A Reused Medieval Bifolium from a
Latin Treatise on Medicinal Substances
Double columns of 57 lines
with rubricated headings
initials and paraph marks
rendered in alternately red or blue pigment
and embellished with extended penline-flourishes in the contrasting pigment
Continuing our blog on Manuscript Studies, we illustrate a fragmentary medieval bifolium, much damaged, from a large-format manuscript retrieved (without recording the contextual information) from its long-term reuse as the vellum cover of an unknown book with a thick back. The reuse, at an unknown stage, presumably took advantage of an out-of-date medicinal textbook. Shame on the retrievers for not recording and letting us know the location from which the bifolium was removed.
Whereas many reused medieval manuscripts survive from discarded religious texts rendered obsolete by changes in liturgical practices and religious beliefs, for example during the Reformation, the French Revolution, or less catastrophic (r)evolutions, this case represents a relic, or battered fossil, of advances — or anyway transitions — in scientific, medical, pharmaceutical, and related spheres of knowledge in Western Europe. Some of our posts describe the former; now we turn to the latter. Here, we mainly allow the pictures to do the talking.