John of Arderne Mirror of Phlebotomy & Practice of Surgery England: c.1425-1450

Illustration of a ‘zodiac man’ (folio 47v)

Illustration of a ‘zodiac man’ (folio 47v)

Surgical instruments (folio 43r)

Surgical instruments (folio 43r)

Page with marginal illustration (folio 60v)

Page with marginal illustration (folio 60v)

Page with marginal illustrations (folio 61r)

Page with marginal illustrations (folio 61r)

Thought to have lost only half of his fistula patients, Arderne was considered a remarkably successful surgeon. His great advance at the time was to avoid the corrosive after-care treatment used by other practitioners. In other respects, he was more traditional, practicing astrology in the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of illnesses, as was the norm. The link between astrology and medicine is illustrated in the ‘zodiac man’, a representation of spiritual influence on the human body found in hundreds of medieval medical manuscripts. Here, the zodiacal symbols are painted on the body in the appropriate places, from Aries for the head and face to Pisces for the feet. The signs demonstrate which parts of the body are influenced by which astrological sign, thus indicating the most favorable times for performing operations.
This is a later and more elaborately decorated copy of Arderne’s works. In common with other Arderne manuscripts, it contains interesting diagrams of instruments and of treatments to be effected, closely coordinated with the text. The illustrations perform a practical function in demonstrating visually examples of plants and herbs to be used in making up healing recipes as well as surgical techniques. They were vital in the transmission of the text, and were copied from manuscript to manuscript.

1 thought on “John of Arderne Mirror of Phlebotomy & Practice of Surgery England: c.1425-1450

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s