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A Renaissance doctor’s medical handbook, including recipes and cures for common ailments, in Latin, manuscript on paper [Italy, probably mid-16th century ]
A Renaissance doctor’s medical handbook, including recipes and cures for common ailments, in Latin, manuscript on paper [Italy, probably mid-16th century ]
A Renaissance doctor’s medical handbook, including recipes and cures for common ailments, in Latin, manuscript on paper [Italy, probably mid-16th century ]
A Renaissance doctor’s medical handbook, including recipes and cures for common ailments, in Latin, manuscript on paper [Italy, probably mid-16th century ]
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A Renaissance doctor’s medical handbook, including recipes and cures for common ailments, in Latin, manuscript on paper [Italy, probably mid-16th century ]

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A Renaissance doctor’s medical handbook, including recipes and cures for common ailments, in Latin, manuscript on paper [Italy, probably mid-16th century ]
An important insight into the daily life of an Italian Renaissance physician, revealing, among other things, contemporary methods for treating measles, haemorrhoids, plague, syphilis and ulcers, and how newly-established trade routes to the East and West introduced new ingredients into his practice: plant products from India, lapis lazuli from modern Afghanistan, and medicinal wood from either the Caribbean or the northern coast of South America.

217 x 150mm. 84 leaves, contemporary foliation 1-84 followed here, catchwords survive, quire signatures discontinued after ‘b’, last three gatherings trimmed away to stubs, else apparently complete, entries in a 16th-century Italian hand, cross marks and corrections next to certain remedies, watermark split over gutter of leaves and indistinct, but in form of a shield common throughout 16th-century Italy (occasional spots, stains and ink smudges). Contemporary brown leather over pasteboards, tooled with ropework designs and rollstamps of geometric interlace (stained and scuffed, lacking a small section on upper board, remnants of ties, boards slightly bowed, remains of old paper label the length of the spine, the binding reattached to text block with glue and resewn).

Content: A treatise on syrups and broths in medicine ff.1-2v; a list of medical syrups suitable for the treatment of choleric and phlegmatic conditions, including an absinth-based syrup and various distillates ('aqua') made from rosemary, sage, camomile etc. ff.3-5; a simple rhubarb-based solution for stomach disorders and advice on dosage of a number of mildly toxic and poisonous substances such as tamarind, poisonous fungi ('agaricus'), the fruits of the Indian mirabola tree, lapis lazuli and the spice cardamon, ff.5v-10v; two short recipes on the use of the Indian Cassia plant, specifically 'cassica fistula' or the ‘purging cassia’, and its effects on the body ff.10v-11; various remedies and a list of ingredients, including lapis lazuli and 'lapide armeno' (Armenian stone); a short treatise on methods of medical applications, with sections on pills, ointments, plasters and various types of oils and unguents, ff.18v-31v; blank f.32; the elixir 'aqua mirabilis', and ingredients that could be added to it or similar substances, ff.33-36v; instructions on how to make oils that work against poisons and the plague, including '[oleum] scorpionum', ff.37-39v; a recipe against measles, along with those for more common diseases, including haemorrhoids and a remedy for premature birth named 'sanguinis draconis' (dragon’s blood) and one to protect against syphilis, 'ad galicam passionem', that is mostly composed of absinthe and 'lignum guaiacum' (wood of a tree from the genus Guiacum, these indigenous to the Caribbean and the northern coast of South America) ff.40r-65v; advice on substances to combine with urine, including 'lapidus iudaici' (the 'Jewish stone', most probably pumice stone), and 'oculorum cancrorum' (‘crab’s eyes’, or stony concretions found in the gut of river crayfish), ending with remedies for ulcers, contusions, 'vermis in pueris' (worms in young boys, again to be cured with absinthe), tumors, crepitis and other ailments ff.66-87.
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Sophie Hopkins
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