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Middle English translation of John Bradmore (d. 1412), Philomena.



Includes the famous account of how he saved the life of the young Prince of Wales


[England, doubtless London, c.1530–35]  

King Henry IV: I prithee, Harry, withdraw thyself; thou bleed’st too much. / Lord John of Lancaster, go you with him. …     

Westmorland: Come, my lord, I’ll lead you to your tent.     

Prince Hal: Lead me, my lord? I do not need your help; / And God forbid a shallow scratch should drive / The Prince of Wales from such a field as this, / Where stained nobility lies trodden on, / And rebels’ arms triumph in massacres!                                                      

William Shakespeare, 1 Henry IV, Act V, Scene 4.    


We are pleased to be able to offer a second, previously unidentified, manuscript of the 1446 Middle English version of the Philomena of John Bradmore, a surgical-medical treatise by one of the most English famous surgeons of the early 15th Century. The only other example is in the British Library MS Harley 1736 and it is largely unpublished. It includes the famous account of how he saved the life of the young Prince of Wales (Prince Hal, the future King Henry V), after the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403.   It was owned and perhaps written by an early Tudor Barber-Surgeon Charles Whyte (d. 1545) and is presumably one of the two manuscript volumes described in his Will, the other being in the British Library (MS Sloane 776). The manuscript also includes an apparently unique late Middle English “Tretys of mynd” that may be the earliest English work on the subject of the mind and memory.    


The “shallow scratch” that the 16-year old Henry, Prince of Wales (Prince Hal, the future King Henry V) received on 21 July 1403 while defeating the rebellious Sir Henry “Hotspur” Percy at the Battle of Shrewsbury almost proved fatal. He was struck by an arrow in the face, to the left of his nose. The shaft of the arrow was pulled-out leaving the metal tip or bodkin buried six-inches deep in his skull, narrowly missing his brain and spinal cord. That his life was saved was due to one of the most remarkably inventive and famous examples of battlefield surgery in English medieval history. The victorious but grievously wounded prince was taken some 65 miles from Shrewsbury to Kenilworth Castle where “diverse and wyse lechis sayand that they wolde draw owt the arrow hed with drynkys and odyr curis but thei no might”.  


It was now that John Bradmore, a surgeon attached to the royal household, arrived at Kenilworth. He designed a narrow metal instrument with a central screw that could be gently inserted into the wound which first had to be gradually reopened with narrow slivers of wood known as tents. Once it made contact with the bodkin the screw could be turned causing the instrument to expand and grip the inside of the bodkin and extract it – then the tents had to be gradually removed allowing the wound to heal from inside. The last part of the process alone took 20 days to accomplish. It is no surprise that after surviving this Henry who as Prince of Wales, as the Brut Chronicle reported, “fell and inclined greatly to riot, and drew to wild company” before he became King should have undergone a radical character change, such that Shakespeare imagined him throwing off his old friend Falstaff and his former debauched ways.   John Bradmore (d. 1412) was a surgeon, resident in London from at least 1377. In 1390 he was one of four surgeons appointed by the Mayor as overseers of surgery in the City of London. He was associated with the royal household from at least 1399 throughout the reign of the Lancastrian King Henry IV. After 1403 he received a pension of 10 marks from the Prince of Wales. In 1408 he was appointed Searcher of the Port of London with payment of £10 a year. In 1409-10 he was Master of the Fraternity of the Holy Trinity in the parish of St Botoloph without Aldersgate, having been a founder-member from 1377. He died on 27 January 1412 and was buried in St Botolph’s church.  


Sometime before his death John Bradmore composed a surgical-medical treatise in Latin called Philomena [Nightingale]. The text is divided into seven parts: anatomy, apostumes (abscesses), wounds & ulcers, fractures & dislocations, other diseases treatable by surgery, antidotary (recipes for medicines), and a resumé of the whole. It contains a full account of his treatment of the prince including a small illustration of his special instrument.   The prince’s wound was mentioned by all the early chroniclers, e.g. Raphael Holinshed: “The prince that daie holpe his father like a lustie young gentleman: for although he was hurt in the face with an arrow, so that diverse noble men that were about him, would have conveied him foorth of the field, yet he would not suffer them so to doo, …” (The Third volume of Chronicles, 1586 edn, p. 523). Bradmore’s account, however, is the only one to describe its severity and its treatment.  


Bradmore’s innovative and successful treatment of the young Prince Henry has been widely discussed in the literature of medieval battlefield surgery (e.g. Michael Livingston’s essay “‘The Depth of Six Inches’: Prince Hal’s Head-wound at the Battle of Shrewsbury” in Larissa Tracy & Kelly DeVries, eds, Wounds and Wound Repair in Medieval Culture (Leiden, 2015), pp. 215-30 and there is a terrific Discovery film reconstruction of the treatment on Youtube: . However his Philomena has otherwise received little notice, particularly in comparison with the works of John of Arderne (b. 1307/8, d. in or after 1377) who was active a generation earlier and which have survived in many more manuscript copies both in the Latin original and in Middle English translations (including one also owned by Charles Whyte, British Library MS Sloane 776, the owner of the present manuscript) which have been widely published and commented on since.    


Bradmore’s original Latin text survives in a unique, probably autograph, manuscript in the British Library (MS Sloane 2272) and is unpublished except for a few extracts (see below). In addition, the Antidotaries (medical recipes) for Wounds and Ulcers and for Fractures and Dislocations and some other extracts are also found on fols.1v-12v & 179r-181 of All Souls’ College, Oxford MS 73 (the rest of which contains the Chirurgia of Petrus de Argellata).  


However Bradmore’s Philomena, or rather a large part of it, also survives in an anonymous Middle English version, part translation / part adaptation / part resumé, dated 1446, hitherto known only in a unique manuscript in the British Library (MS Harley 1736, fols.2-184v of 234).  


We are now able to announce the discovery of a second, previously unidentified, manuscript of the 1446 Middle English version.   Sheila J. Lang was the first to recognise the original Latin text in Sloane 2272 and compared it with the Middle English version in Harley 1736 in a PhD thesis, The “Philomena” of John Bradmore and its Middle English derivative: a perspective on surgery in Late Medieval England (University of St Andrews, 1998; available online). She noted that the “Middle English text consists of Bradmore’s sections on Anatomy, Wounds and Apostumes with a small Antidotary [not apparently based on Bradmore’s main Antidotary]. Bound later in the manuscript is a drastically reduced version of Bradmore’s section on Ulcers. … In other words, what we have in the Middle English text is derived only from parts one to three of Bradmore’s work. Whether this is due to an incomplete translation in the first instance or to the later loss of material from the Middle English text can only be a matter for speculation.” (Lang, p. 92).  


The discovery of this second manuscript of the Middle English translation with almost the same contents as the first shows that it must have been a deliberate decision to translate only parts of Bradmore’s text and that nothing else can have been lost.   As Lang concluded, “The Middle English translation of Bradmore’s text, made within fifty years of his death, is interesting both for the translator’s methods of dealing with the technical vocabulary of his subject, and for the adaptations he made to the text. The translator plainly does not feel the reverence for the text which he might for an ancient authority, and indeed he alters the text very freely, even in the case of Bradmore’s accounts of his own treatment of patients. As he is dealing with a near-contemporary text, he is not altering it simply because its methods are outmoded. The translator appears, like Bradmore himself, to wish his text to be of practical use, but perhaps for those less well-educated than the intended readers of Bradmore’s Latin text. He is still intending the text for other surgeons rather than lay people, but cuts out much theory and reduces the length of the text considerably, offers alternative recipes for those less able to pay, and clearly accepts that his text may pass out of the hand of surgeons to ‘men of the contre that wyll be ther owne leche (Harley 1736, fol.144r). He shows an interest in treating the poor, the very young, and the very old, providing alternative methods and recipes for these when it is necessary. Though the identity of the translator remains elusive, the text he produced ‘sympyll after my sympull wytt (Harley 1736, fol.87r) bears evidence of his concerns and interests as much as it does of Bradmore’s.” (Lang, pp.152-3).  


As James J. R. Kirkpatrick & Ian Leslie Naylor commented on the Middle English translation of Philomena: “As one of the earliest texts on surgery written in English this book, which is comprehensive in its scope and rich in detail, is of historical importance and it is curious therefore that it has lapsed into obscurity.” - “The qualities and conduct of an English surgeon in 1446: as described in a manuscript attributed to Thomas Morstede”, in Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Vol. 79/3 (June 1997), pp. 225-8.   The Middle English translation opens with a charming analogy (missing from the Latin original and from the present manuscript) based on Matthew 13.24-30 in which it is noted that just as wheat and darnel [a weed] are impossible to distinguish before they are ripe so “nowadays in surgery the darnell of arror [error] with the whete of trewth growys to gedyr amonge full sympyll letteryd men”. Therefore, so “that the darnell of surgery may be done away yt ys nedfull that the erys of the whet of trewth may be mad opyn be the knowledge of the pryncypylles of the crafte of surgery, wherfor to the worschype of all mighty gode and his glorios modyr saynt Mary and all halows & to the prophete of crysten pepull. and manly of studyars of [or] practyzars in surgery I have compylyd & made this boke In the yer of owr lord MlCCCC & xlvj In the Wyche I have set the pryncypalles with the secundarys as the kalendyr makyth mencyon Capitulum of common thynges that ar necessary to a surgen & what ys a surgyne and how he owyth to govern hym in all hys curis … [transcript from Harley 1736 by R. Theodore Beck, pp. 107-8].   Although the introduction clearly states that the translation was composed in 1446 it is possible that British Library MS Harley 1736 was also copied in the early 16th Century – Juhani Norri cites it as a source for the Dictionary of Medical Vocabulary in English, 1375-1550 (2016) and dates the manuscript to 1500-25. It is on paper with a hand and star watermark found from the mid-15th Century until well into the 16th and similar to one of the two watermarks found in the present manuscript (see below, Paper).   Surgical-medical texts remain the least researched area of Middle English studies – As Linda E. Voigts commented in her survey of scientific and medical books produced in England from 1375 to 1500, “it is clear, I trust, that medical and scientific handwritten books – particularly those containing vernacular texts – warrant more scholarly heed than has been paid to them in the past, if we are to understand the intellectual milieu of the period 1375-1500.” (p. 384) – “Scientific and Medical Books”, in Jeremy Griffiths & Derek Pearsall, eds, Book Production and Publishing in Britain 1375-1475 (1989), pp. 345-402.   Now, following Sheila Lang’s pioneering research, it will be possible to produce a full edition of the Middle English version of John Bradmore’s Philomena for the first time.  


 Unfortunately the present manuscript is imperfect at the front. It lacks the whole of Book I (Anatomy, Chapters 1-15) and the opening of Book II (Surgery, Chapters 1-3 & half of Chapter 4).  


It opens two leaves into Book II, Chapter 4 (“of bressynge of the hed with hurtynge of the pann and of drawynge owt of an arrow hede ther from”) on fol.3 of 241 (in the modern pencil foliation – fols.1-2, perhaps fragmentary have disappeared – but before 1927, when the leaf-count was 238; see below) with the words: “Then it is best furst to do shave awaye the here from the brosyd place, and if the brosor be but little then ley therto a stryctory plaster of the whyte of a naye and powder of bolamoniak to gyther and lat it lye styll ther to …”.  This chapter appears on fols.44r-46v in Harley 1736.  [FIG. 1]  


It is the next Chapter (“of woundes in the eris and in the face and of the Iyen & of ye nose & to swage ake of the Iyn by dust or here” which contains the account (beginning on fol.13r) of Prince Henry’s treatment as well as a small drawing of Bradmore’s special instrument:   “And it is to understond that in the yere of o[u]r lord Mli CCCC and in the iiijth yere of kyng henry iiijth on mary madalanes even at the battayle of shrewsbery it happonyd so that henry the worthy prynce and heire of the kymg henry was smitten in the face beside the nose on the lyft side wt an arowe the whiche sade arrowe entrid overthwart and after the arowe was taken owt and the hed abode styll in the hynder parte of a bone [in] the hed after the measure of vi ynchis, and then was John Bradmore surgyn to the kyng and helyd him in the castell of kyllingworth, to the said whiche castell cam that tyme dyvers and wise lechis, sayand that they wolld draw out the arrowe hed with drynkes and other curis but they no might, at the last the said John Bradmore enttermetyng of the said cure hade owt the said arrowe hed wt suche an Instrument [drawing] the whiche Instrument was mad in manner of tonges and was round and holowish and by the myddes therof ther entrid a lytle vyce wt the whiche Instrument was pullid owt the arrow hed, and afterwards the wound was washid wt wyne and clensid with mundificatiff oynement wt iij partes of popullyon and the iiiith part of hony so contynuyng the space of a sevyntnyght [Harley 1736 has “vii dayes”] and afterward the place was helid wt unguentum fuscum cirurgicum and understond for a general rule that is full profitable that where so ever an arrowe hed or a darte hed stike fast, that it is nedefull before the drawing out to sustayne the place wt som mollificatiff thing as oyle of Rosis for peradventure if that was not, it might cause deth to the pacient …” [FIG. 2 & 3]   Book II is in the same order and with roughly the same chapter headings as Harley 1736. It ends with Chapter 25 “of akyng of a wounde” (fols. 82v-84v).  


It is followed by a 5-page treatise (approx. 750 words) in Middle English on Phlebotomy or Bloodletting not found in Bradmore’s original Latin text or in the Middle English translation and which we have been unable to identify exactly in any other manuscript, titled “Here is the crafte & science of blode lettyng & to know the vaynes”; beginning, “The vayne in the myddes of the forehed is good to blede on for the tothe ache and for the mygrem, and for the letarge that makyth a man to forget all that he herith  …” (fols.85r-87v). See below for further details.   Book III, Chapters 1-49 (fols.3-171r) are in the same order and with roughly the same chapter headings as Harley 1736. The present manuscript also includes an extra chapter on treatments for burns and scalds not found in Harley 1736 (approx. 470 words) added in a smaller contemporary hand: “of brenninge or scaldynge of water or any other brennyng thinge” (fols.164v–165r). Chapters 50-58 (fols.171r-208v) are in a different order. Chapter 50 “de lepra an[glice] lepur” (fols.172v-185r) = Chapter 55 in Harley 1736; Chapter 51 “of Impetigo and formica” (fols.185r-188v) = Chapter 56 in Harley 1736; Chapter 52 “de serpigine” fols.188v-191v = Chapter 57 in Harley 1736; Chapter 53 “de morphea (fols.191v-197r) = Chapter 58 in Harley 1736; Chapter 54 “of the scabbe & Iche” (fols.197r-202v) = Chapter 50 in Harley 1736; Chapter 55 incorrectly titled “de tremore Iactiaco[n]e i[n]se[n]sibilitate membrorum” (fols.202v-205v) = Chapter 51 in Harley 1736 “of the pallesy”; Chapter 56 “de tremore Iactigacione & i[n]sensibilitate membroum” (fols.205v-207r) = Chapter 52 in Harley 1735; Chapter 57 ”de spasmo & titano” (fols.207r-208r) = Chapter 53 in Harley 1736; Chapter 58 “de co[n]cussione an[gli]ce brysyng” (fols.208r-v) = Chapter 54 in Harley 1736.   The present manuscript omits the entire Antidotary of 137 short medical recipes (fols.143v-167r in Harley 1736) but an incomplete Antidotary with 44 recipes has been added on the last 5pp.   The text then continues with the section on Ulcers, etc. in 11 chapters (fols.208v-233r), beginning “Capitulum primum of dyfferens betwixt Ulcys & Vulnus & after of spekyng universally that is to saye a unyversall sermon of Ulcers” and ending “Explicit Ulcers”. The present manuscript contains the two final chapters on Ulcers in the Nostrils and Polyps missing in Harley 1736.


The present manuscript also concludes with a ten-page (approx. 2000 words) Tretys of the Mynd which we have been unable to identify in any other manuscript and seems to be unique (fols.234r–239r): A treatise on the mind and memory, in three chapters: “Thys tretys of mynd is compilyd for bycause of good dysposycyon therof is prophetable & nedefull …”. See below for further details.                                                    


Extracts from the opening sections of this Middle English version of the Philomena were published by R. Theodore Beck in The Cutting Edge: early History of the Surgeons of London (London, 1974). Beck attributed the translation to Thomas Morstede (d. 1540), a surgeon to Henry IV & V and chief surgeon at Agincourt in 1415 who had succeeded Bradmore in 1412 in the office of Searcher of the port of London (see ODNB): “So far as is known no other surgeon could have written with such authority at that time” (The Cutting Edge, p. 83). However, this attribution was rejected by Sheila Lang, principally because of her discovery that it is largely a translation rather than the original composition that Beck presumed. Beck, however, stood by his attribution (see below).   Beck transcribed fols.6-14 of Harley 1736 (from the first page of the main text, comprising Book I, Chapters 1-9, of 15 of the Anatomy) and fols.41-52 (Book II, Chapter 3-7, of wounds to the head, throat and neck including the account of the treatment of Prince Henry). The rest of the manuscript remains unpublished except for some extracts published by Sheila Lang as comparisons with the Latin text (see below).


A modern translation of Book I, Chapter 1 (just a few hundred of an estimated 80,000 words in total) of the Middle English version with a commentary was published by Kirkpatrick & Naylor in their essay “The qualities and conduct of an English surgeon in 1446”. They reported that Beck still maintained his original attribution of the translation to Morstede as the only credible candidate. They promised a translation of the entire text but it has not appeared.  


Aside from these extracts by Beck and by Lang and the “translation” of the first few paragraphs by Kirkpatrick & Naylor the bulk of Philomena remains unpublished.  


Beck’s transcription is good, though comparison with the original shows it is not absolutely accurate. Comparison with his extracts and the passages transcribed by Lang as well as the original show that Harley 1736 and the present manuscript, although almost identical on a sentence-for-sentence basis, differ greatly in spelling and more than occasionally in wording. It might be considered that the present manuscript is slightly modernised in spelling and where there is a difference in wording it has generally been improved and made clearer.   We have not made a detailed comparison but the differences that we have noted are nearly all minor and, generally, the contractions have been expanded and the spelling, where different, is usually slightly modernised (in particular the older spelling “sch” becomes “sh” as in the Battle of “Schrewesbery / shrewsbery” and “deynschy / devynshire” for Devonshire) in the present manuscript.  


Three good examples are among the passages selected by Lang for comparison with Bradmore’s original Latin text.   The first passage is on the treatment of scrofula in the breasts and refers to Bradmore as the author of Philomena. The present manuscript reads:   “… & master John bradmore tellythe in his boke of surgery callid Philomina, of a woman that hade scrophules in her tett, the whiche was like to have bin ded therof and at the Instance of great prayers off gode fryndes he medelid wt hir and helpyd hir on this wise he layd to hir a plaister of gracia dei maior every other day remeving the plaister the whiche plaister is made in this wise, take betony pympernell varvayne … and seethe[n] this to it be playster wyse, the whiche may be knowyn by dropping therof in watter, whan it is hardishe and nott fatty nor clevyng to the fyngars this plaister may well be callyd gracia dei maior for after the propertie and vertuis therof it was rather fownd by the grace of god then by manys witt, for it hathe the vertue, to dissolve and to consume hardenes of scrophules and in corrupt sorys to freat away prowd fleshe and after to consownde and hele them.” (fols.153r-154v). [FIG. 4]  Lang’s transcript (pp.131-3) of this passage in Harley 1736 (fol.117v) reads:   “And master John Bradmor tells in his boke off surgery cald Philomena off a woman that had scrophules in hyr tete the wyche was lykly to a ben ded ther off and at the Instance of great praes off good frendys he mellyd with hyr and helpyd hyr in this wyse he layd to hyr a playster off gracia dei maior every odyr day remevynge the playster the wyche playster ys mad in this wyse. Take betony pympernell verueyne … and seth thes to yt playster wyse the wyche may be known be droppynge ther off in watter when yt ys hardysche and not fatty nor clevynge to the fyngurs. This playster may well be cald Gracia dei maior for after the prophete and virtues ther off yt was Rather fownde be the grace of god then be mannys wytt for yt has the virtue to dissolve and consume hardnes off scrophules and in corrupte sores to frete awey prowd flesche and after consowd and hele them.”    


The second passage is also on the treatment of scrofula. The present manuscript reads:   “… & if it happen a sukkynge chylde to have scrophulus than do the norysse use of thys syrrope first & laste viij sponfulls at onys, in the somer cold, in the winter lewke warme, the space of a fortnight or iij wekys, take the roote of an erbe callyd scrophularia, … (fol.124v) … & if it be a nother child then suckyng that has the scrophulus, as from ij yeres of age to xij, then do hym use to drynke of the said syrop & gyve hym in qua[n]tite therof as he is agyde & playster hym as is sayde above. And if he be of man[n]ys age that has the scrophulus, then to hym the use of pulvis albus (fol.125r). [FIG. 5]   Lang’s transcript (p. 146) of this passage in Harley 1736 (fol.104r-v) reads:   “… and yf it hoppon a sowkynge child to have scrophules than do the noryse use off this syrup fyrste and laste viij sponfull at onys and in the somer cold and in the wyntter lewke [‘warme’ is omitted] the space of a fourtnyght or iij wekes. Take the Rotte of an erbe cald scrophularia … And yff yt be anodyr child than sokynge that hath the scrophules as from ii yer off age to xij, than do hym to drynke off the sayd syrupe and gyffe hym in a quantyte as he ys in age and plastyr hym as is said abouffe. And yff he be off a manis age that has the scrophulys than do hym to use of pullus albus.”   The third passage is on the death of a man bitten on the thumb by a “wodeman” (madman). The present manuscript reads:   “Amongst all bytynges the bytyng of a man is the worst and the p[er]illous pryncypally if yt be of a woodman[n] and namely fastyng, for but yf the grace of god be, he that is bytton shall dye, for as I sayde and know in my tyme In a towne callid exetur in devynshire a man was byton[n] by the thombe of a woodeman[n], thorough the whyche woodemans bytyng all the hande was bolne and aft[er]warde all the arme to the body, and wtin x dayes the man was dede, not wtstandyng the leches In all the cuntrye and I myself dyd all owr dyligen[n]s and connyng, and some men have ben knowen dede wtin v dayes of a woode mannys bytyng.” (fol.69r-v). [FIG. 6]   Lang’s transcript (p. 140-1) of this passage in Harley 1736 (fols.75v-76r) reads:   “Amonge all bytynges the bytynge of a man ys the werste and moste perlyous pryncypally yff yt be a wode mane and namly fastynge for but yfe the grace of gode be he that ys betyne schall be dede ffor as I sayd and [haue in margin] know in my tyme a town callyd excetyr in deynschyr a man was betyne be thombe of a wod man thorow the Wyche bytynge ale the hond was bolne and after warde ale the harme to the body and with in x dayes the man was dede Notewithstandynge the beste leche of all the contre and I my selfe sympull dyd all owr dylygens and kunnynge and sum men have be know ded with in v days of a wod mans bytynge or woman or of anybody. …”.  


Lang noted that Bradmore’s original Latin text does not mention that the case occurred in Exeter in Devonshire and actually implies it was in London as the “omnes magistri et optimi cirurgici Ciuitatis londonii” [all the masters and the best surgeons of the City of London] were unable to cure the man. She also suggests that her reading of Harley 1736 as “the beste leche of all the contre and I my selfe sympull” might be referring to Bradmore as the “beste leche” and the translator might thus be referring to himself as his apprentice (“sympull”). However the present manuscript has “leches” in the plural (as does the Latin) and omits “beste” so it cannot refer to Bradmore alone. It also omits the word “sympull” after “I my selfe” removing any suggestion that he may have been Bradmore’s apprentice but was rather one of the several physicians “of all the contre [?county]” present.  


Lang also noted (p.142) another reference to the West Country not found in Bradmore’s original Latin text, as given from the present MS (fols.200r-201v): “& thou shalt underston yt natural sulphur bathes ar good for the scabbe to be bathen in, as is s[er]ten bathes in a towne of Ingland called bathe”. However her supposition that the translator may therefore have had West Country connections is rather diluted by the rest of the sentence which she does not quote “& in a towne beyond see toward rome callyd Aken [Aachen] where owr ladyes smock is”. On p. 143, n. 62 she notes that a brief check of the vocabulary of Harley 1736 “showed no particular West Country bias, but if anything a preponderance of forms from Norfolk and Lincolnshire”.                                              


Text   1. (fols.3r-84v & 87v-233r) Middle English translation of the Latin treatise on surgery by John Bradmore known as Philomena here beginning imperfectly in Book II, Chapter 4, concerning flesh wounds and their cures, working downwards from the head to the feet, beginning on fol.3r “Then it is best furst to do shave awaye the here from the brosyd place, …”, and ending with Chapter 25 on fol. 84v “Explicit Secunda pars istius libri”. Followed by a 5-page treatise on Phlebotomy or Bloodletting not found in Bradmore’s original Latin text or in the Middle English version (Harley 1736), titled “Here is the crafte & science of blode lettyng & to know the vaynes”. Approx. 750 words, beginning, “The vayne in the myddes of the forehed is good to blede on for the tothe ache and for the mygrem, and for the letarge that makyth a man to forget all that he herith  …” and ending on fol.86r-87v “… The ij vaynes undir the ankylles on the utter syde of the ankylles ar for grevancys of the ankylles & the loynes & the raynes & for swellynges & b[-]hes & postumes ballock stonys and for letting of the vayne & for the shawdepysse [chaudepiss = hot-piss]. Explicit blode letting” (fols.85r-87v).   The incipit is very close to that of the Phlebotomy treatise included in Wellcome Library MS 5650 (fols.58v-61v): 'Ffor blode lettynge. Seth þe authoritie of ypocras þe noble phisiciane...The vayne in þe myddest of the for hede serves for hede ache and for þe mygrayn...”. In addition to the Wellcome MS the online Voigts-Kurtz Search Program of Scientific and Medical Writings in Old and Middle English records several mid-15th-Century Middle English manuscripts containing a short treatise on phlebotomy with close variants of this opening, e.g. Huntington Library MS HM 64, Bodleian MS Ashmole 1438, Bodleian MS Digby 67, Bodleian MS Bodley 591, BL MS Egerton 2433, BL MS Sloane 442 & 706, Trinity College Cambridge MS O.9.10 & R.14.32. However all read that the vein in the midst of the forehead is good for the headache and migraine but none are for the toothache and migraine. The inclusion of a treatise on Phlebotomy here is significant as Lang specifically notes that, “This is a subject commonly altered in the Middle English version [of Philomena], with all references to phlebotomy simply omitted in many chapters. When retained, it is rarely without some alteration, and the general impression created is that the Middle English author was rather wary of the procedure.” (p. 116). Bloodletting manuals are amongst the most common of surviving medieval medical manuscripts, an indication of the important role the procedure played in treatments. For a general discussion of Middle English Phlebotomies see Linda E. Voigts & Michael R. McVaugh, “A Latin Technical Phlebotomy and its Middle English Translation”, in Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 74:2 (1984). This is followed by Book III of Philomena, treating of Apostumes (fols.87v-208v), beginning “In the third parte of thys boke it is to treate alonly of postumes and first in thys chaptyr I shall treat a universall sermon of the apostumes”; including an extra chapter added in a smaller hand of treatments for burns and scalds: “of brenninge or scaldynge of water or any other brennyng thinge” (fols.164v-165r).                                                                                                                                     


The text of Philomena concludes with the section on ulcers, swellings, and polyps, in 11 chapters (fols.208v-233r), beginning “Capitulum primum of dyfferens betwixt Ulcys & Vulnus & after of spekyng universally that is to saye a unyversall sermon of Ulcers”. Chapters 1-9 (fols.208r-232r) are in the same order and with roughly the same chapter headings as Harley 1736. Harley 1736 then concludes with a single leaf (fol.212) containing five unrelated recipes for cures not in the present manuscript.


However the present manuscript contains the two final chapters on Ulcers and Polyps missing in Harley 1736: Chapter 10 “Of Ulcers in the nostrelles” (fols.232r-233r) and Chapter 11 “of polipus” (fol.233r, though only 8 lines). This is followed by the final line “Explicit Ulcers”. As noted by Lang (p. 92) this is a “drastically reduced” version of Bradmore’s original Latin text. [FIG. 7]  


2. (fols.234r–239r) An unidentified (apparently unique), late Middle English treatise on the mind and memory, in three chapters (approx. 2000 words): “Thys tretys of mynd is compilyd for bycause of good dysposycyon therof is prophetable & nedefull & specially to the desyrers of conyng & ye kepers therof, to the wch is nedefull to knowe first what is mynd & the p[ro]pertys therof, & ye second to [know (deleted)] cause mynd to Remember yt was forgotten wythe ye syrconstans, & ye thyrd cause is yt ye noyans maye be holpyn & so thys treatys is devyded in iij p[ar]tys”. [FIG. 8]  


The first chapter, “What is mynde” discusses comprehension (“by seyng, heryng. tastyng. smelling. & towchyng”) in the front part of the brain, imagining in the mid part of the brain, and “in the hyndermost parte of the brayne” estimating and remembering. “It is to understond yt memorie is a p[ro]ven vertew of the felyng sowell sett in the bodily Instrume[n]t of the last part of the brayne wtholdyng spyers yt ar Imagenyd afore, & I saye yt memory is a vertew for it is one of the felyng sencytyfe vertues of understondynge be the wch may be knowen thynges that ar abull to be felt be reason, & ye sencytyff vertew is devyded in ij p[ar]tes that is to saye in to memoratyffe vertues & in to apprehensyffe virtues …”  


The second chapter, “Of remembering of yt yt was forgotten, wth ye syzenstans”, discusses how forgotten things can be remembered by remembering their context, with examples (“insample I bethynke me yt I met wt a p[er]son in suche a place but I bethynke me not of ye tyme than I [-]slake my wyttes how I may come to knowledge of the tyme, as yf he ware a scoller goyng to scole or com[m]yng ther froo of ye wch followes mynd & yt on suche a tyme happenyd the fore sayde thynge, the second helpe is yf I dowt what daye I yede [went] owt of my howsse & than count how many dayes after & so may I knowe what day I met wt ye p[er]son, also insample I thynke on a verse in the sawter but I cannot thynke in what psalme the verse in is then I begyn to serche all the salmes of the sawter tylle that I cum to that salme that the verse is in, & so of suche other thyngs”).   The third chapter, “Of tokyns, causys, & noyans of seruptyng of the brayne & mynde wythe the cure”; includes the Aristotelian image (derived from De memoria et reminiscentia) of the impression of a seal in water, “as by ensample of water yf a seale be put ther in it lightly ressayves the print therof but a non after ye seale is removyd awaye ye print is lost therof”. It then provides a number of recipes and treatments for those suffering from memory loss: “… also doo the pacyent use ofte to smell must & charge ye pacyent to absteyne from raw frute & especially from cherys & strawberys, also charge ye pacyent to fede hym not to myche at supper, nor to sing late, nor slepe not to myche, after meate slepe but a lyttell, & do the pacyent use to walke a lyttell afore meate & charge hym to absteyne from angger & wrathe & hevynes, & in ye winter tyme to kepe hym warme & yt he walke not in no wyes in no myst nor trubly eyre, nor in tyme of winter to dwell in low places …”. The text ends: “… & many other Remedys ther be wch might be sett in wrytyng but I ^hold^ theis to be suffycyent yf they be consyderd dyscretly & gevyn to the pacyent in dew quantyte. & thus ends the treatys of memory. In nomine xpi explicit liber iste.” [FIG. 9]


We are grateful to Dr A. S. G. Edwards for confirming that this text appears to be unique and may, indeed, be the earliest original English treatise on memory. Nothing like it appears in the online Voigts-Kurtz Search Program. Frances A. Yates surveyed the very small group of early 16th-century English printed writings on the subject: “In the earlier years of the sixteenth-century there had been a growing lay interest in the art, as elsewhere. In Stephen Hawes’s Pastime of Pleasure (1509), Dame Rhetoric describes the places and images [in 40 lines of verse], perhaps the first account of the art of memory in English. The 1527 edition of Caxton’s Mirrour of the World contains a discussion of ‘Memory Artyfycyall’. The continental memory treatises spread to England, and an English translation (1548 [STC 24112, c. 1545]) of the Phoenix of Peter of Ravenna was published.” (The Art of Memory, 2008 edn, p. 255). Medieval and Renaissance writers on memory were usually clerics, academics or lawyers who had a professional interest in the art of improving memory and treated it from a scholastic perspective. The present treatise, however, treats it from a purely medical perspective.  


3. (fols.239v-241v). Recipes for ointments, plasters, etc., ending imperfectly at “To make a lye to increase heart. Take a pottell of the lye that is made of the ashes ||” (fols.239v–241v) [FIG. 10]. There are 44 recipes. Given that at least another two leaves are probably missing this may well have equated to the missing Antidotary that contained 137 recipes in Harley 1736. However, there are only a few that seem to coincide, e.g. “To make Colman” (fol.143v in Harley 1736), “ffor Burning or scalding” (fol.166r in Harley 1736), “Grene trette” (fol.153r in Harley 1736) and “To make Seare clothe” (fol.147r in Harley 1736, “serge cloth”).   There are also occasional contemporary added recipes in margins or spaces previously left blank, e.g. “Aches swaged bothe of maturacon and resolucon”(fol.84v), “marche mallowes prepared with swynes greace …” (fol.100r, lower margin, upside-down); “Onyons and garlike rosted; Or rubbe the bark of marche mallowe & the roote of lyllie …” (fol. 99v, lower margin, upside-down); “A verie good oyntmente to take awaye anye swelling” (fol.233v); “Pomatum odoris. Take sweite hogges suet iijlb often washed in damaske water …” (fol.239r); a recipe ending “yt healeth all manner scabbes and mormalles & universally all infections of skyne, probatum” (fol.202r).


Illustrations   (fol.13v) A small diagram of the device devised by Bradmore to remove the arrow-head stuck in the face of Henry, Prince of Wales (“… at the last the said John Bradmore enttermetyng of the said cure hade owt the said arrowe hed with suche an Instrument [ diagram ] the whiche Instrument was mad in manner of tongs …”). [FIG. 11]   (fol.80v) A small diagram of tongs for removing an arrow-head (“… if the hed stycke losely then take yt owt with thi tonges the whiche ar made on this wais [ diagram ] …”). [FIG. 12]   (fol.146r)  A small diagram of a searing iron to treat a “nodus the wch is a postume lyke to a knot sprongen in ye wrest of the hand” (“… make a long Iren of a handfull & make it crossyd and shapyd after thys maner wt a hafte & hete [ diagram ] the rownde ende of the Iren almost red hotte, & do the pacient be blynd felde & make ii stronge men to holde hym …” [FIG. 13]  


Physical description   239 leaves (inc. 23 leaves of parchment), with modern pencil foliation 3-241. When catalogued in 1927 and 1947 it was counted as “215 leaves of paper and 23 leaves of vellum” = 238 leaves (see Provenance). [Text: various sizes, up to 204 x 145 mm].


Paper, with two watermarks, one very close to Briquet no. 12835 (Pot with one handle, name “BMD / DANT”, Rouen, 1535), the other similar to nos. 11236–11312 (Hand with closed fingers and a five-pointed star, initial “G” or “3”, cf. 11267 (Saumur, 1532). Harley 1736 has a similar hand and star watermark (Lang, p. 93, n. 4);  the leaves c.200×140mm, i+237+i leaves, foliated in modern pencil 3–241.  


Condition, first page grubby; dampstained in the lower half at the front, gradually fading away; occasional minor stains; last few leaves lightly browned; single wormhole in the inner margin to fol.150; closed tear in fol. 132; sections of margin have been neatly excised removing inscriptions on fols. 12, 64–65, 207, 221, and 223.  


Binding, sewn on four raised bands and bound in modern brown crushed morocco, the covers with a blind panel and centrepiece. The original binding is described in Charles Whyte’s will (“coveryd wyth black lether having on th’one syde the armes of England wyth a rose paynted and one th’other syde the armes of England and Spayne” - see Provenance, below). It was presumably blocked with examples of the numerous blind-stamped binding panels of a Tudor Rose and the arms of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon which were still in use in the 1530s (e.g. J. B. Oldham, Blind Panels of English Binders, blocks RO.15 and HE.1 & 2). When it was sold in 1927 by W. H. Robinson no binding was mentioned and when sold in 1947 the Parke Bernet catalogue described it as “loose from its binding but held together by sewing and leather bands” however American Book Prices Current listed it as “loose in leather binding” (see Provenance).  


Collation, the physical composition of the volume is complicated and irregular, with a number of leaves missing at the very beginning and one leaf missing after fol.59; the quires are composed of varying numbers of leaves and sometimes differing dimensions, but they appear to be as follows:   110 (fols.3–12), 212-1 (fols.13–23; catchword on fol.12v does not match fol.13r (“sow / as”) but this may be due to eye-skip as only 13 words are missing from the text in Harley 1736 (“… to abyde styll and to [saffe ye wound and use to roll ye place and hele yt up] sow / As it is sayd of other woundes …”); stub after fol.16 but the text is continuous from 16v to 17r as in Harley 1736), 316 (fols.24–39), 44 (fols.40–43), 58 (fols.44–51), 68 (fols.52–59; a single leaf missing after fol.59 which ends “oynement to kepe the wounde opyn, to the” comprising 23 lines in Harley 1736, fol.71r to the end of Chapter 18 “of a wound made in a senewe of the prykyng ther of”, 711 (fols.60–70; fols. 60, 64-5 & 70 are parchment), 812 (fols.71–82; fols. 71, 76-7 & 82 are parchment), 94-2 (fols.83–84; last two leaves cancelled: 2 stubs after fol.84, with the end of Pars 2; no text missing; fol. 83 is parchment), 1012 (fols.85–96; fols. 85, 90-1 & 96 are parchment), 1112 (fols.97–108; fols. 97, 102-3 & 108 are parchment), 126 (fols.109–114; fols. 111-2 are parchment), 1310 (fols.115–124), 1410 (fols.125–134), 1516 (fols.135–150; text breaks off mid-sentence, ? of the way down the page, the remaining space being filled by a later recipe attributed to ‘The Countise of Arundell possit drink for the stoane’ and ‘another for the same’ (lower margin of fol.151r); but then the text continues without break on the next quire), 168 (fols.151–158), 176 (fols.159–164; fols.159-60 preceded and followed by two stubs, but no text is missing; fol.164v ends ‘finis’ near the top), 1812 (fols.165–176; fols. 165, 170-1 & 176 are parchment), 198 (fols.177–184), 208 (fols.185–192), 214 (fols.193–196), 228 (fols.197–204), 2312 (fols.205–216), 24 (five leaves, uncertain structure; fols.217–221), 2510 (fols.222–231), 2612-2 (fols. 232–241; last two leaves, originally blank but probably with added recipes, missing).  Quires 10–15 have quire signatures a–f; quires 7–22 having vertical ruling in reddish ink.  



Script   The volume is written in a variety of secretary scripts, of varying sizes and with a varying number of lines per page (14, 19, 20, 25, 27 or 28), occasionally changing dramatically from one sheet to the next, even mid-sentence, as it adjusts to the number of lines per page. This lack of consistency argues against it having been written by a professional scribe, and suggests that it may have been written in whole or part by Charles Whyte himself. This hypothesis is supported by the script of Whyte’s other manuscript (BL, MS Sloane 776): the colophon tells us that the main text was “Compylyd by me Charlys Whytte Cittezen & Barbour Cirurgyon of London and wrytton by the hande of Nycholas Browne” on 6 January 1532. Nicholas Browne is otherwise unknown as a scribe but he wrote in a neat, consistent, professional hand quite unlike the present manuscript.  


Provenance   1. Charles Whyte (d. 1545), Barber Surgeon of London; inscribed “Charlys Whyte barber & cargeo[n] othys [i.e. owes = owns] thys boke” (fol.239r); perhaps copied by himself c.1530–35, to judge by the watermarks and script and by the 1532 date of the other manuscript owned by him. Charles Whyte was twice Warden of the Company of Barber-Surgeons in 1535 and 1542. [FIG. 14]  Whyte made his will on 3 July 1544, and it was proved on 14 February 1545; a copy is in The National Archives, PROB 11/30/337 (largely printed in Sidney Young, The Annals of the Barber-Surgeons, 1890; PDF scan of the original available on request), and includes the following passages:   “I Charles Whyte Citezen and Barbour surgyon of the City of London … I bequeathe unto the hygh aulter of the paryshe churche of Saint Martyns wythin Ludgat where as I ame nowe a paryshoner and dweller … I bequeathe to Nicholas Archepolle the surgion two books of surgery, th’one ys bordyd and coverd wyth yelowe lether and ys namyd John of Ardren [sic] being wryten hande wyth divers pictures. And th’other booke being coveryd wyth black lether having on th’one syde the armes of England wyth a rose paynted and one th’other syde the armes of England and Spayne being wryten hand. Also I bequeathe to John Colman that was my prentyce my great black boke borded and coveryd wyth black lether wher in is the boke of the harball and the shepardes kalender wyth divers other books. … Also I bequeathe to Robert Clerk and Wyllyam his brother all my bokes of surgery and physyck equally to be devided betwene them yf so be they wyll study the science of surgery. And yf they wyll not study the science, then I wyll the sayd books to be solde to the company that wyll give most for them. … And moreover I wyll that my sayd wyf and executrix shall not give nor sell none of my bookes of surgery to no maner of persoune except yt be to some barbour surgyon.”   Only two of Whyte’s various books are described as being “wryten hande” (i.e. manuscript, rather than printed) and both are “books of surgery”: the John of Arderne “with divers pictures” is British Library, MS Sloane 776, which is elaborately illustrated and contains this colophon: “Here endythe a noble boke of cirurgerye truly provyd, Compylyd by me Charlys Whytte Cittezen & Barboure Cirurgeon of london and wrytton by the hande of Nycholas Browne the vj daye of Januarij in the yere of oure lorde god M.d.c.xxxijti and in the xxxiiijth yere of the Reygne of Kynge Henrye the viiith after ye Conqueste of Englande” (fol.271v). This is, therefore, presumably the other manuscript mentioned in the will and described only by its elaborate binding with a rose on one side and the royal arms of England and Spain on the other.   There are a few short 16th-century marginal references and several pointing hands or manicules (particularly near the beginning). These refer to the use of medicines, “ung[uentu]m defensivum” with a manicule (fol.26v), “apostolicon cirurgicum” with a manicule (fol.42r), “ung[uentum] pimp[ernel]” (fol.68v), “a water of ulcers” (fol. 211r) and “To ye cowre of the festela [cure of the fistula]” (fol.218). Except for the last these are very similar to the main text hand. They are also very similar to the few marginal references (though there without the manicules) in Whyte’s other manuscript (Sloane 776) and may be in his hand.   2. Presuming it is the second manuscript mentioned in Whyte’ will then the next owner was Nicholas Archepoole, who was admitted to the Company of Barber Surgeons on 13 March 1547 and is probably the same man as Nicholas Archenbold who was Warden in 1564, 1566 & 1568 and one of the governors named in the 1569 grant of arms to the corporation.     3. Inscribed in the 17th century with various names, including: “I am Rob[er]t Lambert” (upside-down, lower margin, fol.12v); “benjamin Jonston” (fol.13r); “Hobson” (fol.39v), “Mary Hobson” (fol.127r), “in nomine dei amen / James Harker et” and “(?) James Connell” (erased) (fol.165v); “Charles Hobson” (twice, fol.233v); also various marginal comments, e.g. “Comit thy Shippe unto the winde, but not thy faith to woman-kinde” (fol.151r), “Twentie wheat cornes maketh a scruppull in medesin …” (fol.164v), in the upper margin of fol.64r is the date “quinto die Janu. 1646”, on fol.187r is “In the thirteenth year of our soveragne lord Charles the second …” (i.e. 1661/2), on fol.155v is “A Scrupull weight is xx wheat cornes & iij Scrupulls is a Drame …”.   4. W. H. Robinson, bookseller of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (later of London), Catalogue 17 (1927), item 464, £95 [with a full-page description, the binding not mentioned (“enclosed in a buckram case”) – “at the conclusion is the writer’s autograph ‘Charlys Whyte barber [-surgeon?]”.   5. Boies Penrose II (1902–1976), Barbados Hill, Devon, Pennsylvania, collector and writer; Penrose sale at Parke-Bernet Galleries Inc., Important Incunabula and Early Printed Books, New York, 28 January 1947, lot 79, $375; subsequently rebound. Included in Seymour De Ricci’s Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, II (1937), p. 1996, no. 9 [Boies Penrose, Devon, PA].   6. Private collection, USA. Consigned anonymously to Christie’s, London, 13/7/2016, lot 121 [as “a Tudor Barber and Surgeon’s Handbook” containing an unidentified “compilation of apparently unpublished recipes and treatises on everything from bloodletting to polyps”].   Imported into the UK from the USA in 2016 and thus an Export Licence would be granted automatically.

Stock Code: 223251