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Medieval Medical Recipes : Liturgical and medical texts

Medieval Medical Recipes

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Cambridge, Jesus College, MS Q.D.4 (hereafter MS Q.D.4) is a composite manuscript, with all parts probably together by the later 15th century. The first two Parts of MS Q.D.4 probably date from the second half of the 14th century or the first half of the fifteenth century, the third Part dates from the late 12th or early 13th century, and the last Part contains just three surviving but badly damaged leaves (and a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(545);return false;'>text stub</a>) that probably date from the early 15th century. MS Q.D.4 has a medieval binding of tawed skin stained red over medieval wooden boards; the original strap-and-pin fastening is gone, but the groove for the strap is still visible in the fore-edge of the <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(1);return false;'>left cover</a> and a hole for the pin plate is still visible on the <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(1);return false;'>right cover</a> and the medieval head and tail bands are still partially visible, complete with original blue and and yellow decorative thread. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The volume has a complex codicological structure. The volume is comprised of four major Parts from four originally distinct medieval manuscript sources, but Parts 1 and 3 can also be further divided into codicological units where there is clear separation of scribal stints, or variations in mise-en-page, but where there are also shared elements such as shared rubricators or artists or layouts that indicate that the units were probably made in the same place and where the later units were always intended to be bound with the earlier ones. For example, in Part 3 (ff. 188-211; 212-243; 244-259; 260-267), there is a clear demarcation of codicological units between folios <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(496);return false;'>243v</a> and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(497);return false;'>244r</a>: although the scribes change at the page division and the mise-en-page is not identical across the opening, the scribe of f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(497);return false;'>244r</a> continued the text seamlessly from f. 243v, and the same artist added decorative initials across both units using a distinctive ball ornament (see e.g., the initial 'R' on ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(496);return false;'>243v</a> and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(505);return false;'>248r</a> for a particularly close match). </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The contents of the volume primarily relate to Christian theology, with a particular emphasis on sin, absolution and the act of Confession. Richard Rolle's works are well-represented here in Part 1, as are short quotations from a number of early Christian writers. The majority of the texts in MS Q.D.4 are in Latin, but words are often glossed in Middle English and some texts are copied primarily (or entirely) in Middle English. In Part 2, folios <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(350);return false;'>172v-183r</a> contain a selection of medical recipes, charms, dietary advice, and prognostic information in Middle English and Latin, written out by a scribe who also copied some of the sermons and other religious material in that Part. Regrettably, not much is known about the provenance of the volume before its arrival at Jesus College in 1664. Work by Rüdiger Spahl demonstrates that <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>London, British Library, MS Harley 5235, ff. 1r-11v</a> must have served as the direct exemplar for the copy of the <i>Emendatio uitae</i> by Richard Rolle on ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(151);return false;'>74r-99v</a> in this manuscript. According to Spahl, the two manuscripts contain fourteen shared textual omissions not found in any other copies of the text, and corrections made by the Harley scribe to the text of the <i>Emendatio uitae</i> after the main copying stint had been completed are also found in MS Q.D.4. Spahl supplies other evidence for the archetype-child relationship between these two manuscripts and positions both within his 'zeta' subgroup, but unfortunately, as little is known about the origin or provenance of MS Harley 5235, neither manuscript can be used to determine further details about the history of the other. The only substantial mark of ownership in MS Q.D.4 prior to the Jesus College shelfmarks is that of an untraced 'John Thrope' on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(550);return false;'>269v</a>, but it was clearly well-used by its medieval and later owners judging by the frequent annotations and the addition of numbered tabs to allow readers to quickly find their desired position within the volume. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'><b>References</b>: <div style='list-style-type: disc;'><div style='display: list-item; margin-left: 20px;'>R. Spahl, <i>De Emendatione Vitae: Eine Kritische Ausgabe Des Lateinischen Textes von Richard Rolle Mit Einer Übersetzung Ins Deutsche Und Untersuchungen Zu Den Lateinischen Und Englischen Handschriften</i>, Studien Zur Wirkung Der Klassischen Antike, 6 (V&R UniPress, 2009) </div></div><br /></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Sarah Gilbert<br /> Project Cataloguer for the Curious Cures project<br /> Curious Cures in Cambridge Libraries</p>

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