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An illustrated Latin manuscript of Al Madkhal, bound with occult texts by Raymund Lull and others

Al-Qabisi, Abu Al Saqr 'Abd Al-'Aziz Ibn 'Uthman Ibn 'Ali (Alchabitius). Libellus isagogicus (Al-madkhal), with the commentary of Johannes de Saxonia and additional works on astronomy, medicine and logic, compiled by Hieronymus Paulus of Limburg. Latin manuscript.

Likely Germany (Limburg an der Lahn), 1500-1524.

Folio (220 x 305 mm). Latin composite manuscript (black ink) on paper. (100), (7 blank) ff. Some rubrication and red highlights; a few initials in gilt and red or blue.

(Bound with) II: Rolewinck, Werner. Fasciculus temporum. Cologne, Ludwig von Renchen?, not after 1483. (73 [instead of 74]) ff. With numerous woodcuts in the text, coloured by a contemporary hand. Index and first half rubricated, a few Lombardic initials. Contemporary wooden boards (upper board restored) with calf spine on three raised double bands.

Early 16th century Latin manuscript of al-Qabisi's most influential work, "al-Madkhal" (in the translation of Joannes Hispalensis from 1144): an introduction to some of the fundamental principles of genethlialogy, the astrological science of casting nativities, or divination as to the destinies of newborns. The author, known as Alchabitius in the Latin tradition, flourished in Aleppo, Syria, in the middle of the tenth century. "Although al-Qabisi's education was primarily in geometry and astronomy, his principal surviving treatise, 'Al-madkhal ila sina'at ahkam al-nujum' ('Introduction into the Art of Astrology') in five sections [...], is on astrology. The book, as the title indicates, is an introductory exposition of some of the fundamental principles of genethlialogy; its present usefulness lies primarily in its quotations from the Sassanian Andarzghar literature and from al-Kindi, the Indians, Ptolemy, Dorotheus of Sidon, Masha'allah, Hermes Trismegistus, and Valens" (DSB). Together with the writings of Abu Ma'shar and Sacrobosco's "Sphaera mundi", "al Madkhal" became Europe's authoritative introduction to astrology between the 13th and the 16th century.

Al-Qabisi's text (fol. 28r-50v) is followed by the extensive commentary of Johannes de Saxonia (51r-100r). In addition, the manuscript comprises a number of shorter additional parts, worked upon by various hands and prefixed to the "Madkhal": 1. Ramon Lull. Ars brevis ("Incipit ars brevis artis generalis ad omnes sciencias"). With several diagrams and tables in the text (fol. 1r-13r). Thorndike/K. 1315.

2. Macer Floridus. "Herbarum quasdam dicturus carmine vires" (fol. 14r-21r). Thorndike/K. 610. Departs from the text of Choulant's 1832 edition. With later annotations, including German translations of plant names.

3. German recipes (fol. 21r).

4. "Nota dignas regulas de tempore flembotome multum utilis" (fol. 21v).

5. "Prima dies vene sit moderatio cene" (fol. 21v). Six verses on phlebotomy. Thorndike/K. 1090.

6. De temporis aptis pro flebotomia ("Rogatus a quibusdam et de tempore minucionis aliquid edocerem volens", fol. 22r-25v). A part from Johannes de Procida's "De occultis nature". Thorndike/K. 1364.

7. De sortibus cum tabulis ("Quia verissime omnis sciencie perfecta congregacionis", fol. 25v-26r). Thorndike/K. 1226. Followed by astrological tables and diagrams with instructions for use.

8. A short ophthalmological prescription ("Aqua sodalis", fol. 26r).

9. Alexander Hispanus. "Melleus liquor physicae artis" (fol. 26v). Recipes relating to urine and fever. The front flyleaf bears a contemporary table of Lullist philosophical terms (likely corresponding to the "Ars brevis" opposite) and a verse against astrology in a late 17th century hand.

The editio princeps of Al-Qabisi's "Al Madkhal" had appeared at Mantua in 1473. The present text and commentary would appear to be derived from the Ratdolt edition published at Venice in 1485 (GW 844), or possibly from that published by Gregorius de Gregorii in 1491 (GW 845). The compiler Hieronymus Paulus of Limburg states his name twice (with the date): in the colophon, he substitutes his own name for that of the printer; he also appears at the end of Al-Qabisi's text on fol. 50v ("Finit textes Alkabicii per me Hieronymum Pauli anno salutis 1520"). A similar composite manuscript ("Introductiones ad astrologiam") written by the same Paulus is in the New York Public Library, Spencer Coll. Ms. 51: here, too, the writer has added various parts and annotations. Krämer (Scriptores possessoresque codicum medii aevi) references a third ms. compiled by Paulus, a Sammelhandschrift with mathematical texts (Wiesbaden, Landesbibliothek, Ms. 79), but this was lost in WWII.

Bound at the end of the volume is one of the many incunabular editions of the "Fasciculus temporum", Rolewinck's popular history of the world from Creation to Pope Sixtus IV, in an appealingly coloured copy with several early 16th century marginalia, possibly also in Paulus's hand (flaw to upper corner of a2, rebacked with some loss to text, and rebacked flaw to blank lower corner of b8; wants first blank; final leaf of the index, bound at the end, shows fraying and some loss, rebacked).

Some light browning and dampstaining throughout. Binding professionally repaired. Provenance: old sanguine inventory no. "22" on fol. 1r. Front pastedown has fragment of engraved armorial bookplate of Elector Johann Friedrich von Ostein (1689-1763), Archbishop of Mainz. His nephew Johann Franz von Ostein (1735-1809), Imperial counsellor and chamberlain, was married to Louise Charlotte von Dalberg, whose family inherited the library after the death of her husband, by which his line was extinguished. The noble family of Dalberg owned several properties in Germany and Austria; the present volume was long kept in the library of one of their smaller castles in Lower Austria before being sold to a Swiss private collection, whence it was now acquired.

I: Thorndike-Kibre 1078, 351, 1713, 913.

II: HC 6914. Goff R-269. GW M38689. Proctor 1284. BMC I, 269.