Maximilian I (1459-1519), Holy Roman Emperor from 1508 until his death in 1519, was an advocate for the development of arts and sciences. He was known to surround himself with famous scholars. This manuscript contains two treatises from a servant of a physician who worked at the court of Maximilian (fol. 12v). It is possible that the emperor was composing his own pharmacopoeia - an official guide for the use and identification of medicine (see also BPL 3284).
In addition to the two treatises, this manuscript also contains several texts on alchemy. One alchemical recipe describes how to make oil from cream of tartar. Another teaches the reader how to make noble metals. This manuscript belonged to Wolfen Herrn zue Regendorff (see flyleaf at the front), most likely a priest from Regendorf, Germany. Even though the leaves provide plenty of space for commentary, the readers’ notes1 in this manuscript are minimal. Some of the pages are decorated with drawings of small bottles and other laboratory glassware (see for example fol. 9v).
- Medieval scribes recognized that readers may need some help finding their way throughout the book or within the texts they contained. Over time, a number of tools were invented to this end. What type of reading-aids can you find in this manuscript? Give three examples.
- Medieval page design entails a wide range of components. The main text is an important part, of course, but so are marginal space, commentaries, reading aids, chapter titles, etc. Everything included on the page was given a specific location and a feature was usually included for a good reason. Make an inventory of the components included in this manuscript’s page design and speculate why the scribe opted for this specific design: why did he or she included these specific elements? If your design is plain, why would this be; if it is complex, what may the rationale have been?
- Boeren, P. C. (1975). Codices vossiani chymici. Universitaire Pers Leiden.