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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Johannes de Sancto Paulo, Practica; and a Herbal

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The medical school of Salerno, near Naples in Italy, features prominently in this small but bulky 15th century manuscript. It consists of two popular medical texts. The first is by Johannes de Sancto Paulo (John of Saint Paul, d. c. 1215), known variosly as <i>Practica</i> or <i>Summary on the symptoms of illnesses</i> (<i>Breviarium de signis morborum</i>) describes symptoms of illnesses. The text is found in multiple manuscripts spread over europe, from Spain to Scotland. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This is followed by a <i>Herbal</i>, (also known as <i>Book of Simple Medicines</i>) that is attributed to Mattheus Platearius (d. 1161). In order to facilitate searching, the entries are arranged in alphabetical sections, each starting with a list of contents for the section. After the preface, the author begins with Aloe and (De Aloe, f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(253);return false;'>124r</a>) and its uses. He ends in entries on the sweetness of Sugar (De Zucharo) and the usefulness of Zedoary (De Zeduarum) (f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(480);return false;'>237v-238r</a>) as an antidote to poisonous reptile bites. Over 240 surviving manuscripts testify the importance to medieval pharmacology of this text, which also circulated in a French translation. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Tuija Ainonen<br /> Project Cataloguer<br /> Cambridge University Library</p>

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