Medieval Herbalist and Murder Detective–Beth Trissel

A unique program I’ve enjoyed on British television called, Cadfael, (I rented episodes from Netflix until I bought the series from Amazon) is based on the books by Ellis Peters. The thing I like most about this production is that Cadfael, an exceptional monk, is an expert herbalist. He’s often in his herb garden and the rustic chamber where he dries roots and bunches of herbs, grinds them up with a mortar and pestle, and brews his potions and lotions. He also solves murders, very unusual for a monk, but Cadfael wasn’t always in the monastery. He was a soldier in the Crusades who killed a lot of men and is atoning for his sins by being a healer and bringing about justice in Medieval England. This gifted sleuth uses his knowledge of herbs and plants to help him solve murders. In one episode, entitled Monkshood, guess what poisons the victim?  Oh, go ahead and take a shot at it.

monkshood or aconiteAbout the Monkshood episode:
‘Richildis, widowed, remarries because of the promise that her son will become heir to her proposed husband’s estate. But a fight between stepfather and stepson results in the revoking of his promise, and a contract made with the monastery that they will receive the estate in exchange for lifetime care of the husband and wife. That would seem to settle the matter, but the formal contract signing is delayed when the abbot is called away. And then permanently halted when the husband is poisoned with monkshood of Cadfael’s own manufacture.

Impelled by pride to look into the poisoning, Cadfael is shocked to realize that Richildis is one of the women from his own past.’

For more on our herbalist/detective monk:…characters.htm

herbs_aconite***Also about monkshood from a highly informative site: The Natural World
The author reminds us of the deadly nature of the plant saying,” You don’t have to take in the poison by mouth, it can be absorbed through the skin. Be it the stem, the sap, the petals or the roots, this plant is a killer if not given all due care and respect. Many people through the ages have been killed either accidentally or even on purpose by this plant…the assassins plant of choice!” And goes on to add, “I just hope that the Police forensic department and indeed medical profession know that (as far as my research has uncovered ) aconite poisoning leaves no trace in the blood and the victim resembles one who has died of asphyxia. This is one of the main reasons why Monkshood is the perfect murder weapon.”

11 responses to “Medieval Herbalist and Murder Detective–Beth Trissel

  1. I love Brother Cadfael! And I find herbology fascinating.

    (For some reason, WordPress will let me like as myself but won’t let me comment as myself. Bah.)

    ~ Judy 🙂


  2. I love this series as well, Beth.


  3. oohhhhh, I feel another book idea coming on. ☺ You are so knowledgeable, Beth, and I love your herbal information. By the way, my daughter loves Brother Cadfael, also. Great post.


  4. I have never heard of this series. Sounds so interesting. Also never heard of monkshood before. Wow something that is so pretty is that deadly.
    Sue B


  5. I stumbled on the Cadfael novels some years ago, but somehow managed to miss the Mystery! series until a few weeks ago. Both are wonderful, Beth, and I love them, too.


  6. Pingback: Wednesday Wellness: Springtime DIY |

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