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Peterhouse : Compilation of medical texts


<p style='text-align: justify;'>Peterhouse MS 247 is a medical compendium containing works by Hippocrates, Galen and others, which texts formed the basic curriculum - the <i>ars medicine</i> - of a university-trained doctor. It is one of only three manuscripts to have survived from the Augustinian priory of Lanercost in Cumbria. The priory's position close to the Scottish border left it subject to frequent cross-border raids, vividly recounted in the Lanercost Chronicle (<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>London, British Library, Cotton MS Claudius D.VII</a>). The third manuscript, containing the house's cartulary, is preceded by a register of writs (<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Carlisle, Cumbria County Record Office MS DZ/1</a>). The Chronicle and cartulary/register were written in-house in the mid-fourteenth century. Peterhouse MS 247, meanwhile, was written elsewhere, in England or France, and professionally produced in small, neat rotunda bookhands dating from the late twelfth to the early fourteenth century. Guide letters remain in the margins of the first section of the manuscript, ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(9);return false;'>1-44</a>, indicating what initials should be provided; these have been supplied in red or blue. Assembled from different sources, ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(9);return false;'>1-44</a> came from a larger volume perhaps produced in Paris, since a note on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(76);return false;'>34v</a> refers to pecia production: 'x<sup>ma</sup> pecia debet incipi hac in linea'. The pecia system appears not to have been adopted in England. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Since this compendium was compiled from different booklets, some of the texts have been repeated. Thus, both Hippocrates' <i>Aphorismi</i> and <i>Prognostica</i> are each present, written in three different copies, each produced on different occasions. Complete copies of the <i>Prognostica</i> are found three times (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(17);return false;'>5r-11r</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(235);return false;'>113r-120v</a>, and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(321);return false;'>156r-160r</a>). One copy of the <i>Aphorismi</i> begins imperfectly in Book IV (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(9);return false;'>1r-5r</a>), and elsewhere only a single leaf survives of another copy (f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(347);return false;'>169rv</a>). A fuller text is found elsewhere in a separate booklet (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(199);return false;'>95r-111v</a>).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript has been heavily used, as extensive marginalia throughout in tiny glossing hands bears witness. Some annotations refer to texts which are not in Peterhouse MS 247. Thus, the annotator of Johannitius' <i>Isagoge</i> (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(333);return false;'>162r-168v</a>), an introduction to Galen's <i>Tegni</i> and central to the <i>Articella</i>, twice refers to works by 'Filosofus' (i.e. Aristotle). On f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(334);return false;'>162v</a>, the reference is to his <i>De generatione</i> ('Filosofus in secundo de generacione dicit...'), while that on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(346);return false;'>168v</a> is to <i>De animalibus</i> ('Filosofus dicit quod omne animal habet vnam mandibulam...'). Medical texts were first taught in Paris within the framework of Aristotle’s works on natural philosophy. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript belonged to Lanercost by 1354 at the latest, when John of Bewcastle, prior 1338-54, had the use of it: 'Liber Fratris Nicholai de Morland ex dono Willelmi de Langedale cuius vsum proprium idem Nicholaus concessit cessit (<i>sic</i>) domini Johanni de Buchcaster' (f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(359);return false;'>175r</a>, the last leaf). Bewcastle, Morland and Langdale are all Cumbrian place names. An ex-libris is also found on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(167);return false;'>79r</a>, at the end of the second booklet: 'Liber sancte marie magdalene de lanrecost. Si quis inde eum asportauerit anthema sit'. A note in yet another booklet - 'contra H de Burgo', at the foot of f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(240);return false;'>115v</a> - probably refers to Prior Henry, d. 1315. His verses commenting on local events and national affairs are found in the Lanercost Chronicle: a rubric by one short poem records 'Hugo de Burgo scripsit' (Chronicle, fol. 195v). How the manuscript reached Peterhouse is unknown.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Pam Robinson<br /> Institute of English Studies, University of London</p><p style='text-align: justify;'><b>Bibliography:</b><br /><i>Chronicon de Lanercost MCCI-MCCCCXLIV</i>, ed. by Joseph Stevenson, Bannatyne Club (Edinburgh, 1839), pp. 105-47<br /> Cornelius O'Boyle, <i>The Art of Medicine: Medical Teaching at the University of Paris, 1250-1400</i>, Education and Society in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, 9 (Leiden: Brill, 1998)<br /> A.G. Rigg, <i>A History of Anglo-Latin Literature 1066-1422</i> (Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 227-8<br /> Henry Summerson, 'The History of Lanercost Priory', in <i>Lanercost Priory, Cumbria: A Survey and Documentary History</i>, ed. by Henry Summerson and Stuart Harrison, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, Research Series 10 (2000), pp. 1-80<br /></p>

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