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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Constantinus Africanus, al-Khwarizmi, Hermannus Contractus, and other texts

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript is a composite item and consists of several parts: one two-leaf fragment, and three parts consisting of one or more quires deriving from separate original manuscript sources. There is evidence to suggest that all of the parts have been together since the later Middle Ages. First, a medieval collator added alphanumeric leaf signatures in red ink in a sequence that crosses the composite parts of the manuscript. Secondly, one of the artists who worked on Part 2 added flourished initials to the empty spaces left for initials in Part 4, see e.g., f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(136);return false;'>63v</a> (in Part 2) and f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(252);return false;'>122v</a> (in Part 4). There is also evidence that quires have been lost from the volume since the composite parts were united. The current Quire 14 contains the first half of al-Khwarazmi's <i>Arithmetic</i> in Latin, and catchwords on the last verso of that quire f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(230);return false;'>111v</a> suggest that the text once continued onto a subsequent quire, now lost. Separately, the current Quire 15 ends part of the way through Chapter 10 of Hermannus Contractus' <i>De utilitatibus astrolabii</i>, and the opening of Quire 16 begins part of the way through Chapter 19 of that text, which suggests that there was once an intervening quire with the remainder of Chapter 10, through to the beginning of Chapter 19 of that text. Both quires, however, must have been missing since at least the late middle ages as the leaf signatures and catchwords of the medieval collator treat Quires 14-16 as a single sequence without any gaps. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Part 1 of this manuscript is an early 12th century fragment from a bible or biblical lectionary. The leaves (particularly f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>i recto</a> are coated in an adhesive residue and were probably used as binding waste in an earlier binding. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Part 2 of this manuscript is a substantial extract from a medical manuscript and may have been bound separately in its entirety when it was first made (see the stains and damage caused by metal binding fittings on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(213);return false;'>103</a>). Part 2 contains several medical texts including the <i>Uiaticum</i> of Constantinus Africanus and <i>De somno et uigilia </i> by Roger Bacon. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> Part 3 of this manuscript contains the first half of al-Khwarazmi's <i>Arithmetic</i> in a 13th century copy in Latin; catchwords at the bottom of f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(230);return false;'>111v</a> suggest that the text was once complete, but the second half of the text has since been lost. The text of the <i>Arithmetic</i> is known only from this copy and one other: New York, Hispanic Society of America, HC 397/726 , the original Arabic version and all other Latin copies have been lost. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> Part 4 was copied in England in the last part of the eleventh century, or the first half of the twelfth century and contains texts on astronomy and in particular on the use of astrolabes. At the end of Part 4 there is a circular diagram on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(261);return false;'>127r</a> with the circle divided into 25 segments and the centre and four cardinal points are marked a-e. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript belonged to Bury St Edmunds in the later middle ages; a list of the contents in a Bury hand is present on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(14);return false;'>2v</a> which enumerates the following items: <ul><li>- Liber constantini monachi cassinensis qui dicitur uiatecum</li><li>- Ars algorismi</li><li>- Composicio astrolabii'</li></ul><br /> and a set of sermon texts no longer in the volume under the designation 'S.62' - <ul><li>- 'Sermones antiqui notabiles et devoti</li><li>- Exposicio misse que sic inc In uirtute sancte crucis</li><li>- Item sermones cum aliis notulis</li><li>- Item De inquisicionibus in confessione faciendis secundi magistri Willelmum de monte.'</li></ul><br /> For all of its losses, what remains is a lively cross-section of up-to-date medieval scientific and astronomical texts available in England in the 12th and 13th centuries at a well-connected monastery. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Sarah Gilbert<br /> Project Cataloguer<br /> Cambridge University Library</p>

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