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Detailed record for Harley 3744

Part 1 ff. 1-137 
Author Avicenna, translated by Gerard of Cremona
Title Canon medicinae, Books I, II, and V
Origin Italy, N. (Bologna ?)
Date 1st half of the 14th century
Language Latin
Script Gothic
Decoration Historiated initials with marginal extensions (ff. 6, 7, 59). Coloured initials on coloured grounds with occasional marginal extensions. Border and display capitals of the title in red and blue (f. 1). Rubrics in red. Paraphs and running titles in red and blue. Small initials occasionally highlighted in red.
Dimensions in mm 450 x 290 (325/340 x 200/205) in two columns
Part 2 ff. 138-154 
Author Avicenna, translated by Gerard of Cremona
Title Canon medicinae, Book IV, Fen 1-2
Origin Germany, S.
Date 1st half of the 14th century
Language Latin
Script Gothic hybrid
Scribe Copied by two scribes (ff. 138-149v and 150-154)
Decoration Puzzle initials in red (ff. 138, 139v, 153). Initials, rubrics and paraphs in red. Running titles in red or dark brown.
Dimensions in mm 450 x 290 (330 x 200/205) in two columns
Official foliation ff. 154 (+ 6 unfoliated modern paper flyleaves at the beginning and 4 at the end).
Collation Gatherings mostly of 10, with horizontal catchwords and traces of original leaf signatures (ff. 1-137).
Form Parchment codex.
Binding BM/BL in-house. Rebound in 1967. Covers and spine title of the previous 'Harleian' binding of blind- and gilt-tooled mottled brown leather, attributable to Christopher Chapman, c. 1720, pasted onto modern pastedowns and one of the upper flyleaves.
Provenance Bernard Fournier, cleric of Anduze, possibly identifiable with Bernard Fournier (d. 1350), nephew of pope Benedict XII and bishop of Elne: his inscription 'Iste liber est bernardi fornerii clerici / de anduzia et decostitit X liber corporum bonorum Et est ibi liber primus canonis et secundus et quintus avicenne. Deo gratias ago qui mihi concessit' (f. 135v; see Wright 1972).
Nicholas of Cues (b. 1401, d. 1464), bishop of St. Brixen in Tyrol in 1450, cardinal in 1449, founder of the hospital of St Nicholas at Cues on the Mosel: left his entire library to the hospital in his last will dated 6 August 1464: possibly owned; could be identified as item 8, 'Item Avicena', in the inventory of the cardinal's possession (see Mantese 1962).
The Hospital of St Nicholas, Cues, on the Mosel: inscribed 'Liber hospitalis sancti Nicolai prope cusam' (f. 1; see Wright and Wright 1966; Wright 1972; Hallauer 1986; Krämer and Bernhard 1989).
Nathaniel Noel (fl. 1681, d. c. 1753), bookseller, employed by Edward Harley for buying books and manuscripts chiefly on the Continent, where his agent was George Suttie: sold to Edward Harley on 18 Jan. 1723/4, together with other manuscripts formerly in the hospital library (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, ‘18 die Januarij, A.D. 1723/4’ (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 A composite volume made up of two manuscripts of different origin.
The first manuscript (ff. 1-137) includes:
'Synonyma Avicennae', a list of synonyms (ff. 1-5);
Avicenna, 'Canon medicinae', books I, II, and V (ff. 6-135v).
The second manuscript (ff. 138-154) contains Avicenna, 'Canon medicinae', book IV, Fen 1-2.
Medical notes and recipes added on ff. 5v, 136-137v, 154v.
A glossary of Arabic and Latin synonyms and a list of medical drugs added to f. 136v.
Scribal marginalia, underlined in red on ff. 6-135v.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), III (1808), no. 3744.

Remigio Sabbadini, ‘Niccolò da Cusa e i conciliari di Basilea alla scoperta dei codici’, Rendiconti della Reale Accademia dei Lincei, 20 (1911), 3-40 (pp. 39-40, n. 2).

Paul Lehmann, Mitteilungen aus Handschriften, 2, Sitzungsberichte der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Abteilung, 2 (Munich: Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften,1930), pp. 3-55 (pp. 20, 25-26).

Berthold L. Ullman, 'Manuscripts of Nicholas of Cues', Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, 13 (1938), 194-97 (p. 196); reprinted in Studies in the Italian Renaissance, Storia e letteratura, 51 (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e letteratura, 1955), pp. 357-63 (p. 362).

Giovanni Mantese, 'Ein notarielles Inventar von Büchern und Wertgegenständen aus dem Nachlass des Nikolaus von Kues', Mitteilungen und Forschungsbeiträge der Cusanus-Gesellschaft, 2 (1962), 86-116 (p. 95 n. 39).

Rolf Winau, 'Medizinische Handschriften aus dem Besitz des Nikolaus von Kues im British Museum', Mitteilungen und Forschungsbeiträge der Cusanus-Gesellschaft, 5 (1965), 137-61 (pp. 141-44).

The Diary of Humfrey Wanley 1715-1726, ed. by Cyril Ernest Wright and Ruth C. Wright, 2 vols (London: Bibliographical Society, 1966), II: 1723-1726, p. 253 and n. 9.

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. 121, 155, 254, 434.

Hermann J. Hallauer, 'Habent sua fata libelli. Von der Mosel zur Themse: Handschriften des St. Nikolaus-Hospitals in der Bibliotheca Harleiana', Mitteilungen und Forschungsbeiträge der Cusanus-Gesellshaft, 17 (1986), 21-56 (pp. 36 n. 115, 43 no. 29).

Sigrid Krämer and Michael Bernhard, Handscriftenerbe des deutschen Mittelalters, Mittelalterliche Bibliothekskataloge Deutschlands und der Schweiz, ed. by Bernard Bischoff, Supplement 1, 3 vols (Munich: Beck, 1989-1990), I: Aachen-Kochel, p. 159.

Catalogued for the Harley Medical Manuscripts Project [], accessed 16 January 2009.


Part  1   ff. 1-137
Avicenna, translated by Gerard of Cremona Canon medicinae, Books I, II, and V
* * *
Historiated initial

f. 6
Historiated initial

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