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New ‘Medicine’ for Old? Recipes, remedies and treatments in vernacular manuscripts

New ‘Medicine’ for Old? Recipes, remedies and treatments in vernacular manuscripts

By Theresa Tyers

North and South, East and West: Movements in the Medieval World: Proceedings of the 2nd Postgraduate Conference of the Institute for Medieval Research, University of Nottingham, 30-31 May (2009)

Introduction: This paper investigates why the Anglo-Normans were so keen to have vernacular copies of works of medicine particularly, those that addressed women’s health. One possible approach is to quantify what it was these works offered readers that was not already available in the vernacular in England or Northern France. Was this really new medicine for old or was it merely old medicine masquerading in a new guise? Beginning with the use of medicinal recipes and remedies in Anglo-Saxon England for women, the paper focuses on later vernacular understandings of women’s medicine after the Conquest. The texts include a vernacular rhymed version of the Trotula (Cambridge, MS Trinity College 0.1.20) together with a collection of recipes which in this manuscript has become known as the Physique Rimee. The third work is a fifteenth-century adaptation of a regimen of health which includes additional material (Paris, MS Biblothèque Nationale fonds français. 2046), which represents another genre of popular medicine, the Regimen.

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