GUY DE CHAULIAC (ca. 1298-1368). La chirurgie, incorporating HENRI DE MONDEVILLE (ca. 1260-1319/20), L'anathomie, in French, illuminated manuscript on vellum
290 x 198mm. ii + 178 leaves: 12(blank ruled bifolium), 2-208, 214, 22-238, 246 (of 8, vii and viii cancelled blanks), COMPLETE, original foliation in roman numerals i-clvi on quires 2-21 followed here, catchwords at bottom of inner column on final versos, some cropped, two columns of 36 lines written in brown ink in a lettre btarde between four verticals and 37 horizontals ruled in brown ink, rubrics and paragraph marks in red, text capitals and ascenders in upper margin touched yellow, two-line initials throughout of burnished gold against grounds and infills of dark pink and blue with white penwork decoration, seven three- or four-line initials with staves of blue patterned white against grounds of burnished gold infilled with ivy-leaf rinceaux and accompanied by part borders with scrolling acanthus, sprays of naturalistic fruit and flowers and burnished gold trefoils and leaves on hairline tendrils, opening folio with six-line initial, bar border of gold, pink and blue, and a foliage border surrounding text and LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURE (occasional very slight smudging or spotting to some margins). 17th-century French panelled red morocco tooled in gold with central arms of Phillipe de Bthune and his crowned monogram at corners, spine gilt with crowned monogram in seven compartments (extremities slightly rubbed, small losses to head and foot of spine, joints split at head), red morocco box.
LUXURY MANUSCRIPT OF THE GREATEST MEDIEVAL WORK ON SURGERY IN AN APPARENTLY UNRECORDED VERSION
1. There are no inscriptions or heraldic elements indicating original ownership but the manuscript must have been a special and exceptional commission: the majority of Chauliac manuscripts are on paper and few have miniatures. The scene of instruction that opens this copy is painted in the style of an anonymous illuminator sometimes called the Master of the Geneva Latini but most appropriately known as the Master of the Rouen chevinage. He is named from his work in a sumptuous series of secular manuscripts commissioned by the magistrates (chevins) of Rouen in the second half of the 15th century. It has been suggested that the magistrates' decision to form a library of precious books was a response to the recent liberation of the city from English rule; it would have been an impressive demonstration of restored prosperity and stability. For about three decades from the middle of the century, imposing volumes, including works of Aristotle, histories of France and chronicles of Normandy, were illuminated for the library in the Htel de Ville. Initially various artists provided the illustration and embellishment of these books but from the 1460s the magistrates turned repeatedly to the illuminator now named after them. He effectively monopolized their patronage and his style came to dominate Rouen manuscript production (F. Avril and N. Reynaud, Les Manuscrits peinture en France 1440-1520, Paris, 1993, pp.169-173). Whereas some of the manuscripts commissioned by the chevins have bindings or borders decorated with the arms of the city, it is by no means true of them all, and it is possible that the present manuscript -- a handsome copy of the definitive text on surgery illuminated in the workshop of the magistrates' favored illuminator -- was intended to take its place among the other secular manuscripts in French intended for Rouen's prestigious library.
2. Philippe de Bthune, comte de Selles, de Charost and de Mors, marquis de Chabris (1562-1649): armorial binding with his arms and monogram as Olivier, Manuel de l'amateur de reliures armories franaises (Paris, 1925), V, pl. 442. After a prominent military and diplomatic career in the service of Henri III, Henri IV and Louis XIII, Bthune retired to the chteau of Selles in Berry. His library there included 2,500 manuscripts collected during his embassies throughout Europe. These manuscripts were inherited by Philippe's son and he bequeathed the majority of them to Louis XIV. The present manuscript was not among the inventoried items of this bequest.
3. M. Paul Barrois, Deputy for Lille
4. Bertram, fourth Earl of Ashburnham (1797-1878): this was one of the 702 predominantly French manuscripts bought from Barrois by Ashburnham in 1849. After the death of the fourth Earl his heir set about the dispersal of the Ashburnham library -- 'one of the greatest owned by any English collector since the days of Robert Harley'. Some of the Barrois manuscripts had been recognized as having been stolen from French public collections and their return to Paris was negotiated. In 1901 the remainder were sold in London (Sotheby's, 10 June to Bernard Quaritch). The manuscripts from this sale have the lot number within a blue circle written in blue pencil at the foot of the inside of the upper cover; in the present manuscript, because of the dark marbled pastedown, the number 255 is found on the first blank vellum endleaf.
Guy de Chauliac, La Chirurgie ff.1-159v: Book I (in fact the treatise on anatomy from the Cyrurgie of Henri de Mondeville) f.1, Book II (on fractures and dislocations) f.33v, Book III (on apostemes) f.50v, Book IV (on wounds) f.77, Book V (on ulcers) f.96v, Book VI (on other sicknesses) f.110v, Book 7 (on treatments or antidotes) f.142, list of all the rubrics in this version of La Chirurgie ff.157-159v; a treatise on anatomy opening Lanathomie est droicte division et co[n]gnoissa[n]ce du corps humain.... ff.160-176; a condensed account of anatomy opening Il appartient a tout homme qui se merle de cirurgie savoir lanathomie.... ff.176-177; added recipe for a depilatory paste of quicklime and orpiment, in an informal 16th-century hand f.177v; other occasional marginal notes drawing attention to topics or providing recipes added in hands of the 15th and 16th centuries.
Guy de Chauliac's Inventarium or Chirurgia magna has been described as marking 'the end of medieval medicine -- "end" understood both as fulfillment and as termination'. It was the culmination of two centuries of western surgical literature in its emphasis on the necessity for a surgeon to have medical learning and a thorough knowledge of anatomy. Extensive and well organized, the treatise demonstrated Guy's own scholarship with quotations and citations of Arab and Greek authorities -- above all Galen. The Chirurgia was copied repeatedly, numerous editions were published and it remained authoritative in western medicine until the 17th century.
Having trained in the faculties of medicine in Montpellier and Bologna, Guy was an established physician in Lyon by the time he entered the service of Clement VI around 1344. From then until his death he remained in the employment of the papacy in Avignon, successively treating Clement, Innocent VI and Urban V. Privileged access to the library of the papal court joined with his years of study to equip him perfectly for the scholastic compilation of a treatise on medicine. Perhaps the most influential advantage of the papal court on this undertaking was the availability of the new translations of Galen into Latin that were being sent by Niccol da Reggio from the kingdom of Naples. (Cf. Guigonis de Caulhiaco (Guy de Chauliac), Inventarium sive Chirurgia Magna, ed. M.R. McVaugh, 1997, I, pp.ix-xv.)
The Inventarium was completed in 1363 just as vernacular translations of scientific works were beginning to be produced; manuscript copies survive in French, Middle English, Italian, Catalan, Hebrew, Italian and Dutch, and the first printed edition was in French (Nicolas Panis ed.: Lyon: 1478. No copy extant, cf. E. Nicaise, La Grande Chirurgie de Guy de Chauliac, 1890, p. cxxvi).
The present manuscript is a fascinating version of this work; the introductory rubric (f.1), colophon (f.156v) and heading to the table of contents (f.157) suggest that it reflects a preparatory stage in the Chirurgia Magna's compilation. They all identify the author and the date of composition, most unambiguously on f.157, which describes Le livre de cirurgie qui fit et composa messire guy caillach dit guidon translate de latin en francoys par messire guy qui fu medecin de pape urbain. lan mil CCC.lvi. lequel pape gist a marceilles. Et contient vii livres desquels le premier traicte de lanathomie. Guy de Chauliac was credited with both composition and translation of the treatises at a date seven years before the completion of the Grande Chirurgie. This precedence would account for the intriguing variations from the published texts.
Like them this version contains seven treatises and covers the same topics, although only the 1st, 6th and 7th occupy the same positions. The Grande Chirurgie has a more evolved and systematic organisation, each treatise comprising two Doctrines, the first general and the second specific. There is no such division in the present manuscript, the discursive general introductions are briefer or omitted, there is no prefatory history of surgery, and there is less extensive acknowledged quotation from earlier authors. This is particularly evident in Books 6 and 7, which are the most closely comparable to their equivalents in the Grande Chirurgie. The most divergent is the first book; this is, in fact, a translation of the treatise on anatomy from the Cyrurgia of Henri de Mondeville.
Henri de Mondeville served Philippe le Bel, his brother Charles de Valois and Louis X, and taught surgery and anatomy at both Montpellier and Paris. One innovative and arresting feature of his teaching, reported by Guy de Chauliac, was his use of illustrations to demonstrate anatomy. These 'figures' are described within the treatise, most graphically the corch man who displays his muscles by carrying his skin on a stick over his shoulder (f.3v in the present manuscript). The demands of students and patients combined with ill health to prevent Henri's planned Cyrurgia from ever being achieved, and manuscripts of the completed sections are extremely rare; when Bos published the French translation in Paris (Ms fr. 2030) it was the only copy known (A. Bos, La Chirurgie de Matre Henri de Mondeville traduction contemporaine de l'auteur publie d'aprs le Ms unique de la Bibliothque Nationale, Paris 1897). Since then only one other copy and fragments have been published. The Latin text is only known in a score or so of copies and it was not printed until the 19th century (J.L. Pagel, Die Chirurgie des Heinrich von Mondeville, Berlin 1892). The unfinished work had been overshadowed; 'son livre complt et t une oeuvre magistrale, qui aurait tenu une grande place, ct de celle occupe par Guy de Chauliac' (E. Nicaise, Chirurgie de Henri de Mondeville, Paris 1893, p.xlvii).
In the account of the literature of surgery with which Guy opens his Chirurgia Magna he cites as his immediate predecessor Henri de Mondeville 'who began a treatise....left incomplete at his death'. The inclusion of part of it in what is apparently an early version of Guy's own Chirurgie is particularly suggestive of Henri's influence upon his more renowned successor. This manuscript, containing an otherwise unrecorded compilation of texts, affords an absorbing insight into the development and composition of one of the landmarks in the history of surgery.