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Clare College : Medical Treatises

Clare College

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This composite manuscript is comprised of four parts, each originally belonging to separate medieval books, but which were all bound together by the time the manuscript was given to Clare College. The manuscript was given at an unknown date by John Heaver (d. 1670) who had been a student at the College and in later life was a Fellow of Eton College and a Canon of St George's Chapel, Windsor. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Part 1 of this manuscript is comprised of eight leaves now bound apart with four leaves at the beginning of the volume (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>1-4</a>) and four leaves at the end (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(441);return false;'>230-232, 234</a>); the leaves contain part of a poem in medieval French about the death of Thomas Becket (Thomas Becket copied in the 13th century. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> Part 2 is the oldest and largest part of the composite. Part 2 contains a selection of popular medical texts in Latin and was probably copied in Italy in the late 12th or early 13th centuries. The start of each major text in this section is accompanied by a beautiful decorative initial, see e.g., ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(125);return false;'>63r</a> and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(208);return false;'>104v</a> and there are also pen-flourished initials and small marginal creatures and grotesques in several places, see, e.g., f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(202);return false;'>101v</a> for a combination of these motifs. The final few leaves of Part 2 (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(248);return false;'>125v-130v</a>) contain a group of medical and culinary recipes in Latin. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Part 3, like Part 2, is medical, but it contains a single text, Book 2 of <i>De dietis uniuersalibus et particularibus</i> by Isaac Iudaeus, now misbound with the final three quires in this part presented out of order. Part 3 was probably made in England in the 13th century. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Part 4, as with Parts 2 and 3 contains medical material in Latin, and includes popular medical treatises such as the <i>Antidotarium nicholai</i>, the <i>curis mulierum</i> attributed to 'Trota', and Hippocrates' <i>De regimine acutorum</i>. Part 4 was probably made in England in the second half of the 13th century. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>It is not known when all four parts of the composite were joined together, although they were certainly in that form by the time of John Heaver's donation, as his partially erased donation inscription is present on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>1r</a>. While the Thomas Becket poem is rather plainly executed, all of the other parts exhibit a relatively high degree of decoration for the genre and the decorative initals in Part 2 are particularly fine, so it seems that this composite was assembled by someone with an eye for aesthetic choices as well as an interest in medicine. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Sarah Gilbert<br /> Project Cataloguer, Curious Cures Project<br /> Cambridge University Library</p>

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