Royaume-Uni, Londres, Wellcome Library, MS.140

  • Conservé à : Londres. Wellcome Library
  • Date de fabrication :
  • Nombre de feuillets : 1 volume;

    On paper; watermarks (not found in Briquet or Piccard online): trimontium within circle (c. 25 x 30 mm, chain distance 28 mm) for all quires excepting quire 11; crossbow (47 x 40 mm, chain distance 30 mm) in quire 11.

    125 folios (but originally 127 according to the note 'Jn isto libro continentur 127 carte' on f. 125v); modern foliation '1-125' in upper right corner of leaves; one modern flyleaf and conjoint pastedown at the beginning and end. 220 x 155 mm; ruled with a metal (lead?) point for single vertical and horizontal bounding lines only, with single pricking holes in the margins, writing space c. 173 x 133 mm; number of written lines to the page varies from 33 to 40, starting below upper horizontal bounding line.

    Collation: 1 leaf (later addition?), 2-1012, 116 (possibly wanting 2 leaves, i.e. ii and vii), 1212; horizontal catchwords mostly in the lower right corner of last verso of quires, but occasionally at centre of lower margin, touched in red, no quire signatures or numbering.

    Secundo folio: Humana natura

    Written in a very uneven cursive Gothic script in dark brown and grey ink, with occasional scribal correction or addition, possibly by more than one hand, early 15th century, Italy.

    Additions by six different 15th-century Italian Gothic cursive hands as follows: f. 1r (black ink, large formal Gothic hand), f. 109r (black ink, very cursive Gothic hand), folios 110r-115r (grey ink, very small and fine hand), folios 116r-123r (black ink), folios 123v-124v (black ink, smaller and more formal than the two others), f. 125r (black ink, formal Gothic hand).

    Decoration: 2- to 3-line initials in alternating red and blue, but occasionally in red only (see folios 14r-16r), with guide letters in the left margin; penwork decoration in contrasting colour for initials on f. 17r; paragraph marks mostly in red, but occasionally in alternating red and blue (see folios 2v, 16v-17r). Small pen-drawings of distilling apparatus in brown ink on folios 117v (within text) and 122r (marginal).

    Annotations: Occasional marginal notes or nota sign (see folios 18r, 27v-28r), 15th-century [?] hand.

    Binding: brown calfskin, with blind-tooling, Italy [?], 19th century.


  • Bibliography:

    Paolo Capitanucci, 'Agli albori della cultura alchemica e farmaceutica francescana: il Liber Compostelle di Bonaventura da Iseo', in I francescani e le scienze. Atti del XXXIX Convegno internazionale di studio. Assisi, 6-8 ottobre 2011 (Spoleto: Centro Italiano di Studi sull'Alto Medioevo, 2012), pp. 201-237.

    Lynn Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, III (New York: Columbia University Press, 1934), pp. 45-47.


  • An alchemical compilation in Latin and Italian copied in Italy in the early 15th century and including the Liber Compostella attributed to Bonaventura da Iseo.


    1) ff. 1r-1v Alchemical recipes in Latin and Italian vernacular (the first incomplete), reading: 'pone in furnum defensori et convertetur in aquam …', 'Recipe salnitrum [oncie] vi suricara [oncie] vi …', 'Ad solem / Recipe tutia [corrected into tutiba?] [once] I de rame purgata [once] i de sterco de surici …', late 14th or 15th century.

    2) ff. 2r-107v, line 7, Bonaventura da Iseo (or Bonaventura da Brescia/da Ivreo; before 1200-c. 1260/1273), Liber Compostella [Compostelle, Compostille], imperfect: wanting the initial prologue to the whole work, prologues to Book 1 and 2, a few chapters in Book 2, and most of Book 3 with the exception of the prologue and a few initial recipes.

    The Liber Compostelle or Compostella is traditionally attributed to Bonaventura da Iseo, an influential Italian Franciscan and a well-known author of religious sermons in Latin. This traditional attribution, however, is possibly spurious and still a debated question.

    The compilation is a theoretical and practical guide to alchemy, which draws from previous alchemical manuals and textbooks widespread in the second half of the 13th century, but also from the author's personal theoretical knowledge and practical experience. Its strong focus on chemical and pharmacological recipes provides a link between medicine and alchemy. The text is divided into three books: the first describes the nature of different alchemical and medicinal waters, some oils and salts; the second is devoted to the generation and transmutation of metals, but also contains a brief discussion on the salts of alchemical use; the third book opens with the study of a group of 12 alchemical waters, and then passes on to describe various experiments of distillation and sublimation arising mainly from Geber and other authors: see Thorndike, History of Magic, pp. 45-47; Capitanucci, 'Agli albori della cultura alchemica', pp. 216-218.

    ff. 2r-73v, line 30, Book 1, incipit 'HUmana natura non minus indiget aquis oleis et salibus phisicalibus ...', explicit 'Explicit primus liber compostelle que concuratur de multis aquis et de / multis oleis et de multis salibus magne uirtutis'; including 'Tractatus aquarum medicinalium', incipit 'Aqua purgans oculos viciatos', explicit 'Explicit prima pars operis et tractatus aquarum medicinalium' (ff. 3r, line 29-20v, line 14; 52 recipes); 'Tractatus de aquis alchimicis', incipit 'Nunc secunda [pars] operis et tractatus de quibusdam aquis alchimicis uirtutis', explicit 'Explicit liber aquarum' (ff. 20v, line 15-56v, line 26; 140 recipes); 'Liber oleorum', incipit 'et nunc incipit liber oleorum', explicit 'Explicit. 3. pars operis et tractatus huius libri multorum oleorum magne uirtutis' (ff. 56v, line 26-68r, line 29; 45 recipes); 'Tractatus de multis salibus', incipit 'Nunc incipit. 4. pars huius libri in qua est tractatus de multis salibus', explicit 'in domibus pro consolacione laudetur deus quod ista pars libri est completa. Amen' (ff. 68r, line 29-73v, line 28; 21 recipes).

    ff. 73v, line 31-91r, line 7, Book 2, rubric 'De proprietatibus Virtutum Salium', incipit 'Sal communis est sal cibi', explicit 'eiusdem uirtutis pariter et coloris. / Explicit liber secundus theorice huius artis' (79 chapters, including 'Regula doctrinalis de specibus et metallis…' (ff. 86v, line 23-87v, line 28), and 'Notula doctrinalis' (ff. 87v, line 29-91r, line 7)).

    ff. 91r, line 8-108v, Book 3, incipit 'Nunc incipit liber. 3. et ultimus huius operis et tractatus in quo continentur multe Recepte multorum experimentorum ... presens liber completur qui compostella vocatur. deo gracias. / Incipit prohemium / Medicinarum liber presens praeter merito ampliari …' , explicit 'cum aceto et ciba ipsum cum mannesia', including mention of Bonaventura 'Qua propter ego sum bona ventura de yseo communitatis brisie' (f. 91v, line 11); 'Libellus 12 aquarum preciosarum' (ff. 92r, line 4-94r, line 5); 'Experimenta collecta et extracta de libro perfecti magisterii' [i.e. Pseudo-Aristotle, De perfecto magistero] (ff. 94r, line 6-103v, line 4); Recipe to cure an old man from leprosy (ff. 107v, line 8-108r, line 7), incipit 'Medicina ad sanandum hominem veterem de antiqua lepra'.

    3) f. 109r, Alchemical recipe, incipit 'yh[e]su / Jtem limatura erit', explicit 'sic fac per intervalla'.

    4) ff. 110r-115v, A collection of alchemical recipes, relating to the sun, moon and precious stones, caption 'Ad solem processus optimus et uerus', incipit 'Comperi limaturam ferri optimo acceto fortissimo Rubeo', explicit 'et eius bene coloratum', including (f. 115r) 'Experimentum Johannis', incipit 'Accipe lapidis lazuli in calcis corticum ouorum'.

    5) ff. 116r-123r, Recipes to make alchemical waters or relating to the sun and the moon, incipit 'Carissime lege capitula subsequentia per ea enim scies preparationem omnium illorum que pertinent medicine albe', explicit '… multum hanc fixationem doceas', preceded by two recipes for salts, and including (f. 120v, line 15-121v, line 14) recipes from Geber, incipit 'Hic incipit liber de Y. / Amice carissime deo duce revelabo tibi quondam aquam rubeam'.

    6) ff. 123v-124v, Recipes to make the alchemical 'white' (mercurial) water, incipit 'De albacio francisci. / Recipe sex libras tartari crudi et caucina in igne duodecim horas', explicit ' ... et distilla ut prius et habebis aquam perfectam'.

    7) f. 125r, lines 1-12, Two orations in Latin, incipit 'Oratio trinitatis / Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui dedisti famulis tuis in confessione uere fidei'; incipit 'Oratio beati francisci / Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui fugescente mundo ad inflammandum corda nostra'.

    8) f. 125r, lines 13-22, Recipe for black ink added by an early reader, incipit 'Ut faceri possit atramentum'.

    (Source : Wellcome Library)
  • No trace of early ownership. A number of pen trials by different Italian 15th-century hands on ff. 123v (upper margin) and 125v, including verse 9 'Ad fontem iuxta pascebat oves Alithia' from Theoduli Ecloga on f. 123v.

    (Source : Wellcome Library)
  • Pruchased at Milan (Hoepli Sale) 3/5/1928, Lot 43. (Source : Wellcome Library)

Source des données