Middle English translation of John Bradmore's (d. 1412), surgical-medical treatise, Philomena.

BRADMORE John (c.1530-35])



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 The only other example is in the British Library MS Harley 1736 and it is largely unpublished.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 Bradmore 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.    


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.  


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.  


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.  


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”


Please contact us for a much longer and detailed description of the manuscript.


Stock Code: 223251

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