An commission of the Staufer Emperor Frederick II: medieval medicine in more than 500 miniatures

Codex of Medicine of Frederick II

Italy — 13th century

Codex of Medicine of Frederick II

Codex of Medicine of Frederick II

Italy — 13th century

  1. The richly illuminated text was commissioned by Frederick II (1194–1250), the most educated ruler of his time

  2. 510 miniatures give a striking overview over the status of medicine and healing in the 13th century

  3. This medical handbook collects various texts by Pseudo-Apuleius alongside other pharmaceutical works

Códice sobre Medicamentos de Federico II

Codex of Medicine of Frederick II

Plato

Dressed in green and purple in front of a blue background and surrounded by a glimmering golden architecture, Plato is identified by the text of the codex he is holding. The 5th century BC Athenian philosopher is depicted in the manuscript along with his contemporary Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine”, and Dioscorides, the Greek physician in the Roman army who built on Hippocrates’ work and during the years AD 50-70 wrote the authoritative text on pharmacology for the next 1,500 years.

Codex of Medicine of Frederick II

Alternative Titles:
  • Códice sobre Medicamentos de Federico II
  • Die Medikamenten-Lehre Friedrichs II.
  • Arneibuch Friedrichs II.
  • Codex sur les Médicaments de Frédéric II
  • Codice sui Medicinali di Federico II
  • Códice sobre Medicamentos de Federico II
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The comprehensive, small Codex of Medicine of Frederick II likely arose in mid–13th century Italy. The Emperor had an exceptional interest in science and commissioned the pharmacopoeia in order to make an entertaining and simultaneously instructive work, which cataloged knowledge concerning the healing effects of herbs and other remedies and treatments. There are various medical texts collected within the Codex of Medicine by the so-called Pseudo-Apuleius alongside other works on pharmaceutics. Richly illustrated, the text and wondrous miniatures describe different illnesses and cures alongside numerous depictions of plants.

Codex of Medicine of Frederick II

The comprehensive, small Codex of Medicine of Frederick II likely arose in mid–13th century Italy. The Emperor had an exceptional interest in science and commissioned the pharmacopoeia in order to make an entertaining and simultaneously instructive work, which cataloged knowledge concerning the healing effects of herbs and other remedies and treatments. There are various medical texts collected within the Codex of Medicine by the so-called Pseudo-Apuleius alongside other works on pharmaceutics. Richly illustrated, the text and wondrous miniatures describe different illnesses and cures alongside numerous depictions of plants.

A Glimpse in the Medical Treatment of the Middle Ages

Various illnesses with their consequences are pictorially depicted in a wonderful, lively way and are placed in connection with the corresponding treatment. Therefore, not only are the type and dosage of the drugs described, but the environment in which the medical treatment was normally carried out is also depicted. The patients lie in their beds, holding their feet in a small bath, or are treated in other, often bizarre ways. The attending doctors distribute medicine and impart upon the reader the therapeutic applications, which the dose and manner of application of healing herbs and plants require. For example, in an illustration of healing a snake bite is shown to be remedied with verbena.

Botanical Depictions and Shiny Gold Miniatures

These plants are reproduced in detail over countless pages throughout the manuscript, and are often placed in connection with symbolic depictions of animals and mythical images. In addition to these miniatures without a direct connection to the text, there are also full-page miniature pages in the manuscript. For example, there is a miniature page with a depiction of Hippocrates flanked by Plato and Dioscorides. Framed in a border with luxuriant golden décor and ornamentally designed figures of backgrounds, the pictures have a Byzantine aesthetic. This stems from their creation in Southern Italy. A total of 510 miniatures across 460 pages give a wondrous and striking overview of the status of medicine and healing in the 13th century.

An Emperor’s Pharmacopoeia

The Codex of Medicine of Frederick II features content that varies between mythical and popular scientific knowledge. The knowledge within the book is compiled from a collection of sources from the Late Antiquity, which by the Middle Ages had been widely distributed throughout Europe and enjoyed great influence. One finds texts from the herbarium of the Pseudo-Dioscorides, the Medicinis ex libris feminis et masculinis, as well as other collected works. Frederick II (1194–1250), the Holy Roman Emperor from the Hohenstaufen dynasty, was the patron of the manuscript. His court was considered to be the center for science and culture, and he himself was known to be an enthusiastic scientist. Frederick II was the most educated ruler of his time. He had a burning passion for medicine as an applied science. It comes as no surprise that he was the founder of the Salerno School of Medicine, wherefrom countless pharmaceutical books would arise. Additionally, he settled the separation of doctors and pharmacists as professions in a game-changing law, and required that they be licensed. Therefore, this grandly designed medical text fits perfectly into the interests of this famous, influential, and erudite Emperor.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Códice sobre Medicamentos de Federico II
Die Medikamenten-Lehre Friedrichs II.
Arneibuch Friedrichs II.
Codex sur les Médicaments de Frédéric II
Codice sui Medicinali di Federico II
Códice sobre Medicamentos de Federico II
Size / Format
460 pages / 17.6 x 11.5 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
13th century
Illustrations
510 miniatures in the Mid-Byzantine style
Códice sobre Medicamentos de Federico II

Codex of Medicine of Frederick II

Treating Shingles

Shingles is a viral disease causing painful rashes and blisters on the skin, which can last for weeks. Not only is it related to the childhood disease chickenpox, but shingles is actually a reactivation of the virus. This advanced knowledge of the inner workings of the affliction were naturally unknown to medieval physicians, who instead focused on treating the symptoms.

Just like modern patients, a medieval person afflicted with shingles was first and foremost concerned with alleviating its painful rashes and blisters because a vaccine was many centuries away. Chamomile, oregano, and other plants were used to create a soothing balm, which is shown here being applied to the red-spotted legs of the patient by a kneeling physician in a green tunic.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Codex of Medicine of Frederick II“

Códice sobre Medicamentos de Federico II
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Codex of Medicine of Frederick II – Ms. Plut. 73.16 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
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Códice sobre Medicamentos de Federico II

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2003
Limited Edition
999 copies
Binding
Leather over wooden boards with bronze hinges and clasps
Commentary
1 volume (110 pages) by Giovanna Rao, José María López Piñero and Felipe Jerez Moliner
Languages: Spanish, English
More Information
13th century manuscript containing 4 parts: Hippocrates; Herbarium del Pseudo Apuleyo o Apulejus Platonicus; Liber de medicina ex animalibus de Sexto Placido Papirense; Herbis Femininis de pseudo Dioscórides.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
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