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MS 165: Composite manuscript containing three texts, 13th century

Identifier: MS 165


Contains three texts, all in the same hand. Although these are three separate texts, the binding of them together, with the two short texts following Avicenna's Canon is a common arrangement.

ff. 1r-406r: Canon of Medicine by Avicenna [Arabic: Ibn Sina], in 12th-century Gerard of Cremona's Latin translation

ff. 407r-411v: synonima Avicenni

ff. 411v-412r: Expositiones secundum arabicos et secundum almansorem

The texts will be described separately, under the titles listed above.


Well written and well spaced, with rubrics, blue and red filigree initials.


Very fine decorative initials of the best late 13th century type in blue, lake, buff and gold, with animal forms, birds, and fish woven into the ornament. Each book has either a historiated or a decorative initial.

Historiated Initials

  1. Book 1, f. 2v: Professor in black biretta and pupil.
  2. Book II, f. 64r: Professor in blue cloak with cape and hood, two pupils.
  3. Book III, f. 123v: Ornamental initial.
  4. Book IV, f. 298r: Doctor in cloak and black cap, feeling patient's pulse.
  5. Book V, f. 378r: Doctor and pupil, beside the doctor a trident.


  • Creation: 13th century


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all. The manuscripts can be consulted in the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Main Library.


1 bound MS volume

Custodial History

This is probably an English book, the illumination being of the Anglo-Norman type. Two early inscriptions have been cut out on ff.1 and 3. On f.3 the end et patroni is left. There are three inscriptions on fly-leaves, inserted in the 16th century, which prove quite conclusively that the book was in use in Scotland then, and probably earlier. One refers to a transaction between a certain Robert of Tynningham and John Dunning concerning property in St. Andrews: Memorandum quod ego Robertus de Tynnyngliam vendidi tenementum meum situatum in civitate Sancti Andree pro xl solidis Magistro Johanni Dannyng nisi oppignoratum fuerit citra nunc et sinod [. . .] Dunkeldensem, et reddiderem eidem magistro Johanni Dunnyng prenominatam summam pecuniarum in testimonium hujus rei posui librum meum in pignus. Scripta manu propria. [Note that I, Robert of Tynningham, with holdings in the town of St Andrews sold for 40 shillings to Master John Dunning, [for now only on pledge[??][...]Dunkeld, and restore to the same Master John Dunning the aforesaid sum of money by the testimony setting my book as pledge. Written with my own hand.]

The other two refer directly to owners : Iste liber pertinet episcopi Orkad[ensi]; Iste liber pertinet Abbati Sancte Sedes Animarum. [This book belongs to the bishop of Orkney; this book belongs to the abbot of St Soul Seat.] Andrew, Bishop of Orkney, 1476-1503, was also Vicar of Kirkbean in Galloway. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that he either received the volume from the Abbot of Soul Seat, or presented it to him. It is unclear which of the two inscriptions is of earlier date.

A long inscription by William Henderson, Librarian, records the gift of the manuscript to the University of Edinburgh Library by David Bruce, a citizen of Edinburgh, in 1676.

Previous title

Title given to the manuscript in Catherine Borland’s catalogue: Avicenna.

Previous reference

D. b. II. 10.

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: Modern

Collation: a10—g10, f12, g10-i10, k12, l10, m7 (wants 8) n10-x10, z12-D12, E14, F10, G8, H10-N10, O4, P10-R10, S9, T6=412.


38.10 cm X 25.40 cm


Secundo folio: significantibus

Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 412, double columns (3 and 4 columns in Capitula and Index), 69 lines to a page.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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