On this page, you can learn more about the various medieval medical manuscripts in St John’s College library. You may also be interested in the Medicine section of our western post-1500 manuscripts collection.
MS 10 was produced in England at the end of the thirteenth century and it contains works by Hippocrates (d. c. 370 BCE) and Galen (d. c. 216 CE). Hippocrates, often referred to as the ‘Father of Medicine’, famously gave his name to the Hippocratic oath—an ethical code for physicians.
MS 68 mainly consists of a copy of Aldobrandino of Siena’s Le Regime du corps, a French text on diet written in the thirteenth century. This manuscript also includes an extract from Brunetto Latini’s Li Livres dou Tresor, an early encyclopedia written in the 1260s. MS 68 was produced c. 1475, possibly in Flanders. It was donated to the college by George Bate (d. 1669), who was physician to King Charles II.
This medical manuscript, which principally contains a copy of William of Parma’s Chirurgia, was produced in England in the middle of the fourteenth century. The main text is in Latin but there are added notes in both English and French. Coloured drawings of surgical implements, like the ones depicted here, were also added to the manuscript.
MS 85 comprises two originally separate manuscripts, both of which were produced in England in the thirteenth century. Respectively, these manuscripts include works by the physicians Constantine the African (eleventh century) and Rhazes (ninth / tenth century).
This manuscript contains works by John Arderne (1307–1392), an important English surgeon. MS 86 was produced in England at the turn of the fifteenth century. It contains frequent illustrations.
MS 108 was produced in England c.1425 and it contains a copy of Compenium medicine by Gilbert the Englishman (d. c. 1250). A historiated initial on the opening page (shown here) depicts a physician examining a urine flask. Medieval uroscopy involved looking at urine for diagnostic purposes.
MS 113 comprises two originally separate manuscripts, both produced in England in the fifteenth century. One contains an alphabetical herbal and medical notes. The other (shown here) contains a commentary on Aristotle.
MS 132 contains a copy of Practica chirurgiae by John Arderne (d. 1392), an important English surgeon. This manuscript was produced in England c.1425-1450, and it includes various illustrations of diseases and operations.
MS 172 was produced in England between approximately 1425 and 1450. This miscellany includes texts on grammar, alchemy, and medicine. The page shown here is the start of a Bernard of Gordon’s ‘De flegbotomia’.
MS 197 is a medical miscellany from the middle of the fifteenth century. It comprises three originally separate manuscripts, variously produced in France and Italy. MS 197 includes texts on surgery, prognostics, leprosy, and urine.