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les Enluminures

JOHANNITIUS (HUNAYN IBN ISHAQ), Isagoge ad Tegni Galieni; PSEUDO-GALEN (THEOPHILUS PROTOSPATHARIUS?), De urinis, and other selected texts from the Articella (or Ars medicinae), and others in an anonymous translation with marginal commentary

In Catalan, decorated manuscript on paper
Spain (Catalonia, Barcelona?), c. 1475

TM 1011

i (contemporary paper endleaf) + 24 + i (contemporary paper endleaf, numbered f. 25) on paper, unidentified watermark, a balance(?),complete, (collation i-ii12 ), horizontal catchword, frame ruled in pencil with all rules full across (justification 190 x 125 mm.), text written in a formal cursive gothic bookhad, with opening words of sections of the text in a larger very angular Iberian gothic bookhand in two columns of thirty-two lines, glosses added in the margin of the first text by the main scribe in a cursive gothic bookhand, the uppermost lines with elongated ascenders, openings of each section in angular capitals with some ascenders touched in red, paragraph marks and rubrics in bright red (some rubrics with calligraphic penstrokes), two blue initials (7-line and 2-line) f. 1 with black penwork, spaces left for remaining initials (with tiny guide letters), small spots in places, else excellent condition.  CONTEMPORARY LIMP PARCHMENT ENVELOPE BINDING with flap and leather ties on flap and front board, stains and cockling, overall in good condition, in fitted red morocco slipcase. Dimensions 290 by 204 mm.

Medical manuscripts are rare; those in uncommon vernaculars are even more scarce.  The present volume includes a Catalan translation of selected texts from the Ars Medicinae -- including a synthesis of essential works by Galen -- used for the study of medicine in medieval universities. Only four copies of this translation survive, the other three in insitutions; this one is unrecorded, and there is no modern edition.  In excellent condition and still in its original binding, this manuscript merits further study for its primary text as well as its unidentified marginal gloss.


1. Written in Spain, in Catalonia, very likely Barcelona, c. 1475 based on the evidence of the language and script.  These translations are very rare, and the close relationship between the contents of our manuscript and Paris, BnF, MS espagnol 508, as well as the two other known copies of this translation, should be explored.  Our manuscript appears to be somewhat more formal than the slightly earlier one in Paris, and could possibly even be a direct copy.  Latin versions of the texts included here were essential ones for the study of medicine; the question of the audience of this vernacular translation also merits further research.

2. Joan Gili i Serra (1907-1998), Anglo-Catalan antiquarian bookdealer of Dolphin Bookshop off the Charing Cross Road, London, and later Oxford, as well as an important Catalan publisher and translator.


ff. 1-17v, Assi comença lo Libre de Johanici de introduccions del art del Tegni, incipit, “Medecina se devidex los de pertex en dues maneras ho en dues parts ço es en Teorica e en pratica  ... ho en os axí con soldar e juny”;

Hunayn ibn Ishaq’s (Johannitius), Llibre d’introduccions a l’art de la medicina de Galè (Isagoge ad Tegni Galieni / Introductio in Artem parvam Galieni, glossed version) as identified in the Paris, BnF, MS espagnol 508 (Cifuentes, 2004, p. 456). This is Hunayn ibn Ishaq’s methodological introduction to Galen’s Ars parva (or Microtegni; Cifuentes, 2006, p. 88), with marginal glosses, which appear to be the same as those in Paris, BnF, MS espagnol 508, and which Cifuentes has described as probably from the Salerno tradition (Cifuentes, 2006, p. 89).

The text includes a synthesis or summary of Galen, written by Hunayn ibn Ishaq and was used as an introdution to the study of Galen on the elements of the body (here f. 1): blood, phlegm, choler, bile and so on; the various ages of man; the elements of the physical world (f. 5v), and influences of the outside world on the human body, including air, seasons, stars, winds, exercise, idleness, and bathing; and others which influence the human body from inside (f. 6v), such as meat, drink, and accidents; followed by a section on fevers (f. 7v); and another on abscesses (f. 8v); and finally the last section classifies the types of diseases (f. 8v), starting with general ailments before moving outwards and then inwards to those that affect the limbs of the body and its organs.

ff. 17v-19v, incipit, “Conexença de les speces se fa en .v maneras …”; De conexença de les vrines segons segons [sic] Galien, incipit, “Assi comenca la conexença de les urines … Sapies per veritat que en la conexença de les urines molt feu ypo[cras],“ Acabades son les conaxenca de les urines;

Tractat de coneixença de les orines; the second text in our manuscript is also the second text in BnF MS Espagnol 508 (ff 10-11), a tract on urine that the scribe attributes to Galen but is perhaps an abbreviated translation of Theophilus Protospatharius, De urinis (as noted by Cifuentes, 2004, p. 456).

ff. 19v-21v, Commenca la conexiença dels polssos, incipit, “Adonchs sapies que pole … los hulls vermells,” Ffinito libro sit laus Gloria christe amen; [ff. 22-23v, blank but ruled];

Translation of an anonymous treatise, which is also the third text in Bnf, MS espagnol 508, ff. 11-12; perhaps an abbreviation of Filaret, De pulsibus (suggested in Cifuentes, 2004, p. 456).

f. 24rv, [Added by a slightly later hand], incipit, “Primo R. ruda bretonica berbena salidona …”; … Contre pedre, R. daguells … mengera e fagarit.”

Not yet identified, these nine recipes may be from Arnau de Vilanova’s translation of De medicinis simplicibus found in BnF MS Espgnol 508, ff. 12r=48. 

The Articella (literally the Little Art) or Ars medicinae, was an anthology of texts on Galenic medical theory that served as a textbook and reference manual between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries in Europe. The collection of texts varied between regions and universities and circulated in different translations. The invariable nucleus of this collection is the Isagoge ad Tegni Galieni, or Isagoge de Johannitius, a Latin re-working of a ninth-century treatise written in Arabic by Hunayn ibn Ishaq (809-873 or 877). The Isagoge is a compendium of brief summaries written to give a schematic overview to Galenic medicine. It explains the four humors of the human body (“naturals”) central to Galen’s system, how the humors relate to external physical influences (“non-naturals”), and things pertaining to diseases (“contra-naturals”). Knowledge of the Isagoge was fundamental to the study of medicine in the medieval university. 

The Catalan texts contained here are rare translations found in only three other manuscripts, today in Paris, Rome (Vatican City), and Barcelona. Our manuscript is thus an unrecorded witness to three texts best known in studies of the Paris manuscript (BnF, MS espagnol 508) and which have no critical edition, and one that appears to be unknown to Lluís Cifuentes, the leading scholar on this Catalan material.  Beside its important medical contents, the chain of translators and intellectual authorities behind the Catalan texts in our manuscript make it highly interesting for studies of intertextuality and intellectual exchange in the Middle Ages.

This Catalan translation no doubt existed by the end of the fourteenth century. It is first recorded in 1399 in an inventory of the manuscripts owned by the Valencian surgeon Francesc Moliner (see Cifuentes, 2006, p. 89). Three known manuscripts with our Catalan translation survive, to which the present manuscript can now be added as a fourth: Paris, BnF, MS Espagnol 508, c. 1451-1473 (there is a modern copy of this manuscript in the Arsenal library in Paris, see Cifuentes, 2007, Annexe); Vatican, BAV, MS lat. 4797, fragmentary, ff. 25-52, dated 1476 (c. 1466-1476 per Cifuentes); Barcelona, Universitat de Barcelona, MS 239 (late fifteenth century, copied from the Vatican manuscript).  It seems noteworthy that the Paris copy and our manuscript are almost identical in size (BnF MS espagnol 508 is 287 x 207 mm., and our manuscript is 290 x 204 mm.).  The identification of this new, fourth manuscript in this group, with its very close relationship to Paris, BnF, MS espagnol 509, calls for a new study of the entire group.  Cifuentes concludes that the evidence of the dialect suggests that this translation was probably done in the north Catalan Pyrenees, in Roussillon, but with relationships to Salerno (the text and gloss of the first text were likely translated from the Latin Isagoge attributed to the Salerno school).


Badia, Lola. Textos catalans tardomedievals i “ciència de natures,” Barcelona, 1996, pp. 50-56 and 62-63 (discussing the Catalan text in the Paris manuscript; not available for consultation).

Bohigas, P. El Repertori de manuscrits catalans de la Institució Patxot, Barcelona, 1932, pp. 31-32.

Cifuentes i Comamala, L. “La bibliografia mèdica Catalana d’Arnau de Vilanova: estat de la qüestió i nous textos (amb una nota sobre la difusió a Catalunya d’una Vida d’Arnau),” Arxiu de Textos Catalans Antics 30 (2011-2013), pp. 191-238.

Cifuentes i Comamala, Lluís. La ciència en català a l'edat mitjana i el renaixement. Barcelona, 2006 (pp. 88-96).

Cifuentes i Comamala, L. “La promoció intellectual i social dels barbers-cirurgians a la Barcelona medieval: l'obrador, la biblioteca i els béns de Joan Vicenç (fl. 1421-1464),” Arxiu de Textos Catalans Antics 19 (2000), pp. 429-479.

Cifuentes i Comamala, L. “La traducció catalana: transcripció del MS París BN Esp. 508, fols. 12b-48va,” in Arnaldi de Villanova Opera Medica Omnia, vol. XVII, ed. J. Martínez Gázquez, M. R. McVaugh, A. Labarta, and L. Cifuentes, Barcelona, 2004, pp. 449-541.

Cifuentes i Comamala, L., English and French trans. by C. Weill. “Textes scientifiques en catalan (xiiie-xvie siècles) dans les bibliothèques de France,” Médiévales 52 (Spring 2007), pp. 86-118 (Available online: https://journals.openedition.org/medievales/2952)

O’Boyle, Cornelius. “Articella,” in Medieval Science, Technology, and Medicine: An Encyclopedia, ed. T. F. Glick, S. Livesey, and F. Wallis, London, 2014.

O’Boyle, Cornelius. The Art of Medicine: Medical Teaching at the University of Paris, 1250-1400, Leiden, Boston, and Cologne, 1998.

Paniagua, J. A. “Las traducciones de textos médicos hechas del árabe al latín por el maestro Arnau de Vilanova,” in XXVII Congreso Internacional de Historia de la Medicina: Actas, Barcelona, 1981, vol. 1, pp. 321-326 and 324-325.

Online Sources

Paris, BnF, MS espagnol 508

BAV fragmentary copy https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Vat.lat.4797

Fernando Salmón, Articella,” Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages, Robert E. Bjork, ed., Online edition, 2010 (Oxford Reference)

TM 1011