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Medieval Medical Recipes : Johannes de Sancto Paulo, Liber virtutem medicinarum simplicium and other medical texts

Medieval Medical Recipes

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript is a composite medical volume comprised of several roughly coeval parts copied by different scribes. The volume contains several medical treatises popular in western Europe in the 12th-14th centuries including the text known as the <i>Compendium Salerni</i>, works by Johannes de Sancto Paulo and Matthaeus Platearius on the healing properties of simples (i.e., remedies prepared with a single primary healing ingredient), and a text attributed to Petrus Hispanus on conditions affecting the eyes. There are also lesser-known texts in the manuscript, such as a compilation of medicines ascribed in the rubric to 'Magister Pontius de Sancto Egido', and a wide variety of other shorter, anonymous texts and remedies or charms to treat such ailments as leprosy, sores, or constipation. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The composite parts were probably all copied in England during the 13th century (although dates in the late 12th century or the early 14th century are possible). The date when all of the composite parts were united is unknown, but the composite parts have coexisted in this form since at least the later part of the 15th century as the volume still retains its late-15th century binding, and there is a list of the contents of the volume on the <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(2);return false;'>front pastedown</a> in a late-15th century hand which refers to the medical treatises in the various disparate parts of the volume. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Although the medieval binding is not entirely intact as it has been rebacked in more recent times, the manuscript retains its original boards and decorated leather covers featuring various animals set in round frames among floral and geometric borders. On the back of the volume there is a medieval label known as a 'fenestra' (Latin for 'window'); fenestras were made from a strip of parchment with a title written in ink (in this case "Cure magistrii poncii"), protected by a layer of animal horn shaved thin enough to be transparent (the glazing in the window), and then held in place on a cover with small metal tacks hammered into the board. Complete medieval fenestras are relatively rare as they often had slightly rough or raised edges that would catch on things and tear away, leaving only the holes for the tacks behind as evidence of their former presence on a binding. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript contains evidence of its use by one of its former owners: notably, folios <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(217);return false;'>108r-195r</a> contain running headers (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(217);return false;'>108r-190r</a>) (now very faint) written by the hand of Roger Marchall (d. 1477), physician to Edward IV. Marchall's ownership or use of manuscripts is very well-attested, with forty-five books (including this one) bearing evidence to connect him to them in some way; six others may have been his or accessed by him, and a further twelve are recorded but not traced. The present manuscript is one of eighteen, possibly nineteen manuscripts at Gonville and Caius College that may be linked to Marchall, and which were probably given by him to Gonville Hall (as it then was). (King's and Peterhouse, where the study of medicine was also supported, received gifts of books from him, too). Since Marchall's hand is not to be found with certainty elsewhere in the book, and given that it is a composite, the question arises as to whether Marchall gave the book to Gonville Hall in the form in which we find it today. The section to which he added running headers was produced separately from the others, and its medieval foliation points to it having had a discrete existence prior to being bound with them (rather than, say, being made solely in order to be added to them, which would presumably have obviated the need to number the leaves). The label on the binding - which reads 'Cure magistri poncii - may have been supplied by Marchall, too, but brings us no closer to a definitive answer, since it refers only to one of the texts in the section where his hand is known. Linda Voigts has shown from other examples that Marchall is known to have assembled manuscripts from booklets and similar gatherings of quires, adding tables of contents to them in the process. That may be the case in this instance, too, and she has tentatively suggested that the rough list on the front pastedown may also have been by Marchall. Its cropping presumably occurred when the manuscript was rebacked; perhaps it had been damaged by the presence of a clasp (now lost), and the binders trimmed away the rough edges before readhering it to the board. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Thirteen manuscripts owned or used by Marchall (plus another that contains an inscription in a hand very similar to Marchall's) are being digitised, catalogued and conserved as part of the <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''><i>Curious Cures in Cambridge Libraries</i></a> project: <div>Gonville and Caius College, MS 59/153<br />Gonville and Caius College, MS 98/150<br />Gonville and Caius College, MS 105/57<br />Gonville and Caius College, MS 159/209<br />Gonville and Caius College, MS 178/211<br />Gonville and Caius College, MS 181/214<br />Gonville and Caius College, MS 345/260<br />Gonville and Caius College, MS 373/593<br />Gonville and Caius College, MS 379/599<br />Gonville and Caius College, MS 401/623<br />Peterhouse, MS 95<br />Peterhouse, MS 222<br /><a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Trinity College, MS O.8.31</a><br />Cambridge, University Library, MS Add. 9213 (possibly linked to Marchall)<br /></div><br /><div style='list-style-type: disc;'><div style='display: list-item; margin-left: 20px;'>L. Voigts, 'A doctor and his books: the manuscripts of Roger Marchall (d. 1477)', in R. Beadle and A. J. Piper (eds.), <i>New science out of old books: studies in manuscripts and early printed books in honour of A.I. Doyle</i> (Aldershot, 1995) pp. 249-314</div></div><br /></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Sarah Gilbert<br /> Project Cataloguer, Curious Cures in Cambridge Libraries<br /> Cambridge University Library</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr James Freeman<br /> Medieval Manuscripts Specialist<br /> Cambridge University Library</p>

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