Skip to content

Vol. 50 A Middle English Medical Remedy Book

Edition from Glasgow University Library MS Hunter 185.

Francisco Alonso Almeida (ed.)

Glasgow, University Library, MS Hunter 185 is an early fifteenth-century medical book, which contains more than two hundred recipes, as well as texts on prognostication and charms. Part one consists of four items, the first three in Latin and the fourth in Middle English: a list of plant names, a list of medical ingredients, medical notes concerning humours, and an incomplete herbal. The second part is made up of medical recipes in Middle English. These aim to provide handy instructions on how to prepare satisfactory remedies for particular diseases and are divided into two ‘compendia’ which, it is clear, were not written for the purpose of being parts of the same book. The charms included in MS Hunter 185 show the influence of the Church on medieval medicine, as Christian motifs have been substituted for pagan references.

The Introduction discusses textual matters as well as the contents of all the items included in the manuscript. It analyzes the structures of the different text-types – the recipe, the prognostic text, and the charm – and contains a detailed description of the language that localizes the dialects of the two scribes. The edition includes a commentary on the texts and a glossary.

'a careful and informative edition'

'Almeida is to be commended for his thoughtful, careful, and thorough work on a collection of rich (and perhaps still useful) recipes.'

Carrie Griffin
Journal of the Early Book Society 18 (2015)