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WALTER VON NITZSCHWITZ, et al, Roßarzneibuch [Miscellany of Hippiatric Treatises], "The Langenburg Manuscript"

In German, illustrated manuscript on paper
[Southwestern Germany, dated 1583 (sic?), c. 1600-1650]

TM 209

358 ff. (179 – 179 ff.) + 6 ff. in 2 vol. and one loose quire (collation vol. 1 : i[8-1], ii–xx 8, xxii6, xxiii[8-2] ; vol. 2 : i[8-2], ii–vii8, viii[8-1], ix–xxi 8, xxiii[8-2] ; loose quire I 6) on paper (watermark, letter E or F in a shield with a crowned eagle with spread wings, Piccard n° 160818), written in cursive script for the text and formal cursive script for the titles of the paragraphs (justification 170 x 135/145 mm.), with 17 WATERCOLOR DRAWINGS, contemporary foliation of the manuscript for each book, corrected several times in Book 1, the old foliation goes from 106 to the last folio of vol. 1 to 108 for the first folio of vol. 2, but the text is continuous, the subsequent foliation in pencil. Contemporary binding composed of a parchment manuscript from the sixteenth century, an Antiphonal of German origin with square musical notation and Latin printed text showing through the parchment binding, with ties for both volume, edges speckled. Dimensions 190/195 x 155 mm.

Important manuscript compilation of four texts on hippiatrics and hippology, the most famous by Walter von Nitzscwitz. In its original binding in two volumes and with lively watercolor wash drawings showing the various maladies from which horses suffer, the extensively published work is celebrated in hippiatric literature. It is known as the “Langenburg Manuscript,” coming from the princely family Hohenlohe-Langenburg, in whose possession it remained from its origin until its recent sale. Research remains to be done on the compilation and the relationship of the texts to one another, on the illustrations, and on issues of authorship.


1. Compiled in southeastern Germany in the duchy Würtemberg perhaps on order for Wolfgang II de Hohenlohe, who was himself the author of two treatises on hippiatry.

2. Wolfgang Friedrich von Hohenlohe (Hohenlohe-Waldenburg, 1617-1658): “Herrn Graff Wolffgang Friderichs Gnaden Anngehörig” (vol. 2, upper cover), with the title “Roß Arzenew Buch”(vol. 2, lower cover), completed by the date “Anno 1583” (vol. 2, upper cover), which has perhaps been retouched (see Roth, 1935, who states it should read “Anno 1643”).

3. Princely collection of the family Hohenlohe-Langenburg, under whose name the manuscript has become known in hippiatric literature (“The Langenburg Manucript”); unidentified monogram AE (erased on f. 1r, visible on f. 179r); shelfmark “XXI. 6. 2” on the pastedown of vol. 2. The spots on the binding come from the water used to extinguish a fire in the castle of Langenburg in January 1963 (Haux, p, 2).


Walter von Nitzschwitz, Roßarzneibuch.
f. [0]r, title, “Roß Artzenew Buch. Von einem alten württenburgischen Reidtschmit zuesamen getragen worden, welcher mit Nahmen Walter von Nitzschwitz genandt im Jahr 1580”; “Renovirt zu Stutgart im Jahr 1583.”(Book of medicine of horses, compiled by the veterinarian of the armies of Old Wurtemberg, Walter of Nitzschwitz, in the year 1580, revised in Stuttgart in the year 1583 [three final words unreadable]); f. [0]v, blank; ff. 1r-75v. Book 1, incipit, “Wan ein Pferd ein krannks Haupt hat, daß im gestoßen oder geschlagen ist. Zum ersten, welches Pferdt”; explicit, “Ende des ersten Buchs der Roß-Artzney”; ff. 76r-81v, Table of contents of Book 1, incipit, “Register ann welchem Blath ein jedes zue finden… ”; ff. unbound and inserted after f. 81v [ff. 1r-6v], Table of Contents of Book 1, incipit “Register deß ersten Buchs” (alphabetical list of contents);
[This treatise is edited by Lütze, 1932, p. 1-90 (see below)].

Johann von Groenrodt, Georg von Pfalz-Simmern, Johannes II von Pfalz-Simmern, Roßarzneibuch.
ff. 82r-194v. Book 2, Title, “Das annder Buch von der Roß-Arzney auch durch Johann von Groenroth ergangen”; f. 82v blank; f. 83r, incipit, “Vor den Wurm”; f. 183r, explicit, “gelernt von [...] Heinrich von Limpurg. 1585”; f. 183r, final title, “Ennde des anndern Buchs”; ff. 183r-185r, Treatise of bloodletting, incipit, “Hernach volgen ettliche Lerren zue den Gebrechen unnd Schäden der Pferdt vor zuezuekommen. 1585 Wann der Monschein im Zaichen des Wieders”; f. 185r, explicit “Hiermit endet sich die Aderlas”; ff. 185v-194v, supplementary recipes, incipit, “Vor die Reeh”; ff. 195r-210r, Table of contents of Book 2, inicipit, “Register des zweyten Buchs der Roßartzeney”; explicit, “Ennde deß Registers diß andern Buchs”; ff. 210v-212v, supplementary recipe, incipit, “Vor das Schwinden, welcher offtmals probiert worden ann Menschen unnd Pferden, ist bewerth. Nimb eine gute Hand voll….”
[This treatise is edited by Kraußmüller, 1977, p. 9-117, including the tables and the supplementary recipes, with a description of the manuscript, p. 2; numerous similarities but also differences with the earlier edition, Hung, 1933; partial edition, Roth, 1935, after another more complete or interpolated manuscript, pp. 27-64 (pp. 27-39, Georg von Pfalz-Simmern, 1557-1569 ; then pp. 39-64, Johannes II von Pfalz-Simmern le Jeune, 1509-1557), corresponding to Kraußmüller, 1977, p. 19, recipe 74, p. 25, then recipe 120, p. 25, recipe 121, and so forth); treatise of bloodletting edited by Roth, 1935, p. 51-52].

Anonymous, Roßarzneibuch
ff. 213r-318v, Book 3, incipit, “Bewerte unddt kostliche Roßartzney vor all Gebrech undt Kranckheiten der Pferdt, so sich wann annfang des Füllens, dem allerlei zue fillen ( ?), biß zum Alter sich zue tragen und begeben können. Daß 3 Buch”; divided in several parts, as follow: 1) the cures for foals, ff. 213r-238v, 22 chapters, incipit, “Das erste Kapitel, wann die Stuett gefohlet”; 2) for the grooming of the horse, ff. 239r-318v, 32 chapters, incipit, “Nun folget fernner wann man ein Pferdt uffstellen will, welches dan zwiischen Bartholomey unnd Michallis am Füeglichsten unnd Besten geschicht. Das erste Capittull. ; explicit, “Ennde des dritten Buchs”; ff. 319r-326v, table of contents of Book 3, incipit, “Register uber daß dritte Roß Artzeney Buch.”
[This treatise is edited by Haux, 1979].

Richard, Palsgrave and Duke of Pfalz-Simmern-Sponheim (1569-1598), Roßarzneibuch.
ff. 329r-357v, 327r-329r, Book 4, title, “Roßartzeney kommen von Hertzog Reichartten Pfaltzgrawere so mier der wohlgebohrne Herr Phillipp Freyherre zue Wimmenberg und Beyelstain, der Churf[ürstliche] Pfaltz Burggrawe zu Alhey, daselbsten abzueschreiben zuegestellet den 1. August anno 1587. Daß vierte Buch”; f. 329v, incipit, “Zum ersten zue der Augen unndt zwichen derselben, so sie boeß sind”; f. 357v, explicit, “Vor den außwerffenten Wurmb. [...] giebß dem Roß zue eßen, daß thue 3. Mall”; f. 327r, “Vor den Reyttenwurmb”; f. 329r, explicit “rauche man es weiter forh.”
[There are two editions, the older, “Eine Newe und bewerte Roßartzney darinnen allerhandt Gebresten so jnnerlich unnd äußerlich am Leib den Rossen zustehen (…), Gedruck zu Straßburg bey Antoni Bertram,” 1608; and the modern critical edition, Roth, 1935, p. 64-88 et 88-90].

Celebrated in hippiatric literature under the name “Langenburg Manuscript,” (Langenburger Handschrift), this two-volume manuscript groups together four different treatises on the medicine and science of horses. The present compilation was undertaken in southeastern Germany in the first half of the seventeenth century (dialectical characteristics point toward Swabia, and the watermark dates from the beginning of the century; Haux, 1979, gives the date 1640-44) and belonged to the Hohenlohe-Langenburg family, of which one member, Count Wolfgang II de Hohenlohe (1546-1610) was himself known for his compositions of two different hippiatric treatises and may have been the patron who ordered the present copy (see Seele, 1935; Subklew, 1936).

This manuscript has been the subject of several different studies, which research the sources of each of the four treatises but do not, for the most part, consider the manuscript as a compilation or treat the relationship between the different parts. The notion of “author” for these medical treatises is arguable; it might instead be said that there were different circles of diffusion for certain recipes and personal compilations for individual use which were never written down to be printed (even if many of them are found in the printed work of Jacob Foillet in 1599).

The first treatise is that of Walter von Nitzschwitz. He is from a noble Saxon family, chevalier of Röcknitz (http://www.schubert-roecknitz.de/ri-besi.htm; Eis, 1962, p. 124), but there is no trace of him in Wurtemberg, although he is called “Reitschmid du Wurtemberg.” In his treatise, Nitzschwitz writes in the first person and gives practices and recipes from his own experience: (f. 27v) “Ist probirt wordeten anno 78”; (f. 30r) “Ich sag nein”; (f. 34v) “Wann ein Ros dermasen kranckh wirt, dem hilff also. Mich hat nihts beßres geholffen... ”; (f. 51v) “Ich hab dem Herzogen Lunnenburg ( ?) [...] da nemb ich die Salb, die da beschrieben ist, am 94. Blath...”; (f. 63r) “So ich aber glaub”; (f. 70v) “Ich habe die Wurzel.” Identifiable sources he turned to include the treatise of Master Albrant and a part of Codex 234 of the Gamle Kongelige Samling of the Kongelige Bibliotek in Copenhague (cf. Perino, 1957, p. 52 et Eis, 1962, p. 122). A number of other similarities can be pointed out with other treatises of the same period, calling into question, for Nitzschwitz also, the idea of the author (Piechatzek, 1937, pp. 10-12; Lezius, 1968, p. 350; Malkusch, 1986; in this treatise, as in the following there are several recipes found also in MS Cod. Pal. germ. 222 of the University Library of Heidelberg, which dates c. 1580 and comes from the same region (see Online Resources below). The treatise follows the traditional order of treatment of the horse from the head to the feet.

The present manuscript is one of three copies known of this treatise (a fourth copy kept in the veterinarian faculty of Munich burned during World War II). Representative of an old branch of the manuscript tradition, its illustrations are carefully executed but the text is often corrupt.

The presence of illustrations (actually watercolor wash drawings) executed specially for this manuscript, doubtless according to instructions of the author, as well as the frequent use of the first person, leads to the supposition that its realization is close to the author. The mention “auch durch Johann von Groenroth ergangen” at the beginning of the second treatise can be understood as meaning that the tradition of this text, passes to him, to whom Nitzchwitz would be related (Lezius, p. 10). Nevertheless the date of the copy is uncertain: if today we read “im Jahr 1580” et “Renovirt zu Stutgart im Jahr 1583,” a reproduction in 1932 shows that the first date has been retouched and read “1586” (Lutze, 1932, p. 1), creating a contradiction with the mention that follows.

The treatise of Nitzschwitz influenced the hippiatric work published under the name of Johann Martin Weitzen von Oschitz in 1677 (éd. Hendrik Brebaum, 1967) and also decorated with illustrations.

The second treatise is transmitted under the name Johann von Groenrodt, a member of the noble family of Meissen, and who knew Walter von Nitzschwitz, as he states in his treatise (éd. Hung, 1933). In the manuscript, the crucial sentence tying the two authors together has been copied in blue ink, according to Hung and Eis (Hung, 1933, p. 150; Eis, 1962, p. 126): f. 166r, “Von Walter von Nitzschwitz zu Weißboden an einem Pferd probiert, ... bin ich Johan von Groenroth darbey gewesen.”

The second book was compiled in 1585, a date that is signaled twice at the end of the treatise (f. 183r). It is a collection of recipes that also follows the order from the head to the feet, but not so systematically, as it sometimes covers the same subject in two different places. There are 649 recipes and prescriptions, of which 22 recipes are said to be equally effective for the treatment of humans, three recipes for dogs, and three alchemical recipes. The principal points covered are parasites, wounds, and swelling.

Johann von Groenrodt also is less an author than a practitioner and a compiler, as the numerous extracted borrowings of the text, as well as specific indications in the manuscript, indicate: this treatise depends heavily on the collections of recipes that can be attributed to the Palatine Counts of Pfalz-Simmern (cf. Hung, 1933; Roth, 1935; Kraußmüller, 1977). In the table of contents, the origin of the recipes is in effect indicated: “Herzogen Georgen Pfalz Grafern” (17); “Herzog Johan Pfalz Grafen bei Rein unddt Grafen zue Spannheimb” (26); “Reingraf Otto” (42). Six mentions of the origins of recipes are also presented in the text.

The third work is anonymous; it is focused on the breeding and care of horses and especially foals. Comprising 90 recipes, the first part is quite specific, and the second, longer part treats certain diseases and gives remedies against injuries. Nevertheless, the two parts clearly go together because there are references in the second part to recipes in the first part. In the third treatise, we find indications on the provenance of some of the recipes: (f. 231r) “eines Bürgers von Osatz,” of a citizen of Oschatz [Saxony, Germany]; (f. 298r) “Meister Thomassen des Reitschmits Kunst,“ doctor of Master Thomas the veterinarian of the armies; (f. 298v) “Ein anders des Abts von Merssenburg,” another from the abbot of Mersenburg [Saxony, Germany]. These three indications point towards an edition in Saxony, the region from which Walter von Nitzschwitz as well as Johann von Groenrodt originated. It remains necessary to study further the relationship between this treatise and those of the authors of the first two books of the manuscript.

The fourth treatise is apparently incomplete (much shorter than the others and without the final tables). According to its title, it was given to be copied by the Duke and Palatine Count Richard (probably Richard of Pfalz-Simmern-Sponheim) to the noble Philipp III, Baron of Winnenburg and Beilstein (1564-1600), who became advisor to Count Palatine Richard after his studies at the University of Heidelberg (Roth, p. 8). A printed version of this text exists, but it is different than the manuscript version.


f. 28r, Arteries of the Horse, “Die Ader am Halß”(f. 28v blank, f. 29r “Die gewöhliche Adern zue beydten Seitten oben”);

f. 31r, Horse with an Inflamation of the Glands, “Umb die Maaß gewinnet ein Roß die Feiffel”; f. 30v, “Wann du einem Roß die Feyfell scheiden willst...”; f. 32r, “Ich haab manchem Roß die Feyffel geschnitten ”; for a description of this disease, see http://germazope.uni-trier.de/Projects/WBB/woerterbuecher/dwb/wbgui?lemid=GF01981;

f. 33r, Constipated Horse, “Wann ein Roß nicht zurchen kann” (When a horse is unable to deficate);

f. 37r, Horse Trying to Urinate, “Wann ein Roß nicht stallen kann”;

f. 39r, Horse with Polydipsia, “Wann ein Roß zue viel trincket” (When a horse drinks excessively);

f. 40v, Horse Infested with Worms and Rolling on the Ground, “Wann die Würm ein Roß beißen” (When worms bite a horse);

f. 47r, Horse with Crapaudine, “Umb diße Maß wirt ein Roß krötig”, f. 46v, “Wann ein Roß krötig ist, das ist eine böße Kranckheit” (When a horse has crapaudine [a disease when the tongue of the horse swells and its surface resembles the skin of a frog or toad]);

f. 48r, Horse with a Weak Joint, “Wann einem Roß der Bugk schwindet”;

f. 50r, When the Horse Limps, “Wann ein Roß am Kin hincket”;

f. 53r, Horse with Synovitis [inflammation of the lining of the joints], “Wann einem Roß daß Gliedwaßer anngeehet”;

f. 56r, Horse Pierced with Arrows, “[...] wann einem Roß ein Speidel oder Schin oder Dorn in das Fleisch gechet” (When a horse is pieced with swords or arrows or thorns);

f. 57r, Horse with Scabies of the Knee, “Wann ein Roß die Rappen hatt”;

f. 58r, Horse with Dermatitis, “Wann ein Roß stripff hatt”;

f. 60v, Horse with Scabies of the Feet, “Wann ein Roß repig oder strüfig wirdt; diß Blath gehört zue dem 51igstem wo sich anfenget”;

f. 62r, Horse with its Rear Joints Swollen, “Wann ein Roß einen Elbug hatt; gehört zue dem 64igstem Blath” [belongs with f. 64];

f. 63v, Horse with Inflammation of the Tendons, “Wann einem Pferdt ein Laist wachst” and f. 69v, “Wann einem Pferd ein Leist wachst. Diß gehört zue dem Plath 54”; [illustration inverted with the following and corresponding to f. 69v];

f. 69v, Horse Suffering from a Thickening of the Bulbs of the Heels; f. 63v “zue dem 65 Plath” (at f. 65); f. 64r, “Von Ballen”; [illustration inverted with the previous one and corresponding to the f. 63v].

Carefully drawn and colored with watercolor washes, the illustrations all relate to the first of the four books, that of Walter von Nitzschwitz (for the tradition of illustration, see Eis, 1962, who reproduces illustrations from two related manuscripts).


Brebaum, Hendrik. Das Roßarzneibuch des Johann Martin Weitzen von Oschitz (1677), Munich, 1968.

Eis, Gerhard. “Zu dem Roßarzneibuch des Walter von Nitzschwitz,” Sudhoffs Archiv für Geschichte der Medizin und der Naturwissenschaften 46 (1962), p. 120 et suiv.

Haux, Regine. Dokumentation des dritten Roßarneibuches aus der Langenburger Handschrift, Diss., Munich, 1979.

Hung, Johannes. Das Pferdearzneibuch des Johann von Groenrodt, Diss. Berlin, Trebbin, 1933.

Kraussmüller, Monika. Dokumentation des zweiten Roßarzneibuches aus der Langenburger Handschrift, Diss., Munich, 1977

Lezius, Renate. Die Rossarzneihandschrift des Johannes Carlyburger, 1683, Diss. Munich, Augsburg, 1968.

Lutze, Günter. Das Roßarzneibuch des Walter von Nitzschwitz (1583), Diss., Berlin, 1932.

Malkusch, Sonja. Ein anonymes Rossarzneibuch aus der Bamberger Staatsbibliothek (ab 1595), Diss., Munich, 1986.

Perino, Werner. Die Pferdearzneibücher des ausgehenden Mittelalters und der beginnenden Neuzeit, Diss., Munich, 1957.

Piechatzek, Georg. Über eine bisher unveröffentlichte Rossarznei-Handschrift aus dem Ende des 16. Jahrhunderts (V. Fol. 17 M. 28) im Besitze der Bücherei der Tierärztlichen Fakultät der Universität in München, Diss., Munich, 1937.

Seele, Walter. Das erste Roßarzneibuch Graf Wolfgangs II. von Hohenlohe (1564), Diss. Berlin, Trebbin, 1935.

Subklew, Werner. Das ander Buch von der Roßartznei von Graf Wolfgang II. Graue von Hohenlohe und zu Langenburg, Diss. Berlin, Göttingen, 1936.

Online resources

Lexikon on the Horse (English, French, and German)

MS Cod. Pal. germ. 222, University Library of Heidelberg

Watermark (Buchstaben/E/Im Adler-Herzschild)