A Golden Legend

This manuscript dates to circa 14th century, based on the script (a Gothic book-hand), and the composition of the actual text.

The volume was catalogued in our system with the note “Bound in a leaf from a medieval Latin ms. (paragraph marks supplied in alternating red and blue, and capital strokes supplied in red) of a religious text on purgatory; over paper boards.”  Even without the acknowledging the script, a text referring to purgatory gives us a place to start, as the word purgatorium is believed to have first appeared in the 12th century.


Scot, Michael. Mensa philosophica. [Cologne: Johann Guldenschaaf, ca. 1485]. Qd 63.
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Licet plyrima de apostolicis signis sacra euangeliorum

It’s hard not to have favorites when working in a special collections setting.  While searching through our incunabula, I found one bound in a manuscript that I had not seen previously.  This particular wrapper has now become one of my favorite items in the collection, and one that I intend to continue researching when time and other duties allow.


Front of wrapper, outside. Call no. Z9 35a.

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Sanctitui domine benedicente te gloriam

Remember all the way back in January – the first #MedievalMonday post – when we met Z10 76 (Constantinus Africanus’ Viaticum), and that I mentioned it was the oldest thing in our collection until a few weeks ago?  Well, this week, we will meet the oldest thing in our collection.  It’s a binding.


Publicius, Jaime. Regimen sanitatis salernitanum nec non magistri Arnoldi de noui Villa. Venundantur Parrhisiis: In vico sancti Jacobi ab Alexandro Aliatte e regione diui benedicti, [after 1500]. Na 50.
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A new life for old manuscripts

The College collection includes just 10 medieval manuscripts (or those created before 1500), and we’ve explored many features of ALL of them over the past 10 months.  In the next few weeks, I’ll be showing off some of our incunabula (books printed before 1500) that were bound in manuscript waste.  Yes, not only were ‘old’ manuscripts used as binding support material (see this earlier post), but they were also used as covers.

It was common practice for early bookbinders to cut up and use pages from outdated or unwanted manuscripts as binding material.  This practice lasted until the 17th century, when unwanted manuscripts became more difficult to find.

The College holds at least 4 incunabula bound in music manuscripts, and several others bound in text manuscripts.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at some of them.


Incuncabula bound in manuscript waste. Top, left to right: ZDa 71a 1488; Z 39a; ZQb 2b 1495. Bottom, left to right: ZQb 2b 1495; Na 50; 9 158; C 294 1490; Qd 63; Z9 26.

Regimen speciale

As I mentioned in “A kingly rule of health,” Arnald included a chapter specially for James II on hemorrhoids, which the king suffered from.  Arnald advised the king to follow a moderate and healthy diet, staying away from foods that were too salty or sweet, since those foods could cause flare-ups.


Folio 26r. Arnald of Villanova’s Regimen sanitatis ad regem Aragonum. 14th century (Spain or southern France). Call no. 10a 210.

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