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Peterhouse : Medical compendium


<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript is a composite volume with its Parts deriving from 9 separate original sources written in England and Italy between the 11th and 15th centuries. Part 1 is a set of medieval endleaves with notes, annotations, and lists of the contents, Parts 2-8 contain medical treatises in Latin, and Part 9 is another set of medieval endleaves that preserve damaged copies of letters from a Carmelite foundation in England as well as a number of smaller and more informal annotations. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Peterhouse MS 251 appears to have reached its current composite form after two distinct phases of compilation, the first of which seems to have brought together Parts 1-7, and the second of which seems to have added Parts 8-9 to Parts 1-7. Precisely how and when Peterhouse MS 251 Parts 1-7 were brought together is unknown, but they seem to have been together by 8 December 1330, the date of a <i>Caucio</i> note on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(6);return false;'>i verso</a> (a medieval endleaf). This note is partly illegible due to rubbing, but the remaining text can be read as 'Caucio Walteri de Wasten exponitur ciste Batulfi <i class='delim' style='font-style:normal; color:red'>[</i><i class='unclear' style='font-style:normal;' title='This text imperfectly legible in source'>...</i><i class='delim' style='font-style:normal; color:red'>]</i> concepionis beate Marie anno Domini M<sup>o</sup> CCC<sup>o</sup> xxx', i.e., the book was pledged as surety for a loan and placed in Botolph's chest on 8 December 1330 by Walter de Wasten. <i>Caucio</i> inscriptions in manuscripts reflect a practice common (but not limited) to Oxford and Cambridge in the 14th and 15th centuries, where borrowers could pledge books or other high-value items in exchange for a monetary loan. The lender would add a description of the loan to the item (or presumably add a label to non-codex pledges) usually beginning with the word 'Caucio' or 'Cautio' (pledge/security) followed by details such as the date, the amount loaned, and the original owner of the item, and would then store the deposit in a chest for the duration of the loan, which borrowers could redeem on repayment. The loan chests and their funds were often initially supplied by a single benefactor, and the chest that they endowed usually bore their name thereafter. In this example, 'ciste Batulfi' is probably a reference to 'St Botoloph's Chest', which was established by Thomas de St Botolph, parson of South Dalton in Yorkshire and personal clerk to John le Romeyn (d. 1296), archbishop of York. Thomas was still alive in 1293 and the chest was probably founded at some point afterwards. It operated until at least 1347. If this identification is correct, it places at least some parts of Peterhouse MS 251 in Cambridge in 1330. The <i>Caucio</i> inscription on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(6);return false;'>i verso</a> is briefly discussed in Thomson's <i>Catalogue</i>, p. 158; Thomson does not mention the location of Botolph's Chest in Cambridge, but he makes a Cambridge connection for the <i>Caucio</i> inscription as he suggests that 'Walteri de Wasten' may be the Walter de Weston in Emden <i>BRUC</i>, p. 631, a cleric of Cambridge who complained about the violence from the mayor and townspeople of Cambridge in 1322 as recorded in <i>Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office 1216-1509</i> (1891-1916). </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Underneath the <i>Caucio</i> inscription on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(6);return false;'>i verso</a> and in a late 14th- or 15th-century hand is a medieval list of the contents of the volume. This enumerates 12 items, the final one of which - 'liber de ffebribus' - was added by another, probably 15th-century hand and almost certainly refers to the texts on ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(217);return false;'>106-191</a> (i.e., Part 8). The work now known as Galen's <i>Ad glauconem de medendi methodo</i> (not to be confused with the larger Galenic text now known as the <i>Therapeutica</i> or <i>De methodo medendi</i>, which in the Middle Ages was usually known as the <i>Ars magna</i> or the <i>Megategni</i>), was a treatise on fevers addressed to Galen's nephew or friend Glauco(n), and was often known in the Middle Ages by the title 'Liber de febribus' or 'De febribus ad Glauconem'. On folio <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(217);return false;'>106r</a>, in the upper margin, a late 14th or early 15th century hand has also added a title for the text,'liber de ffebribus'. The last original entry in the medieval list of the contents then is 'Pronostica ypocratis incompletus', which seems to be a reference to the <i>Prognostica</i> of Hippocrates on ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(210);return false;'>102v-105r</a>, which is complete, but which is immediately followed by an incomplete copy of Theophilus' <i>De urinis</i>, which begins near the bottom of a column of text on f. 105r with a rubric similar in size and distinction to the internal subheadings in the preceding text. As such, it seems to have been read by the main compiler of the medieval list of the contents of the volume as an incomplete final section of the <i>Prognostica</i>. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>It seems likely that Parts 8-9 joined Parts 1-7 at Peterhouse during the 15th century. Part 9 is a medieval bifolium that preserves copies of two letters by a single scribe, one of which is dated to 1400 in the text. Part 9 is badly damaged through rubbing and use as a pastedown and endleaves, but in addition to the copies of the letters, it also preserves several informal annotations including names and accompanying 15th century dates. It is possible that Part 9 was added by itself to the volume, perhaps for a late 15th-century or 16th-century rebinding, but given that the 'liber de ffebribus' entry in the medieval table of contents on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(6);return false;'>i verso</a> is in a different (?15th century) hand, it seems probable that Parts 8 and 9 were joined to Parts 1-7 in the 15th century, with Part 8 added due to the similarity of its content to Parts 2-7 and Part 9 as a protective wrapper for the new end of the volume. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>A portion of the manuscript (almost certainly Parts 1-7) were given to Peterhouse in 1385 by William Irby, a Fellow of Peterhouse; Irby's donation is recorded in the upper margin of f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>1r</a> - 'Memorandum quod magister Willelmus Irby socius domus Sancti Petri contulit istum librum eidem domui anno Domini MCCC lxxxv<sup>to</sup>' (Memorandum that master William Irby fellow of Peterhouse brought this book to the same house in A.D. 1385). Parts 8 and 9 must have joined the rest of the volume after Parts 1-7 had been absorbed into the Peterhouse library collection, and so it seems likely that Parts 8 and 9 were also donated by a member of the Peterhouse community. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>All of the Parts of this manuscript are interesting in their own right as well as when they are considered in their composite arrangement, but Dr Debby Banham has discussed the specific significance of Part 8 (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(217);return false;'>106r-191v</a> for the study of the history of medicine in England, and in particular within the context of the reception of Classical medical texts in medieval England. Dr Banham described the contents of Part 8 as 'the nearest thing to a standard medical textbook in early medieval Europe', i.e., for the study of medicine in Europe before it became a profession studied and researched at the new universities. Dr Banham has also pointed out that Peterhouse MS 251, ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(217);return false;'>106r-191v</a> contains the 'earliest surviving English manuscript of Galen's <i>Ad Glauconem de methodo medendi</i>, and also of the pseudo-Galenic <i>Liber tertius</i> which travels with it, and of the <i>Libri Aurelii</i> and <i>Esculapii</i>, two works frequently found with the Galen complex, as here.' Although the origin of Part 8 has not been established with total certainty, in all likelihood, Peterhouse MS 251 Part 8 (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(217);return false;'>106r-191v</a>) was copied at the abbey of St Augustine's in Canterbury, and the quires are emblematic of a new style of medical study and enquiry in England that was to become a feature of the standard of scientific learning available at the wealthiest monastic houses in England in the 12th and 13th centuries. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'><b>References</b>: <div style='list-style-type: disc;'><div style='display: list-item; margin-left: 20px;'>CPR: <i>Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office 1216-1509</i>, 54 vols (1891-1916)</div><div style='display: list-item; margin-left: 20px;'>Graham Pollard, 'Medieval loan chests at Camrbidge', <i>Historical Research</i> 17 (1940), 113-160</div><div style='display: list-item; margin-left: 20px;'>BRUC: A. B. Emden, <i>A Biographical Register of the University of Cambridge to 1500</i> (Cambridge, 1963)</div><div style='display: list-item; margin-left: 20px;'>P. Kibre, I. A. Kelter, 'Galen's "Methodus medendi" in the Middle Ages', <i>History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences</i> 9.1 (1987), pp. 17-36</div><div style='display: list-item; margin-left: 20px;'>D. Banham, 'Medicine at Bury in the Time of Abbot Baldwin', in <i>Bury St Edmunds and the Norman Conquest</i>, ed. by T. Licence (Boydell & Brewer, 2014), pp. 226–46, esp. pp. 227-228</div><div style='display: list-item; margin-left: 20px;'>R. M. Thomson, <i>A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval Manuscripts in the Library of Peterhouse, Cambridge</i> (2016)</div></div><br /></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Sarah Gilbert<br /> Project Cataloguer for the Curious Cures Project<br /> Cambridge University Library</p>

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