Medieval medicine – short notices

For those who may not have heard, Dr. Barbara Zipser spent five years editing and translating a medical handbook from Byzantium entitled de curatione, with a brief from Royal Holloway University of London to “write  on the world in which this work was compiled, revised and used” while at the same time setting up a wiki on Simon Ianuensis’, clavis sanationis (about which my fans may recall a mention or two here).  The Clavis sanationis is  a thirteenth-century [polyglot] medical dictionary in Latin, Greek and Arabic.

I referred to Simon Ianuensis as “Simon of Genoa”- when speaking of Roger Bacon’s interest in him, and in writing about the oath of pharmacists in thirteenth fourteenth century Paris.

In addition, people interested in the idea that the manuscript might relate to medicine should follow anything published by Alain Touwaide, who is very generous about seeing that copies of his published work are also made available to the wider world through

Finally, with some blushes – and although ultimately it doesn’t alter my views about the ‘barils’ –  I have to do the right thing and show you the following details from an early thirteenth century  “illustrated Anglo-Norman translation of the Chirurgia Practica of Roger of Salerno”.

Courtesy of the University, they appear here. You can see them online  here.  The details show (a) a straight-sided metal urn exactly the form of the cinza or cista etc., here used as a boiler and (b) objects which look suspiciously like Syrian or Corinthian albarelli on the pharmacy shelves.


Permit me to say it for you …..  “So there”  😀

urn as boiler England or Sicily early 13thC

(detail) Trinity College Library, MS O.1.20, folio272r


albarelli England early 13thC ms Cambridge Trinity

(detail) Trinity College Library, MS O.1.20, folio240r. England, early 13thC

PS – I don’t think this is news to everyone, but looking for “Voynich” and “Zipser” online turns up only one name – Stephen Bax – so I must suppose it will be news for most of the online community.









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