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

MS. Ashmole 1404

Summary Catalogue no.: 7763

Medical anthology containing Henry Daniel's Uricrisiae and various recipes; England, 15th century, first half.1.


1. (fol. 2r)
Recipe for red rose-water
Incipit: Distill rede roses in your oun(e) manner(e) th⟨⟩n take the foun⟨dr⟩ess of the roses that is hit that remayneth
Explicit: this wat(er) is x tymes bett(er) then(ne) the firste co(m)myn(e) wat(er) as ye use to distill it and this wat(er) is called

Incomplete. In the scribe's hand, but written on a singleton which has been added to the first quire, likely in a different stage of production. The text is unruled but written in a frame similar to the text block. eVK2 (2019), vk 1488.00.

Fol. 2v blank.

Language(s): Middle English
2. (fols. 3r-184v)
Henry Daniel, Uricrisiae
Incipit: ⟨D⟩ilecto socio in (Christ)o m(agist)ro Waltero de Kete(n) ffrat(er) Henricus Daniel ordinis ffratru(m) p(re)dicatoru(m) servulus Jh(es)u (Christ)i
Explicit: clere and shire and bryghte and þ(a)t wonderly. These yevethe ysaac the noble iowe[sic] ner(e) hond(e) worde for worde in the laste boke of ur.
Final rubric: Explicit liber Uricrisiar(um) ex Latino in vulgariter translatus a ffratre Henrico Daniel ordinis fratrum predicator(um), om(nium) doctrinar(um) atque scienciar(um) in lingua Latina traditar(um) yp(er)apiste et t(ra)nslatoris

Three books of the Uricrisiae by Henry Daniel, a Dominican friar who translated the text from Latin into English in 1379 (Moorat 1962). The text opens with a Latin prologue (fols. 2r-4r) in which Daniel introduces himself and his qualifications as a learned scholar of medicine, and explains his motivation for translating the study of urine into the vernacular. Two versions of the text survive, both ascribed to the author: an earlier shorter text surviving in British Library Arundel MS 42 (alpha), and a longer revised text surviving in Additional MS 27329 (beta). The text in MS Ashmole 1404 belongs to the beta tradition and is known to be the most faithful of this strand, described as ‘the best and most carefully organized of the beta witnesses’ (Henry Daniel Project, 2023). It shares many variants and errors with Wellcome Historical Medical Library MS 225 (Hanna 1994, 191). There are seven alpha, five beta, and eight hybrid witnesses of the text.

The text here opens with a Prologue in Latin, which is only found in one other witness: Cambridge, Gonville and Caius, MS 376/596. There are two other Latin versions of the Prologue and one English translation in the corpus, and some manuscripts lack the Prologue altogether.

In between the conclusion of the third book and the explicit is an Epilogue consisting of twelve elegiac distichs in Latin, written in alternating lines of red and black with braces (fol. 184r). Some (but not all) alpha manuscripts contain a variant of this Epilogue, and one other beta manuscript (MS 376/596).

The text is glossed throughout in Latin with numerous manicules and nota bene annotations.

The codex is split in two in the middle of this text, between folios 83v and 84r. Within the text, folio 102 is numbered twice (henceforth 102a and 102b).

eVK2 (2019), vk 7785.00.


a. (fol. 9r)
A circular diagram of the correspondences of cosmic and humoral quaternities

Book 1. Written in alternating black and red ink. A later hand, also of the fifteenth century, has added the cardinal directions.

Language(s): Latin
b. (fol. 77r)
Rota celi diagram

Book 2. A circular diagram of the concentric celestial and elemental spheres, referred to in the text as 'rota celi'. Diagram in red and writing in black. The outer-most circle contains the names of the zodiac.

Language(s): Latin
c. (fol. 83v)
Tabula zodiac

Book 2. A table of zodiac signs and planets, not typical of the corpus. Diagram in red and writing in black and red. The original scribe only filled ten squares in the table. Two later hands, possibly of the sixteenth century, fill in nineteen more squares.

Language(s): Latin
d. (fol. 85r)
Tabula lune

Book 2. A table of lunar positions within the zodiac during the course of a lunar month, written in the diagonal. Diagram in red, writing in alternating red and black.

Language(s): Latin
e. (fol. 87r)
Tabula planetarum

Book 2. A table of planetary hours during the week. Diagram in red and writing in alternating red and black. The original scribe only filled the Sunday through Wednesday columns. A later hand, also of the fifteenth century, has filled in the Thursday-Saturday columns. The final vertical column is left blank.

Language(s): Latin
Language(s): Middle English and Latin
3. (fol. 184v)
Mathematical treatise
Rubric: Abce of Algarisme
Incipit: Understond(e) that evorych of the forseid(e) ix figures
Explicit: the figures that folowen for to signifien(e) as thus 10 . 100 . 1000 . 20 . and so of all od(er)
Final rubric: R.T.

This text explains the mathematical notation that appears in the following tabula.

The only other recorded instance of this mathematical treatise is in a fourteenth century manuscript of Nicholas of Lynn's Kalendarium which was sold at Sotheby's in 2004 as part of the sale of ‘The Library of the Earls of Macclesfield removed from Shirburn Castle: Part 3 Western Manuscripts’, lot 589.

eVK2 (2019), vk 7727.00.

Language(s): Middle English
4. (fols. 184v-206r)
Tabula libri Uricrisiarum
Rubric: Incipit tabula libri Uricrisiarum precedentis
Incipit: Abstinens vent(er) calefa(ci)tur replet(us) infrigidit.
Explicit: zodiaci diametr(e)n 2'li'39' capitulo

An alphebetised table of topics in the Uricrisiae organised by book and chapter that function as an index, likely intended as a continuation or supplement of the text. A later fifteenth century hand annotates the margins with the topics mentioned in the tabula.

Language(s): Latin
5. (fols. 206v-208v)
Recipe for Aquavite
Incipit: Aqua vite trifaria est. Prima dicitur simplex, secunda composita, tercia perfectissima
Explicit: Ista sunt rescripta de simplici aqua vite composita et perfectissima, ad exemplar originalis, extracta ex diversorum dictis philosophorum medicine artis, que primo extraxit et scripsit Frater Thepher ordinis predicatorum, Episcopus Carviens (in) Roman(iol)am iuxta Bononiam

Folio 206v contains a rubricated drawing of a long tubular piece of scientific equipment.

Language(s): Latin
6. (fol. 208v)
Medical recipes
Incipit: Pro reforma(tione) sto(m)achi debili(ta)ti ex fri(gidita)te epat⟨⟩
Explicit: poli|podii ruberber(i) epith(ym)i an(a) z . j . puluer(e) & addat(ur) zucc(ur)e q(uantum) s(atis)

Two medical recipes, written in a different, later, hand but also of the fifteenth century.

Language(s): Latin

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Parchment with paper flyleaves (without watermark)
Extent: ii (modern endleaf, paper, i formerly pasted to the boards) + 205 (parchment) + ii (modern endleaf, paper, both formerly pasted to the boards)
Dimensions (leaf): 202-204 × 140-145 mm.
Foliation: Endleaves unnumbered. Early modern ink foliation throughout in one hand, irregularly. Foliation begins in the top right corner of the recto but moves to the gutter after four folios. Begins with folio 2 (omitting 1), foliation skips folios 43, 44, and 78. Folio 102 numbered twice (henceforth 102a and 102b). Catchwords throughout, unruled.


110+1 (fols. 2-12, first folio singleton with stub visible after folio 12), 2-710 (fols. 13-74, foliation skips 43 and 44), 88 (fols. 75-83, foliation skips 78), 9-1710 (fols. 84-172, including folios 102a and 102b), 18-2012 (fols. 173-209). Some leaf signatures still visible.


The manuscript is split into two pieces (see ‘Binding’). The sewing is fragile in places. The text block was likely once larger and has been heavily trimmed on at least two sides. Marginal notes have been cropped on the outer vertical margins. It is likely that a large quantity has also been trimmed from the upper margin, as the raised sewing supports are unevenly distributed towards the head of the spine.

The spine has, since repair, been adhered to the book block to create a tight-back binding which stabilizes the divided codex. As a result, there is no throw-up when opened and the volumes are difficult to open fully, and should be handled with care.

The parchment is stained throughout but largely undamaged. There is evidence of parchment tabs which were once adhered to the outer vertical edge of the text block, now removed but with remnants of adhesive remaining. These were present on the majority of pages.

The lower margin of folio 114 has been mutilated, without loss of text.


Ruled in ink with frame on three sides (upper margin unruled) with writing above the top line. Glosses unruled but occasionally the scribe takes advantage of ruling outside of the frame. Consistently 27 long lines of text. Pricking visible on some pages. When the edge of the page is uneven, the pricking follows the curve of the page (Wakelin 2022, 63). Ruled height: 135-145 × 85-92 mm.


One principle scribe writes folios 2r-208r: anglicana with secretary ‘a’ and ‘g’, in a neat and consistent hand, from the first half of the fifteenth century. Contemporary glosses in the same hand and script.

A second hand writes the medical recipes on folio 208v: anglicana, in a less formal hand, from the mid fifteenth century.


For diagrams in the manuscript, see above.

Rubrication throughout all texts in the manuscript: for roman numeral running titles in the upper margin, to highlight the first initial of sentences, for numbers, and for incipits/explicits.

Throughout all texts indented spaces of two or three lines have been left for initials but remain unfilled.

Additions: Numerous manicules have been added to the margins of the Uricrisiae, in multiple hands. Often accompanied by notes in both Latin and English.

The manuscript shows heavy signs of use, in particular in the Uricrisiae. Several diagrams have been added to or completed, and the margins of the majority of pages have annotations or mathematical sums. There are multiple hands predominantly of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Numerous Latin annotations in the margins of most folios which relate to the contents of the text, written in a fifteenth century hand. Eg. folios: 88v seven lines of rhyming verse (with at least one line trimmed) beginning ‘Hora qui lune natus sit’, 89r five lines of rhyming verse (incomplete) beginning ‘Hora q(ui) venerus natus deformus’, 89v table of three lines in two columns beginning ‘Infans loq(ui)t(as) | Nascor d(e) nudas’, 95v six lines of verse beginning ‘lactea subtemus cum largo’, 96r two lines beginning ‘lactea subtemus febre de climat(us)’. Some of these verses are from Giles of Corbeil, De urinis.

Folio 2r the blank space under the text on rosewater is filled with numerical calculations written upside down, some erased and only visible under ultraviolet light.

Parchment tabs have been adhered to folios 41, 49, 72, 73. Evidence of similar adhesive without the tab on nearly every other folio. The lower margin of fol. 169 has been cut in a way to create a tab without adhesive.

Latin running titles added to the upper margin of the majority of rectos in the Uricrisiae, in a cursive fifteenth century hand in black ink.

Several erased annotations, now only visible under UV, to Henry IV: ‘Regis L henry’ (fol. 52v), ‘henrie le fourthe’ (fol. 28v).


The manuscript is now in two pieces, divided between folios 83 and 84. Both parts have their cover and half of the spine attached. This damage likely happened after 1845, as W. H. Black does not mention it in the Quarto Catalogue. The two pieces are now stored in the same box and under the same shelf-mark, but in separate protective folders.

Late seventeenth-century binding typical of Elias Ashmole's collection. Brown leather over pasteboard, blind tooled fillets on boards and spine, with four raised sewing supports. Primary sewn endbands of blue and white thread over a core, now lacking the lower endband on the first part of the codex. The spine lacks Ashmole's crest (as is conventional in his bindings) due to the closeness of the bands, but the shelf mark ‘ASH 1404’ uses the typeface and gold colour typical of an Ashmole binding.


Origin: 15th century, first half ; English

Provenance and Acquisition

The manuscript shows evidence of heavy use, especially in the Uricrisiae. The later additions to the diagrams and tables suggest that it was likely owned by an individual who practiced medicine, astronomy, and astrology in the late fifteenth/early sixteenth century who was literate in English and Latin. This hand also annotates the text throughout and adds chapter titles and running titles.

The initial ‘R’ appears twice (fols. 3r, 14r), perhaps an ownership mark.

The manuscript was later owned by Elias Ashmole, who bequeathed it as part of his donation of 1,100 printed books and 600 manuscripts to the Ashmolean Museum in 1692.

The manuscript was kept in the Ashmolean until the 1830’s, when the Bodleian Library acquired the collection.

Record Sources

Description by Charlotte Ross (September 2023). Previously described in the Quarto Catalogue (W. H. Black, A descriptive, analytical, and critical catalogue of the manuscripts bequeathed unto the University of Oxford by Elias Ashmole Esq...., Quarto Catalogues X, 1845).


    Printed descriptions:

    Daniel, Henry, Liber Uricrisiarum: a Reading Edition, eds E. R. Harvey and M. T. Tavormina, with S. Star, J. Henderson, and C. E. M. Henderson (Toronto, 2020)
    eVK2, An expanded and revised version of Linda Ehrsam Voigts and Patricia Deery Kurtz, Scientific and Medical Writings in Old and Middle English: An Electronic Reference, (Ann Arbor, 2000, rev. 2019)
    Hanna, Ralph, 'Henry Daniel's "Liber Uricrisiarum" (Excerpt)', Popular and Practical Science of Medieval England, ed. L. Matheson (East Lansing, 1994), pp. 185-218.
    Moorat, S. A. J., Catalogue of western manuscripts on medicine anid science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library, vol. I: MSS written before 1650 A.D. (London, 1962), p. 143.
    Tavormina, Mary Teresa, Uroscopy in Middle English: a Guide to the Texts and Manuscripts, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, series 3, no. 11 (2014)
    The library of the Earls of Macclesfield removed from Shirburn castle. Part 3, Western manuscripts. (Sotheby's, 2004)
    Wakelin, Daniel, Immaterial Texts in Late Medieval England (Cambridge, 2022).
    The Henry Daniel Project, Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto, https://henrydaniel.utoronto.ca/ (accessed 01/12/2023)

Last Substantive Revision

2023-09-08: Charlotte Ross Revised with consultation of original.