A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

St John's College MS 86

John Arderne, Works


Language(s): Latin with some Middle English

Fols. 1–19v (excluding fols. 9–12, for which see item 2), 28–33, 39v–46:
Incipit: Ad cancrum in virga virili siue in alio loco experimentum bonum Recipe axungiam porcis et ceram albam et simul liquefiant ana
Explicit: cum anxungia porcis vetustissima tritum et appositum wlnera maxima sanat ||
Incipit: || puluis non esset mordicans omnes excederet in precio medicinas Vsus istius
Explicit: dicit haly et Constantinus quod in predictis causis plus valet omnibus alijs vnguentis
Incipit: Cancer in matrice non curatur postquam corroserit magis quam in ano
Explicit: et tantum de sanguine trahatur quantum sufficit debite quantitati menstruorum

JOHN ARDERNE (Sharpe, no. 567 [202–4]),, 'Liber receptorum medicinalium’, like all the other texts here, unpublished. The contents correspond to BL MS Sloane 56, certainly from the same source as this MS, fols. 1v–38, 58–65, 74v–84. The texts contain sporadic English words to define Latin terms, unnoted in OT. See further Peter Murray Jones’s description of Arderne MSS, ‘Four Middle English Translations of John of Arderne’, in Minnis, 62–89 at 64–70.

This MS is lacking some material. Fol. 8v ends, ‘quantum calidum pati potent inter virgam et testiculos et anum bene cataplasmetur’, and fol. 13 begins, ‘et vitet dormire de die excepto quod si non dormiret de nocte’; absent are the contents of Sloane 56, fols. 13–26v. In addition, the second block of the text is acephalic, a gap corresponding to Sloane 6, fols. 56–8.

Fols. 19v–22v, 12–11v, 9–10v, 23–7v:
Rubric: Practica Magistri IOHANNIS ARDERN’ de Newerk cirurgici
Incipit: Ego Iohannes predictus a prima pestilencia que fuit Anno domini Millesimo CCCmo quadragesimo Nono vsque annum
Explicit: nec habeat nisi vnum foramen tantum in parte graciliori sicut depingitur
Incipit: [fol. 12, accompanying drawings of a cochlear] Coclear est instrumentum ligneum de buxo et debet fieri iuxta formam hic depictam
Explicit: [fol. 10v] propinquius impellat digito sinistro in anum inpulso Et cum
Incipit: sencierit acum cum digito caute laboret vt caput instrumenti per luram educere
Explicit: nates ex vtraque parte ani ad latitudinem digitorum. Et de ||

Corresponds to Sloane 56, fols. 38–56; the text here is atelous, part of the lost material included in the Sloane MS at fols. 56–8; cf. ‘Et de illo exibat aquositas nimia et aliquando sanguis […] ’, the continuation of the explicit here at Sloane, fol. 56.

3. Fols. 33–9v:
Incipit: Extracta emoroidarum secundum lanfrancum bononensem discretissimum Magistrum Regis Francie | [fol. 33v] qui duos libros
Explicit: vbi scutum cum tribus nigris Merlecis depingitur et cessabit pro certo
JOHN ARDERNE, ‘Extracta emoroydarum’,

corresponding to Sloane 56, fols. 65–74v.

4. Fols. 46v–54:
Incipit: Cuidam capellano de Colston iuxta Byngham superuenit in dextra mamilla infra corium
Explicit: et melius extremitatem solidauit et conglutinauit vsque ad perfectam sanitatem
JOHN ARDERNE, case histories,

corresponding to Sloane 56, fols. 84–95. There are only seven lines on fol. 54, the remainder blank, but the verso ruled. Fol. 53 has a paragraph in English, ed. in part OT 87.

Added texts

a. Fol. 12:
Incipit: A plente of fruyte lytyl hony dethe of ʒong men dethe of bestys
Explicit: grete fyre deþe of olde men a party of hony myche flax grete feuers myche hey
Prognostics by dominical letter,

added in a blank, ed. in part OT 87, in secretary, s. xv ex.

b. Fol. 54rv:

the original blank final leaf is now filled with English recipes (the last four on the verso Latin), the English ones ed. in part OT 87; added in later s. xv hands.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: naues
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (FSOS/FHHF).
Extent: Fols. iii + 54 + iii (numbered fols. iv–vi). Fols. 9–12 are misbound and should precede fol. 23, in the order fols. 12, 11, 9, 10.
Dimensions (leaf): 273 × 185 mm.
Dimensions (written): 205 × 125 mm.


18 [lost quire] 24 (?all single) 38 44 58 (–4, –5) 6–88: Catchwords, usually boxed, at the edge of the gutter. In quires 7 and 8, there are signs of signatures on all leaves in the first half of the quire, a letter plus roman numeral; these are quires g and h.

Fols. 9–12 are intruded in their present site; they belong, in the order 12, 11, 9, 10, before fol. 23. That is, they are the original central bifolia of quire 4, but now apparently single and disarranged, as well as misplaced. The signatures of quires 7 and 8 presumably indicate that originally the MS contained both an integral quire fols. 21–2, 12, 11, 9, 10, 23–4, the fourth, and another quire, the second, now lost, which followed fol. 8.


In long lines, 43 lines to the page. Prickings; bounded and ruled in pencil.


Written in anglicana. Punctuation by sporadic double virgula and virgula.


Marginal headings for recipes in text ink, with half-box in red.

Important recipes are introduced by a 2-line red lombard.

Some red underlining in recipes and red paraphs to break up longer items.

Frequent illustrations, mainly marginal (on this tendency in medical MSS, see Scott, 1:41 and 72 nn. 22–3): medical implements, plants, diseased bodies, modes of surgery; a full wind diagram on fol. 1; a table of moon signs on fol. 9v; a zodiac man on fol. 10; surgical instruments on fol. 12; several diagrams of operations for ‘fistula’ fol. 12v; cf. the illustration reproduced in Jones, 77 (from BL, MS Additional 29301).

A blazon in the margin as a signe de renvoi on fol. 39 (cf. the explicit to item 3), above a device which resembles a flaming rod and a blank scroll beneath it.

See AT, no. 370 (37).


A modern replacement. Sewn on five thongs. At the front, a marbled paper leaf and two modern paper flyleaves; at the rear, two modern paper flyleaves and another marbled paper leaf (iv–vi).


Origin: s. xiv/xv ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

Barnyx ?bequyxe’, ‘Mr Backter gave this Book vnto Willm [sic for William] Stowes Chirurgico Anno ⟨?domini⟩ 1571 (fol. 1, lower margin).

‘Liber Collegii Divi Johannis Baptistae Oxon’ ex dono Domini Gulielmi Paddei Militis et ejusdem Collegii olim Convictori⟨s⟩ 1634’ (fol. 1, upper margin).

Record Sources

Ralph Hanna, A descriptive catalogue of the western medieval manuscripts of St. John's College, Oxford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) (with corrections of typographical errors in the explicit of addded text [a] and folio references pertaining to added text item 4 and added text [b]).


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact St John's College Library.


    J. J. G. Alexander and Elźbieta Temple, Illuminated Manuscripts in Oxford College Libraries, the University Archives and the Taylor Institution (Oxford, 1985).
    Peter Murray Jones, 'Four Middle English Translations of John of Arderne'. In A. J. Minnis (ed.), Latin and Vernacular (Cambridge, 1989), pp. 62–89.
    S. J. Ogilvie-Thomson (ed.), The Index of Middle English Prose VIII: Manuscripts Containing Middle English Prose in Oxford College Libraries (Cambridge, 1991).
    Kathleen L. Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 1390–1490. 2 vols. (London, 1996).
    Richard Sharpe, A Handlist of the Latin Writers of Great Britain and Ireland before 1540. Publications of the Journal of Medieval Latin 1 (Turnhout, 1997).

Funding of Cataloguing

Conversion of the printed catalogue to TEI funded by the Thompson Family Charitable Trust

Last Substantive Revision

2023-01: First online publication

See the Availability section of this record for information on viewing the item in a reading room.