Chirurgia – Editions Medicina Rara – Codex Sloane 1977 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)

France — Last quarter of the 13th – first quarter of the 14th century

Two major works of early Salernian medicine in a wonderfully illuminated French Gothic manuscript: Rogerius' and Matthaeus Platearius' medical treatises with formulas by Galen and Hippocrates

  1. Rogerius (before 1140 – ca. 1195), also known as Roggerio dei Frugardi was a native son of Salerno

  2. Founded in the 9th century, the Schola Medica Salernitana remained Europe’s most important medical school until the Renaissance

  3. This early-14th century French translation also contains excerpts from Galen and Hippocrates and Matthaeus Platearius


  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)

This early 14th century French manuscript contains arguably the most important surgical text of the Middle Ages, distinguished by its clear and concise character, drawing on the teachings of physicians from antiquity without being burdened by long citations. Written ca. 1180 by a surgeon named Rogerius (before 1140 – ca. 1195), the Chirurgia is further appended by another 12th century text, the Book of Simple Medicines by Matthaeus Platearius. Both men were students of the famous Salerno school of medicine, the oldest and most important such institution in Latin Christendom.


Salerno was the oldest center of western medicine in medieval Europe, doctors seem to have been drawn there by the region’s healthy climate. Salerno’s position in the Mediterranean enabled access to Byzantine and Arabic medical treatises, most of which were in fact based on ancient Greek texts that were lost or incomplete in the West. Nonetheless, the Arab world continued to improve upon medicine from antiquity, and translations of these new medical findings were mostly disseminated to the rest of Europe via from Salerno. The treatise at hand, however, does not originate from an Arab or Byzantine scholar, but from one of Salerno’s native sons, a surgeon named Rogerius (before 1140 – ca. 1195), also known as Roggerio dei Frugardi. The Chirurgia or Practica Chirurgiae is a clear, concise, and (as its latter name implies) practical surgical handbook written ca. 1180. A French translation is presented here in an early 14th century manuscript, which is appended with the 12th century Book of Simple Medicines by Matthaeus Platearius, who was also a student of the Salerno school. This manuscript magnificently presents one of the most popular and important medical treatises of the Middle Ages.

The Salerno School of Medicine

Founded in the 9th century and rising to prominence in the 10th century, the Schola Medica Salernitana remained the most important medical school in Europe until the Renaissance, when the emergence of northern Italian universities in Bologna and Padua, as well as nearby Naples. Even after its fall from prominence, the school endured into the 19th century, lasting nearly a thousand years, before being closed as part of contemporary educational reforms in Italy. Medical students received an education that lasted for eight years, beginning with three years of logic, philosophy, theology, and law in order to give them a solid foundation for the five years of strict medical study to follow. Aside from serving as a center for the translation of texts from Greek and Arab scholars, original works like the specimen at hand were also created there, usually consisting of a synthesis of older works amended with the corrections and insights of the author. One of the things that distinguishes this manuscript is that fact that it bucks this trend, Rogerius did not allow himself to be weighed down by long passages from established medical authorities from antiquity. The sheer practicality of this work, arguably the most popular of its kind during the Middle Ages, attests to the kind of practical knowledge being taught in Salerno.

A French Gothic Medical Manuscript

This manuscript features French translations of the surgical text by Rogerius, Ce cyrurgie est li cyrurgie Mestre rogier de salerne, and the pharmacological text by Matthaeus Platearius, Le livre de toutes herbes appele "Circa instans" and originates from sometime in the first quarter of the 14th century, at least 150 years after the originals were created. Additionally, excerpts from Galen and Hippocrates in French and Latin, Ordonements des vraies sciences que galien et hypocras noterent de fisique round out the two main texts. The manuscript is noteworthy for its detailed illustrations of surgical procedures, which are juxtaposed with scenes from the life of Christ. 21 full-page miniatures, 16 of them in three registers, are presented in a color palette dominated by rich blues and reds, which are further embellished with gold leaf. The text itself, written in a splendid French Gothic script, sometimes features headings written in red ink and are adorned with intricate initials in red and blue as well as decorative borders with animals and foliage. The level of artistry with which this popular medical compendium was created attests to the important position it held in medieval European medicine.


Alternative Titles
La Chirurgie
Size / Format
288 pages / 23.5 × 16.0 cm
Last quarter of the 13th – first quarter of the 14th century
21 full-page miniatures
French translation of the Chirurgia by Roger Frugardi of Salerno (ff. 1r-46r); Medical recipes (ff. 46r-47v); French translation of Circa instans by Mattheus Platearius (ff. 48r-135v); Recipes attributed to Galen and Hippocrates in French and Latin (ff. 1

Available facsimile editions:
Chirurgia – Editions Medicina Rara – Codex Sloane 1977 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Editions Medicina Rara – Stuttgart, 1980
Limited Edition: 2300 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 La Chirurgie

Editions Medicina Rara – Stuttgart, 1980

Publisher: Editions Medicina Rara – Stuttgart, 1980
Limited Edition: 2300 copies
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
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