Books for professional use
BPL 3094 (Southern Netherlands, Flanders, 1475-1500): Medical Compilation (), paper, 159 fols., 130 x 94 mm, 1 col., 18 lines.

This little manuscript, written in the last quarter of the fifteenth century, was probably at one point in the possession of a Flemish surgeon. The text of the manuscript, written in Dutch, gives a description of various diseases and how to treat them. The manual contains a small number of drawings that demonstrate how a surgeon should perform certain procedures and which instruments he should use. These images were more practical than detailed descriptions because they take up less space on the page. For example, fol. 82v shows a drawing depicting how different types of broken bones could be mended.

The contents of the book were partly derived from the famous book Chirurgie, written by the Flemish surgeon Jan Yperman. Yperman was educated in Paris and wrote his book in the early fourteenth century. The unknown author of this manual probably also borrowed some of its contents from other famous surgeons at the time. He quotes, amongst others, the physicians Hippocrates, Galenus, and Dioscorides.

We can see from the pattern of wear that the book was used by a practicing surgeon. The edges of the pages almost crumble off due to the many times they have been turned. On some pages you can even see smudges. Based on the numbering of the folia we can see that at one time this manual must have been bigger, however now there is a gap of 80 folio missing.

(Gumbert, 2009)


  1. Manuscripts were made from parchment, paper or a combination of these two materials. The quality of these materials varied considerably. What material was used in this manuscript and how can you tell?
  2. Some books were heavily used, while others were not. Observe the presence or absence of wear-and-tear and damage in this book and try to assess how heavily it was used. What are your main reasons for saying so? If there are traces of use, can these be related to a specific kind of use, such as education or religious rituals?


  1. Gumbert, J. P. (2009). Illustrated Inventory of Medieval Manuscripts in Latin script in the Netherlands. Verloren.