Welcome the “Wellcome Apocalypse”

London, Wellcome Library, Ms. 49, fol. 38v. Source: Wellcome Library. Pulic domain.

The end (of the year) is near – time for an apocalyptic blogpost: Welcome the Wellcome Apocalypse! This medieval miscellany has been digitized by the Wellcome Library, and is available online in fantastic quality. The manuscript (which has an academia.edu account of its own but, shockingly, no Wikipedia entry) is famous among specialists of medieval medicine, but for a number of reasons (including the rather fragile nature of the manuscript) only very few scholars have ever had the occasion to study it. Produced in fifteenth-century Germany and today kept at the Wellcome Library in London, it takes its name from the Book of Revelation it contains, but is more famous for the illustrations not only of this biblical book but also the other material it contains, namely the medical texts. They are of exceptional quality, and indeed their very existence is exceptional. As Moncia Green put it,

The wealth of illustration that went into the Wellcome Apocalypse only reinforces, however, the visual impoverishment of the rest of the gynaecological manuscript tradition.

(Green 2008, 185)

So, time to study his fascinating manuscript! Only yesterday, Rachel Wertheim published a post on the Disease woman of the Wellcome Apocalypse at the centre of her attention, and I am sure the new year will se much more research on these images now available in excellent quality for everyone. Happy new manuscript year, then!


Primary source:

London, Wellcome Library, Ms. 49 [http://wellcomelibrary.org/player/b19684915]

Secondary literature:

Monica Helen Green, Making women’s medicine masculine: the rise of male authority in pre-modern gynaecology, Oxford 2008. [http://books.google.de/books?id=CXQn5AbIvBEC]

Christof Rolker

Prof. Dr. Christof Rolker, Historiker an der Universität Bamberg.

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Christof Rolker

Prof. Dr. Christof Rolker, Historiker an der Universität Bamberg.

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