Royaume-Uni, Londres, Wellcome Library, MS.164

  • Conservé à : Londres. Wellcome Library
  • Date de fabrication :
  • Nombre de feuillets : 1 volume; 208 leaves 8vo. 16 x 11 cm. Original vellum covers from a leaf of 15th cent. Church accounts (?) in German: inside the lower cover is a medical receipt by another 15th cent. hand. Some leaves seem to be wanting between fol. 98 and fol. 105, also possibly at the beginning and end. Many margins are cropped and frayed, some stains and fading of the text. A few passages have been struck through or painted over. A number of leaves appear to be bound in wrong order. There are many slips of various sizes bound in: these have been included in the foliation.

    A few headings and paragraph marks in red.

    A foliation in pencil has been added.

    In the following list of illustrations, reference is made to Duveen's 'Le Livre de la Trés Sainte Trinité', a 17th cent. French MS. translation, containing 25 illustrations, described in 'Ambix', Vol. III, pages 26-32. Our MS. contains only four of these illustrations.

  • Fol. 30 A circular figure with seven spokes in red and black, lettered with the names of the seven Virtues and the seven Planets - probably in reference to the seven Metals. This corresponds to the fourth plate in Duveen, except that in the French MS. there is no lettering.
  • Fol. 67v A roughly drawn figure in red and black showing the relation of the four Elements to the Planets (or Metals). This is not in Duveen.
  • Fol.99v A full-page illustration of the Virgin Mary in a blue robe, not crowned, and standing on a crescent moon. There is no halo, but She is surrounded by seven flaming rays in yellow on each side. Above Her head are twelve stars in red. Her figure supports a Crucifix, with a bearded Christ issuing from a blue cloud. Around the crucified figure are written in red: 'Humilitas', 'Sanctitas', 'Puritas', 'Castitas', 'Sobrietas', 'Karitas', 'Sapientia' (?). On the left-hand side of the Virgin, in black: 'Corona aurea sancte benedicte virginis ascensio cum XII stellis et alba diadema'. Below this 'Maria sancta en maystett'. In the lower margin, in red: 'Luna', 'Sol', 'Karitas', 'Castitas', 'Jupiter'. This is a very considerable variation from the two illustrations in Duveen's tenth plate, which in place of the crucified Christ shows a youth (Cupid?) crucified upon a fleur de lys. The Virgin here is also crowned and seated upon the crescent moon. Here too, there is no lettering.
  • Fol. 141 A full-page illustration in colours of the androgyne 'Rebis', holding a plant in a chalice with one hand, and a serpent in the other. It stands upon two rocks, one black and one gold. At the sides are the plants Solaria and Lunaria. Below is a yellow dragon holding a red branch in its mouth. Besides the names of the two plants and of the dragon which are written against their pictures, the various parts of the figures have the names of the colours inscribed upon them 'rot', 'gel', 'alba', etc. This illustration corresponds very closely with Duveen's ninth figure, but as usual his picture has no lettering.
  • Fol. 82v Small marginal drawing in red and black of an alchemical furnace with three flasks. This resembles Duveen's eighth plate, bottom left hand side.
  • Fol. 67v A very rough circular diagram in red and black apparently illustrating the relation of the four Elements, the Planets and the Metals. Not in the Duveen MS.
  • Owing possibly to the method of compilation, with all the additions and revisions, as also to the fact that some leaves are missing and others now bound or placed in wrong order, the collation and description of this MS. must necessarily be tentative. There is a running title in the upper margin relating to the Number of the Book, but this is not always given, and in some cases it has perished owing to the fraying of the leaves. An approximate division of the Books may be attempted:

    Book I. Ff. 7-30, 40-47, 65, 75-79, 148-150, 153, 188-191.

    Book II. Ff. 49-59, 75-79, 105-113. Book III. Ff. 31-39, 60-62, 66-74, 80-104, 114-147, 151-188, 192-end [?].

    The dates given, which are not in any regular order, confirm the impression that the work was repeatedly revised and added to. It seems possible therefore that this MS. may be the unknown

    Author's original holograph draft of the Codex Germanicus 598 in the Staatsbibliothek at Munich. The full title of this is: 'Das Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit und Beschreibung der Heimlichkeit von Veränderung der Metallen. Offenbahret anno Christi 1420'. In Duveen's other excursus on his 17th cent. French copy of this MS., published in The Library Fifth Series, Vol. I, pages 58-59, it is stated that a copy of the work was presented to the Emperor Sigismund when he was attending the Council of Constance [1414-1418] [Cf. Foleave 39 of our MS.].

    The Wellcome Ulmannus MS. 'Libri tres sanctissimae et individuae Trinitatis' -a recension made in 1760, but without the illustrations-is probably a version of the present MS. in its completed form, and is stated to be 'Olim a manuscriptis Fratris Ulmanni anno Domini 1488 conscripti'.

    The present MS. is stated by its Author on Foleave 23v to be 'grundlich rotund alss eyn Ey'. Though this description hardly seems to fit the work in its present form, it is nevertheless a remarkable example of the mixture and alliance between practical and theoretical alchemical processes and an extreme religious and mystical outlook. The parallels made between the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, and the aims and working of the alchemical Quest, are at times surprising.

    Produced in Constance.

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Bibliographie

  • Newman, Barbara. God and the goddesses: vision, poetry, and belief in the Middle Ages (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), p. 388 n. 159.

    Obrist, Barbara. Les débuts de l'imagerie alchimique: XIVe-XVe siècles (Le Sycomore, 1982), p. 286

    Putscher, Marielene. 'Das Buch de Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit und seine Bilder in Handschriften des 15. Jahrhunderts' Die Alchemie in der europaischen Kultur- und Wissenschaftgeschichte ed. Christoph Meinel [Wolfenbütteler Forschungen] 22 (Hannover, 1986), p. 152

Notes

  • Contents

    1. ff. 1-22 Alchemical processes, notes and extracts.

  • f. 22v, line 30 Dyss buch der heyligen driualdigkeit ist von ihesus christus dess koniges der heyligen driualdigkeit tochter mariam gescryben und ist von gote selber gesetzt und gegeben ...

    f. 39r (In the lower margin: apparently added later) Disses buchs ein aussgeschrifft hat der misth [? meister] Konig von Ungern Keyser Sigmund entpfangen zu Constancie in den heyligen consilio in sein hows von dem S. Junckfrawen ort. Dem der got in manger ellender stat selber hat gelert. Von disses buches uffgeber von des heiligen meisters wegen So bitte das got gduldig sey Amen orate pro nobis aue maria.

    f. 49r, line 21 Beendet ist dis ['buches' struck through] verclering disses gantzen buches liecht dess vierde Donnerstag nach Ostern In die Iovis martis In hora veneris undecima [?] Anno domini Mº ccccº decimo octo. [20 May 1418.]

    f. 59v Nu ist dis buch gantz zu ende geschreiben von dem Der von der Junckfrawen art dem dis buch got selber aller erst hat gegeben ... Anno domini Mº ccccº decimo 6to In die saturni In Hora martis In die sancti petri vinculi geendet ist der heylige driualtigkeit...[1 August 1416.]

    f. 68v, line 3 ...In die Solis Sancti Anthonii in hora saturni finitus est in unser lieber frawen Kyrchen zu Constantz dess an dern Sonntages nach der heiligen dreyer Konigstag Anno domini Mº ccccº decimo 7º. [14 January 1417.]

    f. 142r (lower margin) Begeben dess Sonnen abentz nach dess heiliger frawlich namenstag In die saturni in hora lune Anno domini Mº ccccº decimo nono. [25 March 1419.]

    f.. 173, line 23 (red) Datum in constantia in ecclesia sancte marie Anno domini Mº ccccº decimo 7º.

    f. 183v (In the outer margin) Geendet ist die exposition der gab desz heiligen geistes clarificationis gegeben uff den sonntag sancte trinitatis geendet in die veneris in hora solis Anno etc. [M ccccº] x [v]iiiiº. 19. [11 June 1419.]

    On fol. 207v is a note, somewhat rubbed: 'Primi inventores artis alchimie ante diluvium fuerunt Seth fili quidam cujus erat scholie eorum sectatorum. Post diluvium autem hermes trismegistus philosophorum caput. Deinde Moyses et Maria soror eius. Post hoc rex hercules Steffanus Astanus Bellinus Salamon Democritus Et. Rosinus. Deinde alii ex quorum dictis compositus est liber turbe ut pitagoras Socrates plato Zenon Et alii quorum dicta in ipso libro turbe scripta sunt. Post remo vero quidam alii eorum subsequenter in libris de hac arte varia opera descripserunt, vel de ipsa in aliqua parte suorum librorum memorati sunt sicut morienes Kalid Rex universalis Alphidius galienus Allexander Rasi Avicenna Enfil [?] Jeber et quidam alii etc.' Other dates are given: Fol. 62, 26 March 1418; Fol. 71, 29 January 1417; Fol. 72, 11 February 1417; Fol. 73, 12 March 1417; Fol 88v, 22 April 1417; Fol. 95v, 27 June 1418; Fol. 154, 4 May 1417; Fol. 172v, 24 October 1418.

    (Source : Wellcome Library)
  • From the Julius Kohn Library. (Source : Wellcome Library)
  • Purchased at Sotheby's 28/1/1935, Lot II. (Source : Wellcome Library)

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