Rare Book of the Month: June 2019

The June 2019 rare book of the month is Girolamo Mercurio’s  La commare oriccoglitrice,  printed in Venice in 1601.

Girolamo Mercurio has been described as a somewhat eccentric figure: he described himself as an independent person who operated on his own terms. His given name at birth was Scipione. He studied medicine in Bologna and Padua and was a student of Giulio Cesare Aranzio, who was trained by Vesalius,. He practised medicine for a short period in Milan, but in the 1590s went on a long journey through Italy and Europe, eventually coming to practice medicine in the south of France for a period of time. He eventually returned to Italy, dying in Venice circa 1615.

Caesarian section, 17th century artwork
An anxious woman about to undergo a Caesarean section. She is being restrained for the operation, as there was no anesthesia in the 16th century.

Originally published in Venice in 1596, according to James Vincent Ricci, this work contains the “first reference to a contracted long pelvis and the necessity for caesarean.” It remained, until the 18th century, one of the few obstetrical works in a vernacular language. The 1601 copy discussed here is the revised second edition.

The book is divided into three sections which discuss a woman’s pregnancy and the health care required for her and her newborn baby; abnormal presentations during pregnancy; and complications that can be experienced during and after pregnancy by the mother and baby. The book is heavily illustrated with woodcuts depicting various positions of how the foetus presents in the womb, and of women giving birth in different positions. Some of the latter depict some very odd suggestions for birthing positions, such as showing a woman bent completely backwards, with their head and shoulders supported on a cushion on the floor! The somewhat blasé depiction of anatomy, with a woman happily displaying her dissected abdomen, as displayed here is typical of late sixteenth and early seventeenth century medical illustrations.

Woman's abdomen, 17th century artwork
 A somewhat fanciful depiction of a woman’s dissected abdomen. The intestines have been removed in order to show the other internal organs.

The book is notable for having one of the earliest depictions of a Caesarean section delivery. In 1578 Mercurio assisted his professor Aranzio with a Caesarean delivery, but unfortunately the mother died in childbirth; he does not indicate if the baby survived however. Mercurio was an early advocate for Caesarean sections at a time when the church and fellow practitioners such as Ambroise Paré argued against it. The Library has one other book on Caesarean sections, Francois Rousset’s Foetus vivi ex matre viva sine alterutrius vitae periculo caesura, printed in Basel in 1591, and seven other books on obstetrics, ranging in publication date from 1490 to 1632.


Renae Satterley


June 2019

Rare Book of the Month: #Throwback

In this new regular feature we re-post the rare book of the month features that were originally published on the Middle Temple website. Below is the rare book which was originally featured in July 2016.

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Title page and inside front board showing 1734 shelfmark

The July rare book of the month is Claude Clement’s Musei, siue bibliothecae tam privatae, quàm publicae extructio, instructio, cura, usus, printed in Lyon in 1635. This is a work about libraries and librarianship, using the library at El Escorial in Spain as an example of an ideal library. El Escorial is a vast complex comprised of historically significant architecture from the Spanish Renaissance period. It was originally built as a monastery, royal palace and royal mausoleum near Madrid. The monastery was built to commemorate King Philip II’s 1557 defeat of the French army of Duke Anne de Montmorency. The building was originally known as San Lorenzo el Real and took twenty-one years to build (1563-1584). It contains one of the greatest libraries in the world, which was completed in 1592 (although books and manuscripts first arrived there in 1575) as well as frescoes by Pellegrino Tibaldi and Federico Zuccaro. Later frescoes were painted by El Greco, Luca Giordano and Claudio Coello. The library tables were designed to allow users to consult a variety of works, not just books, and thus were of a larger size than normally found in libraries of the time.

Robert Ashley (1565-1641), the founder of Middle Temple library, visited the Escorial library in 1618 and described it as “a glorious golden librarie of Arabian bookes”. Ashley mentions the library again in the preface to his translation of Almansor the learned (1627) where he describes the work as part of “an Arabian historie concerning the losse of Spaine by Roderigo king of the Gothes, which … was translated into Spanish out of the Arabian copie remayning in the Escurial”.

Marginal numbering in Robert Ashley’s hand

The book was written by Claude Clement, a French Jesuit priest who was interested in the organisation of libraries, in particular the Escorial library. Clement taught Greek and Latin at the imperial college in Madrid and is often referred to as Claudio Clemente. The title page consists of an engraved illustration, which is a fairly common feature of 17th century books. The illustration incorporates portraits of Philip II and Philip IV and elements of Greek mythology. The work outlines how portraits, statutes, inscriptions and emblems in a library can be used to inspire and instruct those using the collections. According to “Erin M. Grant “Clement’s [programme] of author portraits was intended to help users locate books in the library’s collection by placing images of authors next to their works on the shelves”. It discusses the importance of including coins, globes, maps, musical and scientific instruments, in addition to books in a library’s collections. The work highlights the importance of classification techniques, librarianship, and how to best organise and decorate a library to inspire learning. Clement’s classification system was “based on the Escorial’s arrangement of books devised by Benito Arias Montano, divided literature into twenty-four major disciplines” (Grant). It also discusses the place of ‘useless’ and forbidden books in a library, such as those on magic, heretical works, and plagiarised works. Lastly, Clement gives guidance on the care and handling of books.

Front of the binding showing the holes left when it was a chained library

The copy at Middle Temple is in its 18th century binding, which shows evidence of once having been chained (the library was chained during the 18th century). It also shows its 1734 classmark- ‘B side 1 Seat Letter D Number 18’ and a later 19th century one- ‘t.b.1’. The first library catalogues consisted of hand-written manuscript ledgers. The first printed catalogue, Bibliotheca illustris Medii Templi Societatis was commissioned privately by Bartholomew Shower in 1700. Our copy was donated to the library in 1834 by Robert Maitland. The first printed catalogued commissioned by the Inn was not printed until 1734, entitled Catalogus librorum bibliothecae Honorabilis Societatis Medii Templi, Londoni. These are the earliest printed library catalogues at the Inns of Court.

Although the book is in relatively sound condition, it does require some conservation work, at a cost of £200.00 If you would be interested in sponsoring Musei, siue bibliothecae tam privatae, quàm publicae extructio, instructio, cura, usus, contact the library at: library@middletemple.org.uk, 020 7427 4830. We will send you before-and-after photos of the conservation work and will place a bookplate commemorating your donation in the book.

Renae Satterley

Librarian, July 2016

Rare Book of the Month: April 2019

The April 2019 rare book of the month is Cyfreithjeu Hywel Dda ac Eraill, printed in London, 1730.

title page reduced

The Laws of Hywel (Cyfreithjeu Hywel Dda ac Eraill) are a c. 940 codification of laws by the Welsh king Hywel Dda (Hywel the good or well).  Hywel Dda was king of Deheubarth and eventually most of Wales. His codification of laws would come to represent foundational laws across Wales for six hundred years until the union with England. The surviving early versions are predominantly printed in Welsh. However, some are printed in Latin or side-by-side translation of Welsh and Latin. Of the copies still extant, their sources are presumed to be from surviving versions of the laws dated to the twelfth to thirteenth century. In the surviving versions of the Laws there is a general common organization. However, there is still much variety in the form and content between versions. The extant versions are categorised as: Cyfnerth, Iorwerth, Blegywryd, and Latin A,B,C,D and E. The chronology between and within the Latin and Welsh versions are not certain. It is believed that Latin A to E could be either precursors or descendants of the Welsh texts. While they are comprised differently, it is believed that all of them share a common tradition in their origin. Of these sections the Cyfraith y Gwragedd (Law of Women) is unique among contemporary laws of the period and throughout much of history.

The Law of Women recognised ‘the rights of women and children’ and, while not seeing women as equals, the laws gave women some protections, freedoms, and responsibilities in their own right. The Laws saw each person within society to have roles, rights and freedoms of differing degrees. Among the various laws concerning women, the mentioning of the position of the Queen is an excellent example for the laws uniqueness. Among other contemporary, and later, codes found within Germany, England, or Ireland, no mention of the position is found. The Laws of Hywel Dda and specifically The Law of Women, were influential in the earliest codification of regional Swedish law: the Law of Västergötland. Some of the most unique legal statutes concerning the position of women are found in the extensive section on repayments, rights, and payments concerning chastity, marriage, and property.

title page 2 reduced

The Law of Women codified the rights of women in a variety of areas concerning marriage and in property.  Under this codification, marriage was seen strictly as a secular matter, a civil contract, which was of no concern legally to ecclesiastical powers. Unlike Anglo-Saxon law, this contract could be undone by either the man or the woman. This could also be followed by transfers of money or possessions: aweddi, being a woman’s separation payment to the man unless the union had lasted less than seven years. Or the argyfrau which was a sum of money which could be returned to the woman upon separation. Separation could be done for a variety of reasons including, not providing an heir, on the third incident of a husband being unfaithful, or simply on mutual agreement. As well, if the wife was pregnant at the time of separation the husband was required to provide financial support to the upkeep of the child. This was given at two-thirds the cost up to the age of 14. Law of Women also had requirements relating to the term Diweirdeb (chastity/purity from unlawful sexual intercourse). This was a payment made by the husband to the wife for the preservation of virginity. In association with diwerideb were dilystod or dilysrwydd, which were in effect payments to the woman by the man responsible for the unlawful loss of virginity. With regards to property, women could also inherit and hold property, once they had attained majority, and could live where they chose. Stipulations did remain, as land ownership could only be by tir gwelyauc (clan or group). The Laws of Hywel Dda were extensive in laying out a legal place for women within the law which was unique in its time. The above are just samples of the laws concerning women.

The Law of Women within the Laws of Hywel Dda or Cyfraith Hywel continued to function within Wales to varying degrees for six hundred years. It was under Edward II and later Henry VII, under the Laws in Wales Acts of 1535 and 1542, that saw Wales become completely subject to English laws. However, one thousand years later ‘the Welsh Government contuine[s] to look to the laws of Hywel Dda … as they pursue recognition for the role of women.’

Rare Book of the Month: #Throwback

In this new regular feature we re-post the rare book of the month features that were originally published on the Middle Temple website.

The June 2016 rare book of the month is a work that shows evidence of ownership by the founder of the library, Robert Ashley (1565-1641). It is Florián de Ocampo’s Los çinco libros primeros dela cronica general de España, printed in 1553 in Medina del Campo. Medina del Campo is best known for the 1489 treaty named after it, which outlined the marriage details between Catherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur, as well outlining a reduction of tariffs between Spain and England. Due to its insistence on an anti-French alliance between England and Spain however, amendments made to it by Henry VII in 1490 were rejected by Spain and the treaty was never fully ratified by the two countries.

Title page to Los çinco libros primeros dela cronica general de España, showing the two inscriptions
Close-up of the legible inscription

Ocampo (also known as Florián do Campo) was born circa 1495 and died in 1558. He is described in the Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance as a “Spanish chronicler” and he was in fact the “first official royal historian” of Emperor Charles V. The title page features a large woodcut coat-of-arms which has been hand-coloured in this copy. The text has been printed in red and black. The book is a historical chronicle of Spain and was first published in 1543, with this 1553 edition being a continuation and enlargement of that first work. According to the Dictionary, it “attempts to trace the Habsburg dynasty to its roots in the ancient world through a compilation of the medieval chronicles of Castile”. The work was originally intended to cover from prehistory to the 16th century. As Ocampo died in 1558, however, the work was continued by Ambrosio de Morales and others; this 1553 edition is the final one completed by Ocampo. The last ‘volume’ was issued in 1601, written by Juan de Mariana, and entitled Historia general de España.

Robert Ashley’s cross-reference in Ocampo, to Mendoza’s work

The title page has two inscriptions- showing signs of previous ownership. One of the signatures is partially legible, despite a later hand trying to scratch it out- ‘Frey Garcia de Feibrez’. The other inscription has become too damaged to read. A third ownership sign- that of Robert Ashley, appears on the verso of folio lxxviii. It makes reference to two other works which mention ‘Guadelqueuir’ (i.e. Guadalquivir, a river in Iberia), one by Ambrosio de Morales and a work entitled Historia del Monte Celia de Nuestra Senora de la Salceda, by Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, printed in Grenada in 1616. In the copy of the Mendoza book held by the library, Ashley has cross-referenced back to this entry in Ocampo’s work. This highlights how Ashley was using the books in his library- reading and referencing works of interest and highlighting additional information to be found in them on certain topics. As is common throughout the non-English books owned by Ashley, he has written his notes in the original language of the book, in this case Spanish.

Robert Ashley’s cross-reference in the 1616 work by Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza

In addition to his legal work, Ashley translated six books during his lifetime:

Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas, L’Uranie ou muse celeste, 1589- translated from the French into Latin

A comparison of the English and Spanish nation, 1589- translated from the French into English

Louis Leroy, Of the interchangeable course, or variety of things in the whole world, 1594- translated from the French into English

Miguel de Luna, Almansor the learned, 1627- translated from the Spanish into English

Cristoforo Borri, Cochin-China, 1633- translated from the Italian into English

Virgilio Malvezzi, David persecuted– translated from the Italian into English

Rare Book of the Month: #Throwback

In this new regular feature we re-post the rare book of the month features that were originally published on the Middle Temple website.

For May we are, in essence, featuring two books of the month: Gabriel Powel’s De adiaphoris theses theologicæ ac scholasticæ, printed in London by Robert Barker in 1606, and a manuscript leaf from the Tables of Toulouse, dated to the 15th century.

Powel’s book is a work on adiaphora, or religious indifferentism. Robert Barker was a successful printer in London who co-printed the second edition of Richard Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations in 1598-1600 and as king’s printer, the King James Bible in 1611. Powel (or Powell) was a Calvinist and chaplain to the bishop of London, Richard Vaughan. He was baptised in 1576, the son of David Powel (1549-1598) and died in 1611. In this work he examines the idea that “monarchs might enjoy direct authority over Church discipline” and was “an answer to William Bradshaw’s puritan analysis of adiaphora”. Powel wrote over twenty theological works, many of which were anti-papal and anti-Puritan polemics; he considered Catholicism an “idolatrous and even heathenish religion” and Puritans as “factious brethren”. The library has one other work by Powel, A consideration of the Papists reasons of state and religion, for toleration of poperie in England, printed in Oxford in 1604.

The book was most likely part of Robert Ashley’s bequest of 1641, but there is no direct evidence of his ownership present in the book- no underlining, marginalia or marks of numbering. Ashley was interested in questions of religion, and owned a large number of works on Calvinism, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism and Protestantism, many of which would have been considered controversial and/or seditious works during the late 16th, early 17th century.

What makes this work particularly interesting is the fact that it is bound in a parchment manuscript leaf. It was common practice during this time to bind a book in a manuscript ‘scrap’- binders and printers commonly tore up old manuscripts to use in their bindings. Fragments of illuminated manuscripts are commonly found in the spines, end-leaves and press-board bindings of early modern books.

Dr. Bernard R. Goldstein, University Professor Emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh, via the Royal Astronomical Society Librarian, very kindly identified the fragment as a leaf “from the Tables of Toulouse for caput draconis, the head of the dragon, i.e., the lunar ascending node. Line 1 is the radix 2s 26;24,32° or 86 degrees 24 minutes and 32 seconds: this is the position in longitude (measured along the ecliptic) for the epoch, March 1, 1 AD. The succeeding entries represent the motion of the lunar ascending node in ‘collected years’ at 24-year intervals. The final column displays the motion of the lunar ascending node in years from 1 to 24. This table was described and transcribed by E. Poulle, “Un témoin de l’astronomie latine du XIIIe siècle, Les tables de Toulouse,” in Comprendre et maîtriser la nature au moyen âge: Mélanges d’histoire des sciences offerts à Guy Beaujouan (Geneva, 1994).”

The Tables of Toulouse were astronomical tables used to calculate eclipses and motions of the planets, based on the theories of Ptolemy, which placed the earth at the centre of the universe. These tabular calculations were superseded by the mid-16th century, when it became acknowledged that the earth in fact revolved around the sun. Such astronomical tables were calculated for various European cities during the 12th and 13th centuries, most notably Toledo, which were used as the basis to calculate tables for other cities such as Pisa, London and, in this case, Toulouse. The Tables of Toulouse were known to have been used by Parisian astronomers as well, most likely due to the “proximity of the meridians of Toulouse and Paris”. The work has been digitised and is available here.

Rare Book of the Month: #ThrowBack

In this new regular feature we re-post the rare book of the month features that were originally published on the Middle Temple website.

Knightley D’Anvers, A general abridgment of the common and most useful parts of the statute law, 1705

The rare book of the month for April 2016 is something of a bibliographical mystery. Although D’Anvers’s two volume A general abridgment of the common law (1705-1713) is a well-known work, until recently this ‘variant’ was not recorded in the English Short Title Catalogue, which lists all known English works published between 1483 and 1800. John D. Cowley does mention it in his A bibliography of abridgments, digests, dictionaries and indexes of English law (Selden Society, 1932), and thus it’s unclear why it remained unreported for so long.

Knightley D’Anvers originally joined Middle Temple in 1691 but later jointed Inner Temple and was admitted there on 16 May 1696. He was married to Alice D’Anvers (nee Clarke), who wrote three works of poetry in the 18th century and is described in the Dictionary of National Biography as “an astute commentator on political and university life in the reign of William and Mary”. Knightley D’Anvers was Deputy Recorder of Northampton.

D’Anvers’s Abridgment is in fact a translation of Henry Rolle’s Un abridgment des plusieurs cases et resolutions del common ley, 1668. The work is divided into two volumes, originally printed in 1705 and 1713; a second edition was printed in 1722-1725.* A supplement to volume two was printed in 1727, with a later supplement, leading the work up to ‘extinguishment’, being printed in 1737. Although the work was dedicated to Lord Chief Justice John Holt (1642-1710), he refused to sign the imprimatur (the official declaration to allow publication of a work). Lord Holt must have had a change of heart at some point, as he later complimented D’Anvers from the “Bench and left him an annuity of £20”, as recounted by Charles Viner in his Abridgment (xviii, preface).

The English Short Title Catalogue does have a secondary reference to our book of the month, which is an advertisement in the ‘Term Catalogue’ entitled Proposals for printing of A general abridgement of the common and most useful part of the statute law of England (ESTC T142512). The Term Catalogue was a series of book lists issued by London booksellers from 1668 to 1709, during the law terms. D’Anvers’s project suffered from lack of funding, subscribers and patronage, which could explain why it was only completed until ‘extinguishment’.

Title page
The title page does not give the author’s name and was printed by Richard and Edward Atkins

The lack of funding could also explain why our book of the month has a title page which varies from the work as we now know it. As shown in the image above, the title page does not give the author’s name and was printed by Richard and Edward Atkins. The work cost thirteen shillings (roughly £96 in today’s money) per book ‘in sheets’, which refers to the fact, as was common at the time, to sell the book without a binding- the purchaser paid separately to have the book bound. It also differs from the more well-known 1705-1713 edition in that it does not have a dedication to Lord Holt, the preface, ‘To the Reader’ is very slightly different, and it does not have a list of subscribers. In addition, this edition is printed in gatherings of four, whereas the 1705-1713 edition is in gatherings of two, and it was printed by John Walthoe, whose shop was located in Vine-Court in Middle Temple. Walthoe includes some self-promotion in the book- a list of ‘Books lately printed’ and ‘Law books printed’, respectively placed after the ‘Table of several titles’ and page 810, just before the ‘Table of cases’. A copy of volume one of the 1705-1713 edition can be viewed on Google Books.

Our copy of the 1705 edition was donated to the Inn on 26 January 1926 by The Honourable Stephen Ogle Henn Collins, who in turn inherited it from his father, Richard Henn Collins (Baron Collins). This is shown by the two separate signatures on the title page. In addition to being a Bencher, Treasurer of the Inn, KC and Judge of the High Court, S.O. Henn Collins was granted a patent in 1912 for the ‘Means for indicating the striking force of golf-clubs or similar instruments’ Master Collins donated at least eleven books to the Inn.

*Cowley states in his bibliography that the second edition should be dated to 1732, but ESTC and other sources reference it as 1722-1725.

Rare Book of the Month: #ThrowBack

In this new regular feature we re-post the rare book of the month features that were originally published on the Middle Temple website. We start with the debut rare book of the month published in February 2016.

Giovanni Battista Rossi’s Organo de cantori per intendere da se stesso ogni passo difficile che si trova nella musica, et anco per imparare contrapunto

Welcome to a new feature from Middle Temple Library- Rare Book of the Month. We begin this feature with a reasonably rare copy of a work on counterpoint which includes four instrumental canzonas, written by Giovanni Battista Rossi and published in Venice in 1618. As per the title page, Rossi was from Genoa and of the Somaschi order, a congregation founded in the 16th century by St. Jerome Emiliani in Somasca, Venice. The order still exists, known in English as the Somascan Fathers.

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Title page, Giovanni Battista Rossi’s Organo de cantori per intendere da se stesso ogni passo difficile che si trova nella musica, et anco per imparare contrapunto

According to the entry by Tim Carter in The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians, Rossi was a composer and theorist who flourished between 1585 and 1628. Carter relates that Rossi’s manuscript for this work was originally written in 1585, but was stolen, hence the much later publication date of 1618 for this work. Carter states that the work was designed “for self-instruction … [covering] elementary ground up to the basics of counterpoint. The examples include music by Josquin and Palestrina, as well as some rather dull cantilenas (some with Italian texts) by the author for two to five voices with and without continuo.

The stave line, printed in a broken-up fashion

The book was printed by Bartholomeo Magni who published a large number of music books including many madrigals. According to Philip Gaskell, music was originally printed “by double impression, the staves (lines) being printed at one impression and the notes at another.” Later in the 16th century music was printed in single impressions “each piece of type bearing a note (complete with stem if it had one) and sections of the stave, made so that the stave lines joined with the lines of the adjacent pieces of type.” It is likely that this book was printed with the single impression technique, as exemplified in this image which shows a discrepancy in the alignment under the words ‘Titolo Terzo’. The stave line has also been printed in a broken-up fashion, rather than a continuous line.

Information on the history of music printing, along with some interesting photos and video is available here.

Close up from the title page showing handwritten code ‘Hw.i’, most likely a bookseller’s mark.

The book most likely came to the library through the Robert Ashley bequest of 1641; it appears in the manuscript catalogues of 1688 and the first printed catalogue of 1700. In both catalogues it is listed under ‘mathematical’ works. There is a small hand-written code on the title page beside the printer statement – ‘Hw.i’ which is most likely a bookseller’s mark, possibly indicating a pricing code. A large number of Ashley’s books show booksellers’ marks such as this. The title page and last leaf of the work show the printer’s mark- a lion and bear upholding a rose and a banner with the motto ‘Concordes virtute et naturae miraculis’ (see below). This mark was appropriated from the Venetian press of Angelo Gardano, hence the initials ‘A.G.’. The appropriation of more well-known (or more accomplished) printers was a common phenomenon. An example of the original printer mark can be seen here. Virtue was a central theme to the Venetian republic at this time.

Printer’s mark, featured on the title page and last leaf of the work – a lion and bear upholding a rose and a banner with the motto ‘Concordes virtute et naturae miraculis’

If you would like to know more about the rare books collection, please visit this page of our website. If you would like to help our conservation efforts, you can sponsor a rare book. The cost ranges from £175.00 to £2,000 and full details are available here.

Rare Book of the Month: August 2018

Cosmotheoria, libros duos complexa, Jean Fernel

The August 2018 rare book of the month is Jean Fernel’s Cosmotheoria, libros duos complexa, printed in Paris in 1528. This book is interesting for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that it is a very early work on celestial mechanics and astronomy. The Middle Temple Library copy of Cosmotheoria is bound with two of Fernel’s other works:  Monalosphaerium (1526) and De proportionibus libri duo (1528).

Fernel title page rsz.jpg
Cosmotheoria, libros duos complexa, Jean Fernel, title page

Jean Fernel was born in 1497 in Montdidier and died in Paris in 1558. He obtained a license to practice medicine at the relatively advanced age of 33, and maintained an interest in mathematics throughout his life. He was the first European to make a “noteworthy modern attempt at measuring the earth” (David Smith, History of Mathematics, volume 2, p.347) and is known to have calculated its circumference to within one percent of the true value. The Cosmotheoria is the second work he published and like his first, Monalosphaerium, was printed by Simon de Colines, who was one of the most renowned of the Parisian printers. He married the widow of the equally celebrated French printer, Henri Estienne. As can be seen above, the title page is beautifully printed, with a woodcut border that depicts the portraits and coats of arms of the France and of the Dauphin. The book was originally printed in 1527 with the title page reprinted to modify the date; the colophon is dated 1527.

Fernel was a professor of medicine in Paris. From 1542 onwards, Fernel’s popularity and fame as a physician grew, when he was appointed “physican to the Dauphin” (Charles Sherrington, The Endeavour of Jean Fernel, p.208). In 1556/7 he became physician to Henry II, King of France. Unlike other physicians of the time, Fernel did not believe in astrology as an adjunct to medicine, nor did he support the widespread use of blood-letting.

Sinclair inscription rsz
Inscription on the title page of the De proportionibus libri duo, which reads: ‘Ex dono reverendissimi domi magistri henrici de sancto claro episcopi rossensis’

Each of the three ‘bound-together’ books by Fernel has an interesting provenance. The De proportionibus libri duo has a contemporary inscription on the title page which reads: ‘Ex dono reverendissimi domi magistri henrici de sancto claro episcopi rossensis’. Henry Sinclair (1507/8-1565) was bishop of Ross and Lord President of the Court of Session in Scotland. He died in Paris in 1565. The Cosmotheoria has a signature or inscription on the bottom right of the title page which has been trimmed off by an inattentive binder.

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Lambe stamp, probably one of the earliest English book stamps ever recorded

Both the Cosmotheoria and the Monalosphaerium have a book stamp on the verso of the title page: ‘Ex libris M. Guillermi Lambe. 1530’. This is probably the earliest English book stamp ever recorded, and could be that of William Lamb (1495-1580), philanthropist and the man responsible for the construction Lamb’s Conduit. This conduit was at the north end of Red Lion Street in Holborn and provided clean drinking water for Londoners, albeit running through “lead pipes” (George Clinch, Marylebone and St. Pancras, p. 144). The title page to the De proportionibus libri duo is damaged, with half of it missing, but most likely also had the book stamp on the verso.

While the Cosmotheoria does contain an early reference to ‘America’ in the dedicatory letter to John III, King of Portugal, it does not contain a clear reference to the Saint Lawrence River (Fleuve Saint-Laurent), as some references state. In the passage on America, Fernel talks of a ‘mighty and rich river’ towards the ‘36th degree of Northern latitude’, with a ‘mouth stretching for 28 miles’ emptying into the sea. This river description is based on observations made by the Portuguese explorer João Alvares Fagundes, who explored Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Some take this to mean that Fagundes mistook the 36th degree for the 48th, which would roughly match up to the location of the Saint Lawrence River. It is still not clear whether this is an accurate assessment of Fagundes’s account, because it “remains a matter of speculation” (L.A. Vigneras, Dictionary of Canadian Biography) whether he did, in fact, explore the Gulf of the Saint Lawrence.

Renae Satterley


Rare Book of the Month: July 2018

The July 2018 rare book of the month is Pierre Pichot’s De rheumatismo, catharrho variisque a cerebro destillationibus, & horum curatione libellous, printed in Bordeaux in 1577.

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Pichot was originally from Angers, from whence he obtained his title as a doctor. Soon after he moved to Bordeaux, later becoming ‘docteur régent’ at the University of Bordeaux’s faculty of medicine by 1572-73. The book was printed by Simon Millanges, the same publisher as Michel de Montaigne’s Essais (1580). Montaigne “would likely have been familiar with the Bordeaux circles in which moved the scholar-doctors Antoine Valet … and Pierre Pichot” (George Hoffman, The Cambridge Companion to Montaigne, p. 166). Montaigne owned a copy of Pichot’s 1574 work, De animorum natura, morbis, uitiis, noxis, horumque curatione, ac medela, ratione medica ac philosophica, also printed by Millanges and now held at the Bibliotheque nationale de France. Millanges’s press was established in 1572 and came to establish “Bordeaux as a centre of printing” (http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/exhibitions/Montaigne/labels.html).

‘Rheumatismus’ in this sense means to suffer from a flux (or phlegm). The root ‘rheum’ refers to bodily fluids rather than ‘rheumatism’ as we know it today. It was not until later in the 17th century “that Guillaume de Baillou, the father of rheumatology, first used the term ‘rheumatism’ to refer to joint ailments”. As the title page also mentions ‘catarrh’, therefore, this book is about curing the common cold, rather than ailments of the joints. There is nonetheless a relationship to rheumatism- according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Galen knew that respiratory diseases causing the production of phlegm often resulted in patients developing painful maladies, such as the conditions now described as arthritis and neuropathy … Baillou knew that a respiratory disease called catarrh, which is associated with inflammation of the upper respiratory tract, was connected to rheumatism and that rheumatism was systemic in nature, affecting many parts of the body. The rheumatic maladies as described by Galen and Baillou were later associated with Streptococcus infections.”

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As can be seen here, the book has been heavily annotated by an early reader. In addition to writing notes in the margins, this previous owner has crossed out many of the names, such as Galen and Hippocrates, found throughout the work. The reason is not clear. Did he (or she) not agree with those writers? Debates about their theories were taking place throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, and tracts both for and against each author were printed during this time. The book has some secondary marginalia in Robert Ashley’s hand in the way of marginal numbering. This is a common habit amongst Ashley’s books, and he most likely numbered passages that he found important, in order of preference or importance. The library holds a second book on the common cold, Jean Vigier’s 1620 Tractatus absolutissimus et accuratissimus de catarrho, rheumatismo …, printed in Geneva.

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The book is in need of conservation and if you would like to sponsor its repair, the estimated cost would be £300.00. Please contact the library for further details.

For a full account of Pichot’s life, see Alain Legros, ‘La vie et l’oeuvre d’un médecin contemporain de Montaigne, Pierre Pichot’, Revue française d’histoire du livre, nos. 92-93, 1996.

Renae Satterley


Rare Book of the Month: May 2018

Euclidis elementorum libri XV

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Title page signed by Robert Ashley

The May 2018 rare book of the month is Euclid’s Elementorum libri XV, printed in Cologne in 1607. As can be seen above and on the right, the book’s title page was signed by Robert Ashley (‘Ro. Asheley’), using a variant spelling of his surname; his initials R.A. are also Euclid 1607 tp sigwritten on the title page. According to The Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance, “Euclid’s Elements provided the basis for all teaching in learned mathematics”. Ashley was briefly a public professor of geometry in Oxford during 1587/1588 (https://archive.org/stream/aregistermember03oxfogoog#page/n114/mode/2up) and developed a substantial collection of mathematical books during his lifetime. His collection contains three editions of Euclid’s Elements– two from 1607 and one from 1609.

The first printed version of the Elements was produced in Venice in 1482 by Erhardus Ratdolt, and was in Latin. The first Latin edition produced from a Greek translation was printed in 1505 by Joannes Tacuinus- this edition showed that “books 14 and 15, long accepted as part of the Elements, were not in fact by Euclid” (ODR).

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Marginalia in Robert Ashley’s hand on the verso of the title page

The 1607 version of the Elements featured here contains an extra book- number 16, added by François de Foix, comte de Candale. According to Benjamin Wardhaugh, book 16 “was concerned primarily to expand upon the final few constructions of Book 15: in particular the sometimes complex and beautiful figures which resulted when one regular polyhedron was placed inside another” (https://www.thinking3d.ac.uk/Candale1566/). Foix also included a “short treatise on regular and semi-regular polyhedra”.

As can be seen below and on the verso page above, Robert Ashley has marked up the book with a variety of annotations concerning the work itself, mentioning the importance of mathematics to understanding the motion of the stars and planets. Ashley has marked up the 1609 edition in a similar fashion, referencing Philipp Melanchthon. [With thanks to Dr. Jon Blaserak of the University of Bristol for assisting with this marginalia].

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Marginalia in Robert Ashley’s hand

This book was chosen as the May 2018 book of the month as Middle Temple Library will be participating in the ‘Seeing Euclid’ project organised by the History Faculty of the University of Oxford. As part of this project, organisations around the UK are exhibiting their 15th-18th century copies of Euclid’s Elements between 19 May and 15 July. A dedicated website will be launched on 19 May: www.seeingeuclid.org. Middle Temple’s Euclid books will be on display from 18 May to 15 June in an exhibition case on the Gallery, facing the Molyneux Globes.

The book is heavily damaged, with the title page in a particularly delicate state. It was rebound in the 1970s, but without any paper repairs being performed, meaning that the paper has become particularly dirty and damaged. If you would like to sponsor the repair of this work for an estimated cost of £300, please get in touch with the Librarian: library@middletemple.org.uk.

Renae Satterley, Librarian

May 2018