spent as court physician in East Friesland; and the descriptive vocabulary he had available.