Medieval manuscripts blog

27 May 2012

From Boethius to John Dee: More Scientific Manuscripts Published

One of the pleasures of working with old books is that it offers fascinating insight into the lives of past generations. Take Harley MS 647, for instance, one of the scientific manuscripts recently uploaded to our Digitised Manuscripts site. Wouldn't we love to know more about the Anglo-Saxon scribe who added his name at the end of this book, noting that he had "found and corrected" it? Did Geruvigus live at St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury, to whom this volume later belonged? Was he tasked with correcting the book by the abbot, or did he undertake this at his own initiative? How long was he active as a scribe, and what was his fate?

The scribal invocation 'Ista proprio sudore nomina uno quoque propria. Ego indignus sacerdos et monachus nomine Geruvigus repperi ac scripsi. Pax legentibus': England, 11th century (London, British Library, MS Harley 647, f. 21v).

Many of the scientific manuscripts in the British Library's Harley collection have been digitised and recatalogued thanks to the generosity of William and Judy Bollinger. Here is a list of new additions to the website, featuring books made in England, Flanders, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Spain, and ranging in date from the 9th to the 17th centuries. These volumes include works by Boethius, Cicero, Isidore of Seville, John Dee and Thomas Hobbes, among others. Maybe you will discover among them other personalities such as Geruvigus, staring out at us from the pages of these manuscripts.

Harley MS 79 Albertus Magnus, De mineralibus et lapidibus (England and Italy, 14th-15th century)

Harley MS 270 Matthaeus Platearius (attrib.), Liber de simplici medicina (England, 12th-13th century)

Harley MS 321 Scientific miscellany (England, c. 1387)

Harley MS 531 Miscellaneous texts on astronomy, astrology and meteorology (England, 1272-1474)

Harley MS 532 Miscellany including John Dee, Epilogismus calculi diurnus planetarum tum longitudinis (England, 16th-17th century)

The opening page of John Dee's Epilogismus calculi diurnus planetarum tum longitudinis: England, late-16th century (London, British Library, MS Harley 532, f. 122v).

Harley MS 546 Medical miscellany (Ireland, 1459)

Harley MS 647 Collection of astronomical and astrological texts (France, c. 820)

Detail of the constellation of Orion, in a copy of Cicero's Aratea with extracts from Hyginus, Astronomica: Northern France, c. 820 (London, British Library, MS Harley 647, f. 8r).

Harley MS 937 Physician's folding almanac (England, c. 1430-1431)

Harley MS 1737 Boethius, De institutione arithmetica (?France, 12th century)

Harley MS 1914 Yūhannā ibn Sarābiyūn (Serapion the Elder), Breviarium medicinae (Italy, 14th century)

Harley MS 2320 Miscellany of treatises relating to prognostication, astrology and braiding (England, 15th century)

A lunar prognostication in verse: England, 15th century (London, British Library, MS Harley 2320, f. 31r).

Harley MS 2506 Collection of astronomical and astrological treatises (France, c. 990-1000)

Harley MS 2579 Miscellany including Macer Floridus, De viribus herbarum (Italy, 15th century)

Harley MS 3099 Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae and De natura rerum (Flanders, 12th century)

Detail from Isidore of Seville's Etymologiae: Munsterbilsen, 12th century (London, British Library, MS Harley 3099, f. 1v).

Harley MS 3140 Articella (France, c. 1300)

Harley MS 3199 Collection of computistical and musical texts (France or England, 12th-14th century)

Harley MS 3234 Alanus ab Insula, De planctu naturae (Italy, 15th century)

Harley MS 3244 Bestiary (England, 13th century)

A dog with a shepherd, dogs hunting a stag and a rabbit, and a dog identifying a murderer and howling by its dead master, in a bestiary: England, 13th century (London, British Library, MS Harley 3244, f. 45r).

Harley MS 3263 Jean du Temps of Blois, Organon Astronomicon ex hypothesibus Copernici extractum (France, 16th century)

Harley MS 3271 Collection of grammatical and computistical texts (England, 11th century): see The Tribal Hidage Online

Harley MS 3394 Andres de Vega, Fabrica Horologa Universal (Spain, 1627)

Harley MS 3360 Thomas Hobbes, A Minute or first Draught of the Optiques (France, 1646): see Thomas Hobbes on Optics Online

Harley MS 3414 Theophrastus, De historia plantarum (Germany, 15th century)

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Thank you very much for all this; I would think, however, that "repperi" means "I discovered", not "I repaired". Keep up the good work!

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