Books for professional use

Although every medieval manuscript was presumably made to be used, some were particularly “utilitarian” in that they presented pragmatic knowledge that was useful for readers with a certain professional occupation, such as merchants, notaries, and physicians. The texts in these manuscripts are sometimes referred to as “Fachliteratur,” or “professional” literature. Consulting a manuscript for a professional task often demanded specific design features, which impacted the way that scribes organized the information contained in the manuscript. The scientific and medical manuscripts in this section, for example, look very different from manuscripts used for religious purposes. Many have a more plain or even “scruffy” appearance, which is probably because they were made for personal use by the professionals themselves. The manuscript in the section also frequently present tables and schemes, or other tools to support the professional reader in his or her occupation. Like manuscripts made for education, books for professional use tended to be annotated more frequently. In general, the pragmatic objects available here often present an interesting puzzle: many of their pages contain subtle clues as to how they were handled by their original owners.

  1. The wound man (BPL 1905, 1400-1600)
  2. Rules and blessings (BPL 1956, 1507)
  3. A Surgeon's Manual (BPL 3094, 1475-1500)
  4. Medicinal herbs and plants (BPL 3103, c.1460)
  5. Medical recipes and remedies (BPL 3284, 1500-1550?)
  6. A self-help book for a king (LTK 169, 1300-1325)
  7. Religious manual or status symbol? (LTK 287, c.1460)
  8. How to suffer with Christ (LTK 303, 1500-1550)
  9. A Note on Alchemy (VCF 11, 1590)
  10. The marvelous doctor (VCF 12, 1575)
  11. A royal owner (VCF 13, 1575-1600)
  12. Magic and spirits (VCF 14, 1577-1600)
  13. The most precious gift of God (VCF 15, 1575-1600)
  14. A medical pioneer (VCF 16, 1550-1600)
  15. Secret symbols (VCF 17, 1575-1600)
  16. A secret recipe (VCF 18, 1575-1586)
  17. Beneath the Binding (VCF 20, 1574)
  18. Planets, metals and elements (VCF 21, 1572-1600)
  19. Changing up the script (VCF 22, 1586)
  20. The secret of secrets (VCF 23, 1568-1600)
  21. The philosopher's stone (VCF 6, 1575-1600?)
  22. A friendly reminder (VCF 8, 1585)
  23. Medicine at the court (VCQ 13, 1506-1526?)
  24. Father and son (VCQ 37, 1500-1550?)