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Detailed record for Harley 5401

Author John of Arderne
Title Liber medicinarum
Origin England
Date 2nd half of the 15th century
Language Latin
Script Gothic cursive
Decoration Half- and full-page pen drawings of surgical instruments and procedures, highlighted in red (ff. 35, 35v). Pen drawing of a zodiac man (f. 39). Marginal pen drawings of plants, surgical instruments, heraldic shields, animals, human or animal heads, limbs or bodies, highlighted in red (ff. 1-67). Initials in red.
Dimensions in mm 210 x 140 (155 x 100)
Official foliation ff. 105 (+ 4 unfoliated modern paper flyleaves at the beginning and the end).
Collation Gatherings mostly of 14.
Form Paper codex
Binding BM/BL in-house.
Provenance 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.
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 The marginal drawings are a recurring feature in most of the manuscripts of Arderne's Liber medicinarum: they were used in relation to the text to mark important passages.
The whole manuscript is a medical and culinary compendium; it also includes:
Medical recipes in Middle English and Latin (ff. 77v, 79v-83);
An astrological text attributed to Sirac, in Latin (ff. 84-85v);
Pseudo-Hippocrates, Letter to Caesar (Regimen sanitatis), in Middle English (ff. 86-87);
Medical compendium attributed here to 'Master Pauline', in Middle English (ff. 87-91v);
Treatise on uroscopy in Middle English (ff. 93-94v);
Thomas Awkbarow, 96 culinary recipes in Middle English (ff. 95v-103);
A text relating to John Lydgate, Dietary, in Middle English verse (ff. 103-104).
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts, in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: [n. pub.], 1808-12), III (1808), no. 5401.

Peter Murray Jones, ‘Sicut hic depingitur...: John of Arderne and English medical illustration in the 14th and 15th centuries’, in Die Kunst und das Studium der Natur vom 14. zum 16. Jahrhundert, ed. by Wolfram Prinz and Andreas Beyer (Cologne: Acta humaniora, 1987), pp. 103-26 (p. 122, figs 19-20).

Kathleen L. Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts 1390-1490, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles, 6, 2 vols (London: Harvey Miller, 1996), II, pp. 199, 201.

Constance B. Hieatt, 'The Middle English culinary recipes in MS. Harley 5401: an edition and commentary', Medium Ævum, 65 (1996), 54-71.

Peter Murray Jones, 'Image, Word and Medicine in the Middle Ages', in Visualizing Medieval Medicine and Natural History, 1200-1550, ed. by Jean Ann Givens, Karen Reeds and Alain Touwaide, AVISTA Studies in the History of Medieval Technology, Science and Art, 5 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), pp. 1-24 (p. 14 n. 22).

Catalogued for the Harley Medical Manuscripts Project [http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/manuscripts/INDEX.asp], accessed 24 February 2009.


Images
* * *
 
Medicinal plant

f. 2
Medicinal plant
Woman

f. 3v
Woman
Marginal drawings

f. 4
Marginal drawings
 
Marginal gimlet

f. 17v
Marginal gimlet
Surgical procedures

f. 35v
Surgical procedures
Zodiac man

f. 39
Zodiac man
 
Marginal drawings

f. 44v
Marginal drawings
Owl

f. 46
Owl

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