From the Most Important Medical Encyclopedia of Medieval Europe.


(Northern Italy, ca. 1250). 406 x 254 mm. (16 x 10"). Four columns, 58 lines in an excellent regular early gothic book hand.

Headings in red, initials in alternating red and blue, 11 two-line initials in red or blue with contrasting penwork. Page references given in Arabic numerals. Early marginal notes apparently adding references and page numbers. Recto with date 1524 written at the top and with a bold (17th century?) ownership inscription of Johannes Ludovicus. Recovered from a binding and consequently trimmed at head with loss of a couple of lines, two margins creased and recto rather soiled and faded, a couple of inconsequential tiny holes, but the very interesting leaf still generally pleasing and without fatal defects, the verso surprisingly clean and with readily legible text.

This is an index leaf with alphabetically listed titles of chapters on plants, taken from a luxurious manuscript of the most important medical encyclopedia of Medieval Europe. The text is a guide to entries in book II, tractatus III, of the "Canon Medicinae" of Avicenna (Ibn Sina, 980-1037), translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona. A compendium of Greek and Muslim medical knowledge based chiefly on Hippocrates and Galen, but with many original observations and clinical descriptions added by our author, the "Canon" had a profound influence for more than half a millennium. According to PMM, it "superseded all previous works--even the great medical encyclopaedia of Rhazes--and in its Latin translation became the authoritative book in all universities. It was still being printed in the seventeenth century . . . [and is] still in use in parts of the Arab world today." One of the central figures in the history of medicine, Avicenna also wrote widely on theology, metaphysics, astronomy, philosophy, and law; he was known to have produced more than 100 books. Medical leaves from as early as the 13th century are uncommon, and a leaf from such a special text is especially prized.