TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

LAURENTIUS RUSIUS, Hippiatria sive Marescalcia (Book on the Health of Horses), in the Italian translation of ANTONIO DAPERA, Liber meneschalcie

In Italian and Latin, illustrated manuscript on paper
Northern Italy (perhaps Ferrara), dated 1434

TM 1026
  • €115,300.00
  • £98,800.00
  • $125,000.00

i (paper)+82 folios on paper, modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, cited here, watermark of three mountains, resembling Briquet, 11730-11731 and 11900; Vicenza, 1429-1451, etc., complete (collation, i-ii24 iii22 iv4[-3 and 4, two leaves following f. 729v) v10 (10,  f. 82, pastedown]), phrases in decorative cartouches, ff. 29, 50, 63, first words on the following verso copied in a decorative cartouche on f. 21, ruled lightly in lead, single full-length vertical bounding lines (justification 203-195 x 162 mm.), written in in a gothic bookhand influenced by humanistic script in two columns of 29-35 lines, headings and paragraphs marks in red, capitals touched in red and yellow, large painted initials in red throughout (up to three lines high, f. 65), a large divided initial in red and brown on f. 1 with penwork in both colors, five marginal drawings in red or in brown with yellow wash (ff. 31, 32, 33, 34v, and 62), described below, additions at the end in various contemporary hands, some minor wear and browning, preliminary blank leaf repaired, small marginal repair to f. 1, blank f. 70 partly cut away, stains and dirt, overall in very good intact condition.  CONTEMPORARY BINDING of limp vellum with spine sewn in account-book style, rear cover extensively repaired, a few other repairs to binding, in a cloth clamshell case. Dimensions 283 x 217 mm.

Rare signed and dated manuscript of the Italian translation of one of the principal treatises on veterinary medicine for horses, most likely made for the actual use of the ducal farrier at the court of Niccolo III d’Este in Ferrara.  Made for practical use, the manuscript includes notable additions in the original and later hands to a text that was tailored for this copy.  The original wallet-style binding and the charming pen and ink drawings – surely by the scribe – enhance the manuscript’s interest.


1. The manuscript is dated 1434 in red in the lower margin of f. 33r. The colophon on f. 69v records that it was copied by the scribe Guido de Santo Angelo for the farrier Chalavereso, in honor of St. Allo, or Eligius, patron saint of farriers (“Guidus de sancto angelo scripsit Chalavereso mereschalco si la fato scrivere al honore del beato sancto allo”).  The scribe appears to be unrecorded, but he may well have been related to Donato de Santo Angelo, author of another late fifteenth-century Italian treatise on farriery, now London, British Library, Sloane MS 3026. The list of proverbs at the end (f. 75v) is signed by the scribe Giovanni Antonio Cadamosto. He is probably the same Giovanni Cadamosto, author and donor of the great illustrated herbal given in 1471 to Borso d’Este, marquis of Ferrara (1450-1471), now Paris, BnF, MS it. 1108 (see Le muse e ii principe, Arte di corte nel Rinascimento padano, II, 1991, no. 54, pp. 209-210). The principle text here is linguistically very close to that of a manuscript made for Niccolo d’Este (see below). Taken together, it seems quite likely that Chalavereso was the ducal farrier in the Este court of Ferrara.

2. Private collection.


ff. 1rv, [Dedication to the Cardinal Orsini, in Latin], Describitur liber meneschalcie compositus a maistro laurencio dicto rucio meneschalcho de roma familiare reverendo in christo patris et dominum dominum [sic] neapolionis dei gratia tituli santi adriani diaconi cardinalis. De epistula ..., incipit, “Reverendo in christo patri et domino suo domino neapolioni dei gratia tituli santi adriani diacono cardinali laurencius dictus rucius...”;

ff. 1v-2v, [Table of Contents, in Italian, listing 144 [142] chapters], Questi son li capituli delo libro de nostra generatione guida infirmitade ... de cavalli. In prima, incipit, “i. Como e in que modo el cavalo se purga ... cxxxxiiii. Cosse notabille et da avir in memoria”;

ff. 3-65, [text] Como e quando e in que modo lo cavallo se purga, incipit, “Che intra tuti li cosi ... [chapter 142], Cossi notabilli .cxxxxii, Mitiremo nel ultimo alcuni cossi ... como la luna amancha et cressi,” Deo gratias, Amen.

The 144 [142] chapters announced in the table of contents are all accounted for.

ff. 65-69v, [A sequence of additional chapters (by Dapera?) added to Rusio’s text discussing diseases and remedies], Dele venne, incipit, “Facta in primo la sanguine … eligargello ale conie dal puto vergene,” Deo gratia Amen. Guidus de sancto angelo scripsit. Chalauereso mereschalcho si la fato scrivere al honore del beato sancto allo; [f. 70rv, blank];

ff. 71-78v, Extensive additions including approximately sixty medical recipes (many for horses but also for toothache) and proverbs; [ff. 79-82, blank apart from later notes; f. 82, pastedown].

The text of Lorenzo Rusio is divided here into 142 chapters discussing the various illnesses, accidents, and diseases in horses.  Chapters 3-142 correspond to chapters 41-181 of the first edition of the Italian translation (Italy, 1543); the first two chapters here are not found in this edition, and the first forty chapters in the printed edition on the breeding, the breaking in, and the keeping of horses are omitted.  Particular attention is given to illness of eyes (f. 5v), mouth (f. 7v), back (f. 12v), legs (f. 31r), hoof (f. 34v), and feet (f. 43v). A very brief chapter deals with the influence of the moon on horses (f. 16v), and the treatise ends with the links between the animal body and zodiacal signs (f. 63v).

The original Latin text of the present treatise on the medicine of horses was written in Rome c. 1380-1312 for Cardinal Napoleone Orsini (d. 1312) by the farrier Lorenzo Rusio (d. 1347). The treatise is based on his personal experience with horses, and it greatly expanded the thirteenth-century treatise on horse medicine by the Calabrian author Giordano Ruffo (d. c. 1256) for Emperor Frederick II (1194-1250).  In many medieval manuscripts Rusio’s text was wrongly attributed to Bonifacio di Calabria, to whom the treatise is still attributed in some library catalogues (for example, Vatican, Cod. Vat. Lat. 7228). The text was translated into Italian by at least two different authors, including Angelo Tarantino De Liccio and the Dominican friar, Antonio Dapera (Antonius de Pera) (d. 1440), whose Italian translation is datable c. 1390-1400 (Kaeppeli, 1970, vol. 1, p. 117, no. 299). Both translations had a wide circulation in Italy and were copied with many variants.

The Latin text was first printed in 1488 and the Italian translation by Dapera was published in Venice in 1543.  There is no modern edition of the manuscripts of the text, which do not appear to be numerous.  Pending further study of the extant manuscripts and a modern critical edition, scholars still must make use of the nineteenth-century publication by del Prato and Barberi (1867-1870, vol. 2, pp. 7-403; see also Brunori Cianti and Cianti, 1993, pp. 230-231 and 285-325; and Schnier, 1937; see also Aurigemma, 1998, the study of one manuscript). The present manuscript is in Dapera’s translation, which was particularly successful in northern Italy.  It is linguistically very close to a decorated manuscript made in 1422 for Niccolo III d’Este, marquis of Ferrara 1393-1441 (now London, British Library, Additional MS 22824).  Many such manuscripts were luxury copies, hardly intended for actual use. The present copy, however, was evidently prepared as a practical manual and was owned by a farrier.  Such books hardly survive. Yale University, Beinecke Library, MS 137, is another example of a working copy (Shailor, 1984), and is one of the only examples of a copy for practical use now in a library outside of Italy.  


f. 31, a peasant carrying a cartouche on his shoulders with the words, “Deli crepazi” (title of chapter 73, f. 31rv);

f. 32, a dog drinking from a fountain, watched by his master;

f. 33, a kneeling man, perhaps the owner of the manuscript, and the date “1434” in red;

f. 34v, a roaring lion;

f. 62, St. Eligius (St. Eloy), the patron saint of farriers, between a maid servant and a hand holding a dragon;

The five marginal illustrations enliven the pages of this volume and shed interesting light on the work of this scribe (who was almost certainly the creator of the drawings); the drawing of St. Eloy on f. 62, is quite relevant to this text.


Aurigemma, L. La mascalcia di Lorenzo Rusio : Nel volgarizzamento del codice angelicano V.3.14, Studi e testi del vocabolario dei dialetti della sabina e dell'aquilano  2, Alessandria, 1998).

Brunori Cianti, L. and L. Cianti. La Pratica della veterinaria nei codici medievali di mascalcia. Bologna, 1993.

Delprato, P.  Trattati di mascalcia attribuiti ad Ippocrate, tradotti dall'arabo in latino da maestro Moisè da Palermo, volgarizzati nel sec. XIII, ...  corredati di due posteriori compilazioni in latino e in toscano, e di note filologiche ...,. Bologna,1865.

Delprato, P. and L Barbieri, L. La Mascalcia di Lorenzo Rusio, volgarizzamente del secolo XIV messo per la prima volta in luce; aggiuntovi il testo latino per cura de Luigi Barbieri, Collezione di opere inedite o rare 1; Notizie storiche degli scrittori italiani di veterinaria 2, 2 vols., Bologna, Romagnoli, 1867-1870.

Kaeppeli, T. Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum Medii Aevi, vol. 1, Rome, 1970, p. 117.

Rusio, L. Opera de l'arte del malscalcio Nellaquale si tratta delle razze, governo, & segni di tutte le qualita de cavalli, & di molte malattie, con suoi rimedii. Con la descrittione di alcune maniere di morsi. Nuovamente di latino in lingua volgare tradotta, Venice, 1543.

Schnier, Ludwig. Die Pferdeheilkunde des Laurentius Rusius, Berlin, Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, 1937.

Shailor, Barbara. Catalogue of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, vol. 1, MSS 1-250, Binghamton, N.Y. 1984.

Online Resources

World association of the history of veterinary medicine

Biblioteca Malatestiana, Cod. S.XXVI.2 (Rusio, Hippiatria sive Marescalcia)

TM 1026