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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Collection of medical, cosmetic, culinary and household recipes

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'> This manuscript contains a large collection of medical recipes, including ones for poultices, powders, decoctions, oils, waters, syrups, balms, plasters, ointments, and pills, interspersed by cosmetic and household recipes. Among the latter are recipes for conserving nuts and fruits, for making spiced wine ('Hippocras'), and for making ink and pigments.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The headers of the medical recipes often feature words that have been written in Greek letters. At first, Greek letters were routinely used in rubrics in this manuscript, including medical terms for diseases and treatments, and for innocuous culinary recipes such as making white or red jelly or how to preserve walnuts. However, in later sections they appear to have been especially applied to taboo words: e.g. "Winchester geese" (for venereal disease, f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(94);return false;'>48v</a>), "swelling in the testicles" and "swelling of the yard" (i.e. in the penis, f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(133);return false;'>68r</a>), and "neather partes" (f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(139);return false;'>71r</a>). </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>While the manuscript has been dated to the 15th century by the <i>Catalogue of the Manuscripts preserved in the Library of the University of Cambridge</i>, 5 vols (Cambridge, 1856-1867) and Margaret Connolly, <i>Manuscripts in the University Library, Cambridge (Dd-Oo)</i>, The Index of Middle English Prose, 17 (Cambridge: Brewer, 2009), references to sources such as <i>An antidotarie chyrurgicall containing great varietie and choice of all sorts of medicines that commonly fal into the chyrurgions use</i> (London: Orwin, 1589) by the anatomist and surgeon John Banister (1533-1610) (see ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(106);return false;'>54v-55r</a>) and <i>A right profitable booke for all disseases Called The pathway to health</i> (London: White, 1587) by the physician Peter Levens (fl. 1587) (see ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(43);return false;'>23r-24r</a>) indicate that the manuscript was produced at the end of the sixteenth century with possible additions from the beginning of the seventeenth century. This much later date is also suggested by the contents of the recipes. Among these is a previously unnoticed selection of medical recipes (see ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(131);return false;'>67r-68r</a>) that are attributed to King Henry VIII (r. 1509–1547) and his Royal physicians in <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>London, British Library, Sloane MS 1047</a> (c. 1540-c. 1545). </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Although the manuscript's compilers and intended users are unknown, the earliest owner of the manuscript appears to have been a 'John Troutbeck' who has signed his name in a 17th-century hand on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(108);return false;'>55v</a>. This may have been John Troutbeck (bap. 1612, d. 1683), a physician and chemist, who probably fought for Parliament during the civil wars, serving as a surgeon in Yorkshire (on Troutbeck's life, see Peter Elmer, 'Troutbeck, John (bap. 1612, d. 1684)', in the <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Oxford Dictionary of National Bibliography</a> (2016) [accessed 1 February 2023]). A clue for this identification may be a draft letter by the same John Troutbeck who has signed his name addressing a 'Captain John Daniell'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Moreover, it is possible that John Troubeck's father, Edmund Troutbeck (d. 1659) of Hope Hall, Bramham, Yorkshire, owned or accessed the manuscript as well. Edmund, who was known as a surgeon and physician in his lifetime, may have been responsible for signing various recipes in the manuscript with his initials 'E.T.', in order to indicate that he had used them: for example on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(13);return false;'>8r</a>, "tried ET" and "good ET".</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Clarck Drieshen<br /> Project Cataloguer<br /> Cambridge University Library</p>

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