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MS 168: Rosa medicinae by John Gaddesden, 14th century

Identifier: MS 168


MS 168 is a 14th-century copy of Rosa medicinae (also known by the name Rosa anglica) by English physician John Gaddesden, written c. 1313. Gaddesden trained as a doctor at Oxford between 1307-1316, and embarked on a successful career as the first major medieval medical scholar to have trained entirely in England. An indication of his reputation, he seems to have treated a son of Edward I of England for smallpox (perhaps Thomas of Brotherton). Gaddesden seemingly composed his medical text during his days at Oxford. It is a work of its time, in that Gaddesden filled his text with citations from Galen and the early medieval Arabic writers who carried forward and added to ancient Greek medical knowledge. Gaddesden also seems to have taken inspiration from his contemporaries on the Continent, specifically at the medical school of Montpellier. The name 'Rosa medicinae' perhaps was inspired by the title of a text from Montpellier from 1303.
Gaddesden's text begins with fevers (based on Galen), and then outlines ailments of the body beginning with the head. The final part of the five-book text covers remedies for diseases.
The Rosa medicinae begins on f. 1r with Galienus primo de ingenio sani[tatis].... Book I ends on f. 47v. Book II is contained on ff. 47v-186r, Book III on ff. 186v-253v. Book IV is on ff. 253v-295v, and Book V appears on ff. 296r-297v. The text of the Rosa medicinae ends (with Book V), on f. 297v with the words per subtilitatem aquae dulcis ibi continetur etc. Explicit Rosa medicine.
The final leaves of MS 168 are by different, later (and larger) hands. The contents include a 'Tabula rosa medicine' on ff. 298r-304v(perhaps 14th-century). Ff. 305r-310r features an unnamed text (perhaps some version of 'De Vinis' by Arnald of Villanova?) that begins with Cum instat tempus in quo melia solent confici, and ends mid-sentence on f. 310r with quoniam placet utra monacho [?] mane et. Ff. 310v-318r seems to contain recipes and charms, roughly written, by several 15th and 16th-century hands.
Writing A well-written manuscript in black ink.
Illumination Contains blue and red filigree initials and a few illuminated initials in blue, lake, and gold. Margins are cropped.


  • 14th 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

An English manuscript, but without any indication of original ownership. On f. 319v there is an inscription: 6 Decemb. 1656 a.d. Arthuro Taylour, Arthur Taylour. And below in a later hand: Libri hujus Titulus est Rosa Medicinae. This same hand then carries on in English: This and the Rosa Anglica were written by John de Gaddesden, who cured a son of Edward II of the smallpox. Edward III began his reign in 13J7. Printing introduced into England 1471. On the first paper fly-leaf the name Richd Wright, Surgeon, 1808, appears, and a pencil note by David Laing.

Previous title

Title given to the manuscript in Catherine Borland’s catalogue: Johannis de Gatisden, Rosa Medicine.

Previous reference

Laing 180


Thorndike, Lynn and Pearl Kibre. A Catalogue of Incipits of Mediaeval Scientific Writings in Latin: Revised and Augmented Edition. London: The Medieval Academy of America (1963), 578.

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: Modern. A note from D.C and Son book binders, dated October 1954 outlines the repairs undertaken to the volume. The volume initially arrived bound in brown calf (?), with the leather rotten on the spine and broken on the joints. The vellum of the manuscript was in good condition, with the exception of the first leaf, which was badly damaged, roughly patched with paper, and half missing. The binding was mended with velum and silk chiffon, some leaves flattened, and hand-made paper guards were folded around the back of each section. The volume was also resewn on toned vellum fly-leaves. The board leaves are also toned vellum, and the book is covered with red native niger morocco leather with gold lettering.

Collation: a8-N8, O1, P8, Q7 (wants 1), R4, S2, T6, V3 =319.


13.65 cm X 9.53 cm


Secundo folio: notha propria
Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 319, 36 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
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Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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