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PHYSICIAN'S HANDBOOK: ASTROLOGICAL AND MEDICAL COMPENDIUM, with PILGRIM'S GUIDE FROM LONDON TO JERUSALEM AND ITINERARY OF THE HOLY LAND, and two rhymed treatises, Storie lune and JOHN LYDGATE:
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PHYSICIAN'S HANDBOOK: ASTROLOGICAL AND MEDICAL COMPENDIUM, with PILGRIM'S GUIDE FROM LONDON TO JERUSALEM AND ITINERARY OF THE HOLY LAND, and two rhymed treatises, Storie lune and JOHN LYDGATE: For helth of mans body, all texts in Middle English, illuminated manuscript on vellum\n\n[England c.1454 and slightly later]\n209 x 140mm. 100 leaves, with intermittant pencil foliation in upper right corner skipping one leaf by f.31, apparently COMPLETE, Calendar, diagrams and tables in red and brown, text in 26 lines in brown, all in a cursive anglicana hand, tables etc variously ruled but each page frame-ruled: justification 168 x 102mm, rubrics in red, one-line initials of burnished gold or blue or brown ink flourished with red, texts and tables opening with two-line initials of burnished gold against grounds and infills of blue and dark pink with marginal sprays of red and blue foliage and golden flowerheads on hairline tendrils of brown ink, a marginal dragon drawn in red, line-fillers of burnished gold, MORE THAN FORTY-SIX PAGES OF ASTROLOGICAL AND CALENDAR TABLES AND DIAGRAMS, including two showing LUNAR ECLIPSES IN BURNISHED GOLD AND BLUE, five pages with TWENTY DIAGNOSTIC ILLUSTRATIONS OF SAMPLE FLASKS each framed in gold and with marginal flourishes, TWO FULL-PAGE MINIATURES OF VEIN MAN AND ZODIAC MAN the pilgrim's guide and health treatise in 27 lines with rubrics and one-line initials in red and two-line initials of blue with red flourishing (occasional marginal stains and smudging, slight cropping of some upper borders, smudging and scratching of eclipsed moons, corner missing from f.40, affecting lower frame of zodiac man, small loss from outer margin of f.61, repair to outer margin of f.33). 19th-century brown diced russia gilt (extremities slightly rubbed).\n\nA REMARKABLE AND MANUSCRIPT IN MIDDLE ENGLISH, INCLUDING HIGHLY DECORATIVE ILLUSTRATED MEDICAL TEXTS AND AN APPARENTLY UNKNOWN PILGIMAGE GUIDE\n\nPROVENANCE:\n\n1. This manuscript is likely to have been made for a practising physician. The fact that it is written in Middle English, rather than Latin, suggests that it was made for the use of a non-university trained practitioner. In 1421 graduate physicians petitioned Parliament to exclude from medicine 'many unconnyng and unapproved in the foresayd science', but it proved impossible to prevent the unlettered surgeons, barber-surgeons, apothecaries and 'leeches' from undertaking the treatment of the sick: R.H. Robbins, 'Medical Manuscripts in Middle English', Speculum, 45 (1970), p.409ff. The fact that this manuscript is unusually richly decorated suggests that it was made for someone, whatever his training, who had already achieved considerable success.\n\n2. Thomas Hill 10 June 1759: his ownership inscription at the head and foot of various axioms on astrology on the first parchment leaf. Amateur sketches of a young lady in 18th-century dress on the verso are likely to date from the time of Hill's ownership.\n\n3. Library of the Dukes of Newcastle, Clumber, Worksop: Sotheby's, 15 February 1938, lot 1129\n\n4. Alan Lubbock: his bookplate inside upper cover\n\nCONTENT:\n\nCalendar with explanatory introduction stating that it was begun in 1454 and 'compiled and drauyne aftyre the consate and the devyse of Richard ----- ------- of the city of Lincoln' (name only visible under ultra-violet) ff.5-17; Vein man f.18; circular diagrams of the planets and the Pythagorean Sphere with explanation ff.18v&19; tables and instructions for calculating the date of Easter ff.19v-22; multiplication tables f.22v; tables for calculating moveable feasts, the influence and passage of the zodiac, multiplication, eclipses of the moon, the governing of planets ff.23v-31; various texts on the hours of the day and night, the Abbot of St Albans declaration on the Queen's Calendar, the dignities of the planets and a circular diagram on the relationship between the zodiac and the planets 31v-36; Exposition on the signs of the zodiac including Zodiac man on f.40 ff.36v-42; summary of births, martyrdoms and battles from Abel's birth to the battle of Agincourt ff.42-42v; battles from 1066 to Verneuil in 1424 ff.42v-44v; on bloodletting ff.44v-46v; on the influence of hours and planets on man's well-being ff.46v-49v; calculating distances and days ff.49v-50; on artificial days and calculating time ff.50v-54; on the humours of man ff.54-55; on giving medicine ff.55-58v; on the colours of waters, illustrated with 'divers urinals' ff.58v-64v; ill days and forbidden days, including Bede's perilous days, and other preventative measures and cautions ff.65-68v; forecasting and significance of weather ff.69-72v; table to find the dignities of the planets and signs f.73; instructions for making a pilgrimage from London to Jerusalem, and itinerary of the Holy Land ff.76-84v; John Lydgate's, for Helth of mans body, a gud tretis ff.84v-85v; a rhymed treatise Storie lune ff.86-99\n\nThe texts were written in two campaigns and with different decorative schemes. Up to Bede's Perilous Days on f.67v each text opens with an illuminated initial and foliate sprays into the margin, from 67v the decoration is restricted to flourished initials of red and blue. The three final texts, following the same lay-out, with the same decoration, and probably written by the same scribe as the preceding text, are separated from it by a folio left blank on recto and verso.\n\nThis collection of prognostic, diagnostic and remedial texts gives a fascinating insight into medieval life, and expectations of life, in England. It is made all the more vivid and immediate because, with the exception of some of the tables, it is entirely written in English.\n\nThe book opens with an extensive collection of the calendrical, astrological and computational materials that were the necessary tools for prognosis. The phases of the moon, the planets, the precise age of the patient: all these were believed to govern the health, chances of recovery and optimal time for treatment for an individual -- even whether treatment was worth undertaking at all. The tables and diagrams are all conveniently provided with instructions for their employment. Two full-page illustrations are, perhaps, the most immediately arresting: Zodiac man with the signs of the zodiac placed over the areas of the body that each governed (f.40), and Phlebotomy or Vein man where each point for blood-letting is pinpointed and a red line flows to the prescriptive text (f.18). The other visual aid in the manuscript served the prevalent method of diagnosis in medieval medicine, urinology; and the four pages of depicted urine samples (ff.58v-61) provide graphic and highly coloured examples of the manifestation of a wide, and disturbing, range of disorders.\n\nMore discursive treatises on the nature of the planets, the influence of the zodiac signs, inauspicious days, and on the nature of man augment the diagrammatic and tabular material; these include works attributed to Aristotle, Ptolemy and the Venerable Bede. As well as providing these tables and texts relating to well-being, sickness and cure, the manuscript includes other accretions relevant to computation and prognosis, even if they are not obviously related to health: tables for multiplication, weather forecasting, the calculation of distances and of time. A full list of incipits is available on request.\n\nPerhaps the most unusual and, apparently, anomalous inclusion is the guide giving the precise steps to be taken to make a pilgrimage from London to Jerusalem (f.76): it includes details not only of the route from village to village but instructions on practical considerations ('Who that wyll to Jerusalem gon he muste make hys change at london with the lumbards and or thett he make hys change he muste have a wryte of change & a wryte of passage which ii wryttes will cost hym ii s and qwene he comyth to dover the wat[er] bayly wyll have iiii d....'). On the journey the author diverts to other shrines and relics but also recommends more light-hearted sightseeing; his description in Pavia of 'a fayr parke wel walled wit tyle and ther in beyne lyberds & lyons & all maner of odyr der and marvelusse maner of fowles and a full stronge castell' clearly refers to the Visconti menagerie and Castello. Once Jerusalem is reached detailed eye-witness accounts are given of the Holy Sepulchre and the other sites of sacred history in the Holy Land. We have been unable to identify any other copy, or even a relatd version, of this intriguing account. It is immediately followed by the stanzas of Lydgate's Dietary opening 'For helth of body cov[er] for cold thy[ne] hed' (Brown and Robbins, The Index of Middle English Verse, 1943, no 824, p.131), which continues with the Storie lune (IMEV, no 970, citing this manuscript as one of only seven examples).\n\nThe majority of medical manuscripts written in Middle English are largely remedy books with few texts more ambitious than recipes, usually herbal, for various medications. Comprehensive manuals containing computational material and treatises are much less common. Such texts only started to be translated or compiled towards the end of the 14th century -- the Equatorie of Planetis, thought possibly to be by Chaucer, is one example: Faith Wallis, 'Medicine in Medieval Calendar Manuscripts', Manuscript Sources of Medieval Medicine, ed. M.R. Schleissner, 1995, pp.105-145.\n\nEnglish medical manuscripts from the 15th century rarely appear on the market, and even in comparison with examples in public collections, the present manuscript is quite exceptional in providing such an extensive collection of texts written in English, and with such lively and attractive illustration and decoration. The inclusion of an apparently unknown pilgrim guide makes it even more remarkable.\n\nILLUMINATION:\n\nThe manuscript is unusually lavishly decorated. As well as the large golden initials with painted grounds and foliage that open each text, some of the Calendars, tables and charts appear as though scattered with burnished gold letters or shapes and even the urinals are contained within a golden frame.\n\nThe two full-page figures are Vein man on f.18 and zodiac man on f.40.
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*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.

*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.


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