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Medieval Medical Recipes : Medical texts

Medieval Medical Recipes

<p style='text-align: justify;'>John Arderne, <i>Liber receptorum medicinalium</i>, and miscellaneous medical texts (15th century) preceded by a libellus containing anatomical images and texts (c. 1200) </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>A colophon tells us that the bulk of this manuscript — two popular texts by the English surgeon John Arderne (1307-92) known as the <i>Liber receptorum medicinalium</i> (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(15);return false;'>7r-43v</a>) and the <i>Practica</i> of <i>fistula in ano</i> (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(101);return false;'>50r-90v</a>) — was copied in the mid-fifteenth century at the Premonstratensian Abbey of Hagnaby in Lincolnshire. John Welles, scribe, writes that he finished copying the first Arderne treatise (which he calls the <i>Experimenta</i> [experiments]) in 1440, and additional medical texts, recipes and charms in Latin, Dutch and English were added, including a treatise on bloodletting by Ricardus Anglicus (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(185);return false;'>92r-96v</a>) and an incomplete commentary on Constantinus Africanus’s <i>Viaticum</i> (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(209);return false;'>102r-109v</a>). The Arderne texts were especially common in fifteenth-century English medical compendia, providing advice and recipes for treating common ailments. The fistula in ano treatise focuses on how to eliminate painful anal fistula and is well-known today for the illustrations that Arderne himself devised to accompany his writings. The manuscript also notably includes a discrete parchment libellus (a small booklet) of three bifolia containing anatomical images that dates to c. 1200 (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(3);return false;'>1r-6v</a>). </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>While the Arderne and other texts reveal the usefulness of such practical medical writings to the fifteenth-century canons of Hagnaby, the origin and inclusion of the anatomical libellus present a greater mystery. The nine full-page images are among the earliest anatomical figures in Western Europe, representations of Galen’s nine systems of the body (veins, arteries, bones, nerves, muscles, male reproductive system, stomach and abdominal organs, female reproductive system and brain and ocular system). Each system is drawn on its own folio with relevant descriptive pseudo-Galenic text and captions surrounding or within the diagrams themselves. This is the second appearance of the first five diagrams—known as the Five-Figure Series—featuring squatting human figures upon which the veins, arteries, bones, nerves and muscles are patterned (the earliest instance is in <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Munich, Bayerische Staatabibliothek, Clm 13002</a> [c. 1165]). It is the first time the second four diagrams, which feature up-close, abstracted representations of organs, appear. This libellus was likely the exemplar for <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Ashmole 399</a>, which also contains all nine images. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Hagnaby Abbey did not exist when the libellus was created, and so the place of its creation remains unknown. But either the canons at Hagnaby or a subsequent owner combined the anatomical libellus with the Arderne and other medical writings, sewing them together into a leather wallet to create a kind of encyclopaedia of medical knowledge. The manuscript eventually found its way into the hands of William Moore, a fellow of Gonville and Caius College between 1615-47 and collector of medical and astrological manuscripts, who donated his collection to the college.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Taylor McCall <br /> Managing Editor, <i>Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies</i><br />The Medieval Academy of America</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Peter Murray Jones provides a full collation and description of the contents in 'Experimenta: compilation and construction in two medieval books', <i><i>Poetica: An International Journal of Linguistic-Literary Studies</i></i> 91&92 (2019): 61-80, on pp. 76-77 (Appendix). </p>

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