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Gilbertus Anglicus, Practica medicinae in Middle English, plus miscellaneous practical medical treatises (Miscellanea Medica VII)

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Gilbertus Anglicus, Practica medicinae in Middle English, plus miscellaneous practical medical treatises (Miscellanea Medica VII)


Adapted from Faye Marie Getz, Healing and Society in Medieval England: A Middle English Translation of the Pharmaceutical Writings of Gilbertus Anglicus (London and Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991), pp. lviii-lxii

Booklets are indicated by roman numerals. Each text is given an arabic number, and line numbers are indicated only when several short texts appear on a single page. The division of one text from another is to some extent an editorial judgement.

I. ff. 1r-5v booklet blank

II. ff. 6r-14v booklet contains two groups of texts, 1-7 and 8-17, each in a different hand

1. ff. 6r-9r Excerpts from commentary by unknown author on astrological-medical works, citing Thelit (Thabit ibn Qurra), Haly (Ali ibn Ridwan) and Ptolemy. Similar to a tract found with a Latin Gilbertus in Cambridge, Peterhouse MS 52, ff. 115v-118v. See also The Kalendarium of Nicholas of Lynn, ed. Sigmund Eisner (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980), pp. 209-23, for a longer but similar Latin text. TK 61. See also Manzalaoui, Secretum secretorum, pp. 63-64].

Incipit: 'Ad sciendum quo tempore debet dari medicina laxativa …'

Explicit '...preter martem. quere veritatem'.

2. f. 9v Tract on the properties of the moon. See Seymour, pp. 489-95.

Incipit: Nota quod luna est planetarum infima …'

Explicit: '...13 horis, 18 minutis, 38 2is'.

3. ff. 9v-10r Aspects of various planets. See Seymour, pp. 460-65

Incipit: 'Nota quod sunt dignitates accidentales …'

Explicit: '... dicunt astronomi fortissimum esse'.

4. f. 10r Tract on weights and the difference between Troy weights and other systems; similar to the text found in Medical Works of the Fourteenth Century ed. Henslow, p. 131 and many others.

Incipit: 'Scopolus [i.e. obulus] ponderat xx grana…'

Explicit: '...per pondera iacentia'.

5. f. 10v ll. 1-3 On the relative volumes of the planets

Incipit: Corpus solis continent tre cencies…'

Explicit: '...corpus terre 7es'.

6. f. 10v ll. 4-6 On the age of the universe secundum Alfonsum. See 'Extracts from the Alfonsine Tables and Rules for their Use' in Grant, Source Book, pp. 451-487.

Incipit: 'Nota ab origine mundi…'

Explicit: '...xli minuta'.

7. f. 10v ll. 7-12 On which month is associated with which sign of the zodiac.

Incipit: 'Menses per circulum anni...'

Explicit: '...Maius 13 gemeni'.

8. ff. 10v-11r On how to make Quinta Essencia, in this recipe, a kind of medicinal liqueur. See Aus mittelenglischen Medizintexten, ed. Müller, p. 27 and following.

Incipit: 'This is þe forme and maner…Take a potel of þe beste aquevite…'

Explicit: '...wel and close, et cetera'.

9. ff. 11r-12r On the properties of Quinta Essencia. See also The Book of Quinte Essence, ed. F. J. Furnivall (1866; rpt. EETS 16, 1965).

Incipit: 'These ben þe uertues …If a man haue þe pallesy…'

'...feyr vertues. deo gracias'.

10. f. 12r ll. 6-10 Recipe, 'For þe stomake'

Incipit: 'Take rede myntes…'

Explicit: '...þou shalt be hole'.

11. f. 12 ll. 11-20 Recipe, ' For þe stomake'

Incipit: 'Take þe rote of radiche…'

Explicit: '...and sanaberis.

12. ff. 12r l. 21-f. 12v l. 3 Recipe, 'For sekenes in þe splene'

Incipit: 'Take verveyn…'

Explicit: '...and sanaberis'.

13. f. 12v ll. 4-13 Recipe, 'For a feuer'

Incipit: 'Take grene mader …'

Explicit: ' euen, et cetera'.

14. f. 12v ll. 14-16 Recipe, 'For an axes vppon digestion'

Incipit: 'Recipe borage…'

Explicit: '...and use it'.

15. ff. 12v-13v 'Book of thunders' telling what to expect if thunder is heard in a particular month; TK 652, attributed to Bede: 'Presagium tonitruorum in quolibet mense'; in TK 1466, the same text is anonymous.

Incipit: 'Januarius. Sol in aquario xi videlicet die erit. si tonitrus hoc mense …ventos validos…'

Explicit: '... sol erit in capricorno'.

16. ff. 13v-14r Treatise on prognostication by the quality of winter and summer weather, with seven possibilities given, marked A-G. See Stuart Jenks, Astrometeorology in the Middle Ages', Isis 74 (1983): 185-210 for similar texts.

Incipit: 'Yemps calida estas procellosa …'

Explicit: '... fenum multum erit'.

17. f. 14v On safe days for bleeding; same as text found in John of Arderne: Treatises of Fistula in Ano (1910), ed. D'Arcy Power, EETS 139 (1968), p. 16; similar to TK 1441, 'Si aliquis efficitur'.

Incipit: 'Si aliquis fuerit vulneratus in capite …'

'... pedes facti sunt'.

III. ff. 15r-46v booklet contains mainly urine and fever texts, two topics found in L that the Middle English translator appears to have removed; this booklet repairs that omission.

18. ff. 15r-40v A compilation of four uroscopies (incipits in bold) with some repetition of material and with links added between the texts; the copyist/translator summarised his material freely from the Latin, see Gundolf Keil, Die urognostische Praxis in vor- und frühsalernitanischer Zeit (Freiburg: Institut für Geschichte der Medizin, 1970) for Latin analogs.

Here begynneþ þe practise of þe sighte of vrynes. Hit is to vndurstonde þat whoso wille loke an vryn… [f. 21] Here endeþ þe significacion of þe colours of vryns. Nowe we wille [f. 21] declare and tell of þe cercles of vryns and begynne at þe hede of man. A cercle þat is grete… [f. 23] Here endiþ þe cercles [f. 23v] of vryns with her significacions. And now foloweþ þe contents of hem and þe passing excesse of hem and þe open declaryng of hem which ben gode and holsom and commendable. Eche vryn is clensing of blode… [f. 35v] here endeþ þe treatise of þe cercles of vryns with her significacions and also þe propirtes [f. 36] of vryns and ouerpassing excesse of hem. And nowe followeþ remedy and medysyn for meny of hem þat ben rehersid. Medisyn for colour as camellis flesshe. Take þe croppe of sauge… [f. 40v] And þus þis practis of fisike endeþ.

19. ff. 40v-41v On critical days of febrile sickness; similar to TK 997 'Omnis egritudo habet'.

Incipit: 'Of every sekenes thre tymes þer be…'

Explicit: ' þe grace of god'.

20. f. 42r Fever recipe, 'For him þat is traueled…'

Incipit: 'Take camylmelle...'

Explicit: '...þe selfe wise'.

21. f. 42v ll. 1-10 Fever recipe, 'Forto swage and abate þe malice of þe hote axes…'

Incipit: 'Take mandrake...'

Explicit: '…in a short time'.

22. f. 42v ll. 11-17 Recipe, 'For him þat pisseþ blode…'

Incipit: 'Take wilde sage...'

Explicit:'...use þe drinke'.

23. ff. 42v-43r Recipe, 'For dymnes of yen…'

Incipit: 'Take centuary...'

Explicit: ' þy bedde'

24. f. 43r Recipe, 'For þe coughe…'

Incipit: 'Take elemini…'

Explicit: '...firste and laste...'.

25. ff. 43r-43v Recipe, 'Electuary for þe coughe…'

Incipit: 'Take cynamum…'

Explicit: '...and use hit'.

26. f. 43v Recipe, 'Gargarismus for purgyng of þe hede…'

Incipit: 'Take mustard…'

Explicit: '...til þou be esid'.

27. ff. 43v-44v Recipe, 'For a collerike man...'

Incipit: 'Take borage…'

Explicit: '...and sanaberis'.

28. f. 44v Recipe (in Latin), 'Gargarismus for þe hede...'

Incipit: 'Recipe nigelle...'

Explicit: '...super umbilicum'.

29. ff. 45r-46r On the relationship of the four ages of man to the four seasons, winds, and humors; see Little and Withington's edition of Roger Bacon's 'De retardation', p. 199, where this information is presented in the form of a wheel; and Seymour pp. 291-93.

Incipit: 'Ther ben iiii Ages…'

Explicit: '...soupe is þeir quarter'.

30. f. 46r. The relationship of the four complexions to the hours of the day, 'Nowe foloweþ þe reigning of þe complexiounes…'

Incipit: 'Fro þe iii of þe clocke…'

Explicit: ' most greuid'.

31. ff. 46-46v Recipe, 'For þe morfu'.

Incipit: 'Wasshe al þy body…'

Explicit: ' wel usid.

32. f. 46v Recipe, 'For þe iaundice' (same hand as nos. 34 and 35)

Incipit: 'Take greyness…'

Explicit: ' ones'.

f. 47r-v blank

IV. ff. 48r-310v contain the Middle English Gilbertus and a recipe added in a later hand (no. 34), which is related in content to the recipe added at the beginning of V (no. 35).

33. ff. 48r-310v Gilbertus Anglicus, Practica medicinae, on the practice of medicine arranged from the head downward; in Middle English cf. Seymour, pp. 343-411.

Begins imperfectly, '…superfluities and moche slepe...'

Explicit: '...and to stonis. deo gracias'.

34. f. 310v Recipe, 'A medisyn for þe stoon…' (same hand as nos. 32 and 35)

Incipit: 'Take karewaye...'

Explicit: '...of a conseruatif.

V. ff. 311r-322v [recipe in later hand plus tables for practice of astrological medicine].

35. f. 311r Recipe, 'Anoþer maner making is þis (same had as nos 32 and 34)

Incipit: 'Take alle þese…'

Explicit: '...þes dissesis'.

ff. 311v-315r blank

36. ff. 315v-317r Golden Numbers for calculating the dates of the new and full moon in metonic (nineteen-year) cycles; useful for prognostication and for explaining the past onset of illness; most commonly used in calculate the date of Easter.

37. ff. 317v-318v Dominical Letters for calculating the date in any year upon which the first Sunday would fall; useful in the practice of astrological medicine in as much as certain zodiacal signs govern certain days of the week; ecclesiastical use.

38. ff. 318v-319v Signs of the zodiac; useful in practice of astrological medicine

Incipit: 'Quicumque cursum lune…'

Explicit: '...eorum tractavimus'.

39. ff. 320r-321v Lunar tables telling which signs of the zodiac the moon will be in; especially useful for bloodletting and administering medicines; same as Power, John of Arderne, pp. 18-19.

40. ff. 321v-322v Instructions on how to use the lunar tables above; same as Power, John of Arderne, p. 16.

Incipit: 'Si scire vis sub quo signo luna est…'

Explicit: ' antedictis membris'.

VI. This booklet certainly was constructed to exist independently; ff. 323 and 336 form its covers, are blank, and are larger in size than the material in between.

ff. 323r-325v blank

41. f. 326r Instructions for the following tables; dated 1462 and useful until 1519

Incipit: 'In this qwair be conteyned alle the changes of the moone…'

Explicit: '...ccc.lxv et sex hore'

42. ff. 326v-333r Lunar tables used to determine when the moon will be full; more exact than no. 36.

ff. 333v-336v blank

f. 337r Signature 'galfrydus halle' in a medieval hand.

f. 337v blank

Taken verbatim from Faye Marie Getz, Healing and Society in Medieval England: A Middle English Translation of the Pharmaceutical Writings of Gilbertus Anglicus (London and Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991), p. lvii-lviii

Ff. 6v-10v in one hand. Ff. 10v l. 13-f. 14v in one hand. Ff. 15-44v l. 1 in larger, less formal hand of a similar script, with initials in red and paragraph heads in red ornament. Ff. 44v l. 2 - f. 46v l. 4 in same or similar hand to ff. 48-310v l. 16. F. 46v ll. 5-11 in same hand as f. 310v l. 17-f. 311. This hand is also that of one of the marginal glossators. Ff. 47-47v blank. Ff. 48-310v: running chapter heads with initials decorated in red; titles framed red. Marginal notes with initials in the same hand as the text and framed in red. Chapter headings have initials in gold leaf (rare for this type of MS): ff. 74v, 103v, 105v, 120, 129, 133, 138v, 146v, 162, 184, 194, 210, 221, 253v, 275v, 300, 305v; decorated in black, green, blue, red, and white over the blue, with white touched with grey over the red. Foliage often filled with gold leaf. Titles after each chapter in blue with red decoration. Coloured capitals cued in margin. Paragraph marks in red. Ff. 311v-315 blank; ff. 315v-318v col.1, tables in red and black; ruled in black ink ff. 315v-317 and ruled in red and black ink on ff. 317v-318v. Text on f. 318v col. 2-f. 319v in similar hand to ff. 48-310v. F. 318v col. 2, 3-line initial in red, capitals touched with red. F. 320, tables in red and black, ruled in red. F. 321v, tables in red and black, ruled in red. Text on f. 321v col. 2, 3-line initial and first two lines in red. Text of ff. 321v-322v in same hand as ff. 318v-319v. Ff. 323-325v blank. F. 326 in new hand with initials in red. Ff. 326-333, tables in red and black, ruled in black. Ff. 333v-336v blank. F. 337 in new hand. F. 337v shows traces of red and green wax, used as paste.

Medieval foliation: ff. 6-14v, marked i-iiii, catchword at bottom of f. 13v is not at the end of the gathering. Ff. 15-47v, foliation ai-diiii, mostly cut off; catchwords. Ff. 48-310v, foliation aii-giiii, catchwords. Foliation in gathering qi-qiiii (ff. 151-158v), corrected from li-liiii by scribe. Gathering pi-piiii (ff. 159-166v) corrected from mi-miiii as above. Si-siiii (ff. 183-190v) corrected from pi-piiii. First two leaves of ti-tiiii (ff. 191-198v) corrected from qi and qii. The scribe has written cam x below folio marking piiii (f. 162). F. 152v, chapter head The Coughe, is out of order. The scribe has written in the margin "Al þis is voide hederto".The page is completely independent of the preceding and following pages and is not a duplicate. F. 158 is marked by the scribe vacat. Ff. 167-174v are out of order in the gathering owing to reversal of leaves qiii and qiiii. This error was not caught by the scribe or binder. Rubrication is missing on ff. 192v and 197, and ff. 193v and 196. Each pair is conjoined in the gathering. Ff. 202v-203v are copied out of order; the scribe indicated their proper ordering writing 'verte ad aliam partem folii subsequentis' at the bottom of f. 202v and marking the pages with the letters a, b, c, and d. On f. 221, at the beginning of the chapter on the stomach, is written by the scribe: 'Aftir trev stonding, þis chapter shulde stoned nexte aftir þe title of sincopis; and nexte þis: þe chapter of þe guttis, and aftir þat, þe chapitir of þe liuer, and aftir þat, þe chapter of þe spleen; and þen þe chapitir of þe reines; and soforþ as it is written'.


Alonso-Almeida, Prancisco. 'Middle English medical books as examples of discourse colonies: G.U.L Hunter 307' in Isabel Fandiño , Sofia Moskowich-Spiegel and Begoña Crespo García, Bells Chiming from the Past: Cultural and Linguistic Studies on Early English (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2007), p. 69.

Getz, Faye Marie. Healing and Society in Medieval England: A Middle English Translation of the Pharmaceutical Writings of Gilbertus Anglicus (Madison and London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1991).

Getz, Faye Marie. 'Gilbertus Anglicus Anglicized', Medical History 26 (1982), pp. 436-438.

González-Hernández, A. and Domínguez-Rodríguez, M. V. 'Migraine in Gilbertus Anglicus' Compendium medicinae. The Cases of MS Sloane 3486 and Wellcome MS 537', Journal of the History of the Neurosciences: Basic and Clinical Perspectives 17:2 (2008), pp. 147-159.

Hanna, Ralph. The Index of Middle English Prose Handlist I: Manuscripts in the Henry E. Huntington Library (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2007), p. 41.

Jones, Peter Murray. 'Medicine and Science', The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain vol. III ed. Lotte Hellinga, J. B. Trapp, John Barnard and David McKitterick, (Cambridge: CUP, 1999), p. 436.

Hernández-Campoy, Juan Manuel and Conde-Silvestre, Juan Camilo. The Handbook of Historical Sociolinguistics (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), p. 144.

Keiser, George R. 'Epilepsy: The Falling Evil', Popular and Practical Science of Medieval England ed. Lister M. Matheson (East Lansing: Colleagues Press, 1994), pp. 219-44.

Keiser, George R. Review of Getz, Faye Marie, Healing and Society in Medieval England: A Middle English Translation of the Pharmaceutical Writings of Gilbertus Anglicus, in Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 30:1 (1994), pp. 71-73.

Payne, Joseph Frank. 'English Medicine in the Anglo-Norman Period', British Medical Journal 2 (1904), pp. 1281-84.

Tavormina, M. Teresa. Uroscopy in Middle English: a Guide to the Texts and Manuscripts, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, ser. 3, no. 11 (University of Michigan, 2014), passim.



Physical description

1 volume

Taken verbatim from Faye Marie Getz, Healing and Society in Medieval England: A Middle English Translation of the Pharmaceutical Writings of Gilbertus Anglicus (London and Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991), p. lvii-lviii

ff. v + 327 + iv. Paper except for 14 4012, 4114 which are parchment. Page size 135 x 100 mm, save f. 322: 145 x 100mm and ff. 324-335: 125 x 90 mm. Difference in page sizes accounted for by booklet structure of codex. Writing space c. 90 x 70 mm, c. 20 long lines per page. Ruled with hard point on four sides, save for tables and ff. 324-336, which are pricked along three outer edges. Collation 14, 21, 3-68, 77 wants one, 8-398, 4012, 414, plus one leaf of parchment that was a pastedown that has been ripped up. The codex is composed of six booklets that were bound together in the medieval period. Employing the numbers of the gatherings used above for collation, the booklets are as follows: I (1) + II (2) + III (3-6) + IV (7-39) + V (40) + VI (41). Modern pencil foliation is incorrect: moves from 37 to 39. Narrow strips of parchment strengthen each central opening. F. 5 has the upper right corner missing and f. 70 the lower right corner missing. The upper third of f. 337 has been cut away.

Acquisition note

Purchased 1911.

Biographical note

Taken near-verbatim from Faye Marie Getz, Healing and Society in Medieval England: A Middle English Translation of the Pharmaceutical Writings of Gilbertus Anglicus (London and Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991), p. lxiii

The manuscript was deliberately defaced with a cutting tool after the eighteenth century, removing any evidence of previous ownership. In addition to the missing first page of the Middle English Gilbertus, several other pages have been damaged, but not necessarily at the same time. The location of this damage has been described above. A date and possibly a signature in an eighteenth-century hand have been cut out of f. 5, and f. 337 shows the mutilated signature "Galfrydus Halle" in a medieval hand not found elsewhere in the codex. It is followed by a series of probationes pennae in the same hand. An armorial bookplate has been ripped off the inside front cover so that only the crest remains. The Royal College of Arms in London was unable to identify the owner of the crest and it does not match the bookplates of any of the people known to have seen the book or to have owned it.

The manuscript's history in the nineteenth century is more clear. It belonged to Joseph Payne (1808-76), best known as England's first professor of education, who sent it to the antiquarian Francis Douce for his opinion as to the date of copying. An inscription in black ink on the inside front cover states, "Mr. Douce says this manuscript was written about A.D. 1400 - before 1450."

The manuscript is accompanied by a letter dated May 13, 1858, and written to "J. Payne" by Thomas Wright, author of several pieces on medieval science. Wright dated the manuscript to "the reign of Hen. VI and Ed. IV."

The manuscript passed to Joseph Frank Payne, Joseph's son (1840-1910), a physician who was the author of "English Medicine in the Anglo-Norman Period" in the British Medical Jour. 2 (1904): 1281-84. Dr. Payne's collection of rare books and MSS went on sale at Sotheby's in 1911 (July 13, this manuscript, item no. 406). The manuscript was described in the catalogue as having been damaged. The Wellcome Library bought the book and it remains in their collection. No record survives of the purchase price.

Finding aids

Database description transcribed from S.A.J. Moorat, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library (London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1962-1973).

Location of duplicates

This material has been digitised and can be freely accessed online through the Wellcome Library catalogue.

Ownership note

An armorial book-plate pasted beneath this inscription has been torn out. From the Payne Collection, No. 406 in Sotheby's Catalogue.


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