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

MS. Ashmole 399

Summary Catalogue no.: 6743

Summary Catalogue no.: 7018

Summary Catalogue no.: 7745

Texts and illustrations relating to medicine, prognostication and arithmetic; England, late 13th-early 14th century

Physical Description

Composite: main MS. || fols. 33-34 (inserted bifolium)
Extent: v (modern paper) + 71 + 2 (parchment endleaves, a bifolium) + 5 (modern paper), foliated i-v, 1-78.


Bound for Ashmole, with his arms on the spine, quarterly in the first quarter a fleur-de-lys.


Provenance and Acquisition

Several booklets brought together in the early fourteenth century.

'By me hugh nalynghurst' (?) (fol. 72r, erased, 16th cent.)

'Sum Johannis Gibbon. e coll. sancte et individuae Trinitatis Oxon : et ejusdem coll. convictoris. Anno Domini 1628 men: Maij nono' (fol. 72v).

Elias Ashmole, 1617-1692.

Bequeathed by him to the Ashmolean Museum.

Transferred to the Bodleian Library in 1860.

Record Sources

Draft description (in progress) by Matthew Holford, incorporating description of decoration by Elizabeth Solopova, c. 2000. 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).

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Digital Bodleian (26 images from 35mm slides)


    A. G. Watson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts c.435-1600 in Oxford Libraries (Oxford, 1984), no. 35
    Otto Pächt and J. J. G. Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Oxford, III (1973), nos. 442, 472

MS. Ashmole 399 - Part 1 (fols. 1-32, 35-71)


Language(s): Latin

Items 8, 11, 12, 13 and 14 were copied from Oxford, Pembroke College, MS. 21 (England, late 13th century); see M. Green, in Scriptorium 50 (1996) p. 163 n. 97. For the Pembroke MS., which is digitized, see N. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries III (1983) 689-93.

1. (fols. 1r-13r)
De physiognomia (Thorndike-Kibre 538A)
Incipit: Ex tribus auctoribus quorum libros
Explicit: pronus ad libidinem studiosus pantominorum et maledicus
Final rubric: explicit phisonomia. anno iesu christi Milesimo. centesimo. lij.

Ed. R. Foerster, Scriptores physiognomonici, II (1893), 3-145, collated as MS. A. The order here is: (fol. 1ra) cc. 1-24; (fol. 4ra) cc. 105-133; (fol. 6vb) cc. 49-102 (omitting 50), 104, 103; cc. 25-48 do not occur.

a. (fol. 13rb)
Medical recipes

Added in probably three hands: (a) items i, ii (b) item iii (c) item iv. Items i and ii in part cipher, 1 = a, 2 = e, 3 = i, 4 = o, 5 = u/v.

Incipit: Ad probandum utrum mulier fuerit uirgo R. lapatium acutum et ponam in igne
Incipit: Ad coagulandum lac R. folia
Incipit: Ad lepram puluis puluerizetur radix draganti
Incipit: Vngues remoueantur cum riȝi cocto in aceto fortissimo emplaustrato
b. (fol. 13v)

Full page diagram of the female reproductive system (see decoration and cf. item 6 below) with texts added in some of the empty space. Texts are described according to 'columns' formed by the diagram, from left to right.

Rubric: Ad verucas delendas

Followed by erasure.

Incipit: Si tu uelis scire utrum mulier sit pregnans

Two recipes.

Incipit: Si in partu laborat mulier da diptanni cum appozimate fenugreci
Incipit: Nota quod Henricus de parci curatus est de lapide per solam hasti regie aquam
Incipit: Experimentum quod nunquam fallit et hoc quando dubitacio fit an culpa fit ex parte viri an m(ulieris) proueniat inpedimentum
Explicit: circa collum habeat dum femina congnoscit

Cf. Gilbert Anglicus, Compendium seu Lilium medicinae (Lyons, 1510), f. 287r; C. Rider, Magic and Impotence in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 2006), p. 164 n. 14.

Incipit: Ruta a proprietate contra fetum mortuum
2. (fols. 14ra-15ra)
Muscio, Gynaecia (extract)

Foetus-in-utero illustrations with accompanying text, a section of Muscio's text which circulated independently; M. Green, Women's Healthcare in the Medieval West (Ashgate, 2000), appendix pp. 21-22, with references; cf. Sorani Gynaeciorum vetus translatio latina, ed. V. Rose (1882), pp. 84-9, sections 13-25, and plates. In the present MS. ten illustrations:

(fol. 14ra)
Incipit: Si in pedibus descendit

Cf. Rose, p. 86, section 17.

(fol. 14ra)
Incipit: Si unum pedem foras habuerit

Cf. Rose, p. 86, section 18.

(fol. 14rb)
Incipit: Si diuisis pedibus

Cf. Rose, p. 87, section 20.

(fol. 14rb)
Incipit: Si genu ostenderit

Cf. Rose, p. 87, section 21.

(fol. 14va)
Incipit: Si ambas naticas foras ostendat manibus extensis

Cf. Rose, p. 87, section 22 (?).

(fol. 14va)

Text lacking for the sixth diagram.

(fol. 14vb)
Incipit: Si in naticas descendit uel sederit manibus coniunctis

Cf. Rose, p. 87, section 22 (?).

(fol. 14vb)
Incipit: Quociens dupplicatur fuerit quid faciemus

Cf. Rose, p. 88, section 23.

(fol. 15ra)
Incipit: Si plures uno fuerit

Cf. Rose, p. 89, section 25.

(fol. 15ra)
Incipit: Si diuersum iacet

Cf. Rose, pp. 88-9, section 24.

3. (fols. 15rb-16rb)
Constantinus Africanus, De genitalibus membris ( = Pantegni, Theorica 3.33-36)
Incipit: Matrix in forma sua (est)(?) est ad modum vesice
Explicit: formatur in .l.xxx.||

Siglum A ('a poor text riddled with careless errors') in M. Green, 'The De genecia Attributed to Constantine the African', Speculum 62 (198), 299-323 (at 312-23). Incomplete, text breaks off at ed. cit. l. 141 (p. 319).

4. (fols. 16va-vb, 17r)
Chiromantic text and diagram
Incipit: Litere [ sic forLinee] naturales sunt .iiii.or in planicie omnis chiros
Explicit: et non implicite fuerint. honestatem

Siglum B in C. S. F. Burnett, 'The earliest chiromancy in the West', Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 50 (1987), 189-95 (at 192-5); here ending in section 31 of printed text.

5. (fol. 17v)
Calendar in table form
6. (fols. 18r-24v)

Anatomical diagrams with (fols. 18v-21v) accompanying text (Ps.-Galen, Figura incisionis), and other texts (items 7-8) added in the margins and other empty space. On relationship between items (a) and (b), and the diagram at fol. 13v above, see Y. V. O'Neill, 'The Fünfbilderserie-A Bridge to the Unknown', Bulletin of the History of Medicine 51/4 (1977), 538-49 (in relation to a similar series of illustrations in Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College, MS. 190 (223)); O. Kurz, in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 5 (1942), 137-8; T. McCall in Trans. Cambridge Bib. Soc. 16 (2016), 1-22.

6a. (fols. 18r-22r)

The so-called 'Fünfbilderserie': full page anatomical diagrams (drawings and wash) of male figures, with explanatory text on the facing verso (text facing fol. 18r missing due to a missing folio before fol. 18). Siglum Ash in K. Sudhoff, 'Abermals eine neue Handschrift der anatomischen Fünfbilderserie', Archiv fur Geschichte der Medizin 3 (1910), 353-68 (at 361-6).

Incipit: Hec est historia arteriarum
Explicit: ea in omni mocione sua
6b. (fols. 22v-24v)

Diagrams of the brain, internal organs, and male reproductive system.

7. (fols. 18r-21r, margins)
Constantinus Africanus, De coitu
Incipit: (prologue)Creator uolens animalium genus firmiter ac stabiliter permanere
Incipit: Tria sunt(?) sunt in cohitu
Final rubric: Explicit liber de cohitu constant. Deo gratias.

Preceded by list of chapters, inc. 'Quot sunt in choitu'. Ch. 9 is repeated (fols. 19rb-va), chs. 14 and 15 are combined. Constantini Liber de coitu, ed. E. Montero Cartelle (1983), not using this MS.

8. (fols. 21r-26r, margins)
Trotula (Liber de sinthomatibus mulierum)
Incipit: Cum auctor vniuersitatis deus in prima mundi origine rerum naturas singulas iuxta genus suum distingueret
Explicit: pascinata domestica et similibus
Final rubric: Explicit trotula senior deo gratias

Ed. Green, pp. 70-114.

9. (fols. 25r-29r)
Table of lunar cycles, dominical letters and dates of Easter, from 1000-1531, with a continuous cycle from 1292.
10. (fol. 26r, margin)
Trotula (extract from De ornatu mulierum)
Incipit: Item si mulier
Explicit: malus uero retardabitur. Explicit.

Cf. section 305, ed. Green, p. 188.

11. (fols. 26r-27r, margins)
Incipit: Sperma hominis descinditur ex omni humore corporis
Explicit: Item si sperma ceciderit in dextrum et sinistrum masculi creantur
Final rubric: Explicit composicio hominis et cetera

The opening sections of the pseudo-Galienic De spermate, varying from the text pr. Galeni opera omnia VIII (Basel, 1542), 133-5.

12. (fols. 27r-29r, margins, and 29va-31rb, main text)
Ricardus Anglicus, Anatomia (Thorndike-Kibre 575K)
Incipit: Galieno testante in tegni
Explicit: et inde nutrimentum omnium membrorum habent sic nil omissum

Siglum A in K. Sudhoff, ed. 'Der 'Micrologus'-text der 'Anatomia' Richards des Engländers', Archiv für Geschichte der Medizin 19 (1927), 209-39 (at 212-34)

13. (fols. 31rb-32vb, 35ra-42ra)
Constantinus Africanus, De stomacho
Final rubric: Explicit liber stomachi constantini

E. Montero Cartelle, ed. Liber Constantini De stomacho: El tratado ‘Sobre el estómago’ de Constantino el Africano. Estudio, edición critica y traducción (Valladolid: Ediciones Universidad de Valladolid, 2016); this ms. listed p. 50, not used for the edition.

14. (fols. 42r-46r)
Johannes de Sancto Paulo, De simplicium medicinarum uirtutibus
Incipit: Cogitanti mihi
Final rubric: Explicit liber de simplici medicinia editus a magistro Johanne de sancto Paulo deo gratias amen
15. (fol. 46r-46v)
Quid pro quo (Thorndike-Kibre 206A, 295E, 325L, 1274A, 1296G)
Incipit: Cum ea que sunt utilia in curis omnibus inueniri non possunt
Final rubric: Explicit quid pro quo
c. (fol. 46v)

Added medical recipe and remedy for haemorrhoids

Incipit: Ad remouendum nigridinem sub oculo
Incipit: Emeroyde funt tribus modis
d. (fols. 47ra-47rb, 52v-52vb10)
Iohannes Platearius (?), Practica brevis ('Amicum induit') (ch. 12, De apoplexia et epilepsia)
Incipit: Apoplexia est opilatio omnium ventriculorum cerebri
Explicit: caprino subfumigati cadere consueuerunt

La Practica de Plateario, ed. V. R. Muñoz (Florence, 2016), pp. 246-71.

16. (fols. 47v-52r)
Giles of Corbeil, De urinis (Thorndike-Kibre 422D)
Rubric: Incipiunt uersus Egidii
Incipit: Dicitur urina quoniam sit renibus una
Explicit: Fimbria monstretur quam non est tangere dignus

L. Choulant Aegidii Corboliensis Carmina medica (Leipzig, 1826), pp. 1-18


Fol. 52v: text continues from fol. 47r.

e. (fols. 52vb11-53ra34)
Medical recipes

Twelve recipes for syrups followed by a remedy 'ad ydropicum'.

f. (fol. 53ra35-53rb)
Medical recipe
Incipit: Dixit Dyas quod si accipiatur de semine agni casti ad quantitate

Fol. 53v blank.

17. (fols. 54r-58v)
Bernardus Silvestris (?), Experimentarius
(fol. 54r)
Rubric: Titulus liber hic instabilis hic incipit an tibi penis An sors instabilis melius foret ars docet eius

Prefatory verse, cf. Thorndike-Kibre 94M.

Rubric: Ars
Incipit: In septem stabulis
Explicit: perfice cursum

Regula I D (Burnett, p. 112), omitting l. 3.

(fols. 54r-55v)
Incipit: De vita Quid erit Dic Quere A Sedente super Orientalem facitem turris Saturni
Explicit: Prima redi responde perge ad iudicem fatorum algaganar xxviii

Prima versio tabularum (Burnett, pp. 103-5

(fols. 56ra-58vb)
Incipit: Hoc ornamentum decus est et fama parentum \retentum/
Explicit: Vita solamen cupis hoc tibi deus amen

Text, second version, Thorndike-Kibre 633E; unprinted. Lacks responses 9-24, implying four folios of text missing between fols. 57v and 58r.

17a. (fol. 59r)
Onomantic text ('Victor and vanquished')
Incipit: .i. .i. minor vincet
Explicit: 6 qui habet 9 vincet Sexta diffinicio

Cf. Burnett's Associated tract 1; cf. C. Burnett, 'The Eadwine psalter and the Western tradition of the onomancy in Pseudo-Aristotle's Secret of Secrets, Archives d'Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Âge, 55 (1988), 143-67, text B (pp. 154-5)

17b. (fol. 59v)

Chiromantic diagram

17c. (fol. 60ra-60vb)
Text on chiromancy

Same text as fols. 16v-17r above.

Incipit: Tres sunt linee naturales omnes omnis chyros
Explicit: de occultis alias egetur

Fol. 61r-v blank except for four lines of faint text visible at the top of fol. 61v.

18. (fols. 62ra-63ra)
Philaretus, Liber pulsuum

Pr. in Articella seu Opus artis medicinae (Venice, 1483; ISTC ia01143000)

Incipit: (prologue)Intencionem habemus in presenti conscripcione
Incipit: (text)⟨P⟩vulsus est mocio cordis et arteriarum que secundum diastolem et sistolem
Explicit: Hec nobis sufficiunt ad presentiam
Final rubric: Explicit liber de pulsibus qui scripsit sit benedictus
g. (fol. 63ra-63rb)

Extracts from De ornatu mulierum; added, early 14th century.

Incipit: Si fuerit fetor oris causi stomachi et interiorum
Explicit: et cito sanabitur

Section 301; ed. Green, p. 186

Incipit: Vidi saracenam unam

Cf. section 305, ed. Green p. 188

Incipit: Si habuit mulier os fetens causa putridinis
Explicit: de rosis et cynamomo facto super aspergat

Section 304, ed. Green pp. 186-8.

(fol. 63v)

Unfinished diagrams, see Decoration.

19. (fols. 64r-71r)
Alexander de Villa Dei, Algorismus (Thorndike-Kibre 597F)
Explicit: Multiplicandorum de normis sufficient hec
Final rubric: Explicit algorismus

Ed. R. Steele, The earliest arithmetics in English, London, 1922, pp. 72-80. The section on multiplication (from 'Articulum si per reliquum uis multiplicare', l. 143, to 'Multiplicandorum de normis sufficient hec', l. 174) here comes at the end of the text, as in some other manuscripts (e.g. Cambridge, Trinity College, MS. O.2.45).

20. (fols. 64r-66v, margins)
Johannes de Sacro Bosco, Algorismus

Lacks ch. 11 of the printed text

Rubric: Hic incipit ars numerandi algoristica
Incipit: Omnia que a primeua mundi origine processerunt racione numerorum formata sunt
Explicit: aliquid addere per modum addicionis et redibunt eedem

Ed. J. O. Halliwell, Rara mathematica (London 1839), 1–26; ed. F. Saaby Pedersen, Corpus philosophorum Danicorum medii aevi 10/1 (Copenhagen 1983), 174–201; Thorndike/Kibre 991.

h. (fol. 71r, margins)

Added medical recipes and notes

(upper margin)
Incipit: Nota quod ferrum candens extinctum in vino curat opilacionem
(upper margin)
Incipit: Incipit quartarna cum pauco frigore
(left margin)
Incipit: Notandum ponunt quod flebotomia non competit
(left margin)
Incipit: Nota quartana quandoque duplicat
(left margin)
Incipit: Ysidarus nos oportet horas in quibus patitur crisim
(beneath main text)
Incipit: Ad guttam calidam R. angsugie
i. (fol. 71v)

Added medical recipes and verses

Incipit: Inflacio tibiarum in pregnantibus
(left margin)
Incipit: Cortex nucis adustus et(?) desiccatus
Incipit: Qui petit egrotans quamuis contraria dentur Tunc pocius natura viget cum vota replentur

Written twice, once in the upper margin, once in the left margin.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Dimensions (leaf): 270 × 195 mm.


1(10) (fols. 1-10); 2 probably (8) (lacking one leaf, 5, after fol. 14) (fols. 11-17); 3, seven extant leaves, structure uncertain: one leaf missing (before fol. 18), then seven leaves (fols. 18-24) of which fols. 20 and 21 are conjugate and 23-24 probably a bifolium; 5(2) (fols. 33-34); 6(12)(missing one leaf, 9, after fol. 42, with no loss of text) (fols. 35-45); 7(8) (fols. 46-53); 8(12)(lacking four leaves, 5-8, after fol. 57, with loss of text); 9(10) (fols. 62-71)


1-2 cols., c. 180-230 × c. 60-70 mm. , c. 34-60 lines.


The scribe of texts on fols. 14r-15r, 16v-17r, 17v (?), 18v-21v (the Fünfbildserie texts), and 25-29 has been identified as the principal scribe of the Hereford Map (Parkes, 2006).


Fine historiated diagrams, borders. Good miniatures (coloured marginal drawings), initials. (P&A iii. 472, pl. XLVI)

Coloured drawings, coloured initials, rubrics.

(fol. 1r), miniature: seated figure in physician's cap. Figure in long robe pointing to the text.

(fol. 13v), miniature: diagram showing female reproductive organs, including womb with foetus inside.

(fols. 14r-15r), miniature: drawings showing different positions of a child in the womb, illustrating an extract from Muscio's Gynaecia.

(fol. 17r), miniature: chiromantic drawing of the left and right hand.

Miniatures: full page anatomical miniatures with explanatory text on the facing versos.

  • (fol. 18r): drawing of human body showing veins.
  • (fol. 19r): drawing of human body showing arteries.
  • (fol. 20r): drawing of human body showing bones.
  • (fol. 21r): drawing of human body showing nerves.
  • (fol. 22r): drawing of human body showing muscles.

Miniatures: diagrammatic drawings of human organs, not here labelled, but partly identifiable from similar sequences in other MSS. (cf. Boyd, Kurz, and McCall, cited above).

  • (fol. 22v): brain and eyes.
  • (fol. 23r): stomach, kidneys and liver.
  • (fol. 23v): internal organs including liver (again).
  • (fol. 24r): internal organs, including intestines.
  • (fol. 24v): male reproductive organs.

(fol. 59v): chiromantic diagram.

(fol. 63v): unfinished circular diagrams (to represent heavenly spheres?).

Three-line decorated initials in gold, blue, pale pink and green, versos of fols. 18-21.

Initials in blue, with penwork flourishing in red, throughout, in two styles, (1) fols. 1-32 (quires 1-4), (2) fols. 35-53 (quires 6 and 7). Spaces left for initials in fols. 54-71 (quires 9 and 10) not filled in.


Origin: 13th century, end - 14th century, beginning (in part c. 1299 (?)) ; English

Provenance and Acquisition

A table showing lunar cycles, dominical letters, and Easter Days on fols. 25-9 begins a continuous year-by-year table from 1292 on fol. 25v. This led Watson to suggest a date of c. 1292; however Parkes noticed a prick by the year 1299, suggesting that the Hereford Map scribe was writing at that time.

Added recipes, 14th century, beginning, fols. 46c, 47r-v, 52v-53r.

MS. Ashmole 399 - Part 2 (fols. 33-34)


Medical images (bifolium without text)
Language(s): No Linguistic Content

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment


Good miniatures (coloured drawings). (P&A iii. 442, pl. XL)

(fol. 33r), miniature: a female patient is swooning, supported on either side by a female figure. Little dog lies asleep at the lady's side. Physician, holding a scroll and a monk stand beside.

(fol. 33v), miniature: a female patient lies on bed with a bowl (perhaps of holy water) over her heart. Two tall candles in candlesticks stand to the rigth of the bed. Attendants, standing by woman's head, implore phisician's aid. A child, kneeling in front of the bed, lifts hands towards the phisician, imploringly. Physician, stands at the foot of the bed, holding a scroll with his left hand, and lifting up the patient's hand with his right hand. Besides him stand a surgeon, and four other figures. Crowing cocks decorate the upper right and left corners of the page.

(fol. 33v), miniature: a female patient has partially recovered; she is standing and a vessel containing the holy water is falling from her left hand. An attendant is holding something (probably a pin rolled in wool and steeped in aromatic substance) to her nostril. A child stands by her side, but apparently swooning with relief. Physician stands beside, holding a scroll and pointing at the patiend; another male figure stands behind him.

(fol. 34r), miniature: a female patient lies on bed, draped with coverlet, head propped up on a pillow. Behind the bed stand three figures: a woman, turning imploringly to the physician, a tonsured monk, and another figure, possibly a monk. Physician, accompanied by a monk, stands at the foot of the bed. He has performed a urinoscopy, and lets a urine glass fall from his right hand, while raising his left hand and lookng warningly towards the group at the woman's bed.

(fol. 34r), miniature: a female corpse has been eviscerated; different organs lie around. At the foot of the cadaver stands the dissector with a knife in his left hand and a liver (three-lobed) in his right hand. His countenance exhibits alarm and surprise, as he is interrupted by a physician and a monk. The physician touches the disector with a warning finger, his other hand raised reproachfully.

(fol. 34v), miniature: a physician, seated in a chair, is being consulted by four female patients, standing in a queue. A male figure holding a purse, presumably collecting fees, stands at the end on the queue.

(fol. 34v), miniature: a physician, mounted on a horse and holding a hawking glove, starts to ride away. He turns back towards a group of five women, who bid him farewell. At the horse's head stands a male figure, holding a hawk. Both he and the doctor raise their fingures in admonition.


Origin: 13th century, third quarter ; English