You are in Introduction. Click here to skip the navigation.
British Library
Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts
 Detail from the Roman de la Rose
About Simple search Manuscript search Advanced search  Virtual exhibitions Glossaries Contact us  Main
print Print this page
home Home
site search Search British Library website
back Back

search tips  Search tips



Detailed record for Harley 3805

Author Jacques Despars
Title Commentary on the Canon Medicinae by Avicenna, Book III, Fen IV-XII
Origin France, Central (Paris)
Date 1475
Language Latin
Script Gothic hybrid
Artists In the style of the Master of Jacques de Besançon
Decoration Spray borders in colours and gold with foliate tendrils, small leaves, flowers and berries, with 9 large historiated initials in blue or red with white tracery (ff. 1, 34, 73, 97v, 121v, 128v, 157, 285, 333). Puzzle initials in red and blue (ff. 58v, 205, 229, 256v). Initials and paraphs in alternating blue and red. Sentence initials touched in yellow. Rubrics in red throughout.
Dimensions in mm 400 x 280 (285 x 180) in two columns
Official foliation ff. 1* + 344 (f. 1* is the original upper parchment pastedown; + two unfoliated modern paper flyleaves at the beginning, one unfoliated original parchment flyleaf after f. 1*, 2 unfoliated ruled blanks after f. 344, 2 unfoliated original parchment flyleaf and pastedown and 2 modern paper flyleaves at the end).
Collation i-xxviii 12, xxix 10 (ff. 1-344 and following two blanks)
Form Parchment codex
Binding BM//BL in-house.
Provenance The manuscript belongs to a set of 11 volumes (Harley 3799-3809) dated 1475 (inscription Harley 3809, f. 284).
Gui II Arbaleste (d. 1570), counsellor in the Parliament of Paris and bibliophile: his arms and motto 'Ingenium superat vires' (f. 1, superimposed within decorated lower border).
Pierre Séguier (b. 1588, d. 1672), count of Gien, chancellor of France from 1635 (see Wright and Wright 1966, Wright 1972).
Andrew Hay (d. 1754?), dealer: sold to Edward Harley together with other manuscripts from the Séguier collection on 5 September 1720 (see Wright and Wright 1966, Wright 1972).
The Harley Collection, formed by Robert Harley (b. 1661, d. 1724), 1st earl of Oxford and Mortimer, politician, and Edward Harley (b. 1689, d. 1741), 2nd earl of Oxford and Mortimer, book collector and patron of the arts, inscribed as usual by their librarian, Humfrey Wanley ‘5 Septembris, 1720’ (unfoliated flyleaf before f. 1).
Edward Harley bequeathed the library to his widow, Henrietta Cavendish, née Holles (b. 1694, d. 1755) during her lifetime and thereafter to their daughter, Margaret Cavendish Bentinck (b. 1715, d. 1785), duchess of Portland; the manuscripts were sold by the Countess and the Duchess in 1753 to the nation for £10,000 (a fraction of their contemporary value) under the Act of Parliament that also established the British Museum; the Harley manuscripts form one of the foundation collections of the British Library.
Notes Despars compiled his commentary between 1432 and 1453 (see Harley 3808, f. 247): the present manuscript is part of the only surviving set of manuscripts (11 volumes) to contain a complete copy of this work (see Jacquart 1980).
Title on parchment label from the original binding glued onto f. 1*.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), III (1808), nos. 3799-3809.

The Diary of Humfrey Wanley 1715-1726, ed. by Cyril Ernest Wright and Ruth C. Wright, 2 vols (London: Bibliographical Society, 1966), I: 1715-1723, p. 51 and n. 6, 68 n. 1.

Cyril Ernest Wright, Fontes Harleiani: A Study of the Sources of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1972), pp. 183, 301, 435.

Danielle Jacquart, 'Le regard d'un médecin sur son temps: Jacques Despars (1380?-1458)', Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des Chartes, 138 (1980), 35-86 (pp. 40, 42).

Catalogued for the Harley Medical Manuscripts Project [], accessed 9 December 2008.

* * *
Doctor examining a patient

f. 121v
Doctor examining a patient
Doctor examining female patient

f. 333
Doctor examining female patient

print Print this page
home Home
site search Search British Library website
back Back
top Back