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Title: An Enquiry into The Life and Legend of Michael Scot
Author: Brown, J. Wood
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Enquiry into The Life and Legend of Michael Scot" ***

                           THE LIFE AND LEGEND
                             OF MICHAEL SCOT

                EDINBURGH: Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE
                              DAVID DOUGLAS



                             An Enquiry into
                         The Life and Legend of
                              Michael Scot

                       BY REV. J. WOOD BROWN, M.A.

                           OF THE MERSE,’ ETC.

            [Illustration: ‘Michael next ordered that Eildon
            Hill, which was then a uniform cone, should be
            divided into three.’—_Lay of Last Minstrel, note._]

                        EDINBURGH: DAVID DOUGLAS

                         [_All rights reserved_]

                                D. D. D.
                            ALMAE MATRI SUAE
                              HAUD IMMEMOR


After some considerable time spent in making collections for the work
which is now submitted to the public, I became aware that a biography of
Michael Scot was in existence which had been composed as early as the
close of the sixteenth century. This is the work of Bernardino Baldi
of Urbino, who was born in 1553. He studied medicine at Padua, but
soon turned his attention to mathematics, especially to the historical
developments of that science. Taking holy orders, he became Abbot of
Guastalla in 1586, and in the quiet of that cloister found time to
produce his work ‘De le vite de Matematici’ of which the biography of
Scot forms a part. He died in 1617.

This discovery led me at first to think that my original plan might with
some advantage be modified. Baldi had evidently enjoyed great advantages
in writing his life of Scot. His time lay nearer to that of Scot by
three hundred years than our own does. He was a native of Italy, where
so large a part of Scot’s life was passed. He had studied at Padua, the
last of the great schools in which Averroës, whom Scot first introduced
to the Latins, still held intellectual sway. All this seemed to indicate
him as one who was exceptionally situated and suited for the work of
collecting such accounts of Michael Scot as still survived in the south
when he lived and wrote. The purpose he had in view was also such as
promised a serious biography, not entirely, nor even chiefly, occupied
with the recitation of traditional tales, but devoted to a solid account
of the philosopher’s scientific fame in what was certainly one of the
most considerable branches of science which he followed. It occurred to
me therefore that an edition of Baldi’s life of Scot, which has never yet
been printed, might give scope for annotations and digressions embodying
all the additional material I had in hand or might still collect, and
that a work on this plan would perhaps best answer the end in view.

A serious difficulty, however, here presented itself, and in the end
proved insuperable, as I was quite unable to gain access to the work
of Baldi. It seems to exist in no more than two manuscripts, both of
them belonging to a private library in Rome, that of the late Prince
Baldassare Boncompagni, who had acquired them from the Albani collection.
The Boncompagni library has been now for some time under strict seal,
pending certain legal proceedings, and all my endeavours to get even a
sight of the manuscripts were in vain. In these circumstances I fell
back upon a printed volume, the _Cronica de Matematici overo Epitome
dell’Istoria delle vite loro_, which is an abbreviated form of Baldi’s
work and was published at Urbino in 1707. The account of Michael Scot
which it gives is not such as to increase my regret that I cannot present
this biography to the reader in its most complete form. Thus it runs:
‘Michele Scoto, that is Michael the Scot, was a Judicial Astrologer,
in which profession he served the Emperor Frederick II. He wrote a
most learned treatise by way of questions upon the _Sphere_ of John de
Sacrobosco which is still in common use. Some say he was a Magician,
and tell how he used to cause fetch on occasion, by magic art, from
the kitchen of great Princes whatever he needed for his table. He died
from the blow of a stone falling on his head, having already foreseen
that such would be the manner of his end.’ Now Scot’s additions to the
_Sphere_ of Sacrobosco are among the more common of his printed works,
while the tales of his feasts at Bologna, and of his sudden death,
are repeated almost _ad nauseam_ by almost every early writer who has
undertaken to illustrate the text of Dante. So far as we can tell,
therefore, Baldi would seem to have made no independent research on his
own account regarding Scot’s life and literary labours, but to have
depended entirely upon very obvious and commonplace printed authorities.
To crown all, he assigns 1240 as the _floruit_ of Michael Scot, a date at
least five years posterior to that of his death! On the whole then there
is little cause to regret that his work on this subject is not more fully

My study of the life and times of Scot thus resumed its natural tendency
towards an independent form, there being no text known to me that
could in any way supply the want of an original biography. It is for
the reader to judge how far the boldness of such an attempt has been
justified by its success. The difficulties of the task have certainly
been increased by the want of any previous collections that could be
called satisfactory. Boece, Dempster, and Naudé yield little in the way
of precise and instructive detail; their accounts of Scot fall to be
classed with that of Baldi as partly incorrect and partly commonplace.
Schmuzer alone seems by the title of his work[1] to promise something
more original. Unfortunately my attempts to obtain it have been defeated
by the great rarity of the volume, which is not to be found in any of the
libraries to which I have access.

This failure in the department of biography already formed has obliged
me to a more exact and extensive study of original manuscript sources
for the life of Scot than I might otherwise have thought necessary, and
has proved thus perhaps rather of advantage. It is inevitable indeed
that a work of this kind, undertaken several ages too late, should be
comparatively barren in those dates and intimate details which are so
satisfactory to our curiosity when we can fall upon them. In the absence
of these, however, our attention is naturally fixed, and not, as it seems
to me, unprofitably, on what is after all of higher or more enduring
importance. The mind is free to take a wider range, and in place of
losing itself in the lesser facts of an individual life, studies the
intellectual movements and gauges the progress of what was certainly a
remarkable epoch in philosophy, science, and literature. The almost exact
reproduction in Spain during the thirteenth century of the Alexandrian
school of thought and science and even superstition; the part played by
the Arab race in this curious transference, and the close relation it
holds to our modern intellectual life—if the volume now published be
found to throw light on subjects so little understood, yet so worthy of
study, I shall feel more than rewarded for the pains and care spent in
its preparation.

In the course of researches among the libraries of Scotland and Italy, of
England and France, of Spain and Germany, I have received much kindness
from the learned men who direct these institutions. I therefore gladly
avail myself of this opportunity to express my thanks in general to all
those who have so kindly come to my help, and in particular to Signor
Comm. G. Biagi, and Signor Prof. E. Rostagno of the Laurentian Library;
to Signore L. Licini of the Riccardian Library; to the Rev. Padre Ehrle
of the Vatican Library; to Signor Cav. Giorgi, and the Conte Passerini
of the Casanatense; to Signor Prof. Menghini of the Vittorio Emanuele
Library, Rome; and to Signor Comm. Cugnoni of the Chigi Library. I am
also much indebted to the kindness of Professor R. Foerster of Breslau;
of Mr. W. M. Lindsay, Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, and the Rev. R.
Langton Douglas of New College, who have furnished me with valuable
notes from the libraries of that university, and, not least of all, to
the interest taken in my work by Mr. Charles Godfrey Leland, who has
been good enough to read it in manuscript, and to favour me with curious
material and valuable suggestions.

If the result of my studies should prove somewhat disappointing to the
reader, I can but plead the excuse with which Pliny furnishes me, it is
one having peculiar application to such a task as is here attempted: ‘Res
ardua,’ he says, ‘vetustis novitatem dare, novis auctoritatem, obsoletis
nitorem, obscuris lucem, fastiditis gratiam, dubiis fidem, omnibus vero
naturam, et naturae suae omnia.’

17 VIA MONTEBELLO, FLORENCE, _November 17th, 1896_.


                                CHAPTER I

  State of Scotland in the twelfth century—Necessity of foreign
  travel to scholars bred there—Michael Scot: his Nation and
  Birthplace.—The account given by Boece, how far it is to be
  believed—The date of Scot’s birth and nature of his first
  studies—Scot at Paris: his growing fame, and the degrees he won
  in that school—Probability that further study at Bologna formed
  the introduction to his life in the south,                           1

                               CHAPTER II

  The position held by Scot at the Court of Sicily—His service
  under the Clerk Register, who seems to have been the same as
  Philip of Tripoli—Scot appointed tutor to Frederick II.—Advantages
  of such a position—He teaches the Prince mathematics and
  acts as Court Astrologer—Publication of the _Astronomia_ and
  _Liber Introductorius_—Frederick’s marriage—Scot produces the
  _Physionomia_ and presents it on this occasion—Account of this the
  most popular of his books, and of the sources from which it was
  derived—Scot quits Sicily for Spain,                                18

                               CHAPTER III

  An important moment—The history of the Arabs in their influence on
  the intellectual life of Europe—The school of Toledo—Scot fixes
  his residence in that city—The name and fame of Aristotle—Scot
  engages in translating Arabic versions of the works of Aristotle
  on Natural History—The _De Animalibus_ and its connection with
  the _Physionomia_—The _Abbreviatio Avicennae_ and its relation to
  former versions of the Toledo school—The date when Scot finished
  this work.—Frederick’s interest in these books—The _De partibus
  animalium_—Did Scot know Greek?—How the Arabian Natural History
  contrasts with the modern—Toledo,                                   42

                               CHAPTER IV

  Alchemy: its history, both primitive and derivative—The
  Gnostics influence it, and it passes by way of the Syrians to
  the Arabs—Disputes divide their schools in the twelfth century
  regarding the reality of this art—Spain the scene of this activity
  and the place where alchemy began to become known among the
  Latins—The time when the work of translation commenced, and the
  course it followed—Scot’s position in the history of this art, and
  an examination of his chemical works: the spurious _De natura solis
  et lunae_, the _Magisterium_, the _Liber Luminis Luminum_, and the
  _De Alchimia_,                                                      65

                                CHAPTER V

  Connection between alchemy and astronomy—Scot’s interest in the
  latter science—Toledo a favourable place for such study—Progress
  made by the Moors in astronomy—Scot translates Alpetrongi—Relation
  of this author to those who had preceded him: to Albategni; to
  Al Khowaresmi and to Alfargan—The fresh contributions made by
  Alpetrongi to a theory of the heavenly motions—His solution of the
  problems of recession and solstitial change—The date of Scot’s
  version of the _Sphere_, and its possible coincidence with that of
  the great astronomical congress at Toledo,                          96

                               CHAPTER VI

  Averroës of Cordova and the fame he enjoyed among the Latins—His
  works condemned by the Church—Frederick II. likely to have been
  attracted by this philosophy—Michael Scot at Cordova—Constitution
  of a new College at Toledo under imperial patronage for the purpose
  of translating the works of Averroës into Latin—Correspondence
  between this and the similar enterprise of a hundred years
  before—Andrew the Jew interprets for Scot—Defence of this
  literary method—Versions of the _De Coelo et Mundo_, the _De
  anima_, the _Parva Naturalia_ and others—The _Quaestiones Nicolai
  Peripatetici_: with a summary of this important treatise—Works
  found in the Venice manuscript—The _Nova Ethica_—Michael Scot
  shines as a translator from the Greek—Comparison between him and
  Bacon in regard to this,                                           106

                               CHAPTER VII

  Scot returns from Spain to the Imperial Court—Dante’s reference
  to this and to the costume worn by the philosopher—Probability
  that he is represented in the fresco at S. Maria Novella. The
  Latin Averroës suppressed and Scot resumes his post as Imperial
  Astrologer—He publishes on this subject—Remarks on Scot by
  Mirandola, Salimbene, and Bacon—He comments on the _Sphere_ of
  Sacrobosco—A legend of Naples and its interpretation—Testimony of
  Leonardo Pisano—Scot’s medical studies and skill—He composes a
  treatise in that science—Two prescriptions, and some account of
  the plagues then prevalent,                                        137

                              CHAPTER VIII

  Scot on the way to ecclesiastical preferment—Honorius III. exerts
  himself to obtain a benefice for the philosopher—He refuses the
  Archbishopric of Cashel—A similar case of conscience in the
  same age.—Gregory IX. applies again to Canterbury but without
  result—Effect of these disappointments on Scot.—His prophecies in
  verse and prose—The _Cervilerium_—His mental state at this time;
  and an attempt to estimate his real character—The publication of
  Scot’s version of Averroës now possible—Frederick II. indites a
  circular letter to the Universities—Scot travels through Italy,
  France, and England to the borders of Scotland—His death—The
  Emperor permits a copy of the _Abbreviatio Avicennae_ to be made
  as a tribute to Scot’s memory,                                     157

                               CHAPTER IX

  The legendary fame of Scot—Nature of the magic then studied
  in Spain—Reasons for thinking that Scot’s fame as a magician
  is mostly mythical—Origin of the story in his connection with
  the Emperor, and from the place and nature of his Spanish
  studies—Probability that he composed a work on algebra, which was
  afterwards mistaken for something magical—His association with the
  Arthurian legend in its southern development confirms his character
  as a magician, and may have suggested several details in the
  stories that are told concerning him,                              179

                                CHAPTER X

  How Dante used the legend of Michael Scot—The nature of subjective
  magic or _glamour_—Stories told by those who commented on the
  _Divine Comedy_—Boccaccio’s reference to Scot, and sundry tales
  of court and camp—The fifteenth century produces spurious
  magical works under Scot’s name—Folengo introduces him into the
  _Baldus_.—Dempster and the Scottish tales.—The tasks of Scot’s
  familiar spirit.—His embassy to Paris—Story of the witch of
  Falsehope—The _Book of Might_—Two stories of Scot as told by an
  old woman of Florence in the present year of grace—Conclusion,     206

  APPENDIX,                                                          231

  INDEX,                                                             277


Frontispiece, A Magician, from the S. Maria Novella Fresco—Photogravure
by Alinari, Florence

Vignette on Title—The Eildons, from an engraving kindly lent by Messrs.
A. and C. Black, London

Facsimile of colophon to Scot’s _Abbreviatio Avicennae_ (Fondo Vaticano
4428, p. 158 recto), _to face page 55_



In the Borders of Scotland it is well known that any piece of hill
pasture, if it be fenced in but for a little from the constant cropping
of the sheep, will soon show springing shoots of forest trees indigenous
to the soil, whose roots remain wherever the plough has not passed too
deeply. Centuries ago, when nature had her way and was unrestrained,
the whole south-eastern part of the country was covered with dense
forests and filled with forest-dwellers; the wild creatures that form
the prey of the snare and the quarry of the chase. In the deep valleys,
and by the streams of Tweed and Teviot, and many another river of that
well-watered land, stood the great ranks and masses of the oak and beech
as captains and patriarchs of the forest, mingled with the humbler
whitethorn which made a dense undergrowth wherever the sun could reach.
On the heights grew the sombre firs; their gnarled and ruddy branches
crowned with masses of bluish-green foliage, while the alders followed
the water-courses, and, aided by the shelter of these secret valleys, all
but reached the last summits of the hills, which alone, in many a varied
slope and peak and swelling breast, rose eminent and commanding over
these dark and almost unbroken woodlands.

Such was south-eastern Scotland in the twelfth century: a country fitted
to be the home of men of action rather than of thought; men whose joy
should lie in the chase and the conflict with nature as yet unsubdued,
who could track the savage creatures of the forest to their dens, and
clear the land where it pleased them, and build, and dwell, and beget
children in their own likeness, till by the labours of generations that
country should become pastoral, peaceful, and fit for fertile tillage as
we see it now.

Already, at the early time of which we speak, something of this work
had been begun. There were gaps in the high forest where it lay well
to the sun: little clearings marked by the ridge and furrow of a rude
agriculture. Here and there a baron’s lonely tower raised its grey
horn on high, sheltering a troop of men-at-arms who made it their
business to guard the land in war, and in peace to rid it of the savage
forest-creatures that hindered the hind and herd in their labour and
their hope. In the main valleys more than one great monastery was rising,
or already built, by the waters of Tweed and Teviot. The inmates of these
religious houses took their share in the whole duty of peaceful Scottish
men by following trades at home or superintending the labours of an army
of hinds who broke in and made profitable the wide abbey lands scattered
here and there over many a lowland county. All was energy, action, and
progress: a form of life which left but little room for the enterprises
of the mind, the conflicts and conquests which can alone be known and won
in the world of thought within.

These conditions we know to have reared and trained generations of men
well fitted to follow the pursuits of hardy and active life, yet they
cannot have been so constraining as to hinder the birth of some at least
who possessed an altogether different temper of mind and body. The
lowland Scots were even then of a mixed race: the ancestry which tends
more than any other to the production of life-eddies, where thought
rather than activity naturally forms and dwells, while the current of the
main stream sweeps past in its ordinary course. Grant the appearance of
such natures here and there in these early times, and it is easy to see
much in the only life then possible that was fit to foster their natural
tendencies. The deep woodlands were not only scenes of labour where
sturdy arms found constant employment, they were homes of mystery in
which the young imagination loved to dwell; peopling them with half-human
shapes more graceful than their stateliest trees, and half-brutal
monsters more terrible than the fiercest wolf or bear. The distant sun
and stars were more than a heavenly horologe set to mark the hours for
labour or vigil, they were an unexplored scene of wonder which patient
and brooding thought alone could reach and interpret. The trivial flight
and annual return of birds, tracing like the wild geese a mysterious
wedge against the sky of winter, gave more than a signal for the chase,
which was all that ordinary men saw in it. To these finer natures it
brought the awakening which those know who have learned to ask the mighty
questions—Why? Whence? and Whither? demands which will not be denied till
they have touched the heights and fathomed the depths of human life
itself. _Our life is a bird_, said one in these early ages, _which flies
by night, and, entering lighted hall at one end, swiftly passeth out at
the other. So come we, who knoweth whence, and so pass we, who knoweth
whither? From the darkness we come and to the darkness we go, and the
brief light that is meanwhile ours cannot make the mystery plain._

But though the nature of this primitive life in early Scottish days
could not hinder the appearance of men of thought, and even helped
their development as soon as they began to show the movements of active
intellect, yet on the other hand Scotland had not reached that culture
which affords such natures their due and full opportunity. Centuries were
yet to pass before the foundation of St. Andrews as the first Scottish
university. The grammar-schools of the country[2] were but a step to
the studies of some foreign seat of learning. The churchmen who filled
considerable positions at home were either Italians, or had at least been
trained abroad, so that everything in those days pointed to that path
of foreign study which has since been trodden by so many generations of
Scottish students. The bright example of Scotus Erigena, who had reached
such a high place in France under Charles the Bald, was an incitement to
the northern world of letters. Young men of parts and promise naturally
sought their opportunity to go abroad in the hope of finding like
honourable employment, or, better still, of returning crowned with the
honours of the schools to occupy some distinguished ecclesiastical
position in their native country.

This then was the age, and these were the prevailing conditions, under
which Michael Scot was born. To the necessary and common impulse of
Scottish scholars we are to trace the disposition of the great lines
on which his life ran its remarkable and distinguished course. He is
certainly one of the most notable, as he is among the earliest, examples
of the student Scot abroad.

There can be little doubt regarding the nation where he had his birth.
Disregarding for a moment the varying accounts of those who lived
centuries after the age of Scot himself, let us make a commencement
with one whose testimony is of the very highest value, being that of
a contemporary. Roger Bacon, the famous scientist of the thirteenth
century, introduces the name of Michael Scot in the following manner:
‘Unde, cum per Gerardum Cremonensem, et Michaelem Scotum, et Aluredum
Anglicum, et Heremannum (Alemannum), et Willielmum Flemingum, data sit
nobis copia translationum de omni scientia.’[3] In this passage the
distinctive appellation of each author is plainly derived from that of
his native country. That Bacon believed Michael to be of Scottish descent
is therefore certain, and his opinion is all the more valuable since he
was an Englishman, and not likely therefore to have confused the two
nations of Great Britain as a foreigner might haply have done. To the
same purpose is the testimony of Guido Bonatti, the astrologer, who
also belonged to the age of Bacon and Scot. ‘Illi autem,’ he says,[4]
‘qui fuerunt in tempore meo, sicut fuit Hugo ab Alugant, Beneguardinus
Davidbam, Joannes Papiensis, Dominicus Hispanus, Michael Scotus,
Stephanus Francigena, Girardus de Sabloneta Cremonensis, et multi alii.’
Here also the significance of _Scotus_, as indicating nationality, is one
that hardly admits of question. It was in all probability on these or
similar authorities that Dempster relied when he said of Michael:[5] ‘The
name Scot, however, is not a family one, but national,’ though he seems
to have pressed the matter rather too far, it being plainly possible that
_Scotus_ might combine in itself both significations. In Scotland it
might indicate that Michael belonged to the clan of Scott, as indeed has
been generally supposed, while as employed by men of other nations, it
might declare what they believed to have been this scholar’s native land.

At this point, however, a new difficulty suggests itself. It is well
known that the lowland Scots were emigrants from the north of Ireland,
and that in early times _Scotus_ was used as a racial rather than a local
designation. May not Michael have been an Irishman? Such is the question
actually put by a recent writer,[6] and certainly it deserves a serious
answer. We may commence by remarking that even on this understanding of
it the name is an indefinite one as regards locality, and might therefore
have been applied to one born in Scotland just as well as if he had
first seen the light in the sister isle. So certainly is this the case
that when we recall the name of John Scotus we find it was customary
to add the appellative _Erigena_ to determine his birthplace. At that
time the separation of race was much less marked than it had become in
Michael’s day, and it seems certain therefore that if _Michael Scotus_
was thought a sufficient designation of the man by Bacon and Bonatti,
they must have used it in the sense of indicating that he came of that
part of the common stock which had crossed the sea and made their home
in Scotland. But to find a conclusive answer to this difficulty we need
only anticipate a little the course of our narrative by mentioning here a
highly curious fact which will occupy our attention in its proper place.
When Michael Scot was offered high ecclesiastical preferment in Ireland
he declined it on the ground that he was ignorant of the vernacular
tongue of that country.[7] This seems to supply anything that may have
been wanting in the other arguments we have advanced, and the effect
of the whole should be to assure our conviction that there need be now
no further attempt made to deny Scotland the honour of having been the
native land of so distinguished a scholar.

Nor are we altogether without the means of coming to what seems at
least a probable conclusion regarding the very district of the Scottish
lowlands where Michael Scot was born. Leland the antiquary tells us that
he was informed on good authority that Scot came from the territory of
Durham.[8] Taken literally this statement would make him an Englishman,
but no one would think of quoting it as of sufficient value to disprove
the testimony of Bacon and Bonatti who both believed Michael to have
been born in Scotland. If, however, there should offer itself any way in
which both these apparently contending opinions can be reconciled, we are
surely bound to accept such an explanation of the difficulty, and in fact
the solution we are about to propose not only meets the conditions of
the problem, but will be found to narrow very considerably the limits of
country within which the birthplace of Scot is to be looked for.

The See of Durham in that age, and for long afterwards, had a wide sphere
of influence, extending over much of the south-eastern part of the
Scottish Borders. Many deeds relating to this region of Scotland must
be sought in the archives that belong to the English Cathedral. To be
born in the territory of Durham then, as Leland says Scot had been, was
not necessarily to be a native of England, and the anonymous Florentine
commentator on Dante uses a remarkable expression which seems to confirm
this solution as far as Scot is concerned. ‘This Michael,’ he says, ‘was
of the Province of Scotland’;[9] and his words seem to point to that part
of the Scottish lowlands adjacent to the See of Durham and in a sense its
_province_, as subject to its influence, just as Provence, the analogous
part of France, had its name from the similar relation it bore to Rome.
The most likely opinion therefore that can now be formed on the subject
leads us to believe that Scot was born somewhere in the valley of the
Tweed; if we understand that geographical expression in the wide sense
which makes it equivalent to the whole of the south-eastern borders of

Nor is this so contrary as might at first appear to the tradition which
makes Scot a descendant of the family of Balwearie in Fife. Hector Boëce,
Principal of Marischal College, Aberdeen, who first gave currency to the
story,[10] could hardly have meant to imply that Michael was actually
born at Balwearie. It is to be presumed that he understood _Scotus_ to
have been a family name; and the Scotts, who became of Balwearie by
marriage with the heiress of that estate, did not enter into possession
of it till long after the close of the twelfth century.[11] To call
Michael a son of Balwearie in the genealogical sense, however, is in
perfect agreement with the conclusion regarding his origin which we have
just reached; for the original home of the Scotts who afterwards held
that famous property as their _chef lieu_, lay by the upper streams of
Tweed in the very district which every probability has already indicated
to us as that of Michael’s birthplace. In 1265 we find an entry of money
paid by the Crown ‘to Michael Scot and Richard Rufus who have occupied
the waste lands at Stuth,’ near Peebles.[12] Identification is here
out of the question, as Michael the scholar, of whom we write, was by
this time long in his grave, but the entry we have quoted shows that a
family of this surname, who still used the Christian name of Michael,
was flourishing in this part of Scotland during the second half of the
thirteenth century.

It is to be remarked, too, that the Scottish tales of wonder relating to
Michael Scot have a local colour that accords well with the other signs
we have noticed. The hill which the sorcerer’s familiar spirit cleaves
in sunder is the triple peak of Eildon; the water which he curbs is that
of Tweed; from Oakwood he rides forth to try the witch of Falsehope,
and in Oakwood tower may still be seen the _Jingler’s room_: a curious
anachronism, for Oakwood is a building much more recent than the days of
Michael Scot, yet one which fixes for us in a picturesque and memorable
way the district of country where, according to the greatest number of
converging probabilities, this remarkable man was born.

As to the date of his birth, it is difficult to be very precise.
The probability that he died suddenly, and before he had completed
the measure of an ordinary lifetime, prevents us from founding our
calculations upon the date of his decease, which can be pretty accurately
determined. A more certain argument may be derived from the fact that
Scot had finished his youthful studies, made some figure in the world,
and entered on the great occupation of his life as an author, as early as
the year 1210.[13] Assuming then that thirty was the least age he could
well have attained at the period in question, the year 1180 would be
indicated as that of his birth, or rather as the latest date to which it
can with probability be referred; 1175 being in every way a more likely
approximation to the actual time of this event.

It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in the same position with regard
to the interesting question of Scot’s early education, having only the
suggestions derived from probable conjecture to offer on this subject
also. Du Boulay indeed, in his account of the University of Paris,[14]
pretends to supply a pretty complete account of the schools which Scot
attended, but, as he adds that this was the usual course of study in
those days, we find reason to think that he may have been guided in his
assertions, rather by the probabilities of the case, than by any exact
evidence. Nor is it likely that any more satisfactory assurance can now
be had on this point: the time being too remote and the want of early
material for Scot’s biography defeating in this respect all the care and
attention that can now be given to the subject.

We know, however, that there was a somewhat famous grammar-school at
Roxburgh in the twelfth century,[15] and considering the rarity of such
an opportunity at so early a period, and the proximity of this place to
the district in which Scot was born, we may venture to fancy that here
he may have learned his rudiments, thus laying the foundation of those
deeper studies, which he afterwards carried to such a height.

With regard to Durham, the matter may be considered to stand on firmer
ground. The name of Michael Scot, as we have already seen, has for many
ages been associated with this ancient Cathedral city by the Wear. If
the question of his birthplace be regarded as now determined in favour of
Scotland, no reason remains for this association so convincing as that
which would derive it from the fact that he pursued his education there.
The Cathedral School of Durham was a famous one, which no doubt exerted
a strong attraction upon studious youths throughout the whole of that
province. In Scot’s case the advantages it offered may well have seemed a
desirable step to further advances; his means, as one of a family already
distinguished from the common people, allowing him to plan a complete
course of study, and his ambition prompting him to follow it.

The common tradition asserts that when he left Durham, Scot proceeded to
Oxford. This is not unlikely, considering the fame of that University,
and the number of students drawn from all parts of the land who assembled
there.[16] The only matters, however, which offer themselves in support
of this bare conjecture are not, it must be said, very convincing. Roger
Bacon shows great familiarity with Scot, and Bacon was an Oxford scholar,
though his studies at that University were not begun till long after the
time when Scot could possibly have been a student there. It is quite
possible, however, that the interest shown by Bacon in Scot’s labours and
high reputation—not by any means of a kindly sort—may have been awakened
by traditions that were still current in the Schools of Oxford when
the younger student came there. Near the end of his life, Scot visited
in a public capacity the chief Universities of Europe, and brought
them philosophic treasures that were highly thought of by the learned.
It seems most probable, from the terms in which Bacon speaks of this
journey,[17] that it may have included a visit to Oxford. This might of
course be matter of mere duty and policy, but one cannot help observing
how well it agrees with the tradition that these schools were already
familiar to Scot. As a recognised alumnus of Oxford, he would be highly
acceptable there, being one whose European fame shed no small lustre upon
the scene of his early studies.

As to Paris, the next stage in Scot’s educational progress, the historian
of that University becomes much more convincing when he claims for
_Lutetia_ the honour of having contributed in a special sense to the
formation of this scholar’s mind. For here tradition has preserved one
of those sobriquets which are almost invariably authentic. Scot, it
seems, gained here the name of _Michael the Mathematician_,[18] and this
corresponds, not only with what is known concerning the character of
his studies, but also with the nature of the course for which Paris was
then famous. There is another circumstance which seems to point strongly
in the same direction. Every one must have noticed how invariably the
name of Scot is honoured by the prefix of _Master_. This is the case not
only in his printed works, but also in popular tradition, as may be seen
in the well-known rhyme:—‘Maister Michael Scot’s man.’[19] A Florence
manuscript, to which we shall presently refer more fully, throws some
light upon the meaning of this title, by describing Scot as that scholar,
‘who among the rest is known as the chief Master.’[20] It is matter of
common knowledge, that this degree had special reference to the studies
of the _Trivium_ and _Quadrivium_, being the scholastic crown reserved
for those who had made satisfactory progress in the liberal arts. Scot
then, according to the testimony of early times, was the supreme Master
in this department of knowledge. But it is also certain that Paris was
then recognised as the chief school of the _Trivium_ and _Quadrivium_,
just as Bologna had a like reputation for Law, and Salerno for
Medicine.[21] We are therefore warranted to conclude that Michael Scot
could never have been saluted in European schools as ‘Supreme Master,’
had he not studied long in the French capital, and carried off the highly
esteemed honours of Paris.

Another branch of study which tradition says Scot followed with success
at Paris was that of theology. Du Boulay declares, indeed, that he
reached the dignity of doctor in that faculty, and there is some reason
to think that this may actually have been the case. There can be no
doubt that an ecclesiastical career then offered the surest road to
wealth and fame in the case of all who aspired to literary honours. That
Scot took holy orders[22] seems very probable. He may well have done so
even before he came to Paris, for Bacon makes it one of his reproaches
against the corruption of the times, that men were ordained far too
readily, and before they had reached the canonical age: from their
tenth to their twentieth year, he says.[23] It is difficult to verify
Dempster’s assertion that Scot’s renown as a theologian is referred
to by Baconthorpe the famous Carmelite of the following century.[24]
This author was commonly known as the _Princeps Averroïstarum_. If he
really mentions Michael, and does not mean Duns Scotus, as there is some
reason to suspect, his praise may have been given quite as much on the
ground of profane as of religious philosophy. On the other hand we find
abounding and unmistakable references to Scripture, the Liturgy, and
ascetic counsels in the writings of Scot, from which it may safely be
concluded that he had not merely embraced the ecclesiastical profession
as a means of livelihood or of advancement, but had seriously devoted
himself to sacred studies. It is true that we cannot point to any
instance in which he receives the title of doctor, but this omission
may be explained without seriously shaking our belief in the tradition
that Scot gained this honour at Lutetia. During the twelfth century the
Bishop of Paris forbade the doctors of theology to profess that faculty
in any other University.[25] Scot may well, therefore, have been one of
those philosophical divines who taught _entre les deux ponts_, as the
same statute commanded they should, though in other lands and during
his after-life, he came to be known simply as the ‘Great Master’: the
brightest of all those choice spirits of the schools on which Paris set
her stamp.

At this point we may surely hazard a further conjecture. Bacon tells us
that in those days it was the study of law, ecclesiastical and civil,
rather than of theology, which opened the way to honour and preferment in
the Church.[26] Now Paris was not more eminently and distinctly the seat
of arts than Bologna was the school of laws.[27] May not Michael Scot
have passed from the French to the Italian University? Such a conjecture
would be worth little were it not for the support which it undoubtedly
receives from credible tradition. Boccaccio in one of his tales[28]
mentions Michael Scot, and tells how he used to live in Bologna. Many of
the commentators on the _Divine Comedy_ of Dante dwell on the theme, and
enrich it with superstitious wonders.[29] It would be difficult to find
a period in the scholar’s life which suits better with such a residence
than that we are now considering. On all accounts it seems likely
that he left Paris for Bologna, and found in the latter city a highly
favourable opening, which led directly to the honours and successes of
his after-life.

He was now to leave the schools and enter a wider sphere, not without the
promise of high and enduring fame. A child of the mist and the hill, he
had come from the deep woods and wild outland life of the Scottish Border
to what was already no inconsiderable position. He knew Paris, not, need
it be said, the gay capital of modern days, but Paris of the closing
years of the twelfth century, _Lutetia Parisiorum_: her low-browed houses
of wood and mud; her winding streets, noisome even by day, and by night
still darker and more perilous; her vast Latin Quarter, then far more
preponderant than now—a true cosmopolis, where fur-clad barbarians from
the home of the north wind sharpened wits with the Latin races haply
trained in southern schools by some keen-browed Moor or Jew. And Paris
knew him, watched his course, applauded his success, crowned his fame by
that coveted title of _Master_, which he shared with many others, but
which the world of letters made peculiarly his own by creating for him a
singular and individual propriety in it. From Paris we may follow him in
fancy to Bologna, yet it is not hard to believe he must have left half
his heart behind, enchained in that remarkable devotion which Lutetia
could so well inspire in her children.[30] Bologna might be, as we have
represented it, the gate to a new Eden, that of Scot’s Italian and
Spanish life, yet how could he enter it without casting many a longing
glance behind to the Paradise he had quitted for ever when he left the
banks of the Seine?



All tradition assures us that the chief occupation of Scot’s life was
found at the Court of Frederick II., King of Sicily, and afterwards
Emperor of Germany: a Prince deservedly famous, not only for his own
talent, but for the protection and encouragement he afforded to men of
learning. A manuscript in the Laurentian Library,[31] hitherto unnoticed
in this connection, seems to throw some light upon the time and manner
of this employment: points that have always been very obscure. The
volume is a collection of _Occulta_, and at p. 256 we find the following
title, ‘An Experiment of Michael Scot the magician.’ What follows is of
no serious importance: such as it has we shall consider in speaking of
the Master’s legendary fame. The concluding words, however, are of great
interest, especially when we observe that this part of the manuscript,
though written between 1450 and 1500, is said[32] to have been copied
‘from a very ancient book.’ The colophon runs thus: ‘Here endeth the
necromantic experiment of the most illustrious doctor, Master[33] Michael
Scot, who among other scholars is known as the supreme Master; who was
of Scotland, and servant to his most distinguished chief Don Philip,[34]
the King of Sicily’s clerk;[35] which experiment he contrived[36] when he
lay sick in the city of Cordova. Finis.’

Taking the persons here named in the order of their rank, we notice
first the great Emperor Frederick II., the patron of Michael Scot. It is
worth remark that he is styled simply ‘King of Sicily,’ a title which
belongs to the time previous to 1215, when he obtained the Imperial
crown. This is a touch which seems to give high originality and value to
the colophon. We may feel sure that it was not composed by the fifteenth
century scribe, who would certainly have described Frederick in the
usual style as Emperor and Lord of the World. He must have copied it,
and everything leads one to suppose that he was right in describing the
source from which he drew as ‘very ancient.’

Next comes Don Philip, whom we have rightly described as the clerk of
Sicily, for the word _coronatus_ in its mediæval use is derived from
_corona_ in the sense of the priestly tonsure, so that _Philippus
coronatus_ is equivalent to _Philippus clericus_.[37] Of this
distinguished man we find many traces in the historical documents of
the period.[38] Two deeds passed the seals of Sicily in the year 1200
when the King, then a boy of five years old, was living under the care
of his widowed mother the Queen Constantia. These are countersigned by
the royal notary, who is described as ‘Philippus de Salerno, notarius et
fidelis noster scriba.’ His name is found in the same way, apparently
for the last time, in 1213. This date, and the particular designation
of Philip the Notary as ‘of Salerno,’ connect themselves very naturally
with the title of a manuscript belonging to the De Rossi collection.[39]
It is as follows: ‘The Book of the Inspections of Urine according to
the opinion of the Masters, Peter of Berenico, Constantine Damascenus,
and Julius of Salerno; which was composed by command of the Emperor
Frederick, Anno Domini 1212, in the month of February, and was revised
by Master Philip of Tripoli and Master Gerard of Cremona at the orders
of the King of Spain,’ etc. The person designed as Philip of Salerno was
very likely to be put in charge of the revision of a medical treatise,
and as he disappears from his duties as notary for some time after 1213
we may suppose that it was then he passed into the service of the King
of Spain. This conjecture agrees also with the mention of Cordova in
the Florence manuscript, and with other peculiarities it displays, such
as the spelling of the name _Philippus_ like _Felipe_, and the way in
which the title _Dominus_ is repeated, just as _Don_ might be in the
style of a Spaniard. There is, in short, every reason to conclude that
Philip of Salerno and Philip of Tripoli were one and the same person.
We may add that Philip was the author of the first complete version in
Latin of the book called _Secreta Secretorum_, the preface of which
describes him as a _clericus_ of the See of Tripoli. As will presently
appear, Michael Scot drew largely from this work in composing one of
his own;[40] another proof that in confronting with each other these
three names—Philippus coronatus or clericus; Philippus de Salerno, and
Philippus Tripolitanus—and in concluding that they belong to one and the
same person, we have a reasonable amount of evidence in our favour.

From what has just been said it is plain that three distinct periods must
have composed the life of Philip so far as we know it: the first when
he served as an ecclesiastic in Tripoli of Syria or its neighbourhood;
the second when he came westward, and, not without a certain literary
reputation, held the post of Clerk Register in Sicily; the last when
Frederick sent him, in the height of his powers and the fulness of his
fame, to that neighbouring country of Spain, then so full of attraction
for every scholar. In which of these periods then was it that Michael
Scot first came into those relations with Philip of which the Florentine
manuscript speaks? The time of his residence in Spain, likely as it might
seem on other accounts, would appear to be ruled out by the fact that it
was too late for Philip to be then described as servant of the _King of
Sicily_. Nor did he hold this office, so far as we can tell, until he
had left Tripoli for the West. We must pronounce then for the Sicilian
period, and precisely therefore for the years between 1200 and 1213. This
conclusion, however, does not hinder us from supposing that the relation
then first formally begun between Michael and Philip continued to bind
them, in what may have been a friendly co-operation, during the time
spent by both in Spain.

The period thus determined was that of the King’s boyhood, and this opens
up another line of argument which may be trusted not only to confirm
the results we have reached, but to afford a more exact view of Scot’s
occupation in Sicily. Several of his works are dedicated to Frederick,
from which it is natural to conclude that his employment was one which
brought him closely in contact with the person of the King. When we
examine their contents we are struck by the tone which Scot permits
himself to use in addressing his royal master. There is familiarity when
we should expect flattery, and the desire to impart instruction instead
of the wish to display obsequiousness. Scot appears in fact as one
careless to recommend himself for a position at Court, certain rather of
one which must have been already his own. What can this position have

A tradition preserved by one of the commentaries on Dante[41] informs
us that Michael Scot was employed as the Emperor’s tutor, and this
explanation is one which we need feel no hesitation in adopting, as it
clears up in a very convincing way all the difficulties of the case.
His talents, already proved and crowned in Paris and Bologna, may well
have commended him for such a position. The dedication of his books
to Frederick, and the familiar style in which he addresses the young
prince, are precisely what might be expected from the pen of a court
schoolmaster engaged in compiling manuals _in usum Delphini_.[42] Nay
the very title of ‘Master’ which Scot had won at Paris probably owed its
chief confirmation and continued employment to the nature of his new
charge. Since the fifth century there had prevailed in Spain the habit
of committing children of position to the course of an ecclesiastical
education.[43] They were trained by some discreet and grave person
called the _magister disciplinae_, deputed by the Bishop to this office.
Such would seem to have been the manner of Frederick’s studies. His
guardian was the Pope; he lived at Palermo under charge of the Canons
of that Cathedral,[44] and no doubt the ecclesiastical character of
Michael Scot combined with his acknowledged talents to point him out as
a suitable person to fill so important a charge. It was his first piece
of preferment, and we may conceive that he drew salary for his services
under some title given him in the royal registry. This would explain
his connection with Philip, the chief notary, on which the Florentine
manuscript insists. Such fictitious employments have always been a
part of court fashion, and that they were common in Sicily at the time
of which we write may be seen from the case of Werner and Philip de
Bollanden, who, though in reality most trusted and confidential advisers
of the Crown, were known at Court as the chief butler and baker, titles
which they were proud to transmit to their descendants.[45]

It was at Palermo, then, that Michael Scot must have passed the opening
years of the thirteenth century; now more than ever ‘Master,’ since he
was engaged in a work which carried with it no light responsibility:
the early education of a royal youth destined to play the first part on
the European stage. The situation was one not without advantages of an
uncommon kind for a scholar like Scot, eager to acquire knowledge in
every department. Sicily was still, especially in its more remote and
mountainous parts about Entella, Giato, and Platani, the refuge of a
considerable Moorish population, whose language was therefore familiar in
the island, and was heard even at Court; being, we are assured, one of
those in which Frederick received instruction.[46] There can be little
doubt that Scot availed himself of this opportunity, and laid a good
foundation for his later work on Arabic texts by acquiring, in the years
of his residence at Palermo, at least the vernacular language of the

The same may be said regarding the Greek tongue: a branch of study
much neglected even by the learned of those times. We shall presently
produce evidence which goes to show that Michael Scot worked upon
Greek as well as Arabic texts,[47] and it was in all probability to
his situation in Sicily that he owed the acquisition of what was then
a very rare accomplishment. Bacon, who deplores the ignorance of
Greek which prevailed in his days, recommends those who would learn
this important language to go to Italy, where, he says, especially
in the south, both clergy and people are still in many places purely
Greek.[48] The reference to _Magna Grecia_ is obvious, and to Sicily,
whose Greek colonies preserved, even to Frederick’s time and beyond it,
their nationality and language. So much was this the case, that it was
thought necessary to make the study of Greek as well as of Arabic part of
Frederick’s education. We can hardly err in supposing that Scot profited
by this as well as by the other opportunity.

In point of general culture too a residence at Palermo offered many and
varied advantages. Rare manuscripts abounded, some lately brought to the
island, like that of the _Secreta Secretorum_, the prize of Philip the
Clerk, which he carried with him when he came from Tripoli to Sicily, and
treasured there, calling it his ‘precious pearl’;[49] others forming part
of collections that had for some time been established in the capital.
As early as the year 1143, George of Antioch, the Sicilian Admiral, had
founded the Church of St. Maria della Martorana in Palermo, and had
enriched it with a valuable library, no doubt brought in great part from
the East.[50] A better opportunity for literary studies could hardly have
been desired than that which the Prince’s Master now enjoyed.

The society and surroundings in which Michael Scot now found himself
were such as must have communicated a powerful impulse to the mind. The
Court was grave rather than gay, as had befitted the circumstances of
a royal widow, and now of an orphan still under canonical protection
and busied in serious study, but this allowed the wit and wisdom of
learned men free scope, and thus invited and encouraged their residence.
Already, probably, had begun that concourse and competition of talents,
for which the Court of Frederick was afterwards so remarkable. Amid
delicious gardens at evening, or by day in the cool shade of courtyards:
those _patios_ which the Moors had built so well and adorned with such
fair arabesques, all that was rarest in learning and brightest in wit,
held daily disputation, while the delicate fountains played and Monte
Pellegrino looked down on the curving beauties of the bay and shore. A
strange contrast truly to the arcades of Bologna, now heaped with winter
snow and now baked by summer sun; to the squalor of mediæval Paris, and
much more to the green hillsides and moist forest-clad vales of southern
Scotland. Here at last the spirit of Michael Scot underwent a powerful
and determining influence which left its mark on all his subsequent life.

As royal tutor, his peculiar duty would seem to have been that of
instructing the young Prince in the different branches of mathematics.
This we should naturally have conjectured from the fact that Scot’s fame
as yet rested entirely upon the honours he had gained at Paris, and
precisely in this department of learning; for ‘Michael the Mathematician’
was not likely to have been called to Palermo with any other purpose.
We have direct evidence of it however in an early work which came from
the Master’s pen, and one which would seem to have been designed for
the use of his illustrious pupil. This was the _Astronomia_, or _Liber
Particularis_, and in the Oxford copy,[51] the colophon of that treatise
runs thus: ‘Here endeth the book of Michael Scot, astrologer to the Lord
Frederick, Emperor of Rome, and ever August; which book he composed in
simple style[52] at the desire of the aforesaid Emperor. And this he did,
not so much considering his own reputation, as desiring to be serviceable
and useful to young scholars, who, of their great love for wisdom, desire
to learn in the Quadrivium the Art of Astronomy.’ The preface says that
this was the second book which Scot composed for Frederick.

The science of Astronomy was so closely joined in those times with the
art of Astrology, that it is difficult to draw a clear distinction
between them as they were then understood. The one was but the practical
application of the other, and in common use their names were often
confused and used interchangeably. We are not surprised then to find the
title of Imperial Astrologer given to Michael Scot in the colophon to his
_Astronomia_; he was sure to be employed in this way, and the fact will
help us to determine with probability what was the _first_ book he wrote
for the Emperor, that to which the _Liber Particularis_ was a sequel.
For there is actually extant under Scot’s name an astrological treatise
bearing the significant name of the _Liber Introductorius_.[53] This
title agrees exceedingly well with the position we are now inclined to
give it, and an examination of the preface confirms our conjecture in a
high degree. It commences thus: ‘Here beginneth the preface of the _Liber
Introductorius_ which was put forth by Michael Scot, Astrologer to the
ever August Frederick, Emperor of the Romans, at whose desire he composed
it concerning astrology,[54] in a simple style[55] for the sake of young
scholars and those of weaker capacity, and this in the days of our Lord
Pope Innocent IV.’[56] One cannot help noticing the close correspondence
between this and the colophon of the _Astronomia_. The two treatises were
the complement each of the other. They must have been composed about the
same time, and were doubtless meant to serve as text-books to guide the
studies of Frederick’s youth. That this royal pupil should have been led
through astrology to the higher and more enduring wonders of astronomy
need cause no surprise, for such a course was quite in accordance with
the intellectual habits of the age. It may be doubted indeed whether the
men of those times would have shown such perseverance in the observations
and discoveries proper to a pure science of the heavens, had it not
been for the practicable and profitable interest which its application
in astrology furnished. Astronomy, such as it then was, formed the last
and highest study in the Quadrivium.[57] It was here that Scot had
carried off honours at Paris, and now in his _Liber Introductorius_ and
_Astronomia_, we see him imparting the ripe fruits of that diligence to
his royal charge, whose education, so far as regarded formal study, was
thereby brought to a close.

In the year 1209, when Frederick was but fourteen years of age, the
quiet study and seclusion in which he still lived with those who taught
him was brought to an abrupt and, one must think, premature conclusion.
The boy was married, and to a lady ten years his senior, Constance,
daughter of the King of Aragon, and already widow of the King of Hungary.
It is not hard to see that such a union must have been purely a matter
of arrangement. The Prince of Palermo, undergrown and delicate as he
was,[58] promised to be, as King of Sicily and possibly Emperor, the
noblest husband of his time. Pope Innocent III., his guardian, foresaw
this, and chose a daughter of Spain as most fit to occupy the proud
position of Frederick’s wife, queen, and perhaps empress. Had the wishes
of Rome prevailed at the Court of Aragon from the first, this marriage
would have taken place even earlier than it did. The delay seems to have
been owing, not to any reluctance on the part of the bride’s parents,
but solely to the doubt which of two sisters, elder or younger, widow or
maid, should accept the coveted honour.

It was in spring, the loveliest season of the year in that climate, that
the fleet of Spain, sent to bear the bride and her suite, rose slowly
over the sea rim and dropped anchor in the Bay of Palermo. Constantia
came with many in her company, the flower of Catalan and Provençal
chivalry, led by her brother, Count Alfonso. The Bishop of Mazara,
too, was among them, bearing a commission to represent the Pope in
these negotiations and festivities. And now the stately Moorish palace,
with its courtyard, its fountains, and its gardens, became once more a
scene of gaiety, as—in the great hall of forty pillars, beneath a roof
such as Arabian artists alone could frame, carved like a snow cave, or
stained with rich and lovely colour like a mass of jewels set in gold—the
officers of the royal household passed solemnly on to offer homage before
their Prince and his bride. In the six great apartments of state the
frescoed forms of Christian art: Patriarchs in their histories, Moses
and David in their exploits, and the last wild charge of Barbarossa’s
Crusade,[59] looked down upon a moving throng of nobles and commons who
came to present their congratulations, while the plaintive music of lute,
of pipe, and tabor, sighed upon the air, and skilful dancers swam before
the delighted guests in all the fascination of the voluptuous East.

What part could Michael Scot, the grave ecclesiastic, and now doubly
the ‘Master’ as Frederick’s trusted tutor, play in the gay scene of his
pupil’s marriage? For many ages it has been the custom among Italian
scholars, the attached dependants of a noble house, to offer on such
occasions their homage to bride and bridegroom in the form of a learned
treatise; any bookseller’s list of _Nozze_ is enough to show that the
habit exists even at the present day. This then was what Scot did; for
there is every reason to think that the _Physionomia_, which he composed
and dedicated to Frederick, was produced and presented at the time of
the royal marriage. No date suits this publication so well as 1209, and
nothing but the urgent desire of Court and people that the marriage
should prove fruitful can explain, one might add excuse, some passages of
almost fescennine licence which it contains.[60] We seem to find in the
advice of the preface that Frederick should study man, encouraging the
learned to dispute in his presence what may well have been the last word
of a master who saw his pupil passing to scenes of larger and more active
life at an unusually early age, and before he could be fully trusted to
take his due place in the great world of European politics.

The _Physionomia_, however, is too important a work to be dismissed in
a paragraph. Both the subject itself, and the sources from which Scot
drew, deserve longer consideration. The science of physiognomy, as its
name imports, was derived from the Greeks. Achinas, a contemporary of the
Hippocratic school, and Philemon, who is mentioned in the introduction
to Scot’s treatise, seem to have been the earliest writers in this
department of philosophy. It was a spiritual medicine,[61] and formed
part of the singular doctrine of _signatures_, teaching as it did that
the inward dispositions of the soul might be read in visible characters
upon the bodily frame. The Alexandrian school made a speciality of
physiognomy. In Egypt it attained a further development, and various
writings in Greek which expounded the system passed current during the
early centuries of our era under the names of Aristotle and Polemon.
Through the common channel of the Syriac schools and language it reached
the Arabs, and in the ninth century had the fortune to be taken up
warmly by Rases and his followers, who made it a characteristic part of
their medical system. From this source then Scot drew largely; chapters
xxiv.-xxv. in Book II. of his _Physionomia_ correspond closely with the
_De Medicina ad Regem Al Mansorem_[62] of Rases.[63]

Among ancient texts on physiognomy, however, perhaps the most famous
was the _Sirr-el-asrar_, or _Secreta Secretorum_, which was ascribed to
Aristotle. Its origin, like that of other pseudo-Aristotelic writings,
seems to have been Egyptian. When the conquests of Alexander the Great
had opened the way for a new relation between East and West, Egypt, and
especially its capital, Alexandria, became the focus of a new philosophic
influence. The sect of the Essenes, transported hither, had given rise
to the school of the Therapeutae, where Greek theories developed in
a startling direction under the power of Oriental speculation. The
Therapeutae were sun-worshippers, and eager students of ancient and
occult writings, as Josephus[64] tells us the Essenes had been. We find
in the _Abraxas_ gems, of which so large a number has been preserved, an
enduring memorial of these people and their system of thought.[65]

The preface to the _Sirr-el-asrar_ affords several matters which agree
admirably with what we know of the Therapeutae. The precious volume was
the prize of a scholar on his travels, who found it in the possession of
an aged recluse dwelling in the _penetralia_ of a sun-temple built by
Æsculapius.[66] All this is characteristic enough, and when we examine
the substance of the treatise it appears distinctly Therapeutic. Much of
it is devoted to bodily disease, to the regimen of the health, and to
that science of physiognomy which professed to reveal, as in a spiritual
diagnosis, the infirmities of the soul. The ascription of the work
to Aristotle, Alexander’s tutor, seems quite in accordance with this
theory; in short, there is no reason to doubt that it first appeared in
Egypt, where it probably formed one of the most cherished texts of the

The preface to the _Sirr-el-asrar_ throws light not only upon the origin
of the treatise but also upon its subsequent fortunes. It is said to
have been rendered from the Greek into Chaldee or Syriac,[67] and
thence into Arabic, the usual channel by which the remains of ancient
learning have reached the modern world. The translator’s name is given as
Johannes filius Bitricii, but this can hardly have been the well-known
Ibn-el-Bitriq, the freedman of Mamoun. To this latter author indeed, the
_Fihrist_, composed in 987, ascribes the Arabic version of Aristotle’s
_De Cœlo et Mundo_, and of Plato’s _Timaeus_, so that his literary
faculty would seem to accord very well with the task of translating the
_Sirr-el-asrar_. But Foerster has observed[68] that we find no trace
of this book in Arabian literature before the eleventh century. Now
the famous Ibn-el-Bitriq lived in the ninth, as appears from several
considerations. His works were revised by Honain ibn Ishaq (873), and, if
we believe in the authenticity of the _El Hawi_, where he is mentioned
by name, then he must have belonged to an age at least as early as that
of Rases who wrote it. In these perplexing circumstances, Foerster gives
up the attempt to determine who may have been the translator of the
_Sirr-el-asrar_, contenting himself with the conjecture that some unknown
scholar had assumed the name of El Bitriq to give importance to the
production of his pen. We may be excused, however, if we direct attention
to two manuscripts of the British Museum[69] which do not seem to have
been noticed by those who have devoted attention to this obscure subject.
One of these, which is written in a hand of the thirteenth century,
informs us that the man who transcribed it was a certain Said Ibn Butrus
ibn Mansur, a Maronite priest of Lebanon in the diocese of Tripolis, a
prisoner for twelve years in the place where the royal standards were
kept (? at Cairo), who was released from that confinement in the time of
_al Malik an Nazir_. The other—a mere fragment—contains a notice of the
priest Yahyā, or Yuhannā, ibn Butrus, who died in the year 1217 A.D. It
is not unlikely that some confusion might arise between the names Patrick
and Peter, often used interchangeably. ‘Filius Patricii’ then may have
been no assumed designation, but the equivalent of Ibn Butrus, the real
name of this priest of Tripoli, who was perhaps the translator of the
_Sirr-el-asrar_ at the close of the twelfth century.

Those chapters of the _Sirr-el-asrar_ which relate to regimen were
translated into Latin by Johannes Hispalensis. Jourdain identifies this
author with John Avendeath, who worked for the Archbishop of Toledo
between the years 1130 and 1150.[70] But Foerster shows that caution is
needed here.[71] The Latin version was dedicated to Tarasia, Queen of
Spain. A queen of this name certainly lived contemporaneously with John
Avendeath, but she was Queen of Portugal. Another Tarasia, however, was
Queen of Leon from 1176 to 1180. We may observe that this latter epoch
agrees well enough with the lifetime of Ibn Butrus, who died in 1217,
and we find trace of another Johannes Hispanus, who was a monk of Mount
Tabor in 1175. Such a man, who from his situation in Syria could scarcely
have been ignorant of Arabic, and whose nationality agrees so well with
a dedication to the Queen of Spain, and who was a contemporary of
Tarasia of Leon, may well have translated the _Sirr-el-asrar_ into Latin.
That part of the book thus made public in the West appeared under the
following title: ‘De conservatione corporis humani, ad Alexandrum.’ It is
found in several manuscripts of the Laurentian Library in Florence.[72]

Soon afterwards, and probably in the opening years of the thirteenth
century, the whole book was published in a Latin version by the same
Philippus Clericus, with whom we have already become acquainted. We may
recall the fact that he belonged to the diocese of Tripoli, as Ibn Butrus
also did, and as Johannes Hispanus was also a monk of Syria, these three
scholars are seen to be joined by a link of locality highly increasing
the probability that they actually co-operated in the publication
of this hitherto unknown text. In his preface, Philip speaks of the
Arabic manuscript as a precious pearl, discovered while he was still in
Syria. This leads us to think that his work in translating it was done
after he had left the East, and possibly in the course of his voyage
westward. We know that the Hebrew version of Aristotle’s _Meteora_ was
produced in similar circumstances. Samuel ben Juda ben Tibbun says he
completed that translation in the year 1210, while the ship that bore
him from Alexandria to Spain was passing between the isles of Lampadusa
and Pantellaria.[73] However this may be, Philip of Tripoli dedicated
his version of the _Sirr-el-asrar_, which he called the _Secreta
Secretorum_, to the Bishop under whom he had hitherto lived and laboured:
‘Guidoni vere de Valentia, civitatis Tripolis glorioso pontifici’: a name
and title little understood by the copyists, who have subjected them to
strange corruptions.[74]

It is highly in favour of our identifying, as we have already done,
Philip of Tripoli, the translator of the _Secreta_, with Philip of
Salerno, the Clerk Register of Sicily, that we find Michael Scot, who
stood in an undoubtedly close relation to the Clerk Register, showing an
intimate acquaintance with the _Secreta Secretorum_. Foerster has given
us a careful and exact account of several passages in different parts of
the _Physionomia_ of Scot, which have their correspondences in the works
of Philip, so that it is beyond question that the Latin version of the
_Secreta_ was one of the sources from which Scot drew. Before leaving
this part of the subject, we may notice that translations of Philip’s
version into the vernacular languages of Italy, France, and England were
made at an early date, both in prose and verse.[75] The English version
of the _Secreta_ came from the hand of the poet Lydgate.

Another treatise of the same school, to which Scot was also indebted,
is to be found in the _Physionomia_ ascribed, like the _Secreta_, to
Aristotle. The Latin version of this apocryphal work was made, it is
said, directly from a Greek original, by Bartholomew of Messina. This
author wrote for Manfred of Sicily, and at a time which excludes the
notion that Scot could have seen or employed his work. Yet several
passages in the preface to Book II. of Scot’s _Physionomia_ have
evidently been borrowed from that of the Pseudo-Aristotle. As no
Arabic version of the treatise is known to exist, the fact of this
correspondence is one of the proofs on which we may rely in support of
the conclusion that Scot must have known and used the Greek language in
his studies.

The last two chapters of Book I. in the _Physionomia_ of Scot show
plainly that he had the Arabic version of Aristotle’s _History of
Animals_ before him as he wrote. We shall recur to this matter when we
come to deal with the versions which Scot made expressly from these
books. Meanwhile let us guard against the impression naturally arising
from our analysis of the _Physionomia_, that it was a mere compilation.
Many parts of the work show no correspondence with any other treatise on
the subject that is known to us, and these must be held as the results of
the author’s own observations. The arrangement of the whole is certainly
original, nor can we better conclude our study of the _Physionomia_,
than by giving a comprehensive view of its contents in their order. The
work is divided into three books, each having its own introduction. The
first expounds the mysteries of generation and birth, and reaches, as we
have already remarked, even beyond humanity to a considerable part of
the animal world so much studied by the Arabians. The second expounds
the signs of the different complexions, as these become visible in any
part of the body, or are discovered by dreams. The third examines the
human frame member by member, explaining what signs of the inward nature
may be read in each. The whole forms a very complete and interesting
compendium of the art of physiognomy as then understood, and must have
seemed not unworthy of the author, nor unsuitable as an offering to the
young prince, who by marriage was about to enter on the great world of
affairs, where knowledge of men would henceforth be all-important to his
success and happiness. The book attained a wide popularity in manuscript,
and the invention of printing contributed to increase its circulation in
Europe:[76] no less than eighteen editions are said to have been printed
between 1477 and 1660.[77]

In the copy preserved at Milan, the _Physionomia_ is placed immediately
after the _Astronomia_, or _Liber Particularis_. A similar arrangement
is found in the Oxford manuscript. This fact is certainly in favour
of the view we have adopted, and would seem to fix very plainly
the date and relation of these works. They stand beside the _Liber
Introductorius_, and, together with it, form the only remains we have of
Scot’s first literary activity, being publications that were called out
in the course of his scholastic duty to the King of Sicily. The _Liber
Introductorius_ opens this series. It is closely related by the nature of
its subject-matter to the _Astronomia_, or _Liber Particularis_, while
the _Physionomia_ forms a fitting close to the others with which it is
thus associated. In this last treatise Michael Scot sought to fulfil
his charge by sending forth his pupil to the great world, not wholly
unprovided with a guide to what is far more abstruse and incalculable
than any celestial theorem, the mystery of human character and action.

In presenting the _Physionomia_ to Frederick, Scot took what proved a
long farewell of the Court; for many years passed before he saw the
Emperor again. The great concourse of the Queen’s train, together with
the assembly of Frederick’s subjects at Palermo, bred a pestilence under
the dangerous heats of spring. A sudden horror fell on the masques and
revels of these bright days, with the death of the Queen’s brother,
Count Alfonso of Provence, and several others, so that soon the fair
gardens and pleasant palace were emptied and deserted as a place where
only the plague might dare to linger. The King and Queen, with five
hundred Spanish knights and a great Sicilian following, passed eastward;
to Cefalù first, and then on to Messina and Catania, as if they could
not put too great a distance between themselves and the infected spot.
Meanwhile Michael Scot, whose occupation in Palermo, and indeed about
the King, was now gone, set sail in the opposite direction and sought
the coast of Spain. Whether the idea of this voyage was his own, was
the result of a royal commission, or had been suggested by some of the
learned who came with Queen Constantia from her native land, it is now
impossible to say. It was in any case a fortunate venture, which did
much, not only for Scot’s personal fame, but for the general advantage in
letters and in arts.



In following the course which Michael Scot held in his voyage to Spain,
we approach what was beyond all doubt the most important epoch in the
life of that scholar. Hitherto we have seen him as the student preparing
at Paris or Bologna for a brilliant future, or as the tutor of a youthful
monarch, essaying some literary ventures, which justified the position
he held in Sicily, and recommended him for future employment. But the
moment was now come which put him at last in possession of an opportunity
suitable to his training and talents. We are to see how he won in Spain
his greatest reputation in connection with the most important literary
enterprise of the age, and one which is indeed not the least remarkable
of all time.

The part which the Arabs took in the intellectual awakening of Europe
is a familiar theme of early mediæval history. That wonderful people,
drawn from what was then an unknown land of the East, and acted on
by the mighty sense of religion and nationality which Mohammed was
able to communicate, fell like a flood upon the weak remains of older
civilisations, and made huge inroads upon the Christian Empire of
the East. Having reached this point in their career of conquest they
became in their turn the conquered, not under force of arms indeed,
but as subdued by the still vital intellectual power possessed by those
whom they had in a material sense overcome. In their new seat by the
streams of the Euphrates they learned from their Syrian subjects, now
become their teachers, the treasures of Greek philosophy which had been
translated into the Aramaic tongue. Led captive as by a spell, the
Caliphs of the Abassid line, especially Al Mansour, Al Rachid, and Al
Mamoun, encouraged with civil honours and rewards the labours of these
learned men. Happy indeed was the Syrian who brought to life another
relic of the mighty dead, or who gave to such works a new immortality by
rendering them into the Arabic language.

Meanwhile the progress of the Ommiad arms, compelled to seek new
conquests by the defeat they had sustained in the East from the
victorious Abbassides, was carrying the Moors west and ever westward
along the northern provinces of Africa. Egypt and Tripoli and Tunis
successively fell before their victorious march; Algiers and Morocco
shared the same fate, and at last, crossing the Straits of Gibraltar, the
Moors overran Spain, making a new Arabia of that western peninsula, which
in position and physical features bore so great a likeness to the ancient
cradle of their race.

It is true indeed that long ere the period of which we write the Moorish
power in the West had received a severe check, and had, for at least a
century, entered on its period of decay. The battle of Tours, fought
in 732, had driven the infidels from France. The Christian kingdoms of
Spain itself had rallied their courage and their forces, and, in a scene
of chivalry, which inspired many a tale and song, had freed at least the
northern provinces of that country from the alien power. But weapons of
war, as we have already seen in the case of the Arabs themselves, are
not the only means of conquest. The surest title of the Moors to glory
lies in the prevailing intellectual influence they were able to exert
over that Christendom which, in a political sense, they had failed to
subdue and dispossess. The scene we have just witnessed in the East was
now repeated in Spain, but was repeated in an exactly opposite sense. The
mental impulse received from the remains of Greek literature at Bagdad
now became in its turn the motive power which not only sufficed to carry
these forgotten treasures westward in the course of Moorish conquest, but
succeeded, through that nation, in rousing the Latin races to a sense of
their excellence, and a generous ambition to become possessed of all the
culture and discipline they were capable of yielding.

The chief centre of this influence, as it was the chief scene of contact
between the two races, naturally lay in Spain. During the ages of Moorish
dominion the Christians of this country had lived in peace and prosperity
under the generous protection of their foreign rulers. To a considerable
extent indeed the Moors and Spaniards amalgamated by intermarriage. The
language of the conquerors was familiarly employed by their Spanish
subjects, and these frequented in numbers the famous schools of science
and literature established by the Moors at Cordova, and in other
cities of the kingdom. Proof of all this remains in the public acts of
the Castiles, which continued to be written in Arabic as late as the
fourteenth century, and were signed by Christian prelates in the same
characters;[78] in the present language of Spain which retains so many
words of eastern origin; but, above all, in the profound influence, now
chiefly engaging our attention, which has left its mark upon almost every
branch of our modern science, literature, and art.

This result was largely owing to a singular enterprise of the twelfth
century with which the learned researches of Jourdain have made us
familiar.[79] Scholars from other lands, such as Constantine, Gerbert,
afterwards Pope Sylvester II., Adelard of Bath, Hermann, and Alfred
and Daniel de Morlay, had indeed visited Spain during that age and
the one which preceded it, and had, as individuals, made a number of
translations from the Arabic, among which were various works in medicine
and mathematics, as well as the first version of the Koran. But in the
earlier half of the twelfth century, and precisely between the years
1130 and 1150, this desultory work was reduced to a system by the
establishment of a regular school of translation in Toledo. The credit
of this foundation, which did so much for mediæval science and letters,
belongs to Don Raymon, Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain. This
enlightened and liberal churchman was by origin a French monk, born at
Agen, whom Bernard, a previous Primate, had brought southward in his
train, as he returned from a journey beyond the Pyrenees. Don Raymon
associated with himself his Archdeacon, Dominicus Gundisalvus, and a
converted Jew commonly known as Johannes Hispalensis or John of Seville,
whom Jourdain has identified with Johannes Avendeath: this latter being
in all probability his proper name. These formed the heads of the
Toledo school in its earliest period, and the enterprise was continued
throughout the latter half of the century by other scholars, of whom
Gherardus Cremonensis the elder was probably the chief. Versions of the
voluminous works of Avicenna, as well as of several treatises by Algazel
and Alpharabius, and of a number of medical writings, were the highly
prized contribution of the Toledo school to the growing library of
foreign authors now accessible in the Latin language.

It is probable that when Michael Scot left Sicily he did so with the
purpose of joining this important enterprise. His movements naturally
suggest such an idea, as he proceeded to Toledo, still the centre of
these studies, and won, during the years of his residence there, the name
by which he is best known in the world of letters, that of the chief
exponent of the Arabo-Aristotelic philosophy in the West.

The name and fame of Aristotle, never quite forgotten even in the darkest
age,[80] and now known and extolled among Moorish scholars, formed indeed
the ground of that immense reputation which Arabian philosophy enjoyed
in Europe. The Latin schools had long been familiar with the logical
writings of Aristotle, but the modern spirit, soon to show itself as it
were precociously in Bacon and Albertus Magnus, was already awake, and
under its influence men had begun to demand more than the mere training
of the mind in abstract reasoning. Even the application of dialectics to
evolve or support systems of doctrine drawn from Holy Scripture could not
content this new curiosity. Men were becoming alive to the larger book
of nature which lay open around them, and, confounded at first by the
complexity of unnumbered facts in sea and sky, in earth and air, they
began to long for help from the great master of philosophy which might
guide their first trembling footsteps in so strange and untrodden a realm
of knowledge. Nor was the hope of such aid denied them. There was still a
tradition concerning the lost works of Aristotle on physics. The Moors,
it was found, boasted their possession, and even claimed to have enriched
these priceless pages by comments which were still more precious than the
original text itself.

The mere hope that it might be so was enough to beget a new crusade,
when western scholars vied with each other in their efforts to recover
these lost treasures and restore to the schools of Europe the impulse
and guidance so eagerly desired. Such had, in fact, been the aim of
Archbishop Raymon and the successive translators of the Toledan school.
The important place they assigned to Avicenna among those whose works
they rendered into Latin was due to the fact that this author had come
to be regarded in the early part of the twelfth century as the chief
exponent of Aristotle, whose spirit he had inherited, and on whose works
he had founded his own.

The part of the Aristotelic writings to which Michael Scot first turned
his attention would seem to have been the history of animals. This, in
the Greek text, consisted of three distinct treatises: first the _De
Historiis Animalium_ in ten books; next the _De Partibus Animalium_ in
four books; and lastly, the _De Generatione Animalium_ in five books.
The Arabian scholars, however, who paid great attention to this part
of natural philosophy and made many curious observations in it, were
accustomed to group these three treatises under the general title _De
Animalibus_, and to number their books or chapters consecutively from one
to nineteen, probably for convenience in referring to them. As Scot’s
work consisted of a translation from Arabic texts it naturally followed
the form which had been sanctioned by the use and wont of the eastern

At least two versions of the _De Animalibus_ appeared from the pen of
Scot. These have sometimes been confounded with each other, but are
really quite distinct, representing the labours of two different Arabian
commentators on the text of Aristotle. We may best commence by examining
that of which least is known, the _De Animalibus ad Caesarem_, as it is
commonly called, and this the rather that there is good reason to suppose
it represents the first Arabian work on Natural History which came into
Scot’s hands.

Nothing is known certainly regarding the author of this commentary.
Jourdain and Steinschneider conclude with reason that the text must have
been an Arabic and not a Hebrew one, as Camus[81] and Wüstenfeld[82]
contend. No one, however, has hitherto ventured any suggestion throwing
light on the personality of the writer. The colophon to the copy of
Scot’s version in the _Bibliotheca Angelica_ of Rome contains the word
_Alphagiri_, which would seem to stand for the proper name Al Faquir. But
in all probability, as we shall presently show, this may be merely the
name of the Spanish Jew who aided Michael Scot in the work of translation.

The expression ‘secundum extractionem Michaelis Scoti,’ which is
used in the same colophon, would seem to indicate that this version,
voluminous as it is, was no more than a compend of the original. The
title of the manuscript too: ‘Incipit flos primi libri Aristotelis de
Animalibus’ agrees curiously with this, and with the word _Abbreviatio_
(_Avicennae_), used to describe Scot’s second version of the _De
Animalibus_ of which we are presently to speak. Are we then to suppose
that in each case the translator exercised his faculty of selection, and
that the form of these compends was due, not to Avicenna, nor to the
unknown author of the text called in Scot’s version the _De Animalibus ad
Caesarem_, but to Scot himself? The expressions just cited would seem to
open the way for such a conclusion.

The contents of the _De Animalibus ad Caesarem_ may be inferred from
the Prologue which is as follows: ‘In Nomine Domini Nostri Jesu Christi
Omnipotentis Misericordis et Pii, translatio tractatus primi libri quem
composuit Aristoteles in cognitione naturalium animalium, agrestium
et marinorum, et in illo est conjunctionis animalium modus et modus
generationis illorum cum coitu, cum partitione membrorum interiorum
et apparentium, et cum meditatione comparationum eorum, et actionum
eorum, et juvamentorum et nocumentorum eorum, et qualiter venantur,
et in quibus locis sunt, et quomodo moventur de loco ad locum propter
dispositionem presentis aetatis, aestatis et hiemis, et unde est vita
cuiuslibet eorum, scilicet modorum avium, et luporum, et piscium maris
et qui ambulant in eo.’ It seems tolerably certain that the substance
of this prologue came from the Arabic original, which must have
commenced with the ascription of praise to God so commonly employed by
Mohammedans: ‘Bi-smilláhi-r-rahhmáni-r-rahheém’ (In the Name of God, the
Compassionate; the Merciful).[83] The clumsiness of the Latin, which
here, as in the body of the work, seems to labour heavily in the track
of a foreign text,[84] adds force to this assumption. The hand of Scot
is seen, however, where the name of our Saviour has been substituted for
that of Allah, and also in the closing words, which ring with a strong
reminiscence of the eighth Psalm. The churchman betrays himself here
as in not a few other places which might be quoted from his different

By far the most interesting matter, however, which offers itself for
our consideration here, lies in the comparison we are now to make
between this book and a former work of Scot, the _De Physionomia_. This
comparison, which has never before been attempted, will throw light on
both these texts, but has a special value as it affords the means of
dating, at least approximately, the composition of Scot’s version of the
_De Animalibus ad Caesarem_.

We have already remarked that the last two chapters of the first book of
the _Physionomia_ suggest that in compiling them the author had before
him an Arabic treatise on Natural History. A natural conjecture leads
us further to suppose that this may have been the original from which
he translated the _De Animalibus ad Caesarem_, and this idea becomes a
certainty when we pursue the comparison a little more closely. Take for
example this curious passage from the _Physionomia_ (Book I. chap, ii.):
‘Incipiunt pili paulatim oriri in pectine unitas quorum dicitur femur
… item sibi vox mutatur.’ Its obscurity disappears when we confront it
with the corresponding words in the _De Animalibus ad Caesarem_, and thus
discover what was no doubt the original source from which Scot derived
it: ‘Incipiunt pili oriri in pectore _Kameon alkaratoki_, et in isto
tempore mutatur vox eius.’[85] There is no need to extend the comparison
any further than this significant passage. Doubt may arise regarding
the depth and accuracy of Scot’s knowledge of the Arabic tongue, the
nature of the text that lay before him, or the reason he may have had
for retaining foreign words in the one version which he translated in
the other; but surely this may be regarded as now clearly established,
that some part of the first book of the _Physionomia_ was derived by
compilation from the same text which appeared in a Latin dress as the _De
Animalibus ad Caesarem_, and that this source was an Arabic one.

This point settled, it becomes possible to establish another. One of the
copies of the _De Animalibus ad Caesarem_[86] has the following colophon:
‘Completus est liber Aristotelis de animalibus, translatus a magistro
michaele in tollecto de arabico in latinum.’ Now if the version was made
in Toledo, it was probably posterior in date to the _Physionomia_. This
indeed is no more than might have been asserted on the ground of common
likelihood; for, when a compilation and a complete version of one of
the sources from which it was derived are both found passing under the
name of the same author, it is but natural to suppose that the first was
made before the other, and that in the interval the author had conceived
the idea of producing in a fuller form a work he had already partially

Resuming then the results we have reached, it appears that Scot had met
with this Arabic commentary on the Natural History of Aristotle while he
was still in Sicily, and had made extracts from it for his _Physionomia_.
Coming to Spain he probably carried the manuscript with him, and as
his version of the _De Animalibus ad Caesarem_ seems to have been the
first complete translation he made from the Arabic, and to have been
published shortly after he came to the Castiles, he may possibly have
begun work upon it even before his arrival there. On every account,
there being no positive evidence to the contrary, we may conjecture that
the _De Animalibus ad Caesarem_, like the _Physionomia_, belongs to the
year 1209. If the latter work appeared at Palermo in time for the royal
marriage, which took place in spring, the former may well have been
completed and published towards the end of the same year, when Scot had
no doubt been already some time settled in Toledo.

The second form in which Michael Scot produced his work upon the Natural
History of Aristotle was that of a version called the _Abbreviatio
Avicennae_. The full title as it appears in the printed copy[87] is:
‘Avicenna de Animalibus per Magistrum Michaelem Scotum de Arabico in
Latinum translatus.’ Like the _De Animalibus ad Caesarem_ it consists of
nineteen books, thus comprehending the three Aristotelic treatises in one

The name of _Ibn Sina_ or Avicenna, the author of the Arabic original, is
significant, as it enables us to connect in a remarkable way the present
labours of Scot’s pen with those which had in a past age proceeded from
the school of translators at Toledo, and to place the _Abbreviatio_ in
its true relation with the system of versions which had been published
there nearly a century before. We have already remarked that Don Raymon
directed the attention of his translators to Avicenna as the best
representative, both of Aristotle himself and of the Arabian wisdom
which had gathered about his writings. A manuscript of great interest
preserved in the library of the Vatican[88] shows what the labours of
Gundisalvus, Avendeath, and their coadjutors had been, and how far they
had proceeded in the task of making this author accessible to Latin
students. From it we learn that the _Logic_, the _Physics_, the _De
Cœlo et Mundo_, the _Metaphysics_; the _De Anima_, called also _Liber
sextus de Naturalibus_; and the _De generatione Lapidum_ of Avicenna,
had come from the school of Toledo during the twelfth century in a
Latin dress. The last-named treatise was apparently a comment on the
_Meteora_ of Aristotle, and the whole belonged to that _Kitab Alchefâ_,
which was called by the Latins the _Assephae_, _Asschiphe_ or _Liber
Sufficientiae_. This collection was said to form but the first and
most common of the three bodies of philosophy composed by Avicenna. It
represented the teaching of Aristotle and the Peripatetics, while the
second expounded the system of Avicenna himself, and the third contained
the more esoteric and occult doctrines of natural philosophy.[89] Of
these the first alone had reached the Western schools.

It is plain then that until Michael Scot took the work in hand Toledo
had not completed the Latin version of Avicenna by translating that part
of the _Alchefâ_ which concerned the Natural History of Animals. The
_Abbreviatio Avicennae_ thus came to supply the defect and to crown the
labours of the ancient college of translators. This place of honour is
actually given to it in the Vatican manuscript just referred to, where
it follows the _De generatione Lapidum_, and forms the fitting close of
that remarkable series and volume. Thus, while the _De Animalibus ad
Caesarem_ connects itself with the _Physionomia_, and with Scot’s past
life in Sicily, the _Abbreviatio Avicennae_ joins him closely and in a
very remarkable way with the whole tradition of the Toledo school, of
which, by this translation, he at once became not the least distinguished

[Illustration: FROM M.S. FONDO VATICANO 4428, p. 158, _recto_]

The authority of this manuscript, now perhaps for the first time
appealed to, is sufficient not only to determine the relation of
Scot’s work to that of the earlier Toledan school, but even, by a most
fortunate circumstance, enables us to feel sure of the exact date when
the translation of the _Abbreviatio_ was made. For the colophon to the
Vatican manuscript, brief as it is, contains in one line a fact of the
utmost interest and importance to all students of the life of Scot.
It is as follows: ‘Explicit anno Domini mºcºcºx.’[90] The researches
of Jourdain had the merit of making public two colophons from the
manuscripts of Paris, containing the date of another and later work of
Scot,[91] but since the days of that savant no further addition of this
valuable kind has been made to our knowledge of the philosopher’s life.
The date just cited from the Vatican copy of the _Abbreviatio_ shows,
however, that further inquiry in this direction need not be abandoned as
useless. We now know accurately the time when this version was completed,
and find the date to be such as accords exactly with our idea that Scot
must have quitted Sicily soon after the marriage of Frederick; for the
year 1210 may be taken as a fixed point determining the time when he
first became definitely connected with the Toledo school. It will be
remembered that we anticipated this result of research so far as to use
it in our attempt to conjecture the date of Scot’s birth.[92]

Like the _De Animalibus ad Caesarem_, the _Abbreviatio Avicennae_
bears a dedication to Frederick conceived in the following terms: ‘_O
Frederick, Lord of the World and Emperor, receive with devotion this
book of Michael Scot, that it may be a grace unto thy head and a chain
about thy neck._’[93] It will always be matter of doubt whether in this
address Scot appealed to a taste for natural history already formed in
his pupil before he left Palermo, or whether the interest subsequently
shown by this monarch in studying the habits of animals was awakened by
the perusal of these two volumes. In any case they must have done not a
little to guide both his interest and his researches. The chroniclers
tell us of Frederick’s elephant, which was sent to Cremona, of the
cameleopard, the camels and dromedaries, the lions, leopards, panthers,
and rare birds which the royal menagerie contained, and of a white bear
which, being very uncommon, formed one of the gifts presented by the
Emperor on an important occasion. We hear too that Frederick, not content
with gathering such rarities under his own observation, entered upon more
than one curious experiment in this branch of science. Desiring to learn
the origin of language he had some children brought up, so Salimbene
tells us, beyond hearing of any spoken tongue. In the course of another
inquiry he caused the surgeon’s knife to be ruthlessly employed upon
living men that he might lay bare the secrets and study the process of
digestion. If these experiments do not present the moral character of the
Emperor in a very attractive light, they may at least serve to show how
keenly he was interested in the study of nature.

This interest indeed went so far as to lead Frederick to join the
number of royal authors by publishing a work on falconry.[94] In it he
ranges over all the species of birds then known, and insists on certain
rarities, such as a white cockatoo, which had been sent to him by the
Sultan from Cairo. He thus appears in his own pages, not merely as a keen
sportsman, but as one who took no narrow interest in natural history.
Clearly the dedication of the _De Animalibus_ and the _Abbreviatio
Avicennae_ was no empty compliment as it flowed from the pen of Scot.
He had directed his first labours from Toledo to one who could highly
appreciate them, and to these works must be ascribed, in no small
measure, the growth of the Emperor’s interest in a subject then very
novel and little understood.

As regards the _Abbreviatio Avicennae_ indeed, we have actual evidence of
the esteem in which Frederick held it. The book remained treasured in the
Imperial closet at Melfi for more than twenty years, and, when at last
the Emperor consented to its publication, so important was the moment
deemed, that a regular writ passed the seals giving warrant for its
transcription.[95] Master Henry of Colonia[96] was the person selected
by favour of Frederick for this work, and, as most of the manuscripts of
the _Abbreviatio_ now extant have a colophon referring in detail to this
transaction, we may assume that Henry’s copy, made from that belonging to
the Emperor, was the source from which all others have been derived.

This Imperial original would seem to be more nearly represented by
the Vatican copy[97] than by any other which remains in the libraries
of Europe. From it we discover that the Arabic names with which the
_Abbreviatio_ abounds were given in Latin in the margin of the original
manuscript, which Scot sent to the Emperor.[98] These hard words and
their explanations were afterwards gathered in a glossary, and inscribed
at the end of the treatise; an improvement which was probably due to
Henry of Colonia. The glossary has, however, been quite neglected
by later copyists, nor does it appear in the printed edition of the
_Abbreviatio Avicennae_. The completeness with which it is found in the
Vatican manuscript shows the close relation which that copy holds to the
one first made by the Emperor’s permission. The Chigi manuscript[99]
seems to be the only other in which the glossary is to be found. It
therefore ranks beside that of the Vatican, but is inferior to it as it
presents the glossary in a less complete form.

The originality of the Vatican text perhaps appears also in the curious
triplet with which it closes: ‘Liber iste inceptus est et expletus cum
adiutorio Jesu Christi qui vivit, etc.

    Frenata penna, finito nunc Avicenna
    Libro Caesario, gloria summa Deo
    Dextera scriptoris careat gravitate doloris.’[100]

Several other copies of the _Abbreviatio_ have the first two lines, but
this alone contains the third. In the Chigi manuscript, the place of
these verses is occupied by a curious feat of language:—

    latinum  arabicum  sclauonicum  teutonicum  arabicum
    Felix    el melic  dober        Friderich   salemelich.[101]

To whatever period it belongs, the writer’s purpose was doubtless to
recall to the mind the four nations over which Frederick II. ruled, and
the splendid kingdoms of Sicily, Germany, and Jerusalem which he gathered
in one under his imperial power.

In the Laurentian Library there is a valuable manuscript, written during
the summer and autumn of 1266, for the monks of Santa Croce.[102] It
contains the _De Animalibus ad Caesarem_; the _Abbreviatio Avicennae_,
and, as a third and concluding article, an independent version of the
_Liber de Partibus Animalium_, corresponding, as has been said, to books
xi.-xiv. of the other versions which the volume contains. Bandini, in the
printed catalogue of the library, asserts that this third translation,
unlike the two which precede it, was made from the Greek. This is
probably correct, as it was only the Greek text which treated these
four chapters of the Natural History as a distinct work. He further
ascribes the version to Michael Scot, relying no doubt on the general
composition of the volume, for this particular translation does not seem
to contain any direct evidence of authorship. Thus the doubt expressed
by Jourdain in this matter[103] is not without reason, though the balance
of probability would seem to incline in favour of Bandini’s opinion; for
such a volume can scarcely be assumed to have been a mere miscellany
without clear evidence that the contents come from more than one author.
Taking it for granted then that the _De Partibus Animalium_ came from
Scot’s pen, then this is the third form in which his labours on the
Natural History of Aristotle appeared.

In any case, however, his chief merit in this department of study
belonged to Michael Scot as the exponent of the Arabian naturalists.
It is difficult for any one who has not read the books in question to
form an adequate idea of their contents, and still more of their style;
even from the most careful description. We are made to feel that the
task of the translator must have been a very difficult one. There is a
concentration combined with great wealth of detail, and withal a constant
nimble transition from one subject to another, seemingly remote, under
the suggestion of some subtle connection, which result in a style almost
baffling to one who sought to reproduce it in his comparatively slow and
clumsy Latin.

No greater contrast could be imagined than that which separates such
works from those which are the production of our modern writers on the
same subject. Nor does this difference depend, as one might suppose,
on the fact that a wider field of observation is open to us, and more
adequate collections of facts are at our disposal. Rather is it the case
that between ancients and moderns, between the eastern and western
world, there is an entirely different understanding of the whole subject.
A different principle of arrangement is at work, and results in the
wide diversity of manner which strikes us as soon as we open the _De
Animalibus_ or the _Abbreviatio_. We find ourselves in the presence of a
system of ideas, more or less abstract, which a wealth of facts derived
from keen and wide observation of the world of nature is employed to
illustrate. There is a finer division than with us. The unit in these
works is not the species nor even the individual, but some single
part or passion. This the author follows through all he knew of the
multitudinous maze of nature, comparing and discerning and recording with
a _bizarrerie_ which comes to resemble nothing so much as the fantastic
dance of form and colour in a kaleidoscope.

‘Birds,’ says Avicenna,[104] ‘have a way of life that is peculiar to
themselves. Those that are long-necked drink by the mouth, then lift
their head till the water runs down their neck. The reason of this is
that their neck is long and narrow, so that they cannot satisfy their
thirst by putting beak in water and straightway drinking. There is,
however, a great difference between different birds in their way of
drinking, and the mountain hog loveth roots to which his tusk helpeth,
wherewith he turneth up the ground and breaketh out the roots. Six days
or thereabout are proper for his fattening, wherein he drinketh not for
three, and there are some who feed their hogs and yet will not water them
for perchance seven days on end. And in their fattening all animals are
helped by moderate and gentle exercise, save the hog, who fatteneth lying
in the mud, and that mightily, for thereby his pores are shut upon him so
that he loseth nothing by evaporation. And the hog will fight with the
wolf, and that is his nature, and cows fatten on every windy thing, such
as vetches, beans, and barley, and if their horns be anointed with soft
wax, straightway, even while still upon the living animal, they become
soft, and if the horns of ox or cow be anointed with marrow, oil, or
pitch, this easeth them of the pain in their feet after a journey.’

In another place[105] he continues: ‘Some animals have teeth which serve
them not save for fighting, and not for the mastication of their food.
Such are the hog and the elephant, for the elephant’s tusks are of use
to him in this matter as we have said. And there are animals which make
no use of their teeth save for eating or fighting, nay, I believe that
every animal having teeth will fight with them upon occasion, and some
there are whose teeth are sharp and stand well apart, so that they are
therewith furnished to tear prey: such is the lion. And those animals
that have need to crop their food, as grass and the like, from the
ground, have level and regular teeth, and not long tusks or canines,
which would hinder them from cropping; and since in some kinds the males
are more apt to anger than the females, tusks have been given them that
they may defend the females, because these are weaker in themselves and
of a worse complexion, and this is true in a general way of all animals,
even in those kinds that eat no flesh, and need not their tusks for
eating, but only for defence, such as boars, and this is the reason why
they have the strength of which we have just spoken. It is the same
with the camel, and so we pass to speak of this general truth as it
appears with regard to all other means of defence. Hence hath the stag
his horn and not the hind; the ram and not the ewe; the he-goat and not
his female, and fish which eat not flesh have no need of teeth that are

The city where these strange writings were deciphered and translated into
Latin, being itself so strange and remote from the ways of modern life,
had a certain poetic fitness as the scene where Michael Scot undertook
his labours upon the Arabian authors. No passage of all their texts
was more bizarre and tortuous than the mass of intricate lanes which
formed then, as they form to-day, the thoroughfares of communication in
Toledo. No hidden jewel of knowledge and observation could surprise and
reward the translator in the midst of his tedious labours with a flash
of sudden light and glory more unexpectedly delicious than that felt by
the traveller, when, after long wandering in that maze and labyrinth, he
finds a wider air; a stronger light beats before him, beckoning, and in a
moment he stands in the full sunshine of the _plaza mayor_, with space to
see and light to show the wonders of mind and hand, and all the toil of
past ages in the fabric of the great cathedral.

Such as it now stands, the Cathedral of Toledo had not yet begun to rise
above ground when Michael Scot had his residence there, but enough of
the ancient city remains to show what Toledo must have been like in these
early days. The splendid and commanding site, swept about by the waves of
the Tagus; the famous bridge of Alcantara; the steep slope of approach
crowned by ancient fortifications; and above all the massed and massive
houses of the old town, so closely crowded together as hardly to give
room for streets that should rather be called lanes; all this, beneath
the unchanging sky of the south, recalls sufficiently what must have
been the surroundings of Scot’s life during ten laborious years. Even
yet, where white-wash peels and stucco fails, strange records of that
forgotten past reveal themselves in the walls and on the house fronts:
sculptured stones of every age; bas-reliefs, arabesques; windows in the
delicate Moorish manner of twin arches, and a central shaft with carved
cornices, long built up and forgotten till accident has revealed them.

Here then, perhaps in some house still standing, the scholar come from
Sicily made his home. The quiet courtyard is forgotten; the _azulejos_
have disappeared from walls and pavement; the rich wood-work of the
ceilings, still bearing dim traces of colour and gold, looks down on
the life of another age; even the curious cedar book-chest has crumbled
to dust, for all its delicate defence of ironwork spreading away like a
spider’s web from hinges and from lock. But the name and the fame endure,
and the years which Michael Scot spent in Toledo have left a deep mark
upon that and every succeeding age.



The Moorish schools of Spain were famous, not only for their researches
in natural history, but also for the interest they took in chemistry,
then called alchemy: a name which sufficiently indicates the nation
which chiefly pursued these studies, and the language that recorded
their progress. The practical turn taken by alchemy, as the foundation
of a scientific _materia medica_ in minerals, is shown by the writings
of Rases. This author, who belonged to the ninth and tenth centuries
(860-940), produced a considerable work on medicine in which he devoted
special attention to the diseases of children. Under his name appeared
several alchemical writings, either his own or the productions of the
school which followed his teaching and borrowed his name.

Michael Scot, as we know, had become familiar with the works of Rases
while still in Sicily, and thought so highly of the _De Medicina_ as to
borrow thence for his treatise on physiognomy no fewer than thirty-one
chapters relating to that subject.[106] It is a natural conjecture then
which leads us to find in his acquaintance with this author’s writings
the starting-point of Scot’s interest both in medicine and in alchemy.
Leaving for the present what may hereafter be said of his name and fame
as a physician, let us examine the origin and nature of his work as a
student of the Arabian chemistry. We have reached what would seem to be
the proper moment for such an inquiry. The treatises of Michael Scot on
this subject are not dated indeed, but their form shows them to belong
to the epoch of his work as a translator. They were therefore probably
produced during the period of his residence at Toledo, and as there
is a long interval, otherwise unaccounted for, between 1210, when the
_Abbreviatio Avicenna_ appeared, and the date of his next publication
some seven years later, this blank cannot be better filled than by
supposing that it was during these years he found time for the study of
alchemy, and for the translation or composition of the writings in that
branch of science which still bear his name.

In this, as in almost all his other studies, Michael Scot sat at the
feet of Eastern masters. But the Arabians themselves had derived their
chemical science, at least in its first principles and primitive
processes, from still older peoples. If we are to understand the progress
of human thought in this science we must trace it from the beginning,
following again that beaten track of tradition by which not physiognomy
and alchemy alone, but almost all the secrets of early times, have
reached the modern world.

Primitive chemistry was closely connected with the still older art of
metallurgy, out of which it arose by a natural process of development.
Those who worked with ores soon discovered the secret of alloys, whereby
a considerable quantity of baser metal, such as copper, lead or tin,
could be added to gold or silver, so as greatly to increase the bulk
of the whole without injuring either its appearance or usefulness. The
problem of the crown set before Archimedes, and happily solved by that
philosopher in the bath, shows how dexterously alloys were used by the
Greeks, and what subtle means were necessary for their detection.

M. Berthelot has reminded us[107] that the transmission of receipts
for such processes from early times to our own has been naturally and
inevitably secured by the unbroken continuity of practice in the arts
which gave them birth, and that they thus passed safely from generation
to generation, and even spread from the tribes that originated them
to other and distant peoples. He cites in support of this observation
a papyrus of the third century, preserved at Leyden, which, he says,
contains what are substantially the same directions as those of the
chief mediæval authorities in such matters: the _Mappae Clavicula_ and
the _Compositiones ad Tingenda_.[108] These receipts are not unnaturally
entitled ‘How to make Gold,’ and it is curious to find in them the
veritable starting-point of the dreams which made so many a furnace
smoke, and so many a crucible glow during the course of centuries, in the
vain hope of effecting an actual transmutation of substance.

Thus it was that in the first ages, long before authentic record, in the
dimness of early Egyptian history, or of that still more ancient Pelasgic
civilisation from which the pyramid-builders learned so much, the germs
of this science may already be perceived. Only one source of genuine gold
seems then to have been known: the mines of Ophir. This circumstance,
by making the supplies of precious metal small and uncertain, mightily
encouraged the art which taught men to counterfeit its appearance in
a colourable way. How this was done may be judged of by the receipts
themselves. The _Mappae Clavicula_, for instance, has the following:
‘To make gold. Silver, one pound; copper, half-a-pound; gold, a pound;
melt, etc.’ Here indeed a considerable proportion of the precious metal
itself was required, but there are other receipts which dispense with
any such admixture. It is said, for example, that one hundred parts of
copper and seventeen of zinc joined in a state of fusion with divers
small proportions of magnesia, sal ammoniac, quicklime, and tartar, yield
an alloy which is fine in grain and malleable, which may be polished and
used in damascening just as if it were the pure gold that it has all
the appearance of being. Such then were the receipts which formed the
hereditary riches of the mighty clan of the _Smiths_. It is easy to see
how the famous ‘powder of projection,’ so much sought in later times,
was, in fact, but the transfiguration of one of these formulae.

When, during the early centuries of the Christian era, the traditions of
Greece found a new home in lower Egypt, and especially in Alexandria,
they were profoundly influenced by the still more ancient philosophy of
the East. We have already remarked this in the case of another science,
that of physiognomy, but the same influence may also be traced in the
modification it brought to the notions of primitive chemistry. The
Chaldæans and Persians had long believed that the heavens influenced the
earth, and were capable of producing strange effects in the lower spheres
of being.[109] Their wise men considered that an individual connection
could be established between the stars and the elements, the planets
and the metals. It was in contact with this new doctrine and under its
influence that there arose the hope, soon hardening into a settled
belief, that the rules of art might be sufficient to effect an actual
transmutation of the baser into the nobler metals, of copper into gold,
and of tin or lead into silver.

This opinion must have been immensely heightened, and its authority
reinforced, by the secrecy with which the receipts for alloying metals
were guarded. These were handed down orally from father to son; were not
committed to writing till a comparatively late period, and even then
remained for the most part the cherished treasures of temple guilds. On
the well-known principle of the proverb, ‘Omne ignotum pro magnifico’
this secrecy tended to confirm the impression that, however much had been
communicated, more remained untold, to await discovery by the patient
and undaunted chemist. The Therapeutæ or Essenes were among the earliest
representatives of this new tendency, as appears from the testimony
of Josephus,[110] who describes them as not only devoted to ancient
writings, but eager to investigate the properties of minerals. The
chief object of their inquiries, the maintenance of health by medicines
thus derived from the vegetable and mineral kingdoms, is not only an
early instance of the connection between chemistry and pharmacy, but is
remarkable as the probable starting-point of the search for the elixir
of life: that other and nobler dream which so much of the enthusiastic
energy of the mediæval alchemists was spent to realise.

The point of connection between these speculations of Eastern philosophy
and the practice of the primitive chemistry may with probability be
sought in the fire which of necessity played so large a part in the
operations of the metal-worker. Fire bore a highly sacred character in
the philosophy and religion of the East. This element, it soon came
to be thought by those whom Eastern speculation influenced, might be
trusted not only to melt, to calcine and to sublime in the vulgar way,
but to form the long-sought link of sympathy between the stars of heaven,
themselves compact of fire, and the elements of earth, as these were
subjected to its piercing and transforming power. In its due employment
the suspected connection between the higher and lower worlds would become
an accomplished fact. Thus, under the power of the planets, in some
favourable hour and fortunate conjunction, the mighty work would be done:
the philosopher’s stone discovered, the metals transmuted, and the elixir
of life produced.

It is highly curious to find this idea presented in a novel and perhaps
an exaggerated form by a writer of the sixteenth century. This was
Fra Evangelista Quattrami of Gubbio, _semplicista_, or master of the
still-room, to the Cardinal d’Este. He wrote a book entitled, _The
true declaration of all the metaphors, similitudes, and riddles of the
ancient Alchemical Philosophers, as well among the Chaldeans and Arabians
as the Greeks and Latins_.[111] According to this work, the potable
gold; the elixir of life; the quintessence, and the philosopher’s stone
were nothing but fantastic names for the fire itself which was used
in distillation and other chemical operations. In this the Frate may
possibly have touched the true sense of Al Kindi at least, who, in his
commentary on the _Meteora_,[112] speaks of fire as if it were the all in
all of the alchemist.

While the primitive chemical practice followed the progress of the
arts which it served, the new theory of alchemy, with the ever-growing
tradition of fantastic experiments arising out of it, found different and
less direct channels in its descent from ancient to modern times. It has
been customary to speak of the Arabs as if that nation had been the chief
means of transmitting the knowledge of Greek doctrine to our mediæval
scholars, but we now know that there was a previous link in the chain
of intellectual succession. This was supplied by the care and industry
of the Syrian subjects of the early Caliphs, nor did their learned men
play a less important part in the history of chemistry than in that of
the other sciences. Sergius of Resaina, a scholar of the fifth century,
was, it is said, the first Syrian who attempted to translate the Greek
chemists, several of whom mention him by name. The chief development
of this work belongs, however, to the ninth and tenth centuries, and
its glory must ever remain with the great school of Bagdad. Chemical
treatises composed by Democritus and Zosimus[113] were there and then
rendered into Syriac, as may be seen by the manuscripts still preserved
in the British Museum and at Cambridge.

It was not long before the Arabs themselves began to feel powerfully the
intellectual impulse thus communicated to them in the heart of a country
which they had made their own. Khaled ben Yezid ibn Moauia, who died in
the year 708, is said by their historians to have been the first of that
nation who devoted his attention to chemistry. In his case the filiation
of doctrine would seem very plain, as he was the pupil of a Syrian monk
named Mariannos. Djabar, the _Geber_ of Western writers, followed in
the same line of study, and from the ninth century there was a regular
school of Arabian chemists whose labours may be studied in the manuscript
collections of Paris and Leyden.

In the eleventh century appeared a curious phenomenon, in the shape of
a dispute among the Arabians of that day regarding the truth of the
tradition which pronounced the transmutation of metals possible. The
unwearied but still unavailing experiments which had now been carried on
through several ages, produced at last their inevitable effect in the
shape of philosophic doubt, eagerly urged on the one part and as eagerly
repelled on the other. The chemical school was now divided according to
these opposite opinions, and each party in their writings sought to give
weight to what they taught by borrowing in support of their arguments the
names of the mighty dead. In this conflict it was left to the followers
of Rases to sustain the affirmative and to assert the possibility of
transmutation. These were the apologists for the past, and the advocates,
in the name of their great master, of that hope which had inspired
previous research and borne fruit in so many important discoveries.

The defence of the new doubt belonged on the other hand to the school
of Al Kindi. This chemist lived and died during the ninth century. He
was probably the earliest Arabian commentator on Aristotle, and seems to
have paid special attention to the _Meteora_ of that author. The treatise
_De Mineralibus_, so often appended to the _Meteora_ as a supplement,
is ascribed to Al Kindi in the Paris manuscript.[114] It represents the
alchemy of the time.

Between these two contending parties stood the school of Avicenna, which
now occupied an intermediate position and doubted of the doubt. That this
had not always been the opinion of Avicenna himself is plain, however,
from a passage which occurs in his _Sermo de generatione lapidum_, where
the author unhesitatingly pronounces against the theory of transmutation.
‘Those of the chemical craft,’ he says, ‘know well that no change can be
effected in the different species of things, though they can produce the
appearance of them: tinging that which is ruddy with yellow till it looks
like gold, and that which is white with colour at their pleasure till
the same effect is in great measure produced. Nay, they can also remove
the impurity from lead, so that it looks like silver, though it be lead
still, and can endue it with such strange qualities as to deceive men’s
senses, and this by the use of salt and sal ammoniac.’[115] Avicenna was
evidently well acquainted with the secrets of art and held them at their
proper value. Had his followers in the eleventh century done the same
they would have supported the school of Al Kindi instead of taking a less
definite position.

This view of the later Arabian schools and their differences is forced
upon us by the fact, that works are extant under the names of Rases, Al
Kindi, and Avicenna, which evidently belong to the eleventh century,
the period when they first appeared, and could not therefore have been
written by authors who lived at an earlier date. They are plainly the
production of later chemists who followed more or less intelligently the
doctrine of these great masters in alchemy. The artifice involved in this
ascription of authorship is one which has always been common in Eastern

We have a direct interest in observing that Spain was the country where
these developments of the later Arabian chemistry arose, contended and
flourished. Spain, therefore, during the eleventh and twelfth centuries,
became, by the attraction she offered to European scholars, the country
where these theories first reached the Latin races, and began to find
an entrance among them. M. Berthelot indeed, by a happy citation, has
enabled us to fix, almost with certainty, the very moment of this
important event. Robert Castrensis, the author alluded to, remarks: ‘Your
Latin world has not as yet learned the doctrine of Alchemy.’ These words
are taken from the preface to this author’s version of the _Liber de
Compositione Alchimiae_, and a colophon informs us that the translation
was completed on the 11th of February 1182. We may add that the same
year, corrected, however, in one copy to 1183, was the date of another
of these versions of the Arabian chemistry: that of the treatise called
_Interrogationes Regis Kalid, et responsiones Morieni_.[116] Here then we
stand on the threshold of a new age, and find ourselves in presence of
an intellectual movement which was certainly of the greatest importance,
since in it we may trace the origin of our modern chemistry. The
knowledge of what had already been gained by Greek and Arabian alchemists
was the first step to independent research among the Latins. The closing
years of the twelfth century saw that knowledge at last beginning to
unfold itself in a form intelligible to the Western schools.

As in Bagdad during the ninth century, the palmy period of Syrian
studies, so in Spain three hundred years later, the work was in its
commencement essentially one of interpretation, and the first age of
these labours was distinguished by the number of versions which were
then produced. From 1182, through the whole of the following century,
students laboured in the translation of Moorish books on chemistry. Only
towards the close of this period did a tendency become apparent which
led in the direction of improvement and innovation. The seed already
sown had begun to bear fruit. The material thus derived from Eastern
sources was now treated with a new freedom, enriched by the results of
original experiment, and edited in forms which betray the influence of
scholastic philosophy. The criticism, however, which would determine the
precise point when this change began to be operative, and the extent to
which it proceeded, attempts what is perhaps an impossible and certainly
a difficult task. For it is a remarkable fact that no Arabic texts
have been preserved to us which can be regarded as the originals from
which these earlier Latin versions were made. This want is probably due
to the widespread destruction which overtook the Moorish libraries of
Spain.[117] That such originals did at one time exist, however, is made
certain by the correspondence which the Latin translations show with
those which have come down to us in another language, the Hebrew. The
labours of these Latin translators during a hundred years may be found
in the manifold collections of chemical treatises, containing some
forty or fifty articles apiece, which were arranged and copied out at
the beginning of the fourteenth century. These volumes became, after the
invention of printing, the chief quarry whence were composed the _Ars
Aurifera_; the _Theatrum Chemicum_ of Zetzner, and the _Bibliotheca_ of

We are now in a position to understand, not only the nature and progress
of the work in which Michael Scot took part, but the exact development
which alchemy had reached in his day, and therefore the relation which
his chemical publications bore to the general direction of study in this
department of science. The time and care which our survey of the field
has demanded need not be thought ill spent. It has prepared the way for
a more intelligent appreciation of Scot’s labours as a chemist, and has
furnished us with the means of coming to a true judgment regarding their
authenticity and value.

To put the matter to the proof: we may begin by dismissing altogether
from consideration a treatise which has long been attributed to Scot, and
still appears in the most recent list of his works: the _Quaestio curiosa
de natura Solis et Lunae_. It has probably received more attention
than it deserves since it appeared under Scot’s name in the _Theatrum
Chemicum_.[118] The subject of this treatise is indeed an alchemical
one; for the _sun_ and _moon_ of which it speaks are not these heavenly
bodies themselves, but, by an allegorical use common in the Middle Ages,
and derived from the Eastern theories of sympathy already mentioned,
stand for the nobler metals of gold and silver. A brief examination,
however, shows that Scot could not have been the author. The very
style suggests this conclusion; for it is distinctly scholastic, and
proper therefore to a later age than that which aimed at the direct and
simple reproduction of Eastern texts. It is satisfactory to find that
this criticism, hardly convincing _per se_, is fully borne out by what
occurs in the substance of the work itself. The author quotes from the
_De Mineralibus_ of Albertus. Now Albertus Magnus, by common testimony,
produced this treatise after the year 1240, and we may anticipate what
is afterwards to be told of Michael Scot’s death so far as to say here
that he had then been long in his grave. The _De Natura Solis et Lunæ_
then must be ascribed to some other and later alchemist, who lived in
the end of the thirteenth or the beginning of the fourteenth century.
A more careful examination of the treatise than has been necessary for
our purpose might succeed in fixing its date with greater precision, and
might possibly throw some light upon the person of its true author.

Another work ascribed to the pen of Michael Scot, and one which seems
likely to be authentic, is that contained in the Speciale Manuscript.
This volume is one of those collections of alchemical tracts made in the
fourteenth century to which we have already alluded. It belonged to the
library of the Speciale family in Palermo, and has been made the subject
of an interesting monograph by Carini.[119] No. 44 of this manuscript is
entitled _Liber Magistri Miccaelis Scotti in quo continetur Magisterium_.
The term _Magisterium_, or supreme secret of art, would seem to carry
with it a certain reference to Aristotle, ‘Il _Maestro_ di color che
sanno,’ as Dante calls him.[120] Curious as the appearance of such a name
in connection with alchemy may seem to us, it is certain that Aristotle
held a high place in the chemical traditions of the Middle Ages. The
_Meteora_ afforded a text which lent itself readily to large commentaries
by the Arabian chemists. The tract _De Mineralibus_, which we noticed
when speaking of Al Kindi, was one of these commentaries, and it is easy
to see how it became confused with the text which it illustrated so as
in time to be considered the work of Aristotle himself. This, we may
believe, was the ground on which so many alchemical works were afterwards
published under the same mighty name.[121] An interesting example appears
in the Speciale collection itself which contains the following title:
_Liber perfecti Magisterii Aristotelis qui incipit cum studii solertis
indigere_.[122] The treatise _Cum studii_ is also found in the Paris
manuscript,[123] where it is ascribed to Rases. To the school of Rases
then we are inclined to attribute the works on the _Magisterium_, and
among the rest therefore, this treatise in the Speciale Manuscript, which
bears the name of Michael Scot, seemingly because he translated it from
the Arabic. This conclusion is confirmed when we notice the character of
some of the chapter headings as given by Carini; for example: ‘Qualiter
_Venus_ mutatur in _Solem_’; and again, ‘Transformatio _Mercurii_ in
_Lunam_.’ These show beyond all doubt that the doctrine which Michael
Scot published by means of this version was that held by the school of

A curious question here offers itself for our consideration. In the
times of Robert Castrensis alchemy was as yet unknown to the Latins.
Michael Scot, as we shall presently see, described it in one of his works
as meeting with but a poor reception at its first introduction among
them.[124] How then did it come to pass that in a few years the theory
of Rases became so popular in the West, and continued for so many ages
to direct the progress of chemical study among the European nations with
enduring power? We find the explanation of this sudden change in the
fact that human thought has always been subject to the tyranny of ruling
ideas. In our own day the place of direction is filled by a doctrine
of development which is eagerly made use of in every department of
knowledge. In those earlier ages the same place seems to have been held
by a doctrine of _transformation_. This idea ruled the thoughts of men
like an obsession, in whatever direction they turned their minds. We see
it in their superstitions, suggesting the wild tales of were-wolves and
of other animal forms assumed at will by wizard and witch. We find it in
religion, infusing a new meaning into the hyperbolical language of still
earlier times, till, under this direction, there came to be fastened
upon the Church a full-formed doctrine of Transubstantiation.[125] It
is the operation of the same idea then that we are to remark also in
the scientific sphere. As soon as the first shock of their surprise was
over, the Latins greedily embraced a theory of chemical change which
related itself so naturally to the prevailing habit of their minds, and
which promised to show as operative in the mineral kingdom a law already
conceived to hold good in the world of organic life.

The Riccardian Library of Florence possesses another of those volumes
to which we have already referred: a collection of alchemical treatises
formed in the end of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth
century.[126] Among these appears one called the _Liber Luminis Luminum_.
It is said to have been translated by Michael Scot, and, as there is no
reason to doubt this ascription, we have now the means of determining
with some fulness and accuracy the lines on which the philosopher
proceeded in his chemical researches.

The book opens with a preface somewhat scholastic,[127] and one which,
on this ground as well as on others, is probably to be ascribed to Scot
himself. In this part of the work he informs us that he took as his
basis in the following compilation a text called the _Secreta Naturae_.
To it he added material derived from other sources, which seemed
necessary in order to complete the doctrine of chemistry contained in the
_Secreta_. In this way he endeavoured to present his readers with a full
and practical body of Alchemy according to the teaching of the school to
which he belonged.

In the study of a composite work, such as the _Liber Luminis_ is thus
declared to be, our first problem is naturally to determine and separate
the original text from the additions which have been made to it. Which
then are those parts of the _Liber Luminis_ that represent the _Secreta
Naturae_? Very fortunately the volume where the _Liber Luminis_ is found
contains another treatise that throws considerable light on the matter.
This is the _Liber Dedali Philosophi_. The correspondences between that
book and the _Liber Luminis_ are so many, close, and verbal, that it is
evident both have borrowed from the same source. This source can hardly
have been other than the _Secreta Naturae_, so that a comparison of these
two books such as is attempted in the Appendix[128] should go far to
determine what that hitherto unknown text was.

The question of the chemical doctrine contained in the _Secreta_ is an
interesting one, and we shall return to it, but meanwhile, let us observe
that the _Liber Luminis_ contains hints which seem to carry us further
still, and throw some light upon the source from which the _Secreta_ was
itself derived. One of the authors quoted is a certain ‘Archelaus.’ Now
there was a veritable chemist of this name who lived during the fifth
century. This author wrote a treatise on his art in Greek verse. In later
times his name seems to have become common property, as did so many
others distinguished in alchemy, and to have been freely used by some who
wrote long after his day. Thus the Riccardian manuscript itself contains
no less than three books ascribed to this author: the _Liber Archelai
Philosophi de arte alchimiae_,[129] called also in the margin _Practica
Galieni in Secretis secretorum_;[130] the _Summula_, ‘quam ego Archilaus
transtuli de libro secretorum’;[131] and finally the _Mappa Archilei
nobilis philosophi_.[132]

The fact that these titles mention the _Secreta_ is enough to show us
that in following up the alchemy of the Pseudo-Archelaus, we are on the
right track. As we proceed the traces become still more interesting and
significant. The _Summula_ offers the following curious passage: ‘Et
hoc feci amore Dei et cuidam compatri meo, qui pauper sint [_sic_] et
infortunatus, et postea fortunatus fortuna bona et amore Imperatoris
Emanuelis et Frederici.’[133]

The name Emanuel is found in other alchemical writings. The _De Perfecto
Magisterio_, for example, which has been reprinted by Zetzner, embodies
another work, the _Liber duodecim aquarum_ which is expressly said to be
taken from the ‘Liber Emanuelis.’ Pursuing the matter further still, we
come to the _Liber Aristotelis_ which commences, ‘Cum de sublimiori atque
precipuo.’ The author of this treatise, we find, claims not only the
_Liber duodecim aquarum_ (‘quae qualiter se habeant in libro quem XII.
aquarum vocabulo descripsimus, prudens lector intelligere poterit’), but
also, it would seem, the very one of which we are in search (‘in libro
secretorum a nobis dictum est’). Everything inclines us to the belief
that we here touch the source from which the main part of the _Liber
Luminis_ was drawn, and this conclusion is not a little strengthened when
we observe that the treatise ‘Cum de sublimiori’ is called the _Lumen
Luminum_ in the Riccardian copy.[134]

The _Secreta_, however, was not the only source from which the _Liber
Luminis_ and the _Liber Dedali_ were drawn, and the assertion of the
preface that the former was composed of extracts from many different
philosophers is fully borne out when we examine the substance of the
books themselves. A strain of Greek influence is to be traced, for
example, in the names of Archelaus, Dedalus, Plato, and Hermes, as well
as in the use of _ciatus_ as an equivalent for the word ‘cup,’ and this
reminds us strongly of the _Summula_ with its reference to the Emperor
Manuel. It is not impossible that Scot may have borrowed much from the
Byzantine chemists of the twelfth century. With this notion agrees
the passage of the _Liber Dedali_ where Saracens are spoken of as
foreigners. On the other hand, much had evidently been taken from Arabic
sources, as is plain from the names given to several of the vessels
used in alchemy, such as the _alembic_ and _aludel_. Indeed, Unay and
Melchia, who are quoted in the _Liber Luminis_, must have been Moors,
for the corresponding passage of the _Liber Dedali_ describes them as
from ‘Lamacha of the Saracens.’ Both these texts agree in showing such
familiarity with the process of refining sulphur that one is led to
suppose the _Secreta_, their common original, may have been composed in
Sicily. The _Liber Luminis_ says of one of the alums that it is ‘brought
from Spain:’ an expression agreeing well with the notion of a Sicilian
author, who would naturally speak of Spain as a foreign land.

Leaving, however, these questions of origin and derivation, let us
come to that of the chemical doctrine taught in the book which Michael
Scot compiled, or at least translated. The title of the _Liber Luminis
Luminum_ is a significant one, and has a real relation to the contents
of the work itself.[135] To discover the sense which it must be held to
bear we have only to turn to the passage in which, speaking of alum, the
author says: ‘sicut illuminat pannos, ita illuminat martem ut recipiat
formam lunae. Ut enim lana illuminatur ita et metalla illuminantur.’[136]
A distinction is clearly present in the writer’s mind between the
substance and the form of the metals. He probably held that there existed
but one common metallic substance, which assumed the appearance of
iron, gold, or silver, according to the form which it had received. His
employment of the title _Liber Luminis Luminum_ was meant to indicate
that the purpose of his book was that of teaching the student how metals
might best be purified and improved. Their inferiority, when of the baser
kind, he conceived as an impurity, manifesting itself in the imperfect
forms of lead, iron, tin, and copper. He believed that this being removed
or changed by art, they might be made to shine with the lustre and
indeed possess the only distinctive quality of gold and silver. That we
have rightly read the meaning of this title seems plain from a curious
spelling which may be noticed in the _Liber Dedali_. ‘Illuminantur’ there
appears as ‘aluminantur.’ The chemistry taught in these books did in fact
prescribe the use of alum as a great means of purifying and refining the

The preface of the _Liber Luminis_ closes with a brief summary of the
chapters which compose the work itself. The first of these deals with
the different salts used in this chemistry: common salt; rock salt;
alkali; sal ammoniac; nitre and others. The second treats in like manner
of the various kinds of alum, the third describes the vitriols, and
the fourth the powders or spirits, by which we are to understand those
minerals which are capable of being sublimed or made volatile, such as
sulphur, arsenic, and mercury. Two supplementary chapters, the one on
the preparation of the salts, alums, and vitriols, and the other on
that of the remaining class of chemicals, complete the whole book. This
supplement seems genuinely such, as it is not mentioned in the general
contents, as these appear in the preface. Perhaps we do not err if we
suppose it to have embodied the result of Scot’s own experiments in

It is indeed the practical nature of the alchemical doctrine taught in
the _Liber Luminis_ which strikes us most strongly when we read this
book. A large part of it is taken up with exact descriptions of the
minerals, according to their various forms and the countries from which
they were derived. The rest consists of receipts for their employment
in refining metals. Whatever we may think of the validity and use of
these processes, we cannot fail to notice that they are described in
a perfectly straightforward and simple style. Here are none of the
mysteries, the riddles and ridiculous allegories so common in chemical
works written at a later time. The truth of the matter may probably be
that, in following the doctrine here set forth, Michael Scot and the
alchemists of his time did obtain results which were then so surprising,
as to excuse a certain exaggeration in those who described them. Tests
that could touch and reveal the real nature of the metals under any
change of outward appearance were not then so well known as now. Copper
that had been made to shine like gold, or to assume the appearance of
silver, was practically gold or silver to those who had no means of
discovering that the real nature of the metal itself remained unchanged.
Thus then are to be understood the assertions of the _Liber Luminis_
regarding transmutation. They are plainly made in all good faith, and
depend on the doctrine already mentioned, which held that the differences
between the metals were an affair of the superficial form rather than of
the underlying substance. To change the appearance of one metal to that
of another, was therefore to effect a real transmutation: the only one
conceivable by the philosophers of that time. When the _Liber Luminis_
speaks of giving copper ‘a good colour,’ or preparing iron to ‘receive
the appearance (_formam_) of silver,’ these expressions reveal with frank
sincerity the conceptions of this alchemy and the results it endeavoured
to obtain.

One other alchemical work attributed to the pen of Michael Scot remains
to be noticed; the _De Alchimia_, contained in a manuscript of Corpus
Christi College, Oxford.[137] Tanner in his _Bibliotheca_ has noticed
this work in the following terms: ‘Chymica quaedam ex interpretatione
Michaelis Scoti dedicata Theophilo regi Scotorum. Corpus Christi MS.
125. In eodem codice MS. fol. est haec nota “Explicit tractatus magistri
Michaelis Scoti de aelchali,” huius vero tractatus, a priore diversi, hoc
tantum fol. extat.’ This account is erroneous in several particulars.
‘Scotorum’ should be ‘Saracenorum,’ and ‘de aelchali’ is a misreading of
‘de alkimia,’ as a glance at the manuscript informs us. Nor is it the
case that we have here to deal with two distinct works. The last leaf, to
which Tanner more particularly refers (fol. 119, old numeration), shows
a hand of the fourteenth century, and forms the only remainder of the
original. The rest of the manuscript (fol. 116-118) has been supplied by
a scribe of the fifteenth century, but the whole is perfectly continuous,
as appears plainly when we notice that the first words of the original
(fol. 119 _recto_), ‘et cum siccatus,’ have also been written by the
later scribe at the bottom of page 118 _verso_.

In spite of the highly suspicious dedication, ‘Theophilo Regi
Saracenorum,’ several reasons incline us to regard the _De Alchimia_ as,
in substance at least, a genuine work of Michael Scot. To begin with,
it clearly belongs to a very early period; for, in the opening words of
his preface, the author describes alchemy as a science, noble indeed,
but as yet neglected and contemned by the Latins (‘apud Latinos penitus
denegatam’). In the same sentence we find him referring to the _secreta
naturae_, just as Scot does in the _Liber Luminis_, and declaring his
purpose to furnish the world with a commentary on it in the work he now
attempts (‘secreta naturae intelligentibus revelare’). In the opening
paragraph of the book itself he seems to refer plainly to the _Liber
Luminis_ as a work written by him (‘notitia de salibus vel salium
prout in aliquo libro a me translato dixi’). Nor should we overlook
the distinctly ecclesiastical tone which is to be observed in the _De
Alchimia_. Part of the preface is conceived almost in the form of a
prayer, commencing thus: ‘Creator omnium rerum Deus qui cuncta ex nihilo
condidit,’ and in at least one passage, a well-known text of Scripture is
reproduced (‘et haec est res quae erigit de stercore pauperem et ipsum
regibus equiparat’). This style is a noticeable characteristic of all the
works of Michael Scot.

On the other hand, the _De Alchimia_ shows several doubtful features
which, on the supposition that it came from Scot’s pen, can only have
been due to some interference with the text at a subsequent time. Such is
the dedication to Theophilus, King of the Saracens, which we have already
noticed, and the latter part of the preface shows a turgid passage (‘hic
est puteus Salomonis et fimi acervus, et hic est fons in quo latet anguis
cuius venenum omnia corpora interficit,’ etc.) that strongly recalls the
fancies of the later alchemy.

The body of the work, however, is no doubt genuine, and offers matters
of considerable interest. The first of these is perhaps the distinction
drawn here between the greater and the lesser mystery (magisterium) of
alchemy. The former, it seems, was the transmutation of _Venus_ into the
_Sun_; that is, of copper into gold. The latter comprehended the fixation
of mercury and its transmutation into the _Moon_, or silver.

We soon notice too that the author addresses himself not, as one would
at first expect, to ‘Theophilus,’ but to a certain Brother Elias (‘tibi
Fratri Helya’)—another proof, if any were needed, that the dedication
to the apocryphal King of the Saracens was due to some other and later
hand. ‘Brother Elias,’ however, was far from being a merely imaginary
personage. He was an Italian, born (for accounts vary) either at Bivillo
near Assisi, Cellullae or Ursaria near Cortona, or in Piedmont. In 1211
he joined the Order of St. Francis, then just formed, thus becoming
one of its earliest members. His history as a Franciscan was rather
an eventful one. On the death of St. Francis in 1226 he succeeded the
Founder as General of the Order, but was deposed by the Pope in 1230 on
some suspicion that he favoured schism among his brethren. The Order
re-elected him in 1236, but he was finally removed from office by Gregory
three years later, and profited by the occasion to join himself openly to
the party of the Emperor. For this he suffered excommunication in 1244,
and was not restored to the privileges of the Church till 1253, when
he lay on his death-bed at Cortona. There is no doubt that he had the
reputation of possessing skill in alchemy, as a treatise is extant called
the _Liber Fratris Eliae de Alchimia_.[138] This renown would not tend
to his honour in religion. It seems indeed to invest with a cruel and
pointed meaning the words used by the Pope on the occasion of his first
deposition.[139] He is said to have been sent in early days on an embassy
to the Emperor of the East. Perhaps this may have been the occasion when
he first acquired a taste for those chemical studies which that nation
still pursued. Michael Scot addresses him in the _De Alchimia_ as a pupil
(‘Et ego, Magister Michael Scotus, sum operatus super solem, et docui te,
Fr. Elia, operari et tu mihi saepius retulisti te instabiliter multis
viabus operasse’), while at the same confessing that he was not above
learning some of the secrets of art from the well-known Franciscan.
This relation between two such distinguished men has not hitherto been
noticed, and is certainly a curious point in the history of the times.

The _De Alchimia_ presents several features which distinguish it from
the _Liber Luminis_. One of these is an early passage which refers to
the correspondence between the metals and the planets, and explains
that when the latter are named we must understand that the former are
intended. Near the end of the treatise a description of the _materia
chemica_ occurs, but it would seem as if this had been written to
supplement that given in the _Liber Luminis_, for it deals, not with
salts, alums, vitriols, or volatile substances, but with the different
varieties of what the author calls ‘gummae,’ which, however, are mineral
substances;[140] and with ‘tuchia’ in all its various kinds.

Many words and phrases, however, might be cited to show how the strain
of doctrine observable in the _Liber Luminis_ is continued with scarcely
any change in the _De Alchimia_. We have hardly read a line in the
first receipt before we meet with the expression ‘sanguinem hominis
rufi’ recalling the ‘sanguinem hominis rubei’ of the _Liber Luminis_.
The ‘pulvis bufonis’ indeed is here replaced by another ingredient
derived from the animal kingdom, the ‘sanguis bubonis’; but, reading a
little further, we find the familiar ‘urina taxi’ again recommended
as an almost universal solvent and detergent. Evidently both works
proceeded from one and the same alchemical school. The number of Arabian
chemists[141] cited in the _De Alchimia_ seems to show that if these
books came from a Greek source it was not that of ancient times, but some
Byzantine school that had borrowed much from Eastern alchemists.

To give a substantial idea of the _De Alchimia_ let us translate one of
the formulae which it contains: ‘Medibibaz the Saracen of Africa used to
change lead into gold [in the following manner]. Take lead and melt it
thrice with caustic (‘comburenti’), red arsenic, sublimate of vitriol,
sugar of alum, and with that red tuchia of India which is found on the
shore of the Red Sea, and let the whole be again and again quenched in
the juice of the _Portulaca marina_, the wild cucumber, a solution of
sal ammoniac, and the urine of a young badger. Let all these ingredients
then, when well mixed, be set on the fire, with the addition of some
common salt, and well boiled until they be reduced to one-third of
their original bulk, when you must proceed to distil them with care.
Then take the marchasite of gold, prepared talc, roots of coral, some
carcha-root, which is an herb very like the _Portulaca marina_; alum of
cumae something red and saltish, Roman alum and vitriol, and let the
latter be made red; sugar of alum, Cyprus earth, some of the red Barbary
earth, for that gives a good colour; Cumaean earth of the red sort,
African tuchia, which is a stone of variegated colours and being melted
with copper changeth it into gold; Cumaean salt which is …; pure red
arsenic, the blood of a ruddy man, red tartar, _gumma_ of Barbary, which
is red and worketh wonders in this art; salt of Sardinia which is like ….
Let all these be beaten together in a brazen mortar, then sifted finely
and made into a paste with the above water. Dry this paste, and again
rub it fine on the marble slab. Then take the lead you have prepared as
directed above, and melt it together with the powder, adding some red
alum and some more of the various salts. This alum is found about Aleppo
(‘Alapia’), and in Armenia, and will give your metal a good colour. When
you have so done you shall see the lead changed into the finest gold, as
good as what comes from Arabia. This have I, Michael Scot, often put to
the proof and ever found it to be true.’

If such a receipt is valuable as indicating the chemical practice of
those days, it is no less interesting as it throws light upon the
life and occupations of Scot. He must have set up a complete chemical
laboratory at Toledo, with crucibles for the melting of metals, and
alembics for the distillation of the substances which his art required
him to mix with them. His situation was one very favourable to these
pursuits, not only because Spain was one of those countries where the
doctrine of alchemy made its greatest progress, and attracted most
powerfully the concourse of foreign adepts, but also from the facility
with which the necessary _materia chemica_ could there be procured.
The _sierras_ of that country were full of mineral wealth of all
kinds, especially quicksilver, which was one of the substances most
frequently chosen to become the subject of the transmuter’s art. In
the _Alpujarras_, a mountainous district lying under the soft climate
of Granada, grew plenty of these rare herbs employed in alchemy, as
they were also in the medicine of the Arabians. Ibn Beithar of Malaga
describes them in his botanical thesaurus, and it is said that after the
Moors had lost that fair kingdom their herbalists, even as late as our
own times, made yearly journeys from Africa to gather in these hills
the plants which ancient science taught them to value highly. But the
days of the ‘ultimo sospiro del Moro’ were yet in the far future, and
meanwhile Michael Scot in his laboratory at Toledo could easily command
all these treasures for the purposes of experiment. Nor was it in vain
that he fanned his fires, and watched the metals melt and the menstruum
distil in the process of the lesser or greater mystery. If he never saw
_Venus_ blush into the true substance of _Sol_, or _Mercury_, the fickle
and obstinate, congeal into a veritable _Luna_, his chemical practice,
and the records in which he has embodied it, mark none the less true and
significant a moment in the history of scientific progress.



The alchemy of the thirteenth century, to the progress of which Michael
Scot contributed not a little, bore a close relation to the opinions
then entertained in another branch of science: that of astronomy. We
have already noticed how chemistry, as practised in Egypt, was largely
influenced by Eastern theories regarding the stars and their power over
earthly elements. That this connection and sympathy was still a matter of
common belief at the time Scot wrote is not only probable but can readily
be established by direct evidence. The treatise ‘Cum studii solertis
indagine,’ already referred to,[142] has a curious passage which bears
directly on the point in question. We find in the preface the following
remarkable statement: ‘For the art of alchemy belongs to the deeper and
more hidden physics, and in particular to that division thereof which …
is called the lower astronomy,’ It is plain then that no chemist could
in those days be considered fully competent for the task he undertook
unless to a knowledge of the customary theories and processes of his art
he added some acquaintance with the mysteries of the heavenly spheres as

To Michael Scot, even before he came to Toledo, the science of astronomy
was already a beaten path. His progress in mathematical studies naturally
led him to this, the highest sphere in which they could be exercised. At
the court of Frederick he had made many an observation and cast many a
horoscope. In the _Liber Introductorius_ and _Liber Particularis_ he had
produced two manuals expounding in a popular way the twin sciences of
astrology and astronomy; publications which no doubt reproduced pretty
exactly the teaching he had given to the Emperor.

In Spain he not only kept up his interest in this subject but lost
no opportunity of improving his past acquirements. He was constantly
on the watch for new astronomical works. He read them, not only as a
student eager to extend his knowledge, but as a translator anxious to
find the opportunity of adding to the resources of other scholars by the
production of some important book in a Latin dress.

As a resident in Toledo, Scot found himself very favourably situated
for such studies. That city was now indeed to become what may be called
the classic ground of Moorish astronomy. A Spanish author would have us
believe that there presently assembled there an incredible number of
astronomers drawn, not only from all parts of Spain, but from France
as well, and especially from Paris. The king himself is said to have
presided over this congress. The works of Ptolemy, with the commentaries
of Montafan and Algazel, were translated into Latin for the use of those
scholars who did not understand Arabic. Discussions were held in the
Alcazar of Galiana upon the various theories of the heavenly bodies and
their movements. These labours, which commenced in 1218, and are said to
have lasted till 1262, resulted in a more exact series of observations
than had hitherto been made. They were published, and became generally
known as the _Tables of Toledo_.[143]

It was in such a direction indeed that the line of true progress lay.
As alchemy rose into a real chemistry rather by the practice of the
laboratory than by the theory of the schools, so it was with regard
to astronomy. The scheme of Ptolemy with its various modifications
necessarily held the field, imperfect and erroneous as it was, till
wider and more exact observations, such as those for which the wise king
of Castile thus provided had, in the course of after ages, furnished
adequate ground for the magical and illuminative speculations of
Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton.

Favourable, however, as Scot’s situation in Toledo undoubtedly was, much
of what we are considering lay beyond his reach, being yet in the womb of
the future. The Moorish astronomers, and he doubtless with them, felt far
from satisfied with the Ptolemaic system as expounded in the _Almagest_.
While no one as yet ventured to interfere with its fundamental conception
of the earth as the centre of the universe, every fresh observation, by
bringing into view more of the delicacy and subtlety of the heavenly
movements, made additions and modifications of that theory constantly
necessary. Hence arose a series of Arabian works on the _sphere_, each
superseding that which had preceded it, and reflecting the last results
obtained with the astrolabe. Such a line of progress could not but lead
to the time when the Ptolemaic theory no longer lent itself by any
modification to the full explanation of ascertained facts. Then and then
only arose the new astronomy of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
which is thus seen to be vitally connected, even in its highest reach and
most splendid developments with the now forgotten theories of the Moorish

Considering then the epoch at which he lived, and the incomplete material
which existed in his days for a true science of the heavens, Michael Scot
did all that could be reasonably expected of him. He sat at the feet of
those who were then the best authorities on this subject. He used his
opportunities at Toledo to make the last and most subtle theories of the
Moors intelligible to those less fortunate scholars whose attention these
must otherwise have escaped.

His services to astronomy appeared in the Latin version which he made
from a treatise on the _Sphere_ lately composed by Alpetrongi. This
author’s name is said to have been, in its Arabic form, Nured-din el
Patrugi. Munk, in his _Mélanges_, tells us that the latter designation
was derived from a village called Petroches lying a little to the north
of Cordova.[144] The Latins corrupted the name in different ways, so that
among them it became _Avenalpetrandi_, _Alpetrongi_, or _Alpetragius_.
The astronomer who bore it flourished about the year 1190, and is said to
have been a renegade, and a scholar of the celebrated Ibn Tofail, the
author of the curious Sufic romance called _Hay Ibn Yokhdan_.

In the preface to his book on the _Sphere_ Alpetrongi begs to be excused
if he has ventured to differ from the tradition of the ancients in his
theory of the heavenly movements, and especially from Ptolemy the great
master of this science. His apology reminds us that it may be well to
examine more exactly than we have yet done the various advances which had
been made up to this time by the Arabian astronomy.

As early as the ninth century the mathematicians of that nation had
simplified the problems of the circle by discovering the way of
measurement by sine and tangent instead of by the chord. This improvement
is ascribed to Albategni who lived between the years 877 and 929.
Calculation was soon made still easier by the invention of algebra.
The year 820 is given as the age of Mohammed ben Moussa, surnamed Al
Khowaresmi, who had the honour of this important discovery. From the
surname of this mathematician the Latins afterwards formed by corruption
their common noun _Algorisma_ or _Algorithmus_, from which our word
arithmetic is derived.

These improved methods of calculation were soon applied to astronomy.
Al Mamun, whose reign commenced in the year 813, summoned an assembly
of scholars learned in that science. They met in the great Babylonian
plain, having chosen that place as suitable for their observations, and
measured the declination of the ecliptic, which they determined to be
23° 33ʺ. About the same time the secular motion of the heavens began to
attract attention. Albategni corrected the observations of Ptolemy here,
and showed that the retrograde movement amounted to one degree, not in a
century as the Greek philosopher had said, but in a shorter period which
is variously stated as sixty-six or seventy years. Alfargan repeated
this calculation, and amended that relating to the declination of the
ecliptic, which he computed at 23° 35ʺ.

This was the progress and these the data which led the Moorish
astronomers to abandon the earlier and simpler theories of the _sphere_
as inconsistent with ascertained facts. They were aware of motions among
the heavenly bodies not to be explained by the mere supposition that
round the earth as a centre moved the concentric spheres on the axes of
their poles. It is true that even Ptolemy himself had felt something
of this difficulty and had endeavoured to meet it by a theory of
eccentrics and epicycles. As knowledge increased, however, this primitive
explanation was felt to be cumbrous and unsatisfactory. Aboasar[145]
and Azarchel gained fame by boldly striking out in new paths, and later
Moorish astronomers eagerly followed the lead thus given them, each
adding some modification of his own.

Thus then we return to the preface of Alpetrongi prepared to understand
his position when he declares himself obliged to depart from previous
traditions. He proceeds to avow himself a scholar of Azarchel, but
when we examine his work we find that the theory he proposes differs
considerably even from that taught by his immediate master. It was one
which, through the labours of Michael Scot, as translator of Alpetrongi,
exercised no small influence on the study of astronomy among the Latins,
and we may well spend a moment in considering the chief features which it

One of the most important problems which called for solution at the hands
of the Moorish astronomers was that of the recession of the heavenly
bodies, by which, when observed at sufficient intervals of time, they
were seen to fall short of the positions they might have been expected
to reach. This recession, as we have remarked already, had been very
accurately studied, and computed as exactly as the methods of the time
allowed; but a reason for so remarkable a phenomenon was yet to seek.
Alpetrongi boldly declared that the eastward motion was apparent only
and not real. He explained that the source of power lay in the _primum
mobile_ or ninth sphere; that lying outside the sphere of the fixed
stars. From hence the force producing circular motion was derived to the
eighth, and so to the inferior spheres; each handing on a part of the
impulse to that which lay beneath it. In the course of transmission,
however, the prime force became gradually exhausted. Thus, said
Alpetrongi, it happens that each sphere moves rather more slowly than the
one above it, and so the apparent recession is accounted for in a way
which shows it to be relative only and not absolute.

Another matter which exercised the minds of those who studied the
heavens was the difference of elevation which the heavenly bodies showed
according to the seasons of summer and winter. The sun, for example, at
noonday of the summer solstice stood, they saw, at his highest point in
the heavens, while he sank to his lowest on the shortest day of winter.
Between these extremes he held gradually every intermediate position, and
as he was meanwhile supposed to be moving in a circular path round the
earth, his course came to be conceived of as a spiral alternately rising
and declining. How was this spiral motion to be explained?

Each sphere, said Alpetrongi, has its own poles, which differ from those
of the _primum mobile_, and thus each, while following the motion of the
ninth sphere, accomplishes at the same time another revolution about its
own proper poles. From the combination of these two movements arises one
of the nature of a spiral which fully accounts for the seeming deviations
of the heavenly bodies to north or south.[146]

Such were the contributions of this philosopher to the astronomy of
his time. They were the fruit, he assures us, of patient study of the
ancients, and specially of Aristotle and his commentators. He offered
them to his age as a distinct improvement on the cumbrous theories of
Ptolemy, and as an advance even upon that of Azarchel, whom, in the main,
he acknowledges as his master in science. Antiquated and childish as
his explanations may seem to us, we cannot help feeling that he had at
least grasped firmly some of the chief problems of the sky. He stood in
the line of that inquiry and patient progress which have issued in the
marvellous discoveries of later times.

Scot’s version of the _Sphere_ of Alpetrongi has reached us accompanied
by the date of its composition; a distinction which belongs to only one
other among his translations, that of the _Abbreviatio Avicennae_. M.
Jourdain had the merit of being the first who drew attention to this
fortunate circumstance,[147] and he did so by quoting the colophons
of two manuscripts of the _Sphere_ discovered by him in the Paris
library.[148] One of these closes thus: ‘Praised be Jesus Christ who
liveth for ever throughout all time:[149] on the eighteenth day of
August, being Friday, at the third hour, _cum aboleolente_,[150] in
the year one thousand two hundred and fifty-five.’ The other gives the
date thus: ‘The year of the Incarnation of Christ twelve hundred and
seventeen.’ These two epochs coincide exactly, as the apparent difference
arises from the date being expressed in the first manuscript according to
the era of Spain. It is therefore doubly certain that Scot’s version of
the _Sphere_ of Alpetrongi was made in the year 1217.[151]

In completing this translation Michael Scot anticipated by one year only
the great astronomical congress which the King of Castile presently
caused to assemble at Toledo. It may very possibly therefore have been
one of the versions prepared with a view to this great occasion and
designed for the use of the Latin astronomers who might come there.
Certain it is that the author was not less fortunate in this than in
his previous literary ventures. The text was well chosen, the time
of publication opportune, and the _Sphere_ of Alpetrongi as it came
from Scot’s hand had a wide circulation and influenced profoundly the
astronomical beliefs of the day.[152]



We have already noticed how the commentaries of Avicenna on Aristotle had
been translated into Latin at Toledo during the twelfth century, and how
Michael Scot had completed that work by his version of the books relating
to Natural History. Since the beginning of the thirteenth century,
however, another Arabian author of the first rank had become the object
of much curiosity in Europe. This was the famous Averroës of Cordova,
whose history might fill a volume, so full was it of romantic adventure
and literary interest.[153] He was but lately dead, having closed a long
and laborious life on the 10th of December 1198, at Morocco, where his
body was first laid to rest in the cemetery outside the gate of Tagazout.
Born at Cordova in 1126, his name was closely associated with that of
his native city, so that after three months had elapsed his corpse was
brought thither from Africa, and given honourable and final burial in the
tomb of his fathers at the cemetery of Ibn Abbas.

Two reasons combined to raise the fame of Averroës among the Latins, and
to inspire them with a high curiosity regarding his works. He was known
to have devoted his life to the study and exposition of Aristotle; then,
as for many ages, the idol of the Christian schools. His philosophy was
further understood to embody the strangest and most daring speculations
regarding the origin of the universe and the nature of the soul. For
these he had suffered severely at the hands of the Moslem orthodox. They
had proscribed his works and compelled him to leave his employment and
pass the most precious years of his life in exile.

These common impressions regarding Averroës were in the main correct.
His labours had appeared in three forms; a paraphrase, and a lesser and
greater commentary on the books of Aristotle, and the philosophy which
these writings contained was undoubtedly Manichæan, if not in a measure
Pantheistic. Like that of all the Arabian philosophers, to whose teaching
Averroës gave its final and most characteristic form, this doctrine was
really Greek: the Aristotelic scheme of the universe as it had been
conceived anew by Porphyry of Alexandria. At the foundation lay a mighty
Duality: that of the opposing powers of Good and Evil. With the notion
of exalting Him above the possibility of blame, God, the Centre of the
Universe, about whom all revolves, was declared to be the Absolute
and unconditional Being; while over against Him was set Matter, also
eternal, from which, in its stubborn resistance to the Divine Will, all
evil had arisen. Any direct action of Deity upon matter could not be
thought of; so the interval between them was conceived of as occupied by
several Emanations proceeding from God, among which we may notice those
of the Divine Wisdom and the Divine Power. This Wisdom was said to be
impersonal; one common to all intelligent creatures; the Light that
lighteneth every man that cometh into the world. This Power was regarded
as supreme, seated high above the spheres, and, through the _Primum
Mobile_, entering into touch with matter and deriving its force downward
from one heavenly circle to another till it reaches earth itself.

The origin of created beings was a problem which received much attention
from Averroës. His ideas on this subject will be seen when we come
to speak of the important digression he wrote under the title of
_Quaestiones Nicolai Peripatetici_.[154] In every man he perceived the
existence of a passive intellect or reason, in relation to which the
other Heavenly Intelligence, or Divine Wisdom, presented itself to him as
the Active Reason: that in whose motions Thought was always accompanied
by Power. The one was Impersonal and Eternal, the other individual and
perishable, yet Averroës taught that a close relation subsisted between
them, and a consequent sympathy and attraction, in which the passive
intelligence strove to unite itself with the active and thus achieve
eternity and immortality.[155]

This union was known as the _ittisal_: the supreme object of the wise
man’s desire, and in connection with it emerged for the first time a
distinction between Averroës and his predecessors. Ibn Badja, with
whom he held the closest relation, had proposed a course of moral
discipline as the best way of attaining the _ittisal_: the same ascetic
practice which Ibn Tofail so remarkably illustrated and commended in his
mystical romance _Hay Ibn Yokhdan_. Gazzali on the other hand, who was
the sceptic of these schools, boldly declared that the _ittisal_ was
only to be reached by an intellectual and spiritual confusion attained
in the _zikr_, or whirling dance of the Dervishes. It was left then for
Averroës to vindicate once more the validity of human reason, and this he
did by proclaiming that science, rightly understood, was the true way of
entering into intellectual communion with the Deity. All, however, agreed
in teaching that the soul of man was but an individual and temporary
manifestation of the Divine, from which it had proceeded, and into which
it would again be absorbed.

It is plain that the way to this consummation proposed by Averroës had
much in common with the ancient theories of the Alexandrian Gnosis.
The Albigenses and other sects of the time, especially that called the
Brotherhood of the Holy Ghost, had already done much to familiarise
the West with these essentially Eastern speculations. A taste for such
flights of the mind had been formed, and, as soon as it became known
that a new teacher had arisen to advocate a theory of this kind among
the Moors, Christianity too was alive with curiosity to know what the
doctrine of Averroës might be.

In these circumstances the anathema of the Church proved powerless to
restrain so strong an impulse of the human spirit. The Council of Paris
in 1209 had sounded the first note of warning and of censure. In 1215
Robert de Courçon published a statute in that university by which the
name of _Mauritius Hispanus_, understood by Renan to mean Averroës, was
associated with those of David of Dinant and Almaric of Bena the French
Pantheists of the day, and all men were warned to have nothing to do with
their writings under pain of censure. In spite of these enactments five
years had not passed since the date of the latter proclamation, before
the commentaries of Averroës were rendered into Latin and the secrets of
his remarkable philosophy laid open to the scholastic world.

The credit of this bold and successful enterprise belongs, it would be
hard to say in what proportions, to the Emperor Frederick II. and to
Michael Scot his faithful servant. Frederick had indeed every reason
to feel an interest in the works of Averroës. His mind was naturally
keen and of a speculative cast. He showed little inclination to subject
his curiosity to the restraints of custom or ecclesiastical authority,
and was thus at least as likely as any of the wise and noble of his
day to indulge his passion for what promised to be both original and
curious. We are to remember also that he stood in close relation with the
peculiar religious opinions already noticed, which were then so prevalent
both in south-eastern France and the adjoining parts of Spain. His
brother-in-law, who died so suddenly at Palermo, was Count of Provence,
and, whatever place the unfortunate Alphonso may have held with regard to
the heresy so common in his dominions, we may feel sure that among the
host of Provençal knights who formed his train when he came to Sicily
there must have been some at least who were adherents of the Albigensian
party. No religious opinion ever made so striking a progress among the
wealthy and noble as this, and none was ever commended in a way more
fit to win the sympathy and interest of a youthful monarch inclined to
letters and gallantry. The doctrine of the Albigenses was in fact a late
revival of the _Gnosis_ of Alexandria. It flattered the pride of those
who desired distinction even in their religion. Its representatives and
advocates were no repulsive monks or sour ascetics but men of birth and
breeding, who excelled in manly exercises, and were famous for their
success in the courts of love and in the _gay saber_. It would not have
been wonderful if Frederick himself had become an Albigensian. He is
known to have caught a taste for Provençal poetry if nothing more, and it
is certain that he remained, to the close of his life, and even beyond
it, a grateful and sympathetic figure among those who, after the great
persecution, still represented Albigensian doctrine.[156] Something of
this may have been due to the influence of his wife Constantia, whose
father, Don Pedro of Aragon, had fallen gallantly in 1213 under the walls
of Murel, during an expedition in which he led the Spanish chivalry to
aid the Counts of Toulouse and Foix the champions of the Albigensian

The probability that the Emperor had early felt an interest in Averroës
is confirmed by a curious statement of Gilles de Rome,[157] who tells us
that the sons of the Moorish philosopher received a cordial welcome from
Frederick and lived in honour at his Court. Renan indeed finds reason
to doubt the truth of this statement,[158] yet we may remember that
the chronicler could not in any case have ventured upon it unless the
Emperor’s sympathy for Averroës had been matter of common knowledge.

As to Michael Scot we may feel sure that he was every whit as eager as
his master could be to honour the philosopher’s memory and to gain a
nearer acquaintance with his writings. The manuscript in the Laurentian
library to which we have already referred[159] speaks, it will be
remembered, of a visit paid by Scot to the city of Cordova. It is not
difficult to determine with a high degree of probability the reason
that may have led him thither. Had he lived three hundred years earlier
indeed, the fame of Cordova as a centre of learning might well have
proved a sufficient attraction to account for this journey. In the tenth
century that city shone as the seat of a great Jewish school: one of
those lately transferred to Spain from the eastern cities of Pombeditha
and Sura. The Caliph Hakim, under whose protection this change took
place, gave royal encouragement to the learned men who came to Cordova.
Thousands of students assembled in the great Mosque, and Hakim collected
for their use a magnificent library which was said to contain four
hundred thousand volumes. Al Mansour, however, who succeeded to Hakim’s
throne, fell under the influence of orthodox scruples. He burnt much
of the great library, and the rest perished at the disastrous sack of
Cordova in the following century. The ruin of the Rabbinical academies
was completed a little later by the cruel edict of Abd-el-Mumen, who
expelled the Jews from his realm. The most famous teachers of Cordova and
Lucena then betook themselves to Castile. Alphonso VII. received them
kindly and gave them liberty to settle in his capital. These events took
place before 1150, and from that date the ancient schools which had given
such fame to Cordova and Lucena became one of the chief attractions of

The sole glory which Cordova still retained in the days when Scot visited
it was the memory of departed greatness, and of Averroës, whose fame
must yet have endured as a living tradition in the place of his birth
and burial. We may therefore believe that it was as a pilgrim to the
shrine of that illustrious name that the traveller came hither. As he
wandered amid the countless columns of the great Mosque, or stayed his
steps by the tomb of Ibn Abbas, he must have found a melancholy pleasure
in recalling the mighty past, when these aisles were crowded with eager
students and when, still later, the last scion of the Cordovan schools
had appeared in the person of the Master whose writings were now the
object of so much curiosity. It is quite possible that something of a
practical purpose may have combined with these sentiments to determine
the direction of Scot’s journey. Twenty years had not passed, we must
remember, since the body of Averroës was laid in its last resting-place.
What if those who directed and composed the solemn funeral procession
from Morocco to Cordova had brought with them the books which the
philosopher was engaged in completing at the time of his death? The hope
of a great literary discovery could hardly have been absent from the mind
of Michael Scot as he travelled southward to seek the white walls of the
Moorish city.[160]

There is no reason to think that the story of the spell framed by Scot
at Cordova was literally and historically true; it seems to belong
rather to the department of his legendary fame as a necromancer. Yet,
read as a parable, this conjuration is not without interest and perhaps
importance. It professes to compel the appearance of spirits from the
nether deep, and to command an answer to any question the sage or
student might choose to ask. A slight effort of fancy will find here the
picturesque representation of Scot’s mental and physical state while at
Cordova, and especially under the stress of the illness from which we
are assured he then suffered.[161] What wonder if, in the vertigo of
fever, he felt prisoned with swimming brain in magic circles; or is it
strange that one so intent upon the doctrine of the departed Averroës
should, in the height of his delirium, have planned to force the grave
itself, and summon the dead philosopher to tell the secret of his lost
works? Something of the Greek δεινότης, something terrible, superhuman
almost, we discover in a spirit so fully roused and determined, and if
we have read rightly the mind of Scot, no wonder that he and the Emperor
were fully at one in regard to what they had to do. We have no means of
knowing which of the two first conceived the idea of translating the
works of Averroës: as master and servant they fairly share the fame of
that great enterprise. It was one which demanded, not only means, talent,
and unwearied labour, but high courage as well, considering the suspect
character of that philosophy and the censures under which it already
lay. In the event indeed this proved to be a matter highly creditable to
those who promoted it, but one which carried serious and far-reaching
consequences both for Michael Scot and for the Emperor himself in the
ecclesiastical and political sphere.

When Scot returned to Toledo it was not with the purpose of attempting
single-handed a task for which not only time, but the co-operation of
several scholars, was evidently necessary. There is reason to think that
the Emperors commission conveyed some instruction to this effect; for, as
a matter of fact, we know that at least two other hands were associated
with Scot in the translation of Averroës.

One of these was Gerard of Cremona, not of course the Cremonese who
died in 1187, but the younger scholar of the same name, perhaps a son
or nephew of the elder. He is distinguished as Gherardus _de Sabloneta_
Cremonensis. The Victorine manuscript[162] supplies evidence that he
contributed to the work in which Michael Scot was now engaged.

It is not impossible that Philip of Tripoli may have joined in the new
enterprise. His name does not indeed appear in any of the manuscripts
which contain the Latin Averroës, but we have seen that he was certainly
in Spain about this time and even at work with Gerard of Cremona.[163]
His intimate relation to Michael Scot is also beyond question, and, upon
the whole, it seems reasonable to suppose that the Emperor may have
engaged him to help in the work now going forward.

However this may have been as regards the exact details of time and
persons, we may regard it as a matter now for the first time brought to
light and established, that in the years between 1217 and 1223 there
existed a college of translators in Toledo just such as that which had
done so much excellent work there a century before. In the new school
Frederick II. held the honourable place of patron, as Archbishop Raymon
had done in his day, while Michael Scot and Gerard of Cremona aided each
other in completing the version of Averroës as Dominicus Gundisalvus had
lent his help to form that of Avicenna. This view of the matter should
be found very interesting, not only in itself, but with regard to the
conclusions arrived at by Jourdain, whose discoveries in the literary
history of the twelfth century it so remarkably repeats and extends to
the following age.

This correspondence between the earlier and later schools of Toledo is
even more close and exact than we have yet observed. It appears also in
the fact that a Jewish interpreter was attached to each, and rendered
important service as a member of the college. Under Don Raymon this place
was held by Johannes Avendeath, or Johannes Hispalensis as he is commonly
called, who worked along with the Archdeacon. ‘You have then,’ says
Avendeath, addressing the Archbishop, ‘the book which has been translated
from the Arabic according to your commands: I reading it word by word
into the vernacular (Spanish), and Dominic the Archdeacon rendering my
words one by one into Latin.’[164] The same division of labour seems
to have been followed in the new school which Frederick promoted.
The Emperor drew the attention of these learned men to Averroës, and
signified his desire that a version of this author should be prepared
like that which had been made from Avicenna. Michael Scot and Gerard of
Cremona were responsible, the former probably in a special sense, both
for the general conduct of the undertaking, and, in particular, for the
accuracy of the Latin. Now these scholars also, like their predecessors,
availed themselves of the help of a Jewish interpreter. This was one
Andrew Alphagirus, who seems to have taken the same part that Avendeath
had formerly done, by translating the Arabic of Averroës into current
Spanish, which Scot and his coadjutor then rendered into Latin.

Such at least appear to be the suggestions which offer themselves
naturally to one who peruses the colophon to the copy of the _De
Animalibus ad Caesarem_ preserved in the _Bibliotheca Angelica_ of Rome.
Thus it runs: ‘Here endeth the book of Aristotle concerning animals,
according to the abbreviation of Michael Scot Alphagirus.’ The form of
expression is curious, but may be exactly matched from the versions
produced by the earlier Toledan translators: that is, if we are to
believe Bartolocci. This author, in the first volume of his _Bibliotheca
Rabbinica_, mentions a manuscript of the Fondo Urbinate in the Vatican
which, he says, contains the four books of Avicenna on Physics translated
by ‘Johannes Gundisalvi.’ This name has evidently, like that of ‘Scoti
Alphagiri,’ been formed by composition from those of the two translators,
_Johannes_ Avendeath and Dominicus _Gundisalvi_ who aided each other in
the work.[165]

As to the personality of Alphagirus, the only ground of conjecture seems
to be that supplied by Romanus de Higuera, who, speaking of the learned
men assembled in 1218 at Toledo for the astronomical congress, mentions
that one of them was ‘el Conhesso Alfaquir’ of Toledo.[166] The place,
the date, and the similarity of name, are all in favour of our supposing
these two to be one and the same person. Nay further, as Alfaquir was
of Toledo, and did not need to be summoned thither in 1218, there is no
reason why he should not, as the ‘Alphagirus’ of 1209, have assisted
Michael Scot in producing the _De Animalibus_ for Frederick.

It is from a remark made by Roger Bacon that we know the first name of
the Toledan interpreter to have been Andrew, and that he was a Jew.
Bacon gives us this information in no kindly spirit, but in order to
lead up to the bitter conclusion that Scot’s work was not original,
but borrowed from one whose labours and just fame he had appropriated.
‘Michael Scot,’ he says, ‘was ignorant of languages and science alike.
Almost all that has appeared in his name was taken from a certain Jew
called Andrew.’[167]

A sufficient answer to this serious accusation may be found in what we
already know of the literary fashions of the day, and, in particular,
of the traditional methods of work pursued by the Toledan translators.
It was precisely thus that the Archdeacon Gundisalvus had used the
aid of Avendeath. A little later too, we find the same system adopted
in the translation of the Koran promoted by Peter the Venerable. That
ecclesiastic thus expresses himself in sending a copy of his book to St.
Bernard: ‘I had it translated by one skilled in both tongues; Master
Peter of Toledo; but since he was not as much at home in the Latin, and
did not know it as well as the Arabic, I appointed one to help him …
Brother Peter our Notary.’ To his Koran Peter the Venerable joined a
_Summa Brevis_ of the Christian controversy with the Mohammedans. This
work also came from the pen of Master Peter, and with regard to it he
makes the following remarks: ‘By giving elegance and order to what had
been rudely and confusedly stated by him (_i.e._ by Master Peter) he
(_i.e._ Brother Peter the Notary) has completed an epistle, or rather a
short treatise, which, as I believe, will be very useful to many.’[168]

This correspondence throws a clear light upon the case of Michael Scot in
regard to the charge of plagiarism. Like Master Peter, he was familiar
with both the Latin and the Arabic language. His weak point, however, we
may suppose to have made itself felt with regard to the latter, which he
probably knew better in its colloquial than its literary form, and this
must have been the reason why he availed himself of the aid of a Spanish
Jew to secure the accuracy of his work. Such collaboration seems to have
produced nearly all the previous versions which came from Toledo, and it
is obvious that the honour due to the various contributors who combined
in forming these translations can only be determined by those who have
it in their power to make a careful and unprejudiced valuation of their
individual labours in each case. We may gravely doubt whether this was
what Bacon did before he sat down to pen his sharp censure on Michael
Scot. Certainly such an estimate is now out of the question. We can only
affirm the undoubted fact that the critic was wrong when he said Scot did
not know Arabic. The contrary appears, not only from the probability we
have already drawn from his Sicilian residence, but by actual testimony
of a very honourable kind.[169] Nor must we forget to notice that the
openness with which this copartnery was carried on affords a proof that
no deceit could have been thought of in the matter. Considering the
past history of the Toledan School, it must have been taken for granted
that every version which came from thence under the name of a Christian
scholar owed something to the care of his Moorish scribe.

Even had we not been able to make such an appeal to the use and wont of
the times in vindication of Scot’s method of work, might not a little
consideration of what was natural and inevitable in such a task have
served to explain what Bacon found so objectionable? The scholars from
distant lands who came to Toledo could not, as a rule, afford to spend
much time there, and were anxious to use every moment of their stay to
the best advantage. They naturally therefore secured on their arrival the
services of a Jew or Moor for the purpose of learning Arabic. Needing a
knowledge of that tongue not so much in its colloquial as its literary
dialect, they must have been engaged from the first in the study of a
text rather than in conversing with their teachers. What then could have
been more suitable than that these scholars should begin by attacking
the very books of which they desired to furnish a Latin version? This
method had the merit of gaining two objects at once. The students learned
to read Arabic, following the text as it was translated to them by the
interpreter. Writing in Latin from his vernacular, and polishing as they
wrote, they engaged from the day of their arrival in the very work of
translation which had brought them to Spain. It is plain too that any
modification of this method which the case of Michael Scot might demand
would depend on the knowledge of Arabic he already possessed. It must
therefore have been such as left him more and not less credit in the
result of his labours than that which commonly belonged to the Christian
translators in Toledo.

The whole matter of these versions, and of the fame belonging to Michael
Scot in connection with them, seems to receive some further light
when we compare the Toledan practice with that which distinguished
the most famous schools of painting. It would surely be a strange
freak of criticism which should deny to any of the great masters his
well-earned fame because of the ground on which it was raised, or the
numerous scholars whom it attracted to his studio. Yet we know well what
this relation between the master and his school implied in the palmy
days of pictorial art. There were apprentices who stretched canvas,
mixed colours, and pricked and pounced designs. There were pupils, to
whom, according to their talents and proficiency, varied parts of the
execution were assigned. To the master alone belonged the oversight and
responsibility of the whole. Giving a general design, were it only in a
sketch from his hand, he watched the progress of the work with jealous
eye, and caught the decisive moment to interpose by executing with
his own pencil such parts of the painting as might give a distinctive
character, a _cachet_, to the whole. Not till he was satisfied that the
desired effect had been secured might the picture leave his studio, and
who shall say that he did wrong to sign his name to works produced in
such a way? Thus, at any rate, have the highest reputations in the world
of art risen into their deserved and enduring fame.

Now, as it is certain that the Toledan School pursued similar methods in
their literary labours, right requires that the reputation of its members
should be judged by the same canons of criticism which we apply without
hesitation to pictorial art. His own day unhesitatingly gave Scot the
chief credit in the version of Averroës without inquiring too curiously
what parts had been executed by the Cremonese, or other scholars, and
what share belonged to Andrew the Jew. It may make us the more ready
to accept this verdict and adopt it as our own when we remember the
intellectual qualities of the Emperor for whom this work was done. It is
certainly out of the question to suppose that a reputation in letters,
such as Michael Scot undoubtedly enjoyed at the court of Frederick II.,
could have been gained by any but legitimate and honourable means.

Coming to an examination then of the various versions which came from the
new Toledan School, we find that two of them expressly bear to have been
the work of Scot himself. The first of these is the treatise commencing
‘Maxima cognitio naturae et scientiae.’ It is the commentary of Averroës
on the _De Coelo et Mundo_ of Aristotle,[170] and Scot has prefaced it
by an introduction conceived as follows: ‘To thee, Stephen de Pruvino,
I, Michael Scot, specially commend this work, which I have rendered into
Latin from the sayings of Aristotle. And should Aristotle have delivered
somewhat in an incomplete form concerning the fabric of the world in
this book, thou mayest have what is wanting to complete it from that of
Alpetragius which I have likewise rendered into Latin; and, indeed, it is
one with which thou art well acquainted.’ As we know when the version of
Alpetrongi on the _Sphere_ was produced, this fortunate reference to that
previous work enables us to determine, at least approximately, that of
the _De Coelo et Mundo_, and hence of these translations of Averroës in
general. The year 1217 is the first limit, before which they cannot have
appeared, and 1223 is the last; for by that time Michael Scot had already
left Spain. Between these two dates then, and probably nearer the former
than the latter, must his labours and those of his coadjutors have been
devoted to this important work.

Stephanus de Provino has been happily identified by M. Bourquelot with
a somewhat notable ecclesiastic of the Church of Nôtre Dame du Val de
Provins, whose name occurs in various documents dated between the years
1211 and 1233. Renan conjectures that he may be the same as a certain
Etienne de Rheims, who, it seems, was born at Provins.[171] Perhaps he is
the _Stephanus Francigena_ of Guido Bonatti.[172] Scot’s friendship with
him, to which the dedication of the _De Coelo et Mundo_ bears witness,
was probably begun in their student days at Paris.

The second version bearing the name of Scot is that which commences with
the words: ‘Intendit per subtilitatem demonstrare;’ being the commentary
of Averroës on the _De Anima_ of Aristotle.[173] In the Victorine
manuscript this treatise offers a curious title: ‘Here beginneth the
Commentary of the Book of Aristotle the Philosopher concerning the Soul,
which Averroës commented on in _Greek_, and Michael Scot translated into

In the same manuscript the version of Averroës’s Commentary on the
various books which compose the _Parva Naturalia_ of Aristotle is
ascribed to Gerard of Cremona. Renan observes that this ascription does
not occur in any other copy, and supposes it to have been a mistake. He
seems influenced in this conclusion by the fact that Gerard of Cremona
died in 1187. It is curious to find such an eminent scholar forgetful
of the existence of a younger Cremonese; and he is not alone in this
error, for it has been repeated even of late years. Yet in 1851 Prince
Baldassare Boncompagni had distinguished well between the elder and
younger Gerard of Cremona in an excellent monograph on the subject.[174]
Even had this work not been published, the learned world had already
reason enough to suspect the truth. In a well-known passage of his
_Compendium Studii_,[175] Roger Bacon speaks of Gerard of Cremona
as a contemporary of Michael Scot, Alured of England, William the
Fleming, and Herman the German, adding that those who were still young
had nevertheless known Gerard, who was the eldest of this company of
scholars. Now the _Compendium Studii_ is commonly assigned to the year
1292, but even if we carry this passage back to 1267, when the most of
Bacon’s works were written, it still appears evidently impossible that
any one still young in that year could have seen a man who died in 1187.
Boncompagni, as we have said, explains the difficulty by acquainting
us with the younger Gerard, called _de Sabloneta_ Cremonensis. He was
undoubtedly a contemporary of Michael Scot, and the De Rossi manuscript,
already referred to,[176] shows that he was in Spain about this time.
There is therefore no reason to distrust the testimony of the Victorine
codex when it gives Gerard the honour of having translated Averroës on
the _Parva Naturalia_. In accomplishing this work he vindicated his right
to the place we have already ventured to assign him as a member of the
Toledan College.

The manuscript collections where the _De Coelo et Mundo_, the _De Anima_,
and the _Parva Naturalia_ of Averroës are found in a Latin dress, contain
also versions of several other commentaries by the same author: those
concerning the _De Generatione et Corruptione_, the four books of the
_Meteora_, the _De Substantia Orbis_, and the _Physica_ and _Metaphysica_
of Aristotle.[177] We may safely ascribe them to the Toledo College. They
were translated either by Michael Scot, Gerard of Cremona, or some other
scholar who worked under these masters.

Renan, relying on the authority of Haureau,[178] has shown good
reason to believe that at least the commentaries on the _Physica_ and
_Metaphysica_ in their Latin versions came from the pen of Scot. Albertus
Magnus, in a passage of high censure, delivers himself in the following
terms: ‘Vile opinions are to be found in the book called _Quaestiones
Nicolai Peripatetici_. I have been wont to say that the author of it
was not Nicholas but Michael Scot, who in very deed knew not natural
philosophy, nor rightly understood the books of Aristotle.’[179] The
doctrine thus condemned is undoubtedly that of Averroës on the _Physica_
and _Metaphysica_. A manuscript of the Paris library has a treatise
commencing thus: ‘Haec sunt extracta de libro Nicolai Peripatetici,’ and
it seems that a close correspondence exists between this and a certain
digression in the commentary by Averroës on the twelfth book of the
Metaphysics. This digression, says Renan, often occurs in the manuscripts
as a separate treatise called ‘Sermo de quaestionibus quas accepimus a
Nicolao et nos dicemus in his secundum nostrum posse.’ These words have
been omitted from the printed editions of the Commentaries of Averroës,
and thus the identity of this treatise with the book censured by Albertus
Magnus was not recognised till Haureau discovered it.

The only result then of this sharp criticism is to assure us that the
versions of the _Physica_ and _Metaphysica_ must also be reckoned to the
credit of Michael Scot. For undoubtedly the opinions to which Albert
took such exception were those of Averroës, and not of the translator.
But if so, then what becomes of the censure passed upon Scot? The truth
is that if he was more original than Bacon gave him credit for, on the
other hand he escapes the force of Albert’s blame by proving to have
been less original than the latter critic had supposed. His was indeed a
hard case. He could not form versions from the Arabic but either he was
accused of plagiarism or else held up to the indignation of Christianity
as if he had been the author of the opinions he rendered into Latin.
This steady determination to find fault overreaches itself. We begin to
discover in it the bitter fruit of some _odium philosophicum_, and of
that envy which even a just reputation seldom fails to excite.

Some curiosity may be felt with regard to the doctrine contained in
the _Quaestiones Nicolai Peripatetici_ which gave ground for such
adverse opinions. M. Renan’s _résumé_ of this treatise is clear and
sufficient,[180] and we may reproduce it here, as it will afford a useful
supplement to the account already given of the philosophy of Averroës.
‘As to the origin of the different kinds of being,’ says Averroës,
‘there are two exactly opposite opinions, as well as others occupying
an intermediate position. The one explains the world by a theory of
development, the other by creation. Those who hold the former say that
generation is nothing but the outcome and in a sense the multiplication
of being; the Agent, according to this hypothesis, doing no more than
extricate being from being and make a distinction between them,[181] so
that the Agent, thus conceived, has the function of a mere motive power.
As to those who hold the hypothesis of creation, they say that the Agent
produces being without having any recourse to pre-existent matter. This
is the view taken by our _Motecallemin_, and by the followers of the
Christian religion: for example, by Johannes Christianus (Philopon), who
asserts that the possibility of creation lies in the Agent alone.’

‘The intermediate views may be reduced to two only, though the first of
these admits several subdivisions which show considerable differences.
These opinions agree in affirming that generation is only a change of
substance; that all generation implies a subject; and that everything
begets in its own likeness. The first opinion asserts, however, that
the part of the Agent is to create form, and to impress it upon already
existent matter. Some of those who hold this view, as Ibn Sina,[182] make
an entire separation between matter in generation and the Agent, calling
the latter the _source of form_, while others, among whom we may notice
Themistius and perhaps Alfarabi, maintain that the Agent is in some cases
conjoined with matter, as when fire produces fire, or man begets man; and
in others separate from it, as in the generation of creeping things and
plants, _i.e._ those not produced from seed,[183] which all owe their
being to causes that are unlike themselves.’

‘The third theory is that of Aristotle, who holds that the Agent produces
at once both form and substance, by impressing motion on matter, and
begetting a change therein which rouses its latent powers to action. In
this way of thinking the function of the Agent is only to make active
that which already existed potentially, and to realise a union between
matter and form. Thus all creation is reduced to motion of which heat is
the principle. This heat, shed abroad in the waters and in the earth,
begets both the animals and the plants which are not produced by seed.
Nature puts forth all these both orderly and with perfection, just as if
guided by a controlling mind; though nature itself has no intelligence.
The proportions and productive power which the elements owe to the motion
of the sun and stars are what Plato called by the name of _Ideas_.
According to Aristotle the Agent cannot create forms, for in that case
something would be produced from nothing.

‘It is, in fact, the notion that forms could be created which has led
some philosophers to suppose that forms have a substantive existence of
their own, and that there is a separate source of these. The same error
has infected all the three religions of our day,[184] leading their
divines to assert that nothing can produce something. Starting from
this principle our theologians have supposed the existence of one Agent
producing without intermediary all kinds of creatures; an Agent whose
action proceeds by an infinity of opposite and contradictory acts done
simultaneously. In this way of thinking it is not fire that burns, nor
water that moistens; all proceeds by a direct act of the Creator. Nay
more, when a man throws a stone, these teachers attribute the consequent
motion not to the man but to the universal Agent, and thus deny any true
human activity.

‘There is even a more astounding corollary of this doctrine; for if God
can cause that which is not to enter into being, He can also reduce being
to nothing; destruction, like generation, is God’s work, and Death itself
has been created by Him. But in our way of thinking destruction is like
generation. Each created thing contains in itself its own corruption,
which is present with it potentially. In order to destroy, just as to
create, it is only necessary for the Agent to call this potentiality into
activity. We must in short maintain as co-ordinate principles both the
Agent and these potential powers. Were one of the two wanting, nothing
could exist at all, or else all being would reduce itself to action;
either of which consequences is as absurd as the other.’

We cannot wonder that Albertus Magnus, and all who held the Christian
faith, were alarmed by doctrine of this kind and fiercely opposed it.
The orthodox beliefs of Christians, Jews, and Mohammedans alike were
declared false by this bold writer, whom several expressions which we
have embodied in the above summary show clearly to have been Averroës,
and not Michael Scot. In one passage indeed we seem to discover what may
have suggested the widely spread fable that Frederick II., or Scot, or
some other of their company and party, had produced an atheistic work
called _De Tribus Impostoribus_. The imputation was a false one, yet most
natural were the feelings of prejudice which the publication of this
philosophy aroused against the great Emperor and Michael Scot who had
acted as his agent in the matter.

Pursuing our investigation of the works which came from the Toledan
College we discover that these were not confined to the books of
Aristotle already noticed, but that the translators took a wider range
in their labours. The Venice manuscript of Averroës,[185] besides the
_De Coelo et Mundo_, the _De Anima_, the _Meteora_, the _De Substantia
Orbis_, the _De Generatione et Corruptione_, and the _Parva Naturalia_,
contains several other treatises that deserve attention. Two of these
were compositions of Averroës; the one a commentary on the book of
Proclus, _De Causis_, then commonly ascribed to Aristotle,[186] and the
other an independent work, as it would seem, bearing the following title:
‘Qualiter intellectus naturalis conjungitur Intelligentiae abstractae,’
in short a treatise on the _ittisal_. The volume also contains the
Latin version of a book by the Rabbi Moses Maimonides, entitled ‘De Deo
Benedicto, quod non est Corpus, nec Virtus in Corpore.’[187] Maimonides,
like Averroës, was a native of Cordova, and hence no doubt arose the
interest that was felt in his works by the Toledan translators.

That the Venice manuscript is to be understood as a collection of the
versions which came from that school appears plainly in the dedication
to Stephen of Provins. This is generally prefixed to the _De Coelo et
Mundo_, thus forming an introduction to the versions which follow; but
here it has been placed at the end of the volume, occurring immediately
after the short article _De Vita Aristotelis_ which closes the whole
series. We may see in this fact a certain probability that some at
least of these additional versions may have been the work of Michael
Scot himself. Nor will the five years which he spent at Toledo appear
too scant a space of time for the production of the whole body of the
Latin Averroës and something more, when we remember the ample and able
assistance he enjoyed in the prosecution of his labours as a translator.

There is one other version of which we must speak before leaving the
subject which has engaged our attention so long. The library of St. Omer
contains a manuscript collection of the works of Aristotle in Latin
which was written during the thirteenth century.[188] The fly-leaf at
the commencement of this volume shows the same handwriting as the other
pages, and has proved upon examination to be the last relic of a work
which has unfortunately perished. What that work was may be seen from
the closing words, which are as follows: ‘Here end the _Nova Ethica_ of
Aristotle, which Master Michael Scot translated from the Greek language
into the Latin.’ This colophon opens a curious question. Are we to
consider that the scribe wrote _Greek_ when he should rather have said
_Arabic_? It was by a mistake of such a kind that the writer of the
Victorine manuscript asserted that Averroës had commented on the _De
Anima_ in _Greek_.[189] Taking it in this way the version of the _Nova
Ethica_ would fall into line with the others which Scot and Gerard of
Cremona composed at Toledo. But it deserves notice that none of the
manuscript collections usually considered to contain the work of that
school comprises among its contents the _Nova Ethica_. We know, further,
that a Latin version of the Ethics with the commentary of Averroës was
made from the Arabic by Hermannus Alemannus.[190] This work was completed
on the third of June 1240, and we can hardly suppose that it would have
been entered on if Michael Scot had already accomplished the same task
but twenty years earlier. These facts and considerations make it very
unlikely that the St. Omer fragment represents a version of the Arabic

Assuming then the literal truth of this interesting colophon, we
are confirmed in the conclusion to which an examination of the _De
Partibus Animalium_ in the Florence manuscript has already inclined
our minds.[191] Michael Scot, it must now be held, did not confine
his studies altogether to the Arabian authors, but undertook to form
translations directly from the Greek. These two versions, and especially
that of the _Nova Ethica_, open up a new and striking view of the
scholar’s literary activity. When Aquinas moved Pope Urban to order a new
translation of Aristotle from the original, William of Moerbeka and those
others who presently entered upon this work were tilling no virgin soil,
but a familiar field in which the plough of Scot at least had left deep
furrows. Even the renowned Grostête, Bishop of Lincoln, who executed a
version of the _Ethica_ from the Greek about 1250, was but following in
the path which this earlier master had opened up. Michael Scot here takes
rank with Boëthius and Jacobus de Venetiis, who were among the first to
seek these pure and original sources of Aristotelic doctrine. He appears
as one who not only completed the knowledge of his time with regard to
the Arabian philosophy by translating Averroës, but who gave some help at
least to lay the foundation of a more exact acquaintance with the works
of Aristotle by opening a direct way to the Greek text. We may even see
a sign of this remarkable position in the place of honour given, perhaps
accidentally, to Scot’s version of the _Nova Ethica_ at the opening of
the St. Omer manuscript. He stands between two ages, and lays a hand of
power upon each.

It is hardly necessary to add that in this he shines all the more
brightly when compared with his great detractor. Roger Bacon, secure
in the consciousness of his commanding abilities, attacks with a rare
self-confidence, not Michael Scot alone, but all the scholars of his
time. Not four of them, he says, know Hebrew, Greek, and Arabic.[192]
Those who pretend to translate from these tongues are ignorant even
of Latin, not to speak of the sciences treated of in the books which
they pretend to render intelligible. Busy in penning these diatribes,
Bacon does not seem to have reflected that the best way of reproving
the imperfections of which he complained would have been to shame these
scholars to some purpose by producing better versions on his own account.
But the truth of the matter lies here, that Bacon was no linguist. This
appears plainly from the tale he tells against himself in the _Compendium
Studii_; how a hard word in Aristotle had baffled him till one day
there came some outlandish students to hear him lecture, who laughed at
his perplexity, telling him it was good Spanish for the plant called
Henbane.[193] ‘Hinc illae lachrymae’ then, and a plague on Michael Scot
and all his tribe, who know Spanish so well they will not put a plain
Latin word for the puzzled professor to understand. No wonder that to
Scot rather than to Bacon, for all his genius, that age owed the chief
part of the first translation of Aristotle and a good beginning of the



The return of Michael Scot from Spain to the Imperial Court was doubtless
a striking moment, not only in the life of the philosopher himself,
but in the history of letters. He then appeared fresh from a great
enterprise, and bringing with him the proofs of its success in the form
of the Latin Averroës. We cannot doubt that his reception was worthy of
the occasion and of one who had served his master so faithfully.

Frederick was now returned to his dominions in the south. He had
established his imperial rights in Germany at the cost of a campaign in
which the pretensions of Otho were successfully overcome, and, on his
return homeward in 1220, he had received the crown once more in Rome
at the hands of the supreme ecclesiastical authority. His progress was
indeed a continual scene of triumph. Arrived at Palermo, the court gave
itself up to feasting and gaiety of every kind.

Two ancient romantic authorities[194] choose with dramatic instinct this
moment, and these gay and voluptuous surroundings, as the _mise en scène_
amid which they show us Scot again appearing to resume the place he
had quitted more than ten years before. It is quite possible that there
may be a measure of historic truth here, as well as the art which can
seize or create an occasion, and which loves to contrast the triumph of
arms with the more peaceful honours of literary fame. Frederick, we must
remember, in a sort represented both. He was Maecenas as well as Caesar.
In welcoming Michael Scot and doing him honour at these imperial banquets
he was but crowning the success of an enterprise in which his own name
and interest were deeply engaged.

Traces of the impression made by this highly significant incident have
been preserved in the arts of poetry and painting as well as in that of
prose romance. Dante, who wrote his _Divine Comedy_ less than a century
later than the time of Scot, has given the philosopher a place in his
poem, describing him as:

    ‘Quell’altro, che ne’ fianchi è così poco,
    Michele Scotto fu.’[195]

The commentators, with great reason, refer the epithet ‘poco’ to the
manner of Scot’s dress. It would seem that the Spaniards of those days
differed from the other European nations in their habit. They wore
a close girdle about the waist, like the _hhezum_ of the East; and
indeed they had probably taken the fashion from long familiarity with
their Moorish masters and neighbours.[196] Scot must have adopted such
a dress while at Toledo, and thus, when he returned to Palermo, the
singularity of his appearance struck the eyes of the court at once. The
impression proved a remarkably enduring one, since, even in Dante’s day,
it still persisted, offering itself, as we have seen, to the poet as
a picturesque means of presenting the famous scholar to the world, not
without a hidden reference to what was certainly one of the crowning
moments of his life.

We may suspect indeed that the fashion of Scot’s dress was more than
simply Spanish; for the mode of Aragon at least must surely have been
too familiar at Frederick’s court to excite so much attention. The
philosopher had lived long in close company with the Moors of Toledo and
Cordova. What he wore was probably no mere fragment of Eastern fashion
but the complete costume of an Arabian sage. The flowing robes, the
close-girt waist, the pointed cap, were not unknown in Sicily where there
was still a considerable Moorish population, yet they must have sat
strangely enough upon Scot when once he declared himself for what he was:
the reverend ecclesiastic, the Master of Paris, the native of the far

There is a fresco on the south wall[197] of the Spanish Chapel in the
cloisters of Santa Maria Novella of Florence which contains a figure
answering nearly to this conjecture regarding Scot’s appearance. It
is that of a man in the prime of life, slight and dark, with a short
brown beard trimmed to a point. He wears a long close-fitting robe of a
reddish colour, noticeably narrow at the waist, with a falling girdle. On
his head is a tall red pointed cap from which the ringlets of his dark
hair escape on each side. He stands among the converts of the Dominican
preachers and bends towards the spectator with an intense expression and
action as he tears the leaves out of a heretical book[198] that rests
on his knee. It would be too much to assert that the figure we have
described was meant as a portrait of Michael Scot, yet considering the
place he holds in the _Divine Comedy_, it is not impossible that such
an idea may have crossed the artist’s mind and left these traces in his
work. Certainly no better pictorial illustration can be found, at once
of Dante’s lines, and of the somewhat equivocal reputation which began
to haunt Scot from the time of his return to court. There was indeed a
singular fitness in the Moslem dress considered as the daily wear of
one who, though a Christian and a Churchman, had just done more than
any living scholar to introduce the Moorish science and philosophy in
the West. His choice of such a fashion is evidence that Michael Scot
possessed a ready adaptability to his circumstances, and even a vein
of aesthetic and dramatic instinct which we might not otherwise have
suspected. But it is not to be forgotten that his versions of Averroës
were already condemned by the Church, and that the very manner of Scot’s
appearance when he brought them from Spain must have heightened the
suspicions of heresy which began to attach themselves to the translator
of these forbidden works. The only hope for such a man was that he
might be induced to tear his book and turn to less dangerous pursuits.
This is exactly the idea which the painter of the Spanish Chapel has
expressed, and in a form which accords so remarkably with the picturesque
description of Michael Scot by Dante.[199]

If the philosopher did not actually take such extreme measures with the
creatures of his brain and pen, the versions he brought to Sicily were at
least suppressed in the meantime, being concealed in the imperial closet
till a more suitable opportunity should occur for their publication. This
done, their author devoted himself to pursuits less likely to attract
unfavourable notice than those in which he had been lately engaged.

The place and duty which most naturally offered themselves to Scot were
those of the Court Astrologer. We have seen him occupied in this way
already, before he left Palermo for Spain, and there seems no reason
to doubt the tradition which says that such was indeed the standing
occupation of his life, and one which he resumed at once on his return.
To this application of celestial science the opinion of the times
attached no sinister interpretation, and Scot, finding himself the object
of suspicion on account of his late studies and achievements, must have
fallen back with a sense of security, strange as it may seem, upon the
casting of horoscopes and the forming of presages founded on the flight
of birds and the motion of animals.[200]

It is therefore in all likelihood to this period in his life that we are
to ascribe several works on astrology and kindred subjects which bear
the name of Scot. They may have come from his pen by way of supplement
to the doctrine which he had expounded so many years before in the
_Liber Introductorius_.[201] Such are the _Astrologia_ of the Munich
Library,[202] and a curious volume preserved in the Hof-Bibliothek of
Vienna with the following title: ‘Michaelis Scoti Capitulum de iis quae
generaliter significantur in partibus duodecim Caeli, sive Domibus.’[203]
The _De Presagiis Stellarum et Elementaribus_, and the _Notitia
convinctionis Mundi terrestris cum Coelesti_, cited by the writer on Scot
in the _Encyclopedia Britannica_, belong apparently to the same class.

We shall probably commit no error in assuming that the astrological views
of Scot at this period were substantially the same as those embodied
in his earlier writings on that subject.[204] In after ages they were
severely censured by Pico della Mirandola, who says of Scot’s doctrine
concerning the stellar images: ‘These invisible forms can be discerned
neither by the senses nor by right reason, and there is no agreement
regarding them by their inventors, who were not the Chaldeans or Indians
but only the Arabs.’ … ‘Michael Scot mentions all these (images) as
things most effectual, and with him agree many astrologers, both Arabian
and Latin. I had heard somewhat of this doctrine, and thought at first
that it was meant merely as a convenient means of mapping out the sky,
and not that these figures actually existed in the heavens.…’ ‘From the
Greeks astrology passed to the Arabs and was taught with ever-growing
assurance.…’ ‘Aboasar, a grammarian and historical writer, took this
science from the Greeks, corrupting it with countless trifling fables,
and made thereof an astrology much worse than that of Ptolemy.…’ ‘In
those days the study of mathematics, like that of philosophy in general,
made great progress in Spain under King Alphonso, a keen student in the
calculus, especially as applied to the movements of the heavenly bodies.
He had also a taste for the vain arts of the Diviner, having learned no
better; and to please him in this many of the most important treatises
of that kind, both Greek and Arabic, have been handed down to our own
day, chiefly by the labours of Johannes Hispalensis and Michael Scot,
the latter of whom was an author of no weight and full of superstition.
Albertus Magnus at first was somewhat carried away with this doctrine,
for it came with the power of novelty to his inexperienced youth, but
I rather think that his opinions suffered change in later life.’[205]
Mirandola belonged to another age than that of Scot, when purer
conceptions of astronomical science were already beginning to prevail,
but the very opinions he condemned held a real relation to that progress.
They encouraged in early times, as may be seen in the case of Alphonso
himself, a study of the heavenly motions without which no true advance
could have been made.

A story told by the chronicler Salimbene may, if rightly understood,
show us that Michael Scot too, for all his astrological dreams, was a
clever calculator and thus stood well in the line on which true advance
in astronomy was even then proceeding. The Emperor asked him one day to
determine the distance of the _coelum_, which probably means the height
of the roof, in a certain hall of the palace where they happened to
be standing together. The calculation having been made and the result
given, Frederick took occasion to send Scot on a distant journey,
and, while he was away, the proportions of the room were slightly but
sufficiently altered. On his return the Emperor led him where they had
been before and asked that he should repeat his solution of the problem.
Scot unhesitatingly affirmed that a change had taken place; either the
floor was higher or the _coelum_ lower than before: an answer which
made all men marvel at his skill.[206] Greek science had taught the art
of measuring inaccessible distances by means of angular observations,
and this art was well understood by the Arabs. The _Optica_ of Ptolemy
were already translated into Latin from an Arabic version by Eugenio,
admiral to King Robert of Sicily during the twelfth century,[207] and
mathematical instruments were known in that kingdom whereby angles could
be taken and measured with some nicety. Scot must have possessed such
an _astrolabe_ and the skill to use it with great delicacy, if we have
rightly read the terms of the problem he solved so unhesitatingly. There
is no cause for wonder then in the fact that, where pure and legitimate
astronomy was concerned, this philosopher, who had won fame in his
student days as the mathematician of Paris, who was now widely known
as the translator of Alpetrongi, and who as a keen observer and ready
calculator was well qualified for original research, should have taken a
high place in these studies on his own account, and should have come to
be acknowledged as a master in them. Even Bacon, who blamed Michael Scot
so bitterly when language or philosophy were in question, speaks in a
different way here, calling him a ‘notable inquirer into matter, motion,
and the course of the constellations.’

This well-earned celebrity may have been owing in no small degree to a
mathematical and astronomical work produced by the philosopher after
his return to court. Sacrobosco, the famous English astronomer, had
just risen into notice by his treatise on the _Sphere_. This book was
not indeed very remarkable in itself, but it obtained an extraordinary
currency during the Middle Ages, and after the invention of printing as
well as before it:[208] a popularity chiefly due, we may believe, to its
suggestiveness, which caused many of the learned to enrich the _Sphere_
of Sacrobosco with their own notes and observations. One of the first to
do so was Michael Scot. His commentary on the work of Holywood contains
several subtle inquiries and determinations regarding the source of heat,
the sphericity of the heavenly bodies, and other matters, which have been
repeated by Libri with the remark that their author must have been far in
advance of his times.[209]

We may notice here a curious legend of Naples to which Sir Walter Scott
has drawn attention in the account he gives of his great namesake.[210]
It would seem to suggest that this age, perhaps by means of Michael
Scot, was acquainted with philosophical instruments rarer if not more
useful than the astrolabe. The romance of _Vergilius_ tells how that
hero founded ‘in the middes of the see a fayer towne, with great landes
belongynge to it; … and called it Napells. And the fandacyon of it
was of egges, and in that towne of Napells he made a tower with iiii
corners, and in the toppe he set an apell upon an yron yarde, and no
man culd pull away that apell without he brake it; and thoroughe that
yren set he a bolte, and in that bolte set he a egge. And he henge the
apell by the stauke upon a cheyne, and so hangeth it still. And when the
egge styrreth, so shoulde the towne of Napells quake; and when the egge
brake, then shulde the towne sinke,’ The reference here is of course to
the _Castel del Ovo_ at Naples, a fortress which we know to have been
built, or at least strengthened, by Frederick II. What if the rest of the
legend embalm, like a fly in amber, the tradition, strangely altered, of
some instrument set up there to measure the force of the earthquakes so
prevalent in that part of Italy?

Such a notion is not the pure matter of conjecture it may at first sight
seem to be. Frederick was in relation with those who might well have put
him in possession of this among other secrets. When the Tartars stormed
the _Vulture’s Nest_, as it was called, in the Syrian castle of Alamout,
they found an observatory well supplied with instruments of precision,
and that of all kinds.[211] Now this place was the last refuge of the
Assassins, that strange sect who owned obedience to the Old Man of the
Mountain. Frederick II. when in the East paid these people a visit,[212]
and again at Melfi, in his own dominions, he received their ambassadors
and entertained them at a great banquet.[213] Considering then the
Emperor’s well-known curiosity in all matters of physical science, we
may feel sure he would profit by any improvements or discoveries the
observers at Alamout could communicate. If the contrivance set up at
Naples was really a _seismometer_, this would furnish a curious comment
on Bacon’s statement that Michael Scot excelled in investigating the
movements of matter.[214]

Passing to what rests on more certain evidence, we find Scot’s fame in
those days attested by one of his most distinguished contemporaries,
and that in a way which makes him appear as an honoured master in the
science of algebra, then lately introduced from the Moorish schools. This
improvement and testimony were both of them due to a certain Leonardo
of the Bonacci family of Pisa, who was, perhaps, the first to bring the
new method of calculation to the knowledge of his countrymen. His father
had been overseer of the customs at Bougie, in Barbary,[215] on behalf
of the Pisan merchants who traded thither. Observing the superior way of
reckoning used by the Moors in that country, he sent home for his son
that the boy might be trained in this admirable way of counting. Leonardo
perfected his art in after years by travel and study in Egypt, Syria,
and Greece, as well as in Sicily and Provence. The ripe fruit of this
knowledge saw the light in 1222, when he published for the first time
his famous _Liber Abbaci_. It consisted of fifteen chapters, in which
the author declared the secret of the Indian numerals as well as the
fundamental processes of algebra.[216]

This brief account of one who must ever hold an honourable place in the
history of mathematical science may enable us to value at its true worth
the praise which Leonardo bestowed on Michael Scot. It seems that the
first edition of the _Liber Abbaci_ was not entirely satisfactory. Scot
wrote a letter to the author which possibly contained strictures on the
work, and asked that a copy of the emended edition should be sent him.
Pisano replied by dedicating the book to his correspondent. It appeared
in 1228, and contained a prefatory letter, in which the author addresses
Scot in the highest terms of respect, calling him by that title of
_Supreme Master_ which he had won at Paris, and submitting the _Liber
Abbaci_, even in this its final form, to his further emendation. This
_laudari a laudato_ must have been most grateful to the philosopher, and
it enables us to see the standing he had among the mathematicians of his
time. One would almost be disposed to infer, from the respect Pisano
paid him, that Scot himself had composed or translated some lost work on
algebra. In another connection we shall find reason to think that this
conjecture may be well founded.[217]

Besides the practice of astrology and his deeper researches in astronomy
and mathematics, Michael Scot devoted himself to another profession,
that of medicine. This was then a science very imperfectly understood,
yet here too, in the years that followed his return to court, Scot made
a name for himself as a physician, and contributed something to the
advancement of human knowledge in one of its most important branches. The
healing art in Europe had only just begun to emerge from that primitive
state in which savage peoples still possess it; overlaid by charms and
incantations; the peculiar department of the wise woman, the sorcerer,
and the priest. Among the Latin races the lady of the castle and the
_bella donna_ of the village still cared for rich and poor in their
various accidents and sicknesses, as indeed they continued to do for
several ages more. Only crowned heads, the wealthiest of the nobility,
or the rich merchants of the cities, began to require and employ the
services of regular physicians. These were generally Jews, sometimes
Moors;[218] and thus fashion and experience alike began to make popular
among our ancestors the superior claims of science in medicine. Such
science had undoubtedly survived from the days and in the works of
Hippocrates, Galen, and Celsus, and was now preserved in the theory and
practice of the Arabian schools.

This point once reached, a further advance soon became inevitable.
Attention had been called to a deeper source of medical knowledge than
that generally possessed in the West. Learned men, whose tastes led
them this way, naturally sought to inform their minds by procuring
translations of the Arabic works on medicine. The just fame of Salerno,
a medical school which had been founded in the closing years of the
eleventh century by Robert Guiscard, depended on the intelligent zeal
with which this plan of research was then pursued.[219] The kingdom
of Sicily indeed occupies as important a place in the progress of the
healing art as Spain itself does with regard to the history of philosophy
and of science in general.

Frederick II., as might have been expected, did much to encourage and
regulate these useful studies. We have already noticed the bent of
his mind towards comparative physiology, and the daring experiments he
carried out, _in corpore vili et vivo_. One of the first literary and
scientific works which he commanded, or at least accepted when it was
dedicated to him, was a compilation from three ancient authors upon a
medical subject.[220] He was then but eighteen years of age. As time
went on his interest in this science continued, and became the motive
to a liberal and enlightened policy. He regarded medicine as a matter
of national importance, and strove by wise laws to make the practice
of that profession as intelligent and useful as possible. He protected
the faculty at Salerno and created that of Naples. None might lecture
elsewhere in the Sicilies, and every physician in the kingdom must hold
testimonials from one or other of these schools, as well as a government
licence to practise. The course preliminary to qualification consisted of
three years in arts and five in medicine and surgery. As a guide to the
professors, the doctrine of Hippocrates and Galen was declared normal in
the schools; yet, lest this should become merely formal and traditional,
directions were given that the students should have practice in anatomy.
Regarding the related trade of the apothecary, the laws denounced the
adulteration of drugs. Physicians might not claim a greater fee than half
a _taren_ of gold per diem, which gave the patient a right to be visited
thrice in the day. The poor were to be attended free of charge. We have
thought it right to be particular in these details, as they throw light
on the times, and on Scot’s own practice as a physician. Considering
indeed the place he held about the Emperor’s person, and the high
estimation in which his master held him, it seems not at all improbable
that his may have been the hand which drew these wise enactments, or his
at least the suggestion which commended them to Frederick. They must in
any case have been the rules under which he carried on his work as a
doctor of medicine.

This branch of Michael Scot’s activity relates itself easily and
naturally to what we already know of his acquirements and familiarity
with the Arabian authors. It was from the _De Medicina_ of Rases that
he borrowed so much material for his _Physionomia_. The _Abbreviatio
Avicennae_ too, which he translated for Frederick in 1210, was in no
small part a treatise on comparative anatomy and physiology, nor is it
likely that he can have missed reading the famous _canon_ of the same
author, in which Avicenna expounds a complete body of practical medicine.
We need not wonder then to find that, on Scot’s return to court, his
work on Averroës done, he added the practice of physic to his duties as
Imperial Astrologer. This new profession must have offered itself to him
as another means of securing a general forgetfulness of the questionable
direction in which his philosophical studies had lately carried him.

He seems in fact to have won almost as much fame in medicine as he had
made for himself in the study of mathematics. Lesley says ‘he gained much
praise as a philosopher, astronomer, and physician.’ Dempster speaks
of his ‘singular skill,’ calling him ‘one of the first physicians for
learning’[221] and adding that Camperius[222] had the highest opinion
of him. An anonymous writer, _De claris Doctrina Scotis_, is even more
precise, telling us that Scot was noted for the cures he effected in
difficult cases, and that he excelled in the treatment of leprosy, gout,
and dropsy.[223]

Some slight remains of this skill are to be found in the libraries of
Europe; for Michael Scot was a writer on the science of his art as well
as a practising physician. The chief of these relics is a considerable
work on the urine. This subject had been widely, if not deeply, studied
by the more ancient medical authorities, whose investigations appear in
the _Ketab Albaul_ of Al Kairouani,[224] and in a book to which we have
already more than once referred: the _De Urinis_ compiled for Frederick
in 1212.[225] The same title belongs to one of the treatises by Avicenna,
which has been reprinted in the present century.[226]

The _De Urinis_ of Michael Scot seems now extant in the form of an
Italian translation alone. The exact title is as follows: ‘Della notitia
e prognosticatione dell’orine, secondo Michele Scoto, così de’ sani,
come delli infermi,’ or, more briefly, ‘El trattato de le urine secondo
Michaele Scoto.’[227] The author enumerates no less than nineteen
divisions of his subject, which he seems to have studied very exactly.
This work long remained an authority in the medical schools, as appears,
not only from the two translations we have noticed, but also in the fact
that large use was made of it in a later collection which commences thus:
‘In the name of the Lord, Amen. These are certain recipes taken from the
book of Master Michael Scot, Physician to the Emperor Frederick, and from
the works of other Doctors.’[228]

There has also come down to us a prescription called _Pillulae Magistri
Michaelis Scoti_.[229] It enumerates about a dozen ingredients and the
scribe has added an extravagant commendation of its healing powers.
Mineral medicines were evidently not in fashion in those days; for the
recipe speaks only of simples derived from herbs of different kinds. It
is to be observed that this agrees exactly with the practice of Salerno,
as the Materia Medica of that school was chiefly drawn from the botany
of Dioscorides afterwards expounded by Ibn Beithar of Malaga, the great
Moorish authority on the healing virtues of plants. There is no reason
then to doubt the truth of the title which ascribes the prescription for
these pills to Michael Scot. It is in any case a curious relic of early
medical practice.

It is possible that the great plague which fell upon Palermo at the time
of Frederick’s marriage may have been, in part at least, the occasion
of that interest which both the Emperor and his astrologer took in the
healing art. These epidemics, which in several of their most fatal forms
are now only known by tradition, were the dreaded scourge of the Middle
Ages; their prevalence being no doubt due to the rude and insanitary
habits of life which were then universal. We read of another infectious
sickness which attacked Frederick and his crusaders when they were on the
point of sailing from Brindisi in 1227. The season was one of terrible
heat, so great indeed that one chronicle says the rays of the sun melted
solid metal! Lying in the confinement of their galleys on an unhealthy
coast the troops suffered severely. At last rain fell, but immediately
poisonous damps arose from the steaming soil, and the plague began to
show itself. Two bishops and the Landgrave of Thuringia were among the
victims of the pestilence, and very many of the crusaders died. Frederick
himself ran considerable risk of his life. Against the advice of his
physician he had exposed himself to the sun in the course of his journey
to Brindisi. After three days with the fleet he was obliged to return
on account of the state of his health, when he at once went to the
waters at Pozzuoli, which proved a successful cure. Michael Scot must
have entered into these affairs with a large concern and responsibility
for his master’s health, and we shall think much of the importance and
consequence he enjoyed at this time when we remember that the chief
object of his care as a physician was the life of one on whom interests
that were more than European then depended.



The various occupations in which Michael Scot engaged upon his return to
court were not without their due and, as we believe, designed effect.
The part he had taken in producing the Latin Averroës was soon forgotten
when it appeared that no immediate publication of these proscribed works
was intended by the Emperor. Scot now stood boldly before the world in no
suspicious character; distinguished only by his great learning and the
fidelity with which he discharged his offices of astrologer and physician
about the Imperial person.

This rehabilitation of his fame opened the way to further honours and
emoluments which Frederick soon began to seek on his servant’s behalf.
Scot had never quite lost character as a churchman, and the member of a
great religious Order, though his studies had carried him far from the
somewhat narrow and beaten track of an ordinary ecclesiastical education.
Like Philip of Tripoli, he was probably in holy orders, and even held a
benefice, while, as we see from the dedication of his _De Coelo et Mundo_
to Stephen of Provins, he was careful, even in the wildest heats of his
work on Averroës, to keep in touch with those who held high positions in
the Church. Soon after his return from Spain a resolute and repeated
attempt was made to secure for him some ecclesiastical preferment.

Honorius III. then sat in the Chair of St. Peter. In 1223 a dispensation
was granted by the Curia allowing Michael Scot to hold a plurality. At
the same time the Pope wrote to Stephen Langton the Primate of England,
desiring that Scot should be preferred to the first suitable place which
might fall vacant in that country.[230] Honorius was then at peace with
the Emperor, and we may believe that it was in consequence of some strong
representation made by Frederick that he took such an interest in the
fortunes of this Imperial _protégé_.

The application to Canterbury was entirely in accordance with the habits
of the time; for England was then the constant resource of the Popes when
they wished to confer a favour on any of their clergy. Many and deep
were the complaints which this practice awakened among the priesthood
of the north. A like abuse of influence appeared in Scotland as well.
Theiner reports the case of a clerk named Peter, the son of Count George
of Cabaliaca, on whose behalf the Pope wrote in 1259 to the Canons of
St. Andrews, desiring that he might be reinstated in his benefice of
Chinachim (Kennoway in Fife) which he had forfeited as an adherent of
the Empire.[231] It is only fair, however, to notice that there were
instances of the contrary practice. In 1218, for example, one Matthew,
a Scot, was recommended by Honorius to the University of Paris for the
degree of Doctor, that he might teach there in the faculty of Divinity.

It may seem remarkable that the Pope did not address his application
in Scot’s favour to St. Andrews rather than to Canterbury. We are to
recollect, however, that in 1223, the relations between Scotland and
the See of Rome were still somewhat strained. The North had not yet
forgotten what took place in 1217, when Gualo came thither as Legate to
lay the Interdict upon Scotland. Churches were closed by this severe
sentence; the sacraments forbidden; even that of extreme unction denied
to the people; the dead were buried without service, and all marriages
were celebrated in the churchyards. When the interdict was removed
in the following year, the duty of proclaiming that remission was
intrusted to the Prior of Durham and the Dean of York, who made a solemn
progress in the Kingdom to announce the Pope’s clemency. We may feel
sure that these events were not forgotten in five years by a proud and
independent nation like the people of Scotland, and Honorius must be
thought to have judged rightly in supposing his application on Scot’s
account had a better chance of being effected by the English than by the
Scottish Primate. Nothing indeed was overlooked that might give force
to the recommendation. The Pope accompanied his request with a generous
testimony to the scholar’s ability, saying that he was distinguished,
even among learned men, for his remarkable gifts and knowledge.[232] Thus
everything seemed to promise that Michael Scot would soon enjoy a rich
English living; the _El dorado_ of the foreign clergy in those easy days
of sinecures secured by dispensations of plurality and non-residence.

Meanwhile, however, a much more favourable occasion offered itself to the
Pope for securing the interests of Frederick’s _protégé_, and one which
dispensed with any concurrence of the English Primate in the matter.
In the same year which witnessed his application to Stephen Langton a
vacancy occurred in the Archbishopric of Cashel. The chapter of that see
proposed a candidate of their own to Honorius, probably the Bishop of
Cork, but the Pope saw his opportunity and named Michael Scot for the
vacant benefice. The obedient Chapter at once proceeded to elect him. The
consequence being to their apprehension a foregone conclusion, the Curia
issued another dispensation permitting this favourite of fortune to hold
the Archbishopric along with all his other benefices.[233] So nearly did
Scot come to the possession of a high place in the Church, and an office
which would surely have altered his fame in the ages that were to come.

But those who thus took into their hands the shaping of the future for
Michael Scot were soon to learn that the man they had to deal with was
of another nature than their own; a very Scot in his scruples and the
conscientiousness with which he gave effect to them. Incredible as it
must then have seemed, remarkable as it would be even in our own day,
Michael Scot refused Cashel,[234] and this for a reason which showed how
high was the conception he had formed of the pastoral office. His _nolo
episcopari_ proceeded on the ground that he was ignorant of the Irish
language. He would not, it seems, be a chief pastor without the power
to teach and feed the flock committed to his care. He would not consent
to be intruded upon a people to whom he must have proved unacceptable,
nor would he, in the too common fashion of the day, commit his duties in
Ireland to a suffragan, while enjoying ample revenues and a lordly title
in Italy.

It is somewhat startling to find a principle not unheard of in the
Scotland of our own century so clearly grasped and so conscientiously
followed by this _non-intrusionist_ countryman of ours six hundred years
ago. Yet Michael Scot did not stand alone in his sacrifice even in these
slack times, as may be seen by the case of his namesake, John Scot, who
was Bishop of Dunkeld during the pontificate of Clement III.[235] This
earlier Prelate ruled a vast diocese which included the country of Argyll
as well as the more eastern parts of central Scotland. His conscience
became uneasy under the responsibility, and, unwilling to continue the
spiritual overseer of those whom from his ignorance of their language
he could not edify, he wrote to the Pope, desiring that Argyll might be
disjoined from Dunkeld, and that Ewaldus his chaplain, who knew Erse,
might have charge of the new diocese as its Bishop. This was actually
done in 1200, and the good Bishop died in great peace two years later.
‘How can I give a comfortable account to the Judge of the world at the
last day,’ so he had written to Clement, ‘if I pretend to teach those
who cannot understand me? The revenues suffice for two Bishops, if we
are content with a competency, and are not prodigal of the patrimony of
Christ. It is better to lessen the charge and increase the number of
labourers in the Lord’s Vineyard.’ In some such terms must Michael Scot
too have declined Cashel. His case, as well as that of Dunkeld, is enough
to show that ecclesiastical corruption, though widespread, was not, even
in those days, universal. May no Cervantes of the Church ever arise in
Scotland to laugh such sacred chivalry away!

The disappointment he nevertheless felt on this occasion may probably
have encouraged Scot in his attachment to the court and to his new duties
there as astrologer and physician, in which, as we have seen, he rose to
such acknowledged eminence. Frederick did not, however, lose sight of his
purpose to procure him preferment. The first application to Canterbury
having met with no response it was renewed four years later in 1227, by
Gregory IX., who in that year succeeded Honorius in the Chair of St.
Peter. This new Pontiff was destined to become the Emperor’s most bitter
and relentless foe, but as yet he remained on good terms with Frederick
and inclined to show him favour. He seems to have made no difficulty in
taking up the case of Michael Scot, and even added on his own account
a eulogy meant to forward the scholar’s claim; representing him as a
distinguished student, not only in Latin letters, but also of the Hebrew
and Arabic languages.[236] So far as can be seen, however, the attempt
of 1227 shared the fate of that which had been made in 1223. Canterbury
gave no signs of acquiescence, and Michael Scot, for all his distinction,
remained without the preferment which his friends so constantly sought to
obtain for him.

There is reason to think that from this time a change took place in the
spirit of the philosopher. The natural chagrin he must have felt as it
became plain that no position he could accept would be offered to him in
the Church affected deeply his fine and sensitive nature. He soon passed
into a brooding and despondent mood, which remained unaffected by all the
praise and fame paid by the learned world as a tribute to his remarkable
talents and achievements. It is in this change of temper to a morbid
depression that we are to find the occasion and inspiring spirit of those
strange prophetical verses which bear his name and which differ so widely
from all the other productions of his pen.

Such compositions were indeed far from being uncommon in Italy. The
reputed prophecies of the Erythræan Sibyl were extant in the form of
an epistle supposed to be addressed to the Greeks under the walls of
Troy. This curious composition is said to have been rendered into the
Greek language from the Syriac by a certain Doxopatros. His version
was one of those volumes which had reached Sicily from the library of
Manuel Comnenus Emperor of Constantinople, and was then translated into
Latin during the twelfth century by Eugenio, admiral to King Roger. A
series of poets from Giovacchino di Fiora[237] to Jacopone da Todi[238]
then chose the prophetic lyre and made it resound with dark sayings
and predictions of misfortune and ruin. Especially worthy of study in
this connection are the verses ascribed to _Merlin_, which declare the
fate of many Italian cities.[239] That Michael Scot gave his talents to
this kind of composition rests on evidence as convincing as any which
establishes the other events of his life. Pipini the chronicler says that
‘he was reputed to have the gift of prophecy, for he published verses in
which he foretold the ruin of certain Italian cities as well as other
circumstances.’[240] An earlier, indeed a contemporary, authority, Henry
Abrincensis, in a poem presented to Frederick II. in 1235 or the early
months of the following year, speaks of Michael Scot as ‘another Apollo,’
‘a prophet of truth’ possessed of ‘hidden secrets’ and the author of
‘certain predictions regarding thee, O Caesar.’[241]

Quotations from the prophecies of Scot were made by Villani.[242] The
lines referring to Florence may still be read in a manuscript of the
Riccardian Library in that city,[243] and in another, preserved in
Padua,[244] we find the following title: ‘Here begin certain prophecies
of Michael Scot, the most illustrious astrologer of Lord Frederick the
Emperor, which declare somewhat of the future, to wit, of certain Italian
cities.’ This shows that verses, bearing to have been composed by Scot,
were current at an early date, though the scribe of the Paduan manuscript
has forgotten to fulfil the promise he makes in his title, for that which
follows it is not the poetry of Scot but only a dull treatise on Latin

It is to Salimbene that we owe the preservation of these verses in their
most complete form. He must have taken much interest in them, as he is
careful to give, not only the original Latin, but an Italian translation
as well. From his pages then we shall borrow the text of these curious
lines.[245] According to Salimbene they are these:

    ‘Regis vexilla timens, fugiet velamina Brixa,
    Et suos non poterit filios, propriosque, tueri.
    Brixia stans fortis secundi certamine Regis,
    Post Mediolani sternentur moenia gryphi.
    Mediolanum territum cruore fervido necis,
    Resuscitabit viso cruore mortis.
    In numeris errantes erunt atque silvestres.
    Deinde Vercellus veniunt Novaria Laudum.
    Affuerit dies, quod aegra Papia erit,
    Vastata curabitur moesta dolore flendo.
    Munera quae meruit diu parata vicinis,
    Pavida mandatis parebit Placentia Regis.
    Oppressa resiliet, passa damnosa strage,
    Cum fuerit unita in firmitate manebit.
    Placentia patebit grave pondus sanguine mixtum.
    Parma parens viret, totisque frondibus uret
    Serpens in obliquo tumido, exitque draconi.
    Parma, Regi parens, tumida percutiet illum
    Vipera Draconem, Florumque virescet amoenum.
    Tu ipsa Cremona patieris flammae dolorem
    In fine praedito, conscia tanti mali,
    Et Regis partes insimul mala verba tenebunt.
    Paduae magnatum plorabunt filii necem
    Duram et horrendam, datam catuloque Veronae.
    Marchia succumbet, gravi servitute coacta
    Ob viam Antenoris quamque secuti erunt.
    Languida resurget, catulo moriente, Verona.
    Mantua, vae tibi, tanto dolore plena,
    Cur ne vacillas nam tui pars ruet?
    Ferraria fallax, fides falsa nil tibi prodiat,
    Subire te cunctis cum tua facta ruent
    Peregre missura quos tua mala parant
    Faventia iniet tecum, videns tentoria pacem
    Corruet in festem ducto velamine pacis.
    Bononia renuens ipsam vastabitur agmine circa
    Sed dabit immensum, purgato agmine, censum.
    Mutina fremescet sibi certando sub lima
    Quae dico tepescet tandem trahetur ad ima.
    Pergami deorsum excelsa moenia cadent
    Rursus, et amoris ascendet stimulus arcem.
    Trivisii duae partes offerent non signa salutis
    Gaudia fugantes vexilla praebenda ruinae.
    Roma diu titubans, longis terroribus acta
    Corruet, et mundi desinet esse caput.
    Fata monent, stellaeque docent, aviumque volatus,
    Quod Fridericus malleus orbis erit.
    Vivet Draco magnus cum immenso turbine mundi.
    Fata silent, stellaeque tacent, aviumque volatus
    Quod Petri navis desinet esse caput.
    Reviviscet Mater: malleabit caput Draconis.
    Non diu stolida florebit Florentia florum.
    Corruet in feudum dissimulando vivet.
    Venecia aperiet venas, percutiet undique Regem.
    Infra millenos ducenos sexque decennos
    Erunt sedata immensa turbina mundi
    Morietur Gripho, aufugient undique pennae.’

It would be difficult to determine how much of the original composition
of Scot these verses preserve, and how much they owe to later hands.
We cannot be mistaken, however, in remarking their uniform tone of
melancholy and apprehension, with the burden of its constantly recurring
‘corruet,’ or in taking this as a true index to the state of the author’s

Pipini records two other prophecies of Michael Scot which serve to
confirm this observation in a high degree.[246] The astrologer, he says,
forecast the manner of the Emperor’s death, which was to take place _ad
portas ferreas_, at certain gates of iron, in a town named after Flora.
This prediction was generally understood of Florence; the rather perhaps
that the church of Santo Stefano there was called _ad portam ferream_;
and Frederick accordingly avoided coming to that city.[247] During his
last campaign in 1250, however, he fell sick at the town of Fiorentino
or Firenzola in Apulia, and lay in a chamber of the castle. His bed
stood against a wall recently built to fill up the ancient gateway of
the tower, while within the wall there still remained the iron staples
on which the gate had been hung. Uneasy at the progress of his disease,
and hearing something of these particulars, the Emperor fell into deep
thought and then exclaimed, ‘This is the place where I shall make an end,
as it was told me. The will of God be done; for here I shall die,’ and
soon afterwards he breathed his last.

The other prediction which the chronicler attributes to Scot relates to
the occasion of his own death. This, he said, would take place by the
blow of a stone falling on his head. His calculations were so exact as
even to furnish him with the precise weight of this instrument of fate.
Being in church one day, with head uncovered at the sacring of the Mass,
a stone, agreeing in all particulars with his prediction, was shaken from
the tower by the motion of the bellrope and wounded Scot to death.

There is much in these tales which lies apart from the course of a sober
biography; belonging rather to that legendary and mystic fame of the
philosopher which we shall immediately proceed to consider. Something,
however, in which all these prophecies agree deserves our attention here,
and that is their sombre and menacing character. ‘Ruinam predixit,’
says Pipini, referring to Scot’s verses on the Italian cities, and his
thoughts, whether engaged with Frederick’s fate or his own, seem at
this time to have followed the same dark and ominous course. Death and
destruction now filled all his mind, much as if he had been a Highlander
gifted with the fatal power of the _Taisch_: a seer to whom all things
looked darkly, and all men wore a shroud, longer or shorter, to mark the
time and the manner of their end.

With Michael Scot’s account of his own fate Pipini joins another curious
matter, that of the _cervilerium_.[248] This was a plate or cap of steel
meant to be worn under the ordinary covering of the head as an additional
defence, and the chronicle says that Scot invented and wore it that he
might be safe from the danger he foresaw. Taking this together with the
prophecies, both general and personal, we can find no better explanation
than that which bids us see in the whole what indicates a case of
ecstatic melancholy such as would seem to be the sad heritage of not a
few finer natures sprung of the stock from which Michael Scot descended.
We hear the same sad note in the strange jingle he wove so long before
in the preface of his _Physionomia_: ‘Nos ibimus ibitis, ibunt. Omnia
pereunt, praeter amare Deum,’ and one would fain hope that in his
frequent fits of depression Scot may have indeed found rest in what
he thus declares to be the only abiding portion of the soul. The wild
account of his illness at Cordova, and of the dreams which then visited
him is not to be neglected in this connection. Perhaps the cloud then
first fell which in after-years returned upon him with such redoubled
gloom. Thus the traits of Scot’s youth fit well the picture we are now
constrained to form, and the whole gives promise that here at last we
may have touched upon the man himself as he was, physically, mentally,
and spiritually. A slight worn body spent with arduous study, like a
sheath which the sword has almost broken through; a soul possessed with
the sense of Divine things, yet sad, and subject to strange illusions;
a conscience morbidly awake and painfully scrupulous; a mind to which
almost every branch of knowledge was familiar, and not incapable of
striking out here and there in a path of its own: if these be not Michael
Scot, scholar in the court and courtier in the schools, then it may
safely be said that no indications exist which can ever reveal to us this
striking personality as he lived and moved in the world.

We seem to see in him a Pascal of the thirteenth century; and this all
the more that Michael Scot resembled that great genius not only in the
mystical and superstitious side of his nature but in his devotion to
mathematical science. How piquant is the contrast between this mighty
and gifted child of the mist and the northern hills and those sunny
southern lands of grape and fig, of white cliff, marble column and
laughing summer sea, where most of his life was spent. No wonder that
those among whom Michael Scot lived found him somewhat of a mystery at
all times, and, especially in these later days of his burdened spirit,
took him for a Mage, weaving his dark sayings into regular prophecies.
The Latin races have never been famous for their power to comprehend the
northern character. How much less was it likely they should in the case
of one who seems to have presented every feature of that racial type
in its extremest form? In our own day this incapacity takes the way of
accusing as madness all that it cannot fathom of Celtic or Teutonic ways.
In the times of Scot the same impatience found a more modest expression.
He was incomprehensible, therefore he must be inspired; gifted with the
prophet’s divine and incommunicable fire.

We may take it for granted that much of Michael Scot’s dissatisfaction
and depression upon his disappointment in seeking ecclesiastical
preferment arose from the feeling that he had made a great sacrifice in
vain. The best years of his life, and the most strenuous labours of his
mind, had been given to his version of Averroës not without the hope that
he was here laying the foundation of a great literary and philosophic
fame. Moved by a prudence, which was not altogether selfish since it
concerned the Emperor’s reputation and policy quite as much as his own,
he had submitted to necessity, and saw his translation suppressed for the
sake of avoiding offence. The sacrifice was great and doubtless keenly
felt, and when in spite of this policy he found himself still without
the position he had confidently hoped for, with what bitterness must the
reawakening of his literary ambition have been attended. Near ten years
had been lost since his return from Spain, and still Scot’s Averroës
slept, unknown to the schools, in the honourable but unprofitable
seclusion of the Imperial closet. With the death of these hopes of
preferment, however, all reason for this unfortunate reserve came to an
end so far as Scot was concerned. As soon as he had once made up his mind
to think no more of a great ecclesiastical career he was free to urge
his master with all insistence to carry out their long-cherished plan,
and secure undying fame for both by publishing the new Aristotle in the
Universities of Europe.

Nor was there anything in the policy of the time which made Frederick
unwilling to further a project which he had all along designed. From the
moment of his elevation to the See of Rome Gregory IX. had displayed a
firm and unbending temper towards the Emperor. Frederick felt the first
instances of his harshness in 1227, when, returning sick and feeble from
the baths of Pozzuoli, he found himself excommunicated because he had not
sailed to Palestine with the Crusade. This severe sentence was renewed
in 1228. Frederick reached the Holy Land that year, but only to meet a
mutinous spirit, encouraged among the Crusaders there by the Pope’s
orders. On his return in 1229 the sharp edge of discipline was again
drawn against him, and we need not wonder if such repeated severity at
last convinced the Emperor that there was no hope of living at peace with
Rome, nor any reason to study further accommodations with one who seemed
determined to be his enemy. The moment had now come when restraints,
long submitted to for the sake of policy, being removed, Frederick might
well bethink him of his former plans so long held in reserve, and take
measures to carry out his purpose of enriching the learned world with the
prohibited books of Averroës.

This plan not only promised to fulfil a long cherished desire and mortify
an implacable foe, it must also have presented itself in the light of
a welcome concession made to a deserving servant of the Crown. Michael
Scot had laboured long to form the works in question. His interest, as
well as every other reason, now demanded that they should lie no longer
concealed. The fame he was certain to gain by this publication would
be the best consolation, perhaps the only one now possible, for his
disappointments in the ecclesiastical career. To employ him actively in
the matter may well have appeared not only just, considering his previous
interest in it, but the best cure for a spirit sadly disordered and
depressed. We need not wonder that Frederick at last fully formed his
resolution, or that he chose Michael Scot as the means of carrying out a
publication that was now definitely determined on.

An imperial circular announced to the learned the nature and origin
of these new versions.[249] This letter was designed to secure for
them such general interest and attention as was due to works of the
first importance. Opening with the avowal of his devotion to the
cause of letters, a confession which he supported by quoting from the
_Metaphysica_, Frederick touched upon the manifold cares of state which
the conduct of his affairs in the Empire involved. He added that he had
never allowed these to occupy his whole attention, but had still devoted
part of his time to the pursuits of learning. His mind, he said, had been
particularly attracted to the works of Aristotle with the commentaries of
the Arabian philosophers, especially those concerning mathematics, and
the books called _Sermoniales_. Finding that they were inaccessible to
Latin scholars, owing to their obscurity and the foreign tongues in which
they were written, he had commissioned learned men to translate these
works, desiring them to preserve in their versions the exact style as
well as sense of the original. The treasures thus procured he would not
keep in obscurity, but designed to publish them for the general good. He
addressed himself to the most famous schools of Christendom as the proper
means of obtaining the diffusion of this wisdom among those who were able
to profit by it.

Which then were the universities intended by the Emperor? That of Naples
certainly in the first place, for it was his own creation.[250] Bologna,
also, we may believe, judging by the estimation in which we know him
to have held that still more ancient seat of learning.[251] Copies of
Frederick’s letter are indeed extant, which actually bear the address,
‘To the Masters and Scholars of Bologna.’ Nor can we think that he
forgot Paris, the great centre of European culture. At least one text
has preserved this the most natural of all directions:—‘To the Doctors
of the Quadrivium at Paris.’[252] Thus far then the course of Scot’s
journey on this important business is plain. In it he but reversed the
progress he had made in early years, revisiting in the contrary order the
scenes of his former studies. His own remarkable fame, the widespread
curiosity concerning the books he brought, and his official character as
Frederick’s Ambassador of Letters, must have secured him everywhere a
cordial and distinguished reception.

There is reason to think that his travels did not end when he had reached
Paris. Tradition says he crossed the Channel and visited both England and
Scotland, where his medical skill was highly appreciated. It is indeed to
an English author that we owe the knowledge of this journey performed by
Michael Scot. The words of Roger Bacon are of capital importance here,
not only telling us of Scot’s travels, but showing the nature of the
work he carried with him in that progress, and the enthusiasm with which
these books were received. ‘In the days of Michael Scot,’ he says, ‘who,
about the year 1230, made his appearance with certain books of Aristotle
and commentaries of learned men concerning physics and mathematics, the
Aristotelian philosophy became celebrated in the Latin Schools.’[253] At
the time of which he speaks, Bacon, born in 1214, may probably have been
at Oxford pursuing his studies. It is not necessary to dwell upon the
support which this brings to the tradition of Scot’s visit to England.
We may take it as almost certain that Oxford was one of the universities
where he appeared and was made welcome.

The tradition that he thereafter pursued his journey to Scotland rests
rather upon arguments derived from the probability of the case than from
direct evidence. Scot had been a lifetime absent from his native land,
and, finding himself so near it, a strong impulse must have urged him to
revisit the scenes of his boyhood. Nor is it easy to account for the fact
that his fame, though he spent so much of his time abroad, attained, and
yet retains, such a currency in the North, except upon the supposition
that he did actually yield to this attraction and thus once more made
himself a familiar figure in the land of his birth.

One matter of great interest is at least certain. Scot’s death occurred
just at this time, when he was in the very height of his fame and
influence, and probably while he was still in the North. The account, so
often repeated and reprinted, which makes him live almost to the close
of the century need not occupy our attention more than a moment. Already
incredible from the time when Jourdain discovered that Scot’s version of
Alpetrongi had been produced in 1217, such a notion becomes more than
ever impossible since we have been able to carry the time of his mature
literary activity back to the year 1210. Vincent of Beauvais, writing
about 1245, talks of ‘old Michael Scot’ in such a way as to suggest that
he had by that time been long in his grave. But the convincing evidence,
though hitherto little noticed, is to be found in the poem of Henry
d’Avranches, from which we have already quoted some lines in another
connection. This author remarks regarding Michael Scot:

    ‘Thus he who questioned fate, to fate himself submitted,’

which shows that the time of his death must have been earlier than 1235,
the date when Abrincensis composed his poem.[254]

The question is thus reduced to the narrow limit of five years; since
Bacon says Scot was alive and busy in his great mission in 1230. Within
this period he must have passed away, and probably his death happened
nearer the earlier than the later date; considering the tone in which
Henry d’Avranches speaks of the departed sage. He may well therefore have
died while on the borders of Scotland. This idea agrees curiously with
the fact that Italy has no tradition of his burial-place, while on the
other hand northern story points to his tomb in Melrose Abbey, Glenluce,
Holme Coltrame, or some other of the great Cistercian foundations of
that country. Satchells, who visited Burgh-under-Bowness in 1629, found
a guide named Lancelot Scot, who took him to the parish church, where
he saw the great scholar’s tomb, and found it still the object of
mysterious awe to the people there.[255] The resting-place of Michael
Scot will never now be accurately known, but there is every reason
to suppose that it lies not far from that of his birth, in the sweet
Borderland, amid the green hills and flowing streams of immemorial story.

Here then we leave the life that has been the subject of our study, and
not without the tribute of a certain envy paid to so happy a fate as that
of Michael Scot. Like another and far greater man, whose sepulchre also
was not known among his people, Scot died in the fulness of his powers
and fame, while yet his sight was not dim, nor his natural force abated.
He was denied indeed the entry to those broad kingdoms of knowledge which
later times enjoy, but we may truly think of him as one who stood in his
own day upon a height from which something of that fair land of promise
could at least be divined, and manfully did his part in leading the
progress of the human mind onward to those more perfect attainments now
within the reach of every patient scholar.

We may recollect in closing this inquiry that the _Abbreviatio Avicennae_
was published in 1232 at Melfi. This treatise, though it came in the
Latin version from the hand of Scot, did not fall within the scope of the
publication made so widely in 1230; since the Emperor’s object at that
time was to acquaint the world with the commentaries of Averroës. The
manner in which the _Abbreviatio_ saw the light was somewhat remarkable.
Henry of Colonia was the scholar selected by Frederick for the work of
transcribing it from the imperial copy. A regular diploma passed the
seals authorising him to do this work, and from that writ we find that
he completed it at Melfi, on the vigil of St. Laurence in the house of
Master Volmar the imperial physician.[256] We may surely see in these
facts a further likelihood that by this time Scot was already dead.
Another holds his place as court-physician, another wields his pen, or
at least furnishes the copy from which the world at large first came to
know one of his most important and characteristic works. May we not take
it then, that in ordering this diploma to be drawn, Frederick desired to
show his concern at hearing he had lost so faithful and able a servant,
and his anxiety that no time should elapse before the publication of his
remaining works? Thus regarded, the _Abbreviatio_ was a wreath laid on
the grave; a tribute to the translator’s memory, while in itself it was a
seal set to the fame of Michael Scot as in his day the chief exponent of
the mighty Aristotle, and one who by these labours succeeded in directing
for many ages the course of study in the European Schools.



Hitherto we have taken little notice of the fame by which Michael Scot
is most widely known in literature; preferring to speak first of the
authentic facts and real employments of his life, so far as these can now
be ascertained. It would be improper, however, to close our investigation
without taking some account of that darker reputation which has so long
represented him to the world as a magician and dealer in forbidden
lore. If we have deferred so long the consideration of this matter, the
reason may be found in the fact that there seems to be no truth in such
stories. They live only in legend, and in the literature of romance, and
must therefore be held apart by a firm line from the domain of sober
historical inquiry.

This conclusion, be it observed, is not based upon the prevailing opinion
of the present day that such arts are impossible, nor has it thence
been reached by way of the inference that because magic is impossible,
therefore Michael Scot cannot have meddled in it. Such was not at all
the view held in the thirteenth century. Then scholars as well as
the unlearned, and clergy as well as laity, believed firmly in the
possibility, nay, the reality, of what they regarded as an unwarrantable
interference with the order of nature. This belief makes it a fair
subject of discussion in regard to any one of that age whether or not
he may have practised forbidden arts. The question in Scot’s case is
a highly curious one, and, without further apology, we now proceed to
examine it in detail.

The most famous schools of magic in those days were fixed by popular
tradition in the Spanish cities of Toledo and Salamanca, especially
the former. Magic, indeed, was generally spoken of as the _scientia
Toletana_. The _Morgante Maggiore_ of Pulci may furnish us with a fair
example of the common belief:[257]

    ‘Per quel ch’io udì gia dir, sendo in Tolleta
    Dove ogni negromante si racozza.’

and again:

    ‘Questa città di Tolleta solea
    Tenere studio di Nigromanzia.
    Quivi di magica arte si legea
    Pubblicamente, e di Piromancia
    E molti Geomanti sempre avea
    E esperimenti assai di Idromanzia.’

Caesar Von Heisterbach, the anecdote-monger of the century, relates more
than one diverting tale of necromantic prodigies, the scene of which
he lays at Toledo. The most remarkable of these stories tells how some
Germans came thither to learn magic.[258] Their teacher in this art
called up certain spirits, who appeared first as armed men, and then in
the form of lovely maids. One of the students was thereby allured and
carried off. The others drew their swords and threatened the master
with death, until, overcome by fear, he used his power to secure their
companion’s return.

From the favourite locality of these legends we may infer that the magic
then in vogue was that of the Arabs, which, especially in Spain, had
now begun to supplant the ancient and primitive European superstitions.
This magic was not a mere ritual of spells, such as that of the Chaldean
monuments, but rather a complete theurgy, like the magic of Egypt; the
corruption of an ancient and elaborate religious system.[259] The Arabian
mage pretended to bow the superior powers which other men could only
worship, and boldly bade them do his will. It is hardly necessary to say
that such a system did not originally belong to the Arabs, who had been,
until the days of Mohammed, a rude and savage people. They learned it
in Syria and Egypt, where the theories of Porphyry and Iamblichus still
held sway.[260] In their hands this magic became enriched with many new
conceits, such as the nimble fancy of these children of the East knew
well how to interweave with all that they touched. The stars, they held,
were the centres of supreme influence, but had certain correspondences
with earthly things; with herbs, with stones, and even with sounds. These
were in a sort the offspring of heaven, for plants of power were precious
things put forth by the sun and moon; the minerals were condensed and
congealed by the same heavenly agency in a planetary hour, and earthly
voices, even the cries of dumb animals, were but the far echo of the
music heard in heaven, the music of the spheres.

So far, indeed, this was but common doctrine, shared by all the
science of the time, and eminently expounded in every astrological
system. The magic founded upon it began with the notion that this
close correspondence between heaven and earth might carry an influence
able to react in an upward, contrary, and unnatural direction. Plants
and precious stones, rightly employed, might prove able to bind the
stellar powers on which all depended. Names and forms of conjuration
might control the superior spirits which the stars represented. Hence
arose a whole system of magical practice, in which, from the circle of
the sorcerer—a symbol representing on earth the motion of the upper
spheres—the vapour of mingled herbs and minerals rose to heaven above the
glowing brazier, accompanied by recited spells. It is curious to notice
that when, after several ages, this essentially Eastern and theurgic
necromancy[261] gave place to the witchcraft of the North, with its dark
demonolatry, the essential idea of the Arabian magicians still survived.
Its influence may be traced in the importance always attached in popular
belief to the _reversal_ of natural practice, as a means of securing
supernatural power and effect. Hence the bizarre details which crowd the
witch trials of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: how hags walked
backwards, or _withershins_, that is, against the course of the sun, or
changed a prayer into a spell by muttering it in a contrary sense.

The Arabian magic as understood in Spain during the thirteenth century is
very fully expounded in a curious work called _Picatrix_.[262] This book
explains that the fundamental idea of the art was reaction leading up to
transformation or magical change, adding that this reaction may be seen
in three different regions of being; first among the elemental spirits
themselves, next between these and matter, and, last, the reaction of one
kind of matter upon another, as in alchemy. The second of these kinds
of reaction admits the influence of earthly things upon the heavenly
spirits, and is the foundation of that kind of magic which the _Picatrix_
proceeds to expound, in details which are often much more curious than
edifying. This book has special value as showing the intimate relation
between magic and the ordinary studies of those times. Aristotle is often
quoted in it,[263] and the position of necromancy with regard to other
branches of science is clearly defined. It is not hard to see that,
when thus understood, this art must have allied itself closely with
astronomy and astrology on the one hand, and with alchemy on the other.
In the account given by Bacon of Avicenna’s philosophy, he says that the
third great division of that author’s works, and one which had never
appeared in Latin, was that devoted to the most hidden parts of natural
philosophy.[264] The science of those days left an acknowledged place
for the occult and the mysterious among its doctrines. This place was
filled by magic, a study forbidden indeed by the Church, but generally
recognised as occupying a real though secret department among the other
sciences and arts. The tradition we so often meet with that masters of
necromancy actually taught the art of magic in Toledo, Salamanca, and
perhaps Padua, seems but a reflection in later times of what was then the
genuine belief of European scholars.

There is thus no reason why Michael Scot should not have devoted himself
to what was the subject of actual and serious study during the times in
which he lived, and especially so in the country where his chief literary
labours were carried on. Were we to follow the mere likelihood of the
case, his interest in astronomy and alchemy would lead us to think it
very possible he might have studied an art that was so closely connected
with these. But to change such a possibility into a certainty, or even a
probability, something more convincing than any _a priori_ argument must
be found. If no actual proof of Scot’s magical practice be forthcoming we
must be content to leave the matter where we found it; in the realm of
dim and unsubstantial tradition.[265]

The true criterion here must doubtless be sought in the evidence
furnished by contemporaries regarding the fact alleged. In the case of
Michael Scot such evidence is forthcoming, but we may say at once that it
proves upon examination to yield a distinctly negative result. His fame
in those days was such that he is mentioned by several important writers
of his own age, such as Bacon, Albertus Magnus, and Vincent of Beauvais.
None of these has a word to say of Scot’s reputation as a necromancer.
Some may urge that an argument from silence is unsatisfactory; but
does it not gain great force from the consideration that two of these
witnesses are decidedly hostile to Scot? Bacon, especially, seems to
have lost no opportunity of blackening his character. To these men
Michael Scot was a sciolist, a mere pretender to knowledge, ignorant
even of Latin; the very charlatan of the schools. He was a plagiarist
too; one who passed off the work of another man as his own; nay, darker
than all, he was a heretic, or so Albert would make him; a philosopher
who interpreted and exceeded the forbidden doctrines of Averroës. Is it
not certain that, if Scot had really practised magic in spite of the
prohibitions of the Church, we should have heard of this charge from
these active and bitter detractors? Our conclusion from their silence is
therefore neither far to seek nor hard to defend. These tales, we must
hold, were not current in the lifetime of Michael Scot, nor for many
years after. They had no foundation in fact, but were the fancies of the
following generation, and thus passed into the settled tradition which
has ever since persistently associated itself with the philosopher’s name.

But this conclusion raises another question. How did such a tradition
arise, and what were the points of attachment to which these stories
clung? The ground for the legend of Michael Scot would seem to have been
prepared by the close connection between him and his master the Emperor
Frederick II. Every student of those times knows well the storm of
invective and the weight of calumny which fell upon that great monarch
as the consequence of his feuds with the See of Rome. He was officially
declared to be no Christian but the mystic Beast of the Apocalypse,
vomiting blasphemies. He was accused of having produced the apocryphal
work _De Tribus Impostoribus_. His private life became the subject of
grave scandal and repeated censure. Men were taught to believe that he
revelled in a harem of Saracen beauties, and was addicted to infamous
immorality, as well as to forbidden arts. These accusations were current,
not only in Frederick’s own lifetime, but long afterwards. They may be
studied at large in the Papal Epistolaries,[266] and a striking example
of their current popular form is found in the following barbarous lines
which we borrow from an obscure author[267] who used his pen in the
service of the Guelfs:

    ‘Amisit Astrologos, et Magos, et Vates,
    Beelzebub et Ashtaroth proprios Penates,
    Tenebrarum consulens per suos Potestates
    Spreverat Ecclesiam, et mundi Magnates.’

When we remember that Michael Scot was the man whom Frederick loved to
consult and employ, we understand what effect this depreciation of the
master’s fame must have had on that of his servant. If the Emperor made
Beelzebub and Ashtaroth his gods, Scot must soon have been recognised as
the go-between in this infernal business.

Such an impression would naturally be heightened by the recollection of
the years which had been spent by Michael Scot at Toledo and Cordova. We
have already noticed the dark reputation which attached to the former of
these places. It is only needful here to add that Scot’s ecclesiastical
character would by no means hinder the unfavourable inference that must
have been drawn from his lengthened residence in the chief seat of
magical study. St. Giles before his conversion, and Gerbert, afterwards
Pope Sylvester II., were commonly reported to have learned the black art
at Toledo. As to Cordova, the _Picatrix_ mentions the discovery of a
magic book in the Church there,[268] which shows that the supernatural
fame of Toledo attached itself also to this city.

It is far from improbable that the nature of Scot’s studies in these
places may have inclined men to believe in the stories told of him as a
necromancer. He spent his time upon Arabic texts, and, with the fanatical
clergy, not to speak of the common people whom they taught, the Moors and
all their works were accursed. No one could meddle much with them save at
the cost of such accusations of diabolic dealing. Nor was it merely the
language but also the very subject of Scot’s studies that was suspicious.
Since the days of the Alexandrian school there had grown up round the
name of Aristotle a strange legend which represented him as a magician;
none other than the great sorcerer Nectanebus of Egypt, the true father,
by an infamous sleight, of Alexander of Macedon.[269]

Nectanebus, so the tale ran, was King of Egypt, and learned in all the
magic arts of that mysterious land. When war threatened he would fill
a vessel with water and float upon it enchanted ships of clay. Thus
could he divine the success or failure of his country’s arms. One day,
however, as he was busy in this spell, the old gods appeared to guide the
craft he had designed as models of the hostile fleet. Nectanebus gave
up all for lost, shaved his head, and in the disguise of a philosopher,
fled to Pella in Macedonia, where he lived by practising the arts of
an astrologer and prophet. Olympias consulted him to know whether she
might hope to give an heir to her husband Philip, then absent from his
capital. Nectanebus bade her expect the honour of a visit from Jupiter
Ammon himself, and, dressing in the horns and hieratic robe proper to
the character he assumed, became, by her whom he seduced, the father
of Alexander the Great. The child was born amid thunder and lightning,
and was soon committed to the care of Nectanebus who became his tutor:
a clear point of connection with Aristotle, who really filled that
office. One day tutor and pupil walked on the edge of a cliff, when
the philosopher uttered a prophecy to the effect that Alexander was
fated to kill his own father. The boy, who fancied that Philip was
meant, took the words so ill that he flung his tutor over the rock,
and thus instantly fulfilled the prediction. This tale can be traced
from its appearance in the Pseudo-Callisthenes through the series of
Byzantine chroniclers—Syncellus, Glycas, John Malala, and the author of
the _Chronicon Pascale_—to the later romances where it is repeated and
amplified. The whole Middle Age believed it. Not till the fourteenth
century did a doubt of its truth appear,[270] and that it was current in
the west of Europe at the time of which we write appears plainly in the
preface to the _Secreta Secretorum_, which has the following significant
remark, ‘which Alexander is said to have had two horns.’[271] The real
meaning of the legend probably lay in a patriotic desire to vindicate for
Egypt, though subdued by Alexander, the honour of having originated the
Greek philosophy.[272] The thirteenth century, however, knew nothing
of such explanations; cherishing the tale rather on account of the wild
mystery which it breathes. No wonder then if the labours of Michael Scot
as an exponent of Aristotle gave some force to the popular idea that he
dealt in forbidden arts.

Need we point out that the same may be said of his fame as a Master
in astrology and alchemy? We have seen how close was the relation in
which these sciences stood to the magic of the day. As to mathematics,
for which Scot was so renowned, it is to be observed that the kind of
divination called _Geomancy_, which was performed by casting figures
in a box filled with sand, was remarkably like the method of working
sums which is still practised among the Moors.[273] We may add that
the facility with which difficult problems could be solved by the new
methods of calculation borrowed from that people must have seemed little
less than supernatural to those as yet unacquainted with the secrets of

It seems probable indeed that at least one starting-point of Michael
Scot’s legendary and romantic fame may be looked for in the very quarter
to which we have just begun to direct our attention. There is in the
author’s possession a manuscript which promises to throw some light on
the obscurity of this matter.[274] It consists of sixteen quarto pages
written on parchment in a hand of the seventeenth century, and contains
a short preface, followed by two distinct works. One of these professes
to be an Arabic original, and the other a version of the same in Latin,
said to come from the pen of Michael Scot. The title of the work deserves
special attention. It is as follows: ‘Almuchabola Absegalim Alkakib
Albaon; _i.e._ Compendium Magia Innaturalis Nigrae.’ Now, although the
so-called _Arabic_ of the manuscript quite defies the best efforts of
scholarship to decipher it, this word almuchabola is perfectly authentic,
familiar even, being the common term in that language for what we call

This then seems to afford an actual example of the way in which the
Moorish science of numbers might be mistaken for something magical.
When we examine the manuscript more closely the suggestion which its
title affords becomes still stronger. Here and there, amid the strange
characters of an unknown tongue,[276] are designs of a curious kind;
parallelograms enclosed in bounding lines of red, and containing erratic
figures also in red, that show luridly against the black background with
which the outlines are filled. The Latin version explains that these
are the signs of the demons whom the accompanying spells have power to
summon or dismiss. No one, however, who compares them with the graphic
statements of mathematical problems in the margin of the _Liber Abbaci_
can fail to be struck with the resemblance.[277] The one book seems, in
regard of these figures, but a degenerate copy of the other, made by some
scribe who did not understand the matter he had in hand, and who darkened
the ground of his designs to heighten the fancied terrors of the subject.

It would not be easy to miss the meaning of this mistake. Michael
Scot had probably written or translated a treatise on algebra. We may
remember how well such a conjecture agrees with the tone of Pisano’s
dedicatory letter to him, in which he submitted the _Liber Abbaci_ to
Scot’s revision, and acknowledged him as a supreme master in this branch
of science. It is difficult to account for this fame save by supposing
the existence of an unknown work by Michael Scot on the veritable
Almuchabola, of which this pretended treatise on magic is all that now
survives. The mistake that gave it so corrupted a form could hardly have
been made as late as the seventeenth century, when such things were well
understood. The manuscript, though dating from that time, is probably
only a copy of one much older. The preface, indeed, mentions the year
1255 as the epoch of translation, and, although Michael Scot had then
lain more than twenty years in his grave, this date would suit well as
the birth-hour of a legend which, though certainly later than Scot’s
own day, had yet made considerable progress in the popular mind before
the close of the century. This explanation of the matter receives some
indirect support from a remark of Bacon’s. ‘It is to be noticed,’ he
says, ‘that many books are taken for magical works which are in reality
nothing of the kind, but contain true and worthy wisdom.’[278] He adds
that there are several ways of concealing one’s doctrine from the vulgar,
such as the use of Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic characters, and the _Ars
Notoria_ or shorthand. There is much reason to think it was in this
very way that Michael Scot had suffered. A mistake like that indicated
by Bacon was probably the real origin of his mysterious reputation as a

As soon as the mistake had once been made, and the notion of Scot’s
magical powers had fairly taken possession of the popular mind, it was
greatly reinforced by the association of his name and memory with the
still living and adaptable Arthurian legend. Alain de l’Isle, who lived
as late as 1202, says that the tales proper to this romantic cycle were
so heartily believed in Brittany that any one casting doubt upon Arthur’s
return would have been stoned by the people.[279] From the Trouvères the
legend passed to the Troubadours of the south of France. When the Normans
established themselves in Sicily, these latter poets, represented, it is
said, by Pietro Vidal, and Rambaldo di Vaqueiras, carried to this new
home of their race the _materia poetica_ which had so long engaged the
best talents of France. The religious war which desolated Provence in
the beginning of the thirteenth century completed the dispersion of the
Troubadours. Many found a refuge in Italy and Sicily. They communicated
an emotional impulse which led to the formation of the Italian language
as a means of literary expression. Through them the inheritance of the
Arthurian tales was secured to the people of the South, who soon began
to localise the chief incidents of this romantic cycle in the island of

Gervase of Tilbury tells us that near the town of Catania lies the
burning mountain of Etna, called by the people _Mongibello_, and famed
among them as the abode of King Arthur, who, they said, had lately been
seen there. The matter fell out thus. The Bishop of Catania’s palfrey
escaped one day from his groom, and was lost. The man sought his charge
everywhere, and at last ventured to enter an opening he perceived in the
hollow part of the hill. Here he found a narrow winding path which led
to a pleasant land within Etna, and to a palace, the home of Arthur. He
entered the palace and found the King lying on a royal couch. Arthur
bade him welcome, listened to his story, and called for the steed to be
brought that the Bishop might have his own again. He further told his
visitor that, having been wounded in battle with Modred and Childeric
king of Saxony, he had come to this retreat that he might heal him of his
mortal sickness. Gervase adds that Arthur, not content with restoring the
horse, paid tithe to the Bishop as one of the dwellers in his diocese,
‘which was a wonder to all that heard it.’[281]

Caesar von Heisterbach has the same tale in his collection, but repeats
it with some variations. In his pages the pleasant land of Avalon, with
its peaceful palace, becomes a dark abode of fire, answering more nearly
to the actual phenomena of the mountain. Arthur hence issues a dread
summons to the owner of the palfrey, who in this tale is a Canon of
Palermo, bidding him appear in that infernal region within a fortnight.
The churchman obeys by dying at the time appointed.[282] The terror
which enters into this form of the story is even heightened by Stephen
of Bourbon when he comes to repeat it.[283] On the other hand the easy,
pleasant, semi-pagan tone observed in Gervase of Tilbury lives again
in the French romance of _Florian and Florete_.[284] Here we see the
kingdom within Etna before Arthur came thither, and find it a land of
faery, where the King’s sister Morgana holds her flowery court. The
_Fata Morgana_, as she is called, is still remembered on these southern
coasts. When the mirage appears in the Straits of Messina, and houses and
castles are seen hanging in thin air, the people call them by the name of
that mysterious princess. They think that the sides of Etna have become
transparent, and that what they behold is the realm of faery with the
Fata Morgana’s palace in the midst.

These legends show that Avalon, first dreamed of in the far North, had
by this time been carried southward to find a new locality under Etna,
and that already the mystic king, who dwelt with his court in the land
of shadows till he should again return to earth, had taken a firm hold
of the southern fancy. It was but a step more then, and one very easily
taken, when men began to see in the Princes of the Hohenstaufen, and
the chief figures of their court, the heirs of this legend in some of
its most important features. Frederick Barbarossa, for example, was
commonly said to pass the ages between death and life in a hollow hill.
The Germans identified this abode with the Kyffhauser, and expected the
Emperor’s return in the spirit of the tales told of Wodan, Frau Holda,
and Frau Venus, in their national mythology.[285] It was even reported
that a bold shepherd armed with the mysterious _key-flower_ had forced
the secret, entering these recesses of the hill and beholding Barbarossa
as in life, with his red beard growing through the marble table at which
he sat asleep. The romantic heritage next fell upon Barbarossa’s grandson
Frederick II. It was long before the adherents of the Empire who had
staked so much upon their great champion’s bold defiance of the Papacy
could bring themselves to believe that he was really dead. In 1250 his
corpse was carried in solemn procession from Fiorentino, where he died,
to Palermo, the place appointed for his burial. There he soon lay in the
ancient sarcophagus brought from Cefalù; his robe embroidered about the
hem with Cufic characters, and the sceptre and apple of empire in his
powerless hands;[286] but still the Ghibellines could not give up the
hope that one day he would wake again, and lead them to the victory they
looked for.

This expectation was much strengthened by a prophecy then current under
the name of the Abbot Joachim. ‘There cometh an Eagle, at whose appearing
the Lion shall be destroyed: yea a young Eagle who shall make his nest in
the den of the Lion. Of the race of the Eagle shall arise another Eagle
called Frederick. He shall reign indeed, and shall stretch his wings till
they touch the ends of the earth. In his days shall the chief Pontiff and
his clergy be despoiled and dispersed.’[287] On the other side a Guelf
poet, whose name we do not know, associated Frederick II. with Arthur in
the following lines:

    ‘Cominatur impius, dolens de jacturis
    Cum suo Britonibus Arturo Venturis.’[288]

The collection called the _Cento Novelle Antiche_ reflects this myth
very plainly; for, in the strange tales then told of Frederick and his
court, we seem to see these personages already transported to a kind of
fairyland, where the laws of earthly life no longer hold good. The scene
is unmistakably laid in the Avalon of Arthur and amid his shadowy court.

One of the most striking incidents which marked the long funeral
procession of Frederick II. through the southern provinces of Italy
was furnished by the grief of a faithful band of Saracens, who, with
dishevelled hair and cries of sorrow, accompanied the body of their
great benefactor to its last resting-place. It is probable indeed that
these people, of whom Frederick had not a few both in Sicily and in
various colonies on the mainland, may have joined very heartily with
their Christian neighbours in giving currency to the latest application
of the Arthurian legend. In all essential features it must already have
been familiar to them as a form of myth long known in the East. Even the
romance of Nectanebus already noticed had a certain historical basis.
In the fourth century before Christ a king called Nekhtneb reigned in
Egypt. He was defeated by the Persians, and fled into a distant province
of Ethiopia. Thus the ancient national dynasty of the Pharaohs came to
an end, but the people long refused to believe that their king was dead.
They consulted an oracle, which told them he would return, as a young
man, to conquer the enemies of his country. This prophecy was engraved
on the base of the royal statue and served long to sustain the national
hope. The same dreams appeared in connection with the much more recent
Mohammedan power. The _Shi’ah_ and _Sunnee_ sects of Islam held firmly
to the idea that the twelfth Imam was not really dead, but would return
to earth. This mysterious person was _El Mohdy_, the last incarnation of
the Deity, as they supposed. He was said to dwell in a cave near Bagdad,
whence he would one day reappear to oppose _Ed Dejal_, the Moslem
Antichrist, in a time of great trouble, when he would overthrow him
and his ally the _earth-beast_ in final conflict near Aleppo. Mohammed
himself was said to have retreated with Abu Bekr to a cave, where they
lay concealed behind a spider’s web, as the Scottish tale says Bruce
did before his decisive appearance and victory. The influence of these
myths may be seen even during the lifetime of Frederick II., when the
extravagant hopes of his followers led them to use language regarding
the Emperor which was applicable only to the Deity. We may see in this
an anticipation by hyperbole of the apotheosis granted him by the
Ghibellines after his death.[289]

As for Michael Scot himself, it was a very natural progress of the
popular imagination which made him play Merlin to the Emperor’s Arthur.
That this place in the growing legend was actually his, seems probable
from the fact that, in the romance of _Maugis_ (or Merlin) _and
Vivien_,[290] the hero is made to study his art in Toledo, where Scot
had notoriously been. Mysterious caves, the refuge of slumbering heroes,
were spoken of as existing both near that city and Salamanca. It may be
that we here touch on the origin of Scot’s legendary connection with the
Eildon Hills in his own borderland. That the Scottish Avalon lay beneath
these there can be little doubt. Sir Walter Scott repeats a traditional
tale which reminds us unmistakably of those given by Gervase of Tilbury
and Caesar von Heisterbach. A countryman of Roxburghshire had sold a
horse to an old man of the hills. Payment was appointed to be made at
midnight, on Eildon, at a place called the _Lucken Howe_. When the coin,
which was of ancient and forgotten mintage, had been duly handed over,
the old man invited the other to view his dwelling. They passed within
the hill, where the stranger was surprised to see ranks of steeds ready
caparisoned: a silent cavalier in armour standing by the side of each.
‘These will wake for Shirramuir,’ said his guide. In the cave hung a
sword and a horn. ‘The sound of this horn,’ the old man told him, ‘will
break the spell of their slumber.’ The countryman caught it to his lips
and blew a blast. The horses neighed, pawed the ground, and shook their
trappings, while the knights stirred, and the place rang again with the
sound of their arms. He dropped the horn in fear, and heard a voice which
said: ‘Woe to him who does not unsheathe the sword ere he has blown the
horn.’ He was then carried back again to the hillside, and could never
more discover the entrance to that subterranean realm.[291]

An English form of the same tale has been preserved, and is worth
notice as containing what may possibly be a reference to Michael Scot’s
prediction regarding Frederick’s death ‘at the iron gates.’ The story
says that ‘in the neighbourhood of Macclesfield, on Monk’s Heath, is
a small inn known by the designation of ‘The Iron Gates,’ the sign
representing a pair of ponderous gates of that metal opening at the
bidding of a figure enveloped in a cowl, before whom kneels another,
more resembling a modern yeoman than one of the twelfth or thirteenth
century, to which period this legend is attributed. Behind this person is
a white horse rearing, and in the background a view of Alderley Edge. The
story is thus told of the tradition to which the sign relates:

‘A farmer from Mobberly was riding on a white horse over the heath which
skirts Alderley Edge. Of the good qualities of his steed he was justly
proud, and while stooping down to adjust its mane previously to his
offering it for sale at Macclesfield, he was surprised by the sudden
starting of the animal. On looking up he perceived a figure of more than
common height, enveloped in a cowl, and extending a staff of black wood
across his path. The figure addressed him in a commanding voice: told
him that he would seek in vain to dispose of his steed for whom a nobler
destiny was in store, and bade him meet him when the sun was set, with
his horse, at the same place. The farmer, resolving to put the truth of
this prediction to the test, hastened on to Macclesfield fair, but no
purchaser could be obtained for his horse. In vain he reduced his price
to half; many admired, but no one was willing to be the possessor of so
promising a steed. Summoning, therefore, all his courage, he determined
to brave the worst, and at sunset reached the appointed place. The monk
was punctual to his appointment. “Follow me,” said he, and led the way by
the _Golden Stone_, _Stormy Point_ to _Saddle Bole_. On their arrival at
this last-named spot, the neigh of horses seemed to arise from beneath
their feet. The stranger waved his wand, the earth opened and disclosed
a pair of ponderous iron gates. Terrified at this, the horse plunged
and threw his rider, who, kneeling at the feet of his fearful companion,
prayed earnestly for mercy. The monk bade him fear nothing, but enter
the cavern, on each side of which were horses resembling his own in
size and colour. Near these lay soldiers accoutred in ancient armour,
and in the chasms of the rock were arms and piles of gold and silver.
From one of these the enchanter took the price of the horse in ancient
coin, and on the farmer asking the meaning of these subterranean armies,
exclaimed: “These are caverned warriors preserved by the good genius of
England, until that eventful day when, distracted by intestine broils,
England shall be thrice won and lost between sunrise and sunset. Then we,
awakening from our sleep, shall rise to turn the fate of Britain. This
shall be when George, the son of George, shall reign. When the forests
of Delamare shall wave their arms over the slaughtered sons of Albion.
Then shall the eagle drink the blood of princes from the headless cross
(query, corse?). Now haste thee home, for it is not in thy time these
things shall be. A Cestrian shall speak it and be believed.” The farmer
left the cavern, the iron gates closed, and though often sought for, the
place has never again been found.’[292]

Arthur, the King of Faery, has dropped out of these legends in the course
of their transmission to modern times, but in another story, told of the
Eildon Hills, his sister, the Fata Morgana, still lives and reigns; for
she is no doubt the _Faery Queen_ with whom Thomas Rhymer spent so many
years underground ere he returned with the gift of prophetic truth.
In the Scottish legend, which makes Michael Scot have much to do in
forming these hills to their present shape, we seem to see him occupying
his natural place in the myth as that Merlin whose art composed and
maintained the magic kingdom of Avalon, where Arthur sleeps with Morgana
till the hour of his return.

The fertile fancy of these ages ran to the formation of other points of
likeness. Merlin had his Vivien, who betrayed him to his loss of life
and power by a spell of his own composing. So Michael was said to have
loved a beautiful woman, who, Delilah-like, left him no peace till he
told her the poison which alone had power over his charmed life: the
broth of a breme sow, of which accordingly he died, taking it confidently
from his false leman’s hand.[293] Michael too, like Merlin, had his _Book
of Might_; for the same fancy which materialised Frederick’s heretical
tendencies, and made them objective in the supposed work _De Tribus
Impostoribus_, soon did the like by those diabolical arts in which
Scot was said to have excelled. It is possible that some reference to
this may have been intended in the book which is held by the magician
in the S. Maria Novella fresco. The plan of these paintings in the
Spanish chapel at Florence was drawn out with great care by Fra Jacopo
Passavanti, a learned monk of that convent. He has left a series of
Lenten sermons, collected and enlarged by himself, and published under
the title of _Lo Specchio di vera Penitenza_.[294] The last two chapters
of this work are devoted to the reproof of magical arts; a subject
which the author would seem to have studied closely. He may have been
influenced in this direction by S. Augustine’s _De Civitate Dei_, which
he translated into Italian. More than one passage of the _Specchio_ may
be cited as illustrating the frescoes of the Spanish Chapel. He tells
us, for example, that the devil is said to be able to teach science to
his disciples in an incredibly short space of time, however rude and
ignorant they may be. For this purpose he has given them a book called
the _Ars Notoria_,[295] the same which is so severely condemned by
Aquinas. Now, as Aquinas, with open book of heavenly doctrine, is figured
in the chief position on the opposite (north) wall of the chapel, it is
no unreasonable conjecture which finds in the magician’s book on the
south wall a pictorial representation of the _Ars Notoria_ as it was
conceived by Passavanti. Elsewhere in the volume he again returns to
the subject of magical works.[296] Zoroaster, he says, first learned
the art from demons, and caused it to be written on two columns, one of
marble to survive the floods, and one of terra-cotta to resist the fire.
This diabolic teaching, thus preserved, flourished among the Egyptians,
Chaldeans, Persians, Indians, and other Oriental nations who remained
its chief exponents, ‘though perchance,’ adds Passavanti, ‘it may be
more studied among ourselves than we are ready to believe.’[297] This
passage may serve to show why the artist of the Spanish Chapel was
directed to draw his Magus in the fashion of the East, and helps us to
understand the prejudice which Michael Scot’s outlandish costume must
have raised against him. It is in any case certain that the stories of
his supernatural power became both memorable in substance and rich in
details by association with the tales of Arthur.



The attachment of Michael Scot to his master, the Emperor Frederick
II., may be conceived as acting in a double sense to procure him his
mysterious fame. With the Guelfs, who bitterly opposed that great monarch
and his followers, it of course became a reason for believing him to
have practised the blackest of arts. With the Ghibellines, on the other
hand, who formed the imperial party, and saw a very Arthur in their
famous leader, it served to confirm his character as a Mage and man of
mysterious might.

Commencing then with one of the first, and certainly the most famous
of the authors who have spoken of Scot in this romantic and legendary
style, the observation just made will enable us to understand without
much difficulty the sense of Dante’s reference to the magician. The poet
represents himself as reaching the fourth division of the eighth infernal
circle, when Virgil draws his attention to one of those who suffer there,
and says:

    ‘Michele Scotto, fù, che veramente
    Delle magiche frode seppe il giuoco.’[298]

Dante was a Ghibelline, and must therefore be supposed to have known well
the tradition of commanding supernatural power woven by his party about
the name of Scot. There is, however, a strong element of contempt and
reproof in his lines, and this must be explained by a point of view which
was peculiar to himself. The _Commedia_, and especially the _Inferno_,
where this passage occurs, is nothing if not a retrospect of the past.
In it Dante calls up the mighty dead and subjects them to review; his
principle of judgment being largely, but by no means solely, drawn from
political considerations. Even more decidedly was it moral, and thus,
while in not a few instances he displays the working of party-spirit, in
others he permits himself to part altogether with the current Ghibelline

His reference to Michael Scot, then, is undoubtedly a case of the latter
kind. As a seer whose attention was fixed on the past he was naturally
impatient of those who pretended to unfold the future. Scot, as the
author of prophetical verses, seemed to Dante a fair object for censure,
as one who had degraded the sacred art of the bard to serve the purpose
of a charlatan. He placed him with Amphiareus, with Teiresias and the
other diviners, who, because they sought to pry into the future, appeared
to the poet with their heads turned backward in punishment of their
presumption. An additional proof that this was in fact the reason for
Dante’s harsh dealing with Scot may be seen in the _Dittamondo_ of Fazio
degli Uberti. This poem, composed towards the end of the fourteenth
century, was modelled on the _Divine Comedy_, and expressly formed to
expound it. Here are the lines which correspond in the _Dittamondo_ to
those of Dante relating to Michael Scot:

    ‘In questo tempo che m’odi contare
    Michele Scotto fù, che per sua arte
    Sapeva Simon Mago contraffare,
    E se tu leggerai nelle sue carte
    Le profezie ch’ei fece, troverai
    Vere venire dove sono sparte.’

Here the reader will observe that the prophetical writings of Scot are
distinctly mentioned, and we are not left, as by Dante, to infer, merely
from the company in which we find him, the view that was taken by the
poet of his character and fame.

It was to reinforce this unfavourable judgment based on other grounds
that Dante adopted the legend already popular regarding Scot’s magical
studies. In doing so he gave the matter a turn which widely separated
his version of the tale from the prevailing Ghibelline stories, told
no doubt with bated breath, but told on the whole to Scot’s credit. In
thus dealing with the legend Dante made use of a distinction well known
to the Arabs, and now becoming familiar also in the West: that, namely,
which divided the art of magic into the real and the illusory; called by
Eastern magicians _Er Roóhhánee_ and _Es Seémiya_.[299] The former was
noble magic, and acted in power upon high spirits, subduing them to the
magician’s will; being either white or black according to the purpose
that was sought by their aid. The latter, on the other hand, produced no
real effects whatever on material things, but moved altogether in the
sphere of mind. At its highest it gave a mastery, which was perhaps
hypnotic, over the senses of those whom the magician sought to delude.
At its lowest it was the art of the juggler and his apes, cheating eye
and ear by tricks like those which have survived to form our modern
conjuring entertainments.[300] Here the apparatus of the higher magic
was still used, but so as to be degraded and distorted from its original
purpose. The circle now served to secure the mage, not from the assaults
of supernatural beings, but from the indiscreet approach of too curious
spectators. The brazier with its cloud of dense and stupifying smoke
served to affect the senses of the subject; the strange sound of recited
spells to impress his imagination; the magic mirror to fix his attention,
till he became the wizard’s captive and obedient to his every suggestion.
This was the art of _glamour_, as it used to be called, which, in one
sphere, seemed to change a ruinous and cobweb-hung hall into a bower of
delight; in another, made visions of distant places and future times
appear in mirrors or crystals; in yet another, provided the philtres
which provoked love, the ligatures which restrained it, and even dealt
in that accursed spell of _envoutement_ which promised to procure for
jealousy and hatred all their wicked will.

Such then were the _magiche frode_ of which Dante accuses Scot, and it is
easy to see that the sting of the verse lies just here; in the unreality
it attributes to this magician’s art, much as if the poet had called him
in plain prose, ‘no mage, but a common juggler.’ Resenting Scot’s pose as
a prophet, and persuaded of the futility of such dreams in comparison
with the splendid and enduring certainties of his own art, Dante used
that gift with cruel force to convey a similar accusation regarding the
romantic fame of the philosopher, holding him up to the world as no
mighty master of mysterious power, but, in this too, a mere impostor.

The anonymous Florentine, in his comment on the _Divine Comedy_, softens
the matter a little, and at the same time imports into it a confusion of
thought very difficult to unravel, when he says: ‘This art of magic may
be employed in two ways; for either magicians compose by cunning certain
bodies, all compact of air, which yet appear substantial, or else they
show things having the appearance of reality but not in truth real, and
in both these ways of working was Michael a great master.’ There is
an attempt here to vindicate for Scot a higher place than that of the
mere charlatan, but the commentator’s distinction is one not readily or
clearly to be apprehended, and we may greatly doubt if it ever entered
his author’s mind.

The hint thus given was speedily acted upon. For to it, no doubt, we
owe the numerous tales regarding Michael Scot of which Benvenuto da
Imola and the anonymous Florentine speak. Landino gives a specimen, as
follows. During the philosopher’s residence in Bologna he used to invite
his friends to dinner, but without making any preparation for their
entertainment. When the hour struck, and the guests were seated at table,
they found it nevertheless covered with the choicest viands. Their host
would then explain that one dish came from the royal kitchen at Paris,
another from that of the English king, and so on with the rest. Jacopo
della Lana repeats the same story, but with certain variations.[301]
According to this commentator, Michael Scot always kept the best company,
living in all respects as a gentleman and cavalier. In his tricks of
the table he did not spare even his own master, but, while choosing
his boiled meat from Paris, and his roasts from London, would always
procure his _entrées_ from the King of Sicily’s provision. The anonymous
Florentine adds another tale to the same purpose, saying that his guests
once asked Scot to show them a new marvel. The month was January, yet, in
spite of the season, he caused vines with fresh shoots and ripe clusters
of grapes to appear on the table. The company were bidden each of them
to choose a bunch, but their host warned them not to put forth their
hands till he should give the sign. At the word ‘cut,’ lo, the grapes
disappeared, and the guests found themselves each with a knife in one
hand, and in the other his neighbours sleeve. Francesco da Buti adds the
significant note, ‘all this was nothing but a cheat; for they only seemed
to feast, and either did not really do so, or else took the dishes for
something quite other than they really were.’ This is enough to show that
the sense we have given to Dante’s words is one which found favour in
early times.

Boccaccio, commencing his lectures on Dante in the Church of San Stefano
at Florence in October 1373, proceeded in them no further, unfortunately,
than the seventeenth canto of the _Inferno_, so that we are deprived
of his notes on the passage which refers to Michael Scot. In the
_Decamerone_, however, he treats the subject in a passing way; making a
citizen of Bologna speak of the magician’s residence in that town.[302]
Scot, he said, had performed many prodigies there, to the delight of
sundry gentlemen his friends, and at their request had, on his departure,
left behind him two scholars, who kept up fairly the traditions of his
art. This seems to indicate that Boccaccio had in mind the stories told
by the other commentators on Dante, and the tone of his novel supports
the conjecture that he agreed with the great poet and with Da Buti, in
regarding these prodigies as pertaining to the department of fictitious

More interesting, perhaps, are the tales which involve Michael the
magician with the fates of his great master, Frederick II. In the
_Paradiso degli Alberti_,[303] for example, we read how, at the feast
given by the Emperor to celebrate his coronation at Rome, which had taken
place on November 22, 1220, the company were entertained by a strange
event. They were just in the act of washing their hands before sitting
down to table in the great hall at Palermo. The pages were still on foot
with ewers and basins of perfumed water and embroidered towels, when
suddenly Michael Scot appeared with a companion, both of them dressed
in Eastern robes, and offered to show the guests a marvel. The weather
was oppressively warm, so Frederick asked him to procure them a shower
of rain which might bring coolness. This the magicians accordingly
did, raising a great storm, which as suddenly vanished again at their
pleasure. Being required by the Emperor to name his reward, Scot asked
leave to choose one of the company to be the champion of himself and his
friend against certain enemies of theirs. This being freely granted,
their choice fell on Ulfo, a German baron. As it seemed to Ulfo, they
set off at once on their expedition, leaving the coasts of Sicily in two
great galleys, and with a mighty following of armed men. They sailed
through the Gulf of Lyons, and passed by the Pillars of Hercules, into
the unknown and western sea. Here they found smiling coasts, received a
welcome from the strange people, and joined themselves to the army of
the place; Ulfo taking the supreme command. Two pitched battles and a
successful siege formed the incidents of the campaign. Ulfo killed the
hostile king, married his lovely daughter, and reigned in his stead;
Michael and his companion having left to seek other adventures. Of this
marriage sons and daughters were begotten, and twenty years passed like a
dream ere the magicians returned, and invited their champion to revisit
the Sicilian court. Ulfo went back with them, but what was his amazement,
on entering the palace at Palermo, to find everything just as it had been
at the moment of their departure so long before; even the pages were
still going the rounds with water for the hands of the Emperor’s guests.
This prodigy performed, Michael and the other withdrew and were seen no
more, but Ulfo, it is said, remained ever inconsolable for the lost land
of loveliness and the joys of wedded life he had left behind for ever in
a dream not to be repeated. This tale appears also in the _Cento Novelle
Antiche_,[304] but in that collection the place of Michael Scot and his
companion is taken by ‘three masters of necromancy.’

In the _Pseudo Boccaccio_[305] we find another tale, referring to the
later and less happy period of the imperial fortunes. The scene is laid
in Vittoria, the armed camp which Frederick pitched so long before the
walls of rebellious Parma. The Parmigiani had made a successful sally,
forced the defences of Vittoria, and were plundering the place. A poor
shoemaker of Parma, who made one of this expedition, was lucky enough to
come upon the imperial tent itself. Entering, he found a small barrel,
which he caught up and carried back to his home. On trial it proved to
contain excellent wine, which the shoemaker and his wife drank from day
to day, till at last it occurred to them to wonder why the supply never
came to an end. They opened the barrel to see, and found within it a
small silver figure of an angel with his foot planted on a grape, also of
silver, from which flowed constantly the delicious wine they had so long
enjoyed. ‘Now, this was made by magic art,’ continues the commentator,
‘and by necromancy, and it was Thales, otherwise called Michael Scot,
who contrived it by his skill and power.’ Needless to add that, by this
indiscreet curiosity, the charm was broken, and the generous wine flowed
no longer to gladden the hearts of the shoemaker and his wife.

We have thus traced the development of the legend as far as the close of
the fourteenth century. During the next hundred years no notable addition
seems to have been made to it, nor does it appear to have attained any
further expression of a remarkable kind in the region of pure literature.
But the fifteenth century had by no means forgotten Michael Scot, nor
the tales that embodied his mysterious fame. This, in fact, seems to
have been the period when most of the magical works attributed to the
philosopher’s pen were composed, and commended to the world under the
reputation attaching to so great a name. Such are the spell, which exists
in writing of this age, in the Laurentian Library of Florence,[306] the
_Geomantia_ of the Munich Library,[307] and, perhaps, the _Cheiromantia_.
As, however, a tract on at least one of these latter subjects is
attributed to Gerard of Cremona in the Vatican list,[308] it is possible
there may here have been only some not unnatural confusion between two
authors who were closely associated in much of the literary work they
accomplished in Spain.

To the sixteenth century belongs the mock-heroic poem entitled _De Gestis
Baldi_, composed by the famous macaronic writer Teofilo Folengo, who
wrote under the assumed name of Merlin Coccajo. A considerable passage
in this curious production is devoted to Michael Scot, of whom the poet
speaks in the following terms:

    ‘Ecce Michaelis de incantu regula Scoti,
    Qua, post sex formas, cerae fabricatur imago
    Demonii Sathan Saturni facta plumbo
    Cui suffimigio per serica rubra cremato
    Hac, licet obsistant, coguntur amore puellae.
    Ecce idem Scotus qui stando sub arboris umbra
    Ante characteribus designet millibus orbem.
    Quatuor inde vocat magna cum voce diablos.
    Unus ab occasu properat, venit alter ab ortu,
    Meridies terzum mandat, septentrio quartum.
    Consecrare facit freno conforme per ipsos
    Cum quo vincit equum nigrum, nulloque vedutum,
    Quem, quo vult, tanquam Turchesca sagitta, cavalcat,
    Sacrificatque comas eiusdem saepe cavalli.
    En quoque dipingit Magus idem in littore navem
    Quae vogat totum octo remis ducta per orbem.
    Humanae spinae suffimigat inde medullam.
    En docet ut magicis cappam sacrare susurris
    Quam sacrando fremunt plorantque per aera turbae
    Spiritum quoniam verbis nolendo tiramur.
    Hanc quicumque gerit gradiens ubicumque locorum
    Aspicitur nusquam; caveat tamen ire per altum
    Solis splendorem, quia tunc sua cernitur umbra.’[309]

Here the legend is not only considerably enriched, but it has recovered
much of its original tone. Michael Scot again appears rather as the
mighty mage than as the adroit juggler which Dante had represented him to
be. One would say Folengo had read the spell of Cordova, where a circle
similar to that described by him is actually proposed. The use of magical
images too, on which he insists, is the very art which the Arabian author
of the _Picatrix_ professes to teach.

These then, or such as these, must have been the ‘old wives’ tales’
spoken of by Dempster, who says that store of them passed current in his
day.[310] He was, like Michael Scot himself, a Scotsman long resident
in Italy, who taught in the universities of Pisa and Bologna at the
commencement of the seventeenth century:[311] an origin and situation
very favourable to the knowledge of these stories, both in their Italian
and Scottish form. That they had at an early period become part of the
romantic heritage of Scotland seems very certain. An anonymous author
supplies us with the Italian view of the matter when he says that the
great magician taught the Scots his art to such a degree ‘that they
will not take a step without some magical practice,’ and adds that he
introduced into Scotland the fashion of ‘white hose, and gowns with the
sleeves sewed together.’[312]

Perhaps the best known of these Scottish tales is that which relates how
Michael Scot had a particular spirit as his familiar, and describes the
difficulty he felt in discovering new tasks for his supernatural servant.
Sir Walter Scott says that this story had made so deep an impression,
that in his day any ancient work of unknown origin was ascribed by the
country people either to Sir William Wallace, Michael Scot, or the
devil himself.[313] But, as commonly told, the legend refers to certain
outstanding features of the country which are natural and not artificial;
a fact which may possibly account for its persistence and survival in
this form and not in the others. Michael is said to have commanded his
spirit to divide Eildon Hill into three.[314] The feat was accomplished
in a single night, but, the magician’s instructions being very precise,
and the spirit finding one of the peaks he had formed greater, and
another less than the mean, accommodated the matter very skilfully
by transferring what seems like a spadeful of earth, still visible as
a distinct prominence on the sky-line of the hill. Next night brought
the need for another task, and Michael gave orders that the river Tweed
should be bound in its course by a curb of stone. The remarkable basaltic
dyke which crosses the bed of the stream near Ednam is said to have been
the result of this command. On the third night, finding his familiar
still keen for employment, Scot bade him go spin ropes of sand at the
river mouth. This task proved so difficult as to relieve the magician
from further embarrassment. It is said to be still in progress, and the
successive attempts and failures of the spirit are pointed out as every
tide casts up, or receding, uncovers, the ever-shifting sands of Berwick

Another Scottish story, borrowed perhaps from the relations between
Michael Scot and Frederick II., and possibly suggested by the
philosopher’s journey in 1230, speaks of a high commission he once held
from the King of Scotland.[315] Some Frenchmen, it is said, had commenced
pirates, and had plundered Scottish ships. The King chose Michael as
his ambassador, sending him to Paris to demand justice and redress.
The magician, however, made none of the ordinary preparations for so
considerable a journey, but opened his _Book of Might_ and read a spell
therein; whereupon his familiar appeared in the form of a black horse,
just as Folengo describes him. In this shape the demon carried his rider
through the air with incredible speed. When the channel lay beneath
them, he asked Michael what words the old wives in Scotland muttered
ere they went to sleep. A less adroit wizard would have simply repeated
the _Paternoster_, and thus furnished the excuse sought by the demon,
who would then have hurled his rider into the sea. Michael, however,
contented himself by sternly replying; ‘What is that to thee? Mount
Diabolus, and fly;’ and, the demon being thus outwitted and compelled,
they presently arrived in Paris. Finding the French King unwilling to
hear his representations, Scot asked him to delay giving a final refusal
till he should have heard the horse stamp three times. At the first
hoof-stroke, all the bells in Paris rang. At the second, three towers in
the palace fell; and the horse had raised his foot to stamp once more,
when the King cried, ‘Hold,’ and yielded him to do as his cousin of
Scotland desired.

A more trivial and domestic tale is that which relates how Michael met
and overcame the Witch of Falsehope.[316] He was then residing at Oakwood
Tower, and, hearing much talk of this woman’s craft, he set forth one day
to prove her. The witch was cunning, and denied that she had any skill
in the black art, but, when Scot absently laid his staff of power upon
the table, she caught it to her and used it upon him with such effect
that he became a hare; in which shape he was hotly coursed by his own
hounds. Taking refuge in a drain, he had just time to reverse the spell
and resume his own form before the hunt reached his hiding-place. Thus
Michael returned to Oakwood with a high impression of his neighbour’s
skill and malice, and fully resolved to have his revenge at the first
opportunity. This occurred next harvest, when, under pretext of sport, he
sent his servant to the witch’s house to beg some bread for the hounds.
Met with the refusal that was expected, the man acted upon his master’s
instructions by privately fixing to the door a scroll containing, amid
magical characters, the following rhyme:

    ‘Maister Michael Scot’s man
    Socht breid and gat nane.’

Meanwhile the witch-wife had returned to her work; which was that of
boiling porridge for the shearers. As soon, however, as Scot’s man had
left the door, she began to run round the fire like one crazy, repeating
as she ran the words of the spell. In a little the harvesters returned
from the field to their dinner, but, as each passed the enchanted door,
the spell took him, and he joined the dance within. Meanwhile Michael
and his men and dogs stood not far off on the hill, whence they could
command a full view of what went on. The last to leave the field was the
goodman, who, suspecting something more than common from the attention
Scot was paying to his house, was too cautious to enter immediately,
as the rest had done. He went to the window, and through it beheld the
orgy, now become terrible, and in the midst of all his wife, half dead
from compulsion and exhaustion, dragged around the house and through the
fire by the bewitched servants. Suspecting how matters stood, he went to
Scot, who, relenting, told him how to remove the spell by entering the
house backwards, and then taking the scroll down from the door. This he
did, and the unearthly dance ceased, but it was long ere those who had
taken part in it forgot the power of the magician, or ventured again to
provoke his resentment.

The northern tales had much to say of Michael’s _Book of Might_,
from which he learned his art, and of his burial-place, where it lay
interred with him. Dempster tells us that, in his boyhood, it used to
be said in Scotland that Scot’s magical works were still extant, but
might not be touched for fear of the powerful demons that waited on
their opening.[317] This form of the legend belongs then to the latter
part of the sixteenth century. In the beginning of the next age, and
precisely in the year 1629, occurred the traditional visit of Satchells
to Burgh-under-Bowness.[318] This author declares that one named Lancelot
Scot showed him in that place something taken from the works of the
mighty magician:

    ‘He said the book which he gave me
    Was of Sir Michael Scot’s Historie;
    Which Historie was never yet read through,
    Nor never will, for no man dare it do.
    Young scholars have pick’d out some thing
    From the contents, that dare not read within.
    He carried me along the castle then,
    And shew’d his written Book hanging on an iron pin.
    His writing pen did seem to me to be
    Of harden’d metal, like steel or accumie,
    The volume of it did seem so large to me
    As the Book of Martyrs and Turks Historie.
    Then in the church he let me see
    A stone where Mr. Michael Scot did lie.
    I ask’d at him how that could appear:
    Mr. Michael had been dead above five hundred year?
    He shew’d me none durst bury under that stone
    More than he had been dead a few years agone,
    For Mr. Michael’s name does terrifie each one.’

It will be observed that Satchells hesitates here between the title of
knighthood which had been bestowed on Scot for a century past on the
authority of Hector Boëce, and the more authentic dignity of Master which
was really his. He also antedates the philosopher’s lifetime by more than
a hundred years; so that plainly what we have in these verses is legend
and tradition rather than history.

This is probably the latest appearance in literature of the old
stories concerning Michael Scot told in the old way. Naudè[319] and
Schmutzer[320] presently came on the scene, in the late seventeenth and
early eighteenth century, with their critical defences of Scot, all too
imperfectly informed regarding his real reputation. In our own age the
poems of Sir Walter Scott and Rossetti, while serving to show that so
great a name has not been forgotten, breathe, it is plain, an entirely
different spirit. They are but the romantic and sentimental revival of
tales that the poets and their world had already ceased to believe.

Changed habits of thought, reaching and affecting every class of society,
make it useless now to seek in Scotland for any new developments of
the legend of Michael Scot. This is not so certainly true, however, of
the South of Europe; of Italy, Sicily, and Spain, where he was once
a familiar figure. There the slow progress of education has left the
common people still in possession of much legendary lore, and even of
the living faculty by which in past ages such tales have been formed.
To ascertain what an Italian story-teller in the present year of grace
would make of the name and fame of Michael Scot were clearly a curious
and interesting inquiry. It is one which, on actual trial, has yielded
two tales differing considerably from any hitherto published.[321] As
these are certainly the very latest additions to the legend, they deserve
a place here at the close of our collection. Freely rendered into English
they run as follows:

‘Mengot was a notable astrologer and magician. Mengot was his true
name,[322] but he had many surnames besides; among which was that of
Scotto. This name of Scotto was given him by a princess. One night the
Prince, her husband, happened to be in a company where the talk turned
on the virtue of women, and the Prince said he would put his hand in the
fire if his wife were not faithful to him; so sure was he of her virtue.
Then spoke up another of the company, who made light of the caresses and
compliments with which women use to deceive, and told a tale for the
Prince’s warning. “There was once a man,” said he, “who thought as you
do, dear Prince; for he took his wife for a pattern of virtue, and would
have pledged, not his hand only, but his very life that she was so. It
happened, however, that he had a friend who knew of the wizard whom they
call Mengot, dwelling without the Croce Gate of Florence, and having
his house below the ground, closed by a flat stone of the field so as
to be secret. Those who would inquire of him must pass to the place and
cry ‘Mengot! Master Mengot! I seek a favour of thee, and, if thou tell
me true, I shall not stint thy reward;’ whereupon he doth straightway
appear. This then was what the friend of the too confident husband did,
for he summoned Mengot, and, in presence of all, said to him: ‘Tell me
the truth, and whether the wife of this gentleman deserves his confidence
or not.’ After some thought, the wizard replied, ‘Do you wish a true
answer, or one made to please? I should be sorry to hurt the husband’s
feelings.’ When all desired to have the truth, Mengot told them that
the lady in question had gone to a place in the Via Calzaiuoli where
disguises were arranged, and that she would be found next day dressed as
a servant in the course of carrying on a vulgar intrigue in the Ghetto.
Now all this was verified; for the wizard told them even the very house
in the Via delle Ceste where she would be found with her lover, and it
proved to be exactly as he had said.” When this tale was done, all who
heard it cried that Mengot should be summoned again, to see whether the
Princess were faithful or not. So they called him, as had been done in
the other case, but with the same result; for here also the Prince’s
confidence had been misplaced, and that in a high degree. Then said the
Princess, between rage and shame, “Hast thou scotched me this time; but
next time I will scotch thee.”[323] She straightway sought a witch, said
to be more powerful than Mengot himself, and, telling what had happened,
promised her gold by handfuls if she would revenge her on the wizard. The
woman told her to be easy, for she would arrange the matter. She paid
Mengot a visit as if to take his advice, and, stealing his magic rod,
struck the ground three times, whereupon Mengot was turned into a hare,
and fled from his habitation. Having foreseen, however, by his art that
such danger might arise, Mengot had prepared a pool of enchanted water at
his door. Into this he now leaped, and by its virtue was able to resume
his proper form. The first thing he did was to seek the magic rod, and,
finding it still in his house, he struck the witch on the head. She
became a skinless[324] cat, and in that form haunted the guilty Princess
for her sins; while Mengot was ever afterwards distinguished by the name
of Scot.’

The second tale is to this effect:

‘Michael Scotti the wizard was a mighty master of witchcraft. There came
to him one day a young lady, richly dressed, and wearing a thick veil.
She told him that she wished to become a witch that she might cast a
spell upon the child of a man who had forsaken her for another woman,
now his wife; for she said that to bewitch this child would be the best
revenge she could have. Michael was willing to content her; but we must
here remark that wizards and witches gain their power, either at birth
or as a legacy from some dying person who has the gift. In either of
these cases, when the wizard or witch takes the form of an animal, both
body and soul are present wherever the form may appear. If, on the other
hand, any one becomes a witch of her own desire, as in the case before
us, her spirit may move and act under such a form, but her body lies all
the while where she left it. But to our tale.

‘Michael accordingly took his Magic Book, and the skin of a cat, and
kindling some hempen fibre[325] in an earthen pot, he commenced to read
his spells, which had such effect that the spirit of the young lady
entered into the skin of the cat. In the form of that animal she then
went about her business, while her body remained still in the chair
where she was sitting. At her return the wizard read again in his book,
whereupon the spirit of the new-made witch returned to her body as
before. Michael gave her a book of this kind, and the skin he had used,
and every night she turned herself into a witch, and became so wicked as
to cast ill upon many children, and even on an infant brother of her own.

‘Thus the sorceress was hardly entered on her power ere she brought about
the death of her rival’s child, and killed many others, but an end was
presently put to these ill-doings. Her brother, whom she had bewitched
out of jealousy, wasted away, and the parents were in despair, as none of
the physicians whom they consulted could understand the case. One morning
the child told them he had suffered much during the night from a cat,
which leaped upon his bed, howled, and played the most frightful antics.
They then began to suspect witchcraft, and resolved that the household
should watch during the next night. On the stroke of twelve a cat was
seen coming out of their daughter’s room. One of the servants gave chase,
and another went into the room, fearing that the young lady had also been
bewitched, and saw her lying on the bed as cold as marble. The cry arose
that she was killed. The parents, mad with grief, made after the cat to
destroy it, but with leaps and bounds, it kept them busy all night as
if they had been huntsmen chasing a hare, and all in vain. As the bells
began to sound for matins the cat ran into the young lady’s room, and
the mother, beating her brow, exclaimed: “she who has bewitched my son
is none other than his sister.” Rushing into the room they found her,
no longer like a dead body, but all panting from the night-long chase.
Her mother searched all the corners, and finding the book and earthen
pot, bade throw them into the Arno. They then besought their daughter to
undo the mischief she had wrought upon her brother, and so many more,
and to promise she would never do the like again; but to nothing of this
would she consent. Then they threw her out of window in fear and to the
breaking of her bones. The servants came and took her up; laying her on
her bed again; telling her to heal her brother. Not even in the last
moments of life, however, would she repent. She could not die till Mengot
had read for her a spell of loosing, and on him therefore she still lay
crying. The servants told this to her parents, who bade put horses to
the carriage and fetch the wizard, who was presently with them. First
he commanded her to cure her brother, and then he read for her in his
Magic Book that she might be loosed, and so she died. But when the skin
and earthen pot were cast away, they sank straight underground. Thus the
witch, who still came back every night to get the skin, and take the form
of a cat, found all her magic art in vain; for Michael Scotti had taken
her power away.’

‘Desinit in piscem mulier formosa superne!’ To such vain and trivial
conclusions has a reputation, justly renowned in its own day, been
reduced in ours. Michael Scot, now become a _troglodyte_, lifts his head
timidly and occasionally from a den in the Florence fields; he who, while
alive, filled Europe with his fame, and, by his _Averroës_, ruled the
schools of Padua as late as the seventeenth century. If a remedy is still
to be had for this, the fruit of Guelphic rancour, it must be found in
the direction we have sought to keep throughout these pages: that of a
serious and impartial study of Scot’s life, and of those labours of his
in philosophy and science which are so really, though remotely, connected
with the intellectual attainments of our own times.



✠ Experimentum Michaelis Scoti nigromantici.[326]

Si volueris per daemones haberi scientem, qui in forma magistri ad te
veniet cum tibi placuerit, expedit tibi primo habere quandam cameram
fulgentem et nitidam, in qua nunquam mulier non conversetur, nec vir ante
inchoationem triginta diebus, computato itaque tempore taliter quod xxxj
die fit luna crescens[327] –o– ☿ eius hora, castus per septimanam, rasus
totus, ac etiam lotus, necnon vestimentis albis indutus. Solus in ortu
solis, in quo, et ipsa hora ☿ habeas quoddam vas in quo sit lignum
aloes camphora et cipressum cum igne, ex quibus fiat fumus, et primo te
totum suffumiga, scilicet primo faciem, deinde alia, postea etiam totam
cameram. Quo facto, habeas oleum bacharum et totum te unge a capite
usque ad pedes, hoc facto, volve te primo versus 🜚 ortum, et sic dic,
flexis genibus: O admirabilis et ineffabilis et incomprehensibilis, Qui
omnia ex nihilo formasti, apud quem nihil impossibile est, te deprecor
cum humilitate vehementi ut mihi, famulo tuo tali, tribuas gratiam
cognoscendi potentiam tuam, Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre per omnia
saecula saeculorum, Amen. Praesta quaesumus mihi tutellam angeli tui,
qui me custodiat, protegat, atque defendat, et adjuvet ad huius operis
consummationem, et faciat me potentem contra omnes spiritus ut vincam
etiam dominer eis, et ipsi adversus me terrendi vel laedendi nullam
habeant potestatem, Amen, [here follow verses 25-28 of Psalm 119.]
Similiter versus occasum, meridiem, et septentrionem, et debes scire
quod, quando vertis te, debes te totum expoliare nudum, deinde dicere has
orationes: quo facto, debes te induere dicendo hunc psalmum, [Psalm 76:
1-.] usque _quomodo cogitatio hominis_, etc. quo dicto, et inducto, dic
tu haec verba [Psalm 37: 30.] Quibus dictis habeas unum frustrum panni
albi de lana, quae nunquam fuerit in usu, et habeas quandam columbam
albam totam vel –o– cuiuscumque coloris sit, et trunca eius collum, et
collige eius sanguinem in vase vitreo, et de dicta columba sive –ͨoͦ–ͬ
sanguinando dictum cor in 1º. o. Fac cum dicto corde cruentato, in dicto
panno, circulum, ut apparet inferius, quo facto, intra circulum cum ense
in manu: qui ensis debet esse lucidissimus, cum quo ense avis caput debet
truncari ut dictum est, et ipsum tenendo per cuspidem, aspiciendo versus
orientem, dic sic: O misericordissime Deus, Creator omnium, et omnium
scientiarum Largitor, Qui vis magis peccatorem vivere, ut ad penitentiam
valeat pervenire, quam ipsum mori sordidum in peccatis, Te deprecor toto
mentis affectu ut cogas et liges istos tres demones, videlicet Appolyin,
Maraloch, Berich, ut debeant per virtutem et potentiam tuam mihi obedire,
servire, et parere, sine aliquo fraude, malignatione vel furore, in
omnibus quae praecipio: Qui vivis et regnas in unitate Spiritus Sancti,
Amen. Debet haec enim oratio dici novies versus orientem, deinde debes
dicere, Appolyin, Maraloch, Berich, Ego talis vos exorcizo et conjuro
ex parte Dei Omnipotentis Qui vos vestra elatione jussit antra subire
profundi, ut debeatis mittere quendam spiritum peritum dogmate omnium
scientiarum, qui mihi sit benivolus, fidelis, et placidus ad docendum
omnem scientiam quam voluero, veniens in formam magistri ut nullam
formidinem percipere valeam, fiat, fiat, fiat. Item conjuro vos per
Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum ut per haec sancta nomina quorum
virtute ligamen, scilicet Dober, Uriel, Sabaoth, Semonyi, Adonayi,
Tetragramaton, Albumayzi, Loch, Morech, Sadabyin, Rodeber, Donnel,
Parabyiel, Alatuel, Nominam, et Ysober, quatenus vos tres reges maximi
et mihi socii, mihi petenti, unum de subditis vestris mittere laboretis,
qui sit magister omnium scientiarum et artium, veniens in forma humana,
placibilis aplaudens mihi et erudens me cum amore ita et taliter quod in
termino xxxta dierum talem scientiam valeam adipisci, promittens post
sumptionem scientiae dare libi licentiam recedendi, ut hoc etiam totiens
dici debet. Hac oratione vero dicta, ensem depone et involve in dicto
panno, et facto vasiculo, cuba super ipso ut aliquantulum dormias. Post
sompnum vero surge et induas te: quia facto vasiculo homo se spoliat
et intrat cubiculum ponendo dictum vasiculum super capite. Est autem
sciendum quod dictis his conjurationibus somnus acculit virtute divina,
in somno autem apparebunt tibi tres maximi reges, cum famulis innumeris
militibus peditibus, inter quos est etiam quidam magister apparens, cui
ipsi tres reges jubent ad te ipsum venire paratam. Videbis enim tres
reges fulgentes mira pulcritudine, qui tibi in dicto sompno viva voce
loquentur dicentes, Ecce tibi Domini quod multotiens postulasti, et
dicent illi magistro, Sit iste tuus discipulus quem docere tibi jubemus
omnem scientiam sive artem quam audire voluerit. Doce illum taliter et
erudi ut in termino xxx dierum in qualem scientiam voluerit, ut summus
inter alios habeatur:[328] et ipsum audies et videbis eum respondere,
dictum mei libentissime faciam quicquid vultis. His dictis reges abibunt
et magister solus remanebit, qui tibi dicet, Surge, ecce tuus magister.
His vero dictis, excitaberis statim et aperies occulos et videbis quendam
magistrum optime indutum, qui tibi dicet, Da mihi ensem quem sub capite
tenes. Tu vero dices Ecce discipulus vester paratus est facere quicquid
vultis; tamen debes habere pugillarem et scribere omnia quae tibi dicet.
Primo debes quaerere, O magister, quod est nomen vestrum: ipse dicet, et
tu scribes; secundo, de quo ordine, et similiter scribe: his scriptis,
dabis ensem, quo habito, ipse recedet dicens, Expecta me donec veniam:
tu nihil dices. Magister vero recedet et secum portabit ensem, post
cuius recessu tu solves pannum, ut apparet inferius,[329] etiam scribes
in dicto circulo nomen eius scriptum per te, et scribi debet etiam cum
supradicto, O, quo scripto involve dictum pannum et bene reconde: his
factis debes prandere solo pane et pura aqua, et illa die non egredi
cameram et cum pransus fueris accipe pannum et intra circulum versus
Appolyim et dic sic, O rex Appolyim magne potens et venerabilis ego
famulus tuus in te credens, et omnino confidens, quia tu es fortior, et
valens per incomprehensibilem majestatem tuam, ut famulus et subditus
tuus talis, magister meus, debeat ad me venire quam citius fieri potest,
per virtutem et potentiam tuam quae est magna et maxima in saecula
saeculorum, Amen. et similiter dicere versus Maraloth, mutando nomen, et
versus Berith similiter, his dictis accipe de dicto sanguine et scribe in
circulo nomen tuum cum supradicto corde ut hic apparet inferius. Deinde
scribe cum dicto corde in angulis panni illa nomina ut hic apparent. Si
autem sanguis unius avis non tibi sufficeret, potes interficere quot
tibi placent: quibus omnibus factis, sedebis per totum diem in circulo
aspiciens ipsum, nihil loquendo; cum vero sero fuerit, plica dictum
pannum spoliato, et intra cubiculum ponendo ipsum sub capite tuo, et
cum posueris dici sit plana voce, O Appolyin, Maraloch, Berich, Sathan,
Belyal, Belzebuch, Lucifer, supplico vobis ut precipiatis magistro
meo, nominando eius nomen, ut ipse debeat venire solus ante eras ad me,
et docere me talem scientiam sine aliqua alia fallacia, per Illum Qui
venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos et saeculum per ignem, Amen. Cave
igitur et praecave ne signum ✠ facias, propter magnum periculum. In
sompno scies quia videbis magistrum tota nocte loqui tecum, interrogans
a te qualem scientiam vis adiscere, et tu dices, talem. Itaque ut dictus
est tota nocte cum eo loqueris. Cum itaque excitatus fueris in ipsa
nocte, surge et accende candelam, et accipe dictum pannum et dissolve,
et sede in eo, scilicet in circulo, ubi nomen tuum scriptum est, ad tuum
commodum, et voca nomen magistri tui, sic dicens, O talis de talis (sic)
ordine, in magistrum meum datum per majores reges tuos, te deprecor
ut venies in forma benigna ad docendum me in tali scientia, quia sim
probīor omnibus mortalibus docens ipsam cum magno gaudio, sine aliquo
labore, ac omni tedio derelicto. Veni igitur ex tuorum parte majoris
qui regnat per infinita saecula saeculorum, Amen, fiat, fiat, fiat. His
itaque dictis, ter aspicias versus occidentem, videbis magistrum venire
cum multis discipulis, quem rogabis ut omnes abire jubeat, et statim
recedent: quo facto, ipse magister dicet quam scientiam audire desideras;
tu dices talem, et tunc incipies, memento enim quia tantum adiscens
memoriae commodabis et omnem scientiam quam habere volueris adisces in
termino xxx dierum. Et quando ipsum de camera abire volueris, plica
pannum et reconde, et statim recedet: et quando ipsum venire volueris,
aperi pannum, et subito ibidem apparebit continuando lectiones. Post
vero terminum xxx dierum, doctus optime in illa scientia evades, et
fac tibi dare ensem tuum, et dic ut vadat, et cum pace recedat. Debes
iterum dicere cum pro alia ipsum invocabis habenda scientia, quod tibi
dicet ad tuum libitum esse paratum. Finis capituli scientiae. Explicit
nicromantiae experimentum illustrissimi doctoris Domini Magistri
Michaelis Scoti, qui summus inter alios nominatur Magister, qui fuit
Scotus, et servus praeclarissimo Domino suo Domino Philipo Regis Ceciliae
coronato; quod destinavit sibi dum esset aegrotus in civitate Cordubae,
etc. Finis


Fondo Vaticano 4428, ms. perg. in fol. saec. xiii. cum min.

    p. 1 recto. ‘Incipit Logica Avicennae. Studiosam animam meam
    ad appetitum translationis lib. avicennae quem asschiphe i.
    sufficientiam nuncupavit invitare cupiens, et quaedam capitula
    … in latinum eloquium ex arabico transmutare.’ Then follows
    a column and a half commencing: ‘Dixit abunbeidi filius ab,’
    (? avicennae) which seems to give an account of the manner in
    which he was wont to compose. At the middle of col. 2 begins a
    new paragraph:—‘Dixit princeps abualy alhysenni filius abdillei
    filius sciue’ noted in the margin as: ‘Vita avicennae.’ This
    closes at the middle of the first col. of p. 1, verso.

    p. 8 recto. A footnote says ‘translatus ab auendbuch de libro
    avicennae de logico.’

    p. 9 recto. ‘Incipit collectio secundi libri sufficientiae a
    principiis ph’ici prologus. Dixit princeps Avicenna. Postquam
    expedivimus nos auxilio dei.’ A short prologue follows extending
    to three-quarters of a col. Then follows the treatise: ‘Iam nosti
    ex tractatu.’ It closes on p. 20 _recto_ with the words ‘per se
    notae sunt. Explicit liber phisicorum avicennae Amen.’

    p. 20 verso. ‘Incipit liber Avicennae de celo et mundo, seu
    collectiones expositionum ab antiquis graecis in librum
    Aristotelis. Expositiones autem istae in quatuordecim continentur
    capitulis. Per unum quod corpus perficiens.’ This tract closes on

    p. 27 recto. with the words ‘completum xv capitulum, et ideo
    completione completus est liber totus, et laus sit creatori
    nostro et largitori … et sic pax et salus omni animae modestae et
    benignae. Amen.

    p. 27 verso. ‘Incipit particula prima Methaᶜᵉ avicennae cap.
    1. de inquisitione … ad hoc ut ostendatur ipsam esse de numero
    scientiarum liberalium. Avicenna de philosophia prima, sive
    scientia prima divina. Postquam autem auxilio Dei explevimus
    tractatum scientiarum logicalium et naturalium et doctrinalium,
    convenientius est accedere ad cogitationem intentionum

    p. 78 recto. The Metaphysica end here with the words:—‘quia
    ipse est rex terreni mundi, et vicarius dei in illo. Completus
    est liber. Laudetur deus super omnia … quem transtulit diaconus
    gundissalui archidyaco’ tholeti de arabico in latinum.’

    p. 78 verso. ‘Incipit liber primus Avicennae de anima et
    dicitur sextus de naturalibus. Reverentissimo tholetanae sedis
    archiepiscopo et yspaniarum primati Johannes Avendaut israelita
    philosophus gratiam et vitae futuris obsequium.’ … ‘Incipiunt
    capitula totius libri. Liber iste dividitur in partes.’ …
    ‘Ordinatio librorum Avicennae. Iam explevimus in primo libro.’ …

    p. 79 recto. ‘Capitulum 1. Dicemus ergo …’ The De Anima closes on

    p. 114 verso. with these words: ‘sicut postea scies cum loquitur
    de animalibus. Explicit sextus naturalium Avicennae. Deo gratias
    et nunc et semper Amen. Qui scripsit hunc librum Dominus
    benedicat illum. Ffinito libro sit laus et gloria Christo.
    Incipit sermo de generatione lapidum Avicennae. Terra pura non
    fit lapis quia continuationem non facit.’ The second chapter is:
    ‘De generatione montium’ and the third ‘De generatione corporum
    mineralium.’ In the latter chapter occurs the curious passage:
    ‘Sciant autem artifices alkimiae … et salem amoniacum’ which we
    have translated on p. 74.

    p. 115 recto. The short tract on minerals closes at the foot
    of this page with the words: ‘exhibere res quaedam extraneae.
    Explicit vere.’

    p. 115 verso. is blank.

    p. 116 recto. ‘De animalibus Avicennae. Frederice, romanorum
    imperator, domine mundi, suscipe devote hunc librum michaelis
    scoti ut sit gratia capiti tuo et torques collo tuo. Incipit
    abbreviatio avicennae super librum animalium aristotelis. Et
    animalia quaedam communicant in membris, sicut equus et homo.’
    The treatise closes on

    p. 158 recto, in the usual way: ‘sed de dentium utilitatibus jam
    scis ex alio loco. Completus est liber avicennae de animalibus
    scriptus per magistrum henricum coloniensem ad exemplar magnifici
    imperatoris domini frederici apud meffiam civitatem Apuliae ubi
    dominus imperator eidem magistro hunc librum permissum comodavit
    anno domini mº ccº xxxijº in vigilio beati laurentii in domo
    magistri volmari medici imperialis liber iste inceptus est et
    expletus cum adiutorio iesu christi qui vivit.…

        Frenata penna, finito nunc avicenna
        Libro Caesario gloria summa Deo
        Dextera scriptoris careat gravitate doloris.’

    In the second col. of this page commences the arabo-latin
    glossary (_see_ facsimile):—

        ‘Ex libro animalium aristotelis domini imperatoris in margine.’
        ‘Passer dicitur pscipsci,’
        ‘Rumbus. sciathi.’
        ‘Delfinis, delfinus.’
        ‘Fehed. leopardus.’
        ‘Ex libro secundo.’
        ‘Ex tertio libro.’
        ‘Glosa magistri al.’ ‘Explicit anno domini mº ccº x.’

Fondo Vaticano 2089 ms. in fol. perg. finiss. saec. xiii. The first
265 pages of this volume contain the _De Causis_ (pp. 1-5) and the
following commentaries by Averroës: _De coelo et mundo_ (pp. 6-195);
_De generatione et corruptione_ (pp. 195-254); on the fourth book of
the _Meteora_ (pp. 254-260); _De substantia orbis_, (pp. 260-265). Then
follow the commentaries by Avicenna in this order:—

    p. 266 recto. ‘Titulus, Collectio secunda libri sufficientiae
    avicennae principis philosophi. Prologus. Dixit princeps,
    Postquam expedivimus nos auxilio dei ab eo quod opus fuit.’ …
    ‘Liber primus de quaestionibus et principiis naturalium Capitulum
    de affligenda via qua pervenitur ad scientiam naturalium per
    principia eorum. Iam scisti ex tractatu.’

    p. 282 verso. ‘et consummate certo fine cessabit interrogatione.
    Completus est primus tractatus de naturalibus cum auxilio Dei et
    gratia. Incipit tractatus secundus de motu et de quiete et de
    consimilibus. Capitulum de motu. Postquam perfecimus librum de

    p. 306 verso. ‘cuius tempus non habet (?) esse initium. Completa
    est pars secunda de collectione naturalium. Et ei qui dedit
    intelligere gratiae sint infinitae. Pars tertia de hiis quae
    habent naturalia ex hoc quod habent quantitatem. Prologus de
    qualitate tractandi precipue in hoc libro. Naturalia sunt

    p. 307 recto. ‘et haec propositiones per se notae sunt. Explicit
    liber sufficientiae avicennae. Prologus in sextum naturalium
    Avicennae. Reverentissimo toletanae sedis archiepiscopo et
    yspanorum primati auendeueth israelita philosophus gratiam et
    vitae futuris obsequium.… Quapropter, domine, jussum vestrum
    de transferendo librum avicenae (cod. 4428 p. 78 verso reads
    _aristotelis_) philosophi de anima effectui mancipare curavi
    ut vestro munere et meo (4428 _nostro_) labore latinis fieret
    certum quod hactenus extitit incognitum scilicet an sit anima,
    et quid et qualis sit, secundum essentiam rationibus verissimis
    comprobatum. Haberis (4428 _habes_) ergo librum vobis precipiente
    (4428 _percipientibus_) et me (4428 omits _me_) singula verba
    vulgariter proferente et dominico archidiacono singula in latinum
    convertente ex arabico translatum quo quidquid aristotelis dixit
    in libro suo de anima et de sensu et sensato et de intellecto et
    intellectu ab auctore libri scias esse collectum. Unde postquam
    deo volente hunc habes. In hoc illos tres plenissime vos habere
    non dubiteris.’

    p. 307 verso. ‘Incipit sextus de naturalibus auicenae translatus
    a magistro Girardo cremonensi de arabico in latinum in toleto.
    Iam explevimus in primo libro.’ … ‘Capitulum in quo affirmatur
    esse anima et diffinitur secundum quod est anima. Dicemus igitur
    quia quod primum.’

    p. 315 verso. ‘Expleta est pars prima sexti libri de collectione
    naturalium. Incipit pars secunda eius. Capitulum de certificando
    virtutes quae sunt propriae animae vegetabilis. Incipiemus nunc
    notificare sigillatim.’

    p. 322 recto. ‘Completa est pars secunda sexti libri de
    collectione naturalium. Deo sit gratia. Incipit pars eius tertia
    de visu. Debemus loqui de visu.’

    p. 335 recto. ‘non habet sensum communem ullo modo. Completa est
    pars tertia sexti libri de naturalibus, Deo sint gratiae. Incipit
    iiij vj libri de naturalibus. Capitulum in quo est verbum commune
    de sensibilibus interioribus quos habent animalia. Sensus autem
    qui est communis.’

    p. 344 verso. ‘et hic est finis eius quod transtulit Auohaueth
    ex capitulis illius libri ad hunc locum huius libri de anima.
    Completa est quarta pars sexti libri de naturalibus auxilio Dei.
    Incipit pars quinta libri eiusdem. Capitulum de proprietatibus
    actionum et passionum hominis, et de assignatione contemplationis
    et actionis. Quoniam jam explevimus tractatum de virtutibus

    p. 356 verso. ‘quorum quaedam attrahunt materiam et quaedam
    expellunt sicut postea scies cum loquitur de animalibus.
    Completus est liber de anima qui est sextus liber collectionis
    secundae de naturalibus. Et ei qui dedit intelligere sint gratiae
    infinitae. Post hunc sequitur liber septimus de vegetabilibus et
    viijº de animalibus qui et finis scientiae naturalis. Post ipsum
    autem sequitur collectio tercia de disciplinalibus in quatuor
    libris, seu arismetica, geometria, musica, astrologia, et post
    hunc sequitur liber de causa causarum.’ Then follows an index to
    the chapters of the _De Anima_ which ends the whole codex on p.
    357 recto.

I have thought it well to give this complete account of these two
remarkable manuscripts not only because they show the exact place held
by the _De animalibus_ in the body of commentaries written by Avicenna,
but also on account of the view they give of the translations made by
the early Toledan school. In this respect they serve in some measure
to correct and extend the conclusions of Jourdain. It is evident, for
instance, that Avendeath did not finish translating the _De Anima_, but
only proceeded in it as far as the end of the fourth part.


    I have thought it best to print these parallel texts with
    as close adherence to the manuscript as is consistent with
    intelligibility, and they therefore appear in these pages with
    all the mistakes of the copyist.

    [I have re-arranged the paragraphs of this treatise so as to
    fall opposite the corresponding parts of the Liber Luminis, but
    have numbered them according to their original order so that by
    following the numbers the book can be read in its own proper

    Transcriber’s Note: The author’s decision described in the above
    paragraph is impossible to replicate in this e-text, which does
    not have opposite pages! So the Liber Luminis is here presented
    in full first, followed by the full text of the Liber Dedali
    Philosophi (with the paragraphs in the author’s chosen order).
    Use of the HTML version may allow for a better comparison.


Riccardian Library, Florence, L. III. 13, 119, p. 35 verso, middle of 2nd

Incipit liber luminis luminum translatus a magistro michahele scotto

Cum rimarer et inquirerem secreta nature ex libris antiquorum
philosophorum qui tractaverunt de natura salium alluminum et omnium
corporum et spirituum minere pertinentium nullum inveni qui completam
dixisset doctrinam. Quedam tamen utilia extraxi et ea secretis nature
adiunxi procedo (?) quidem brevitati et addendo quae utilia sunt in
hac arte que alkimia nuncupatur. In quo talia continentur Invencio (?
Intencio) causa intentionis et utilitas. Invencio (? Intencio) eius est
tractare de transformatione metallorum secundum quod hermes dixit parum
enim desint marti quod non fiat luna non desint aliud nisi quod non
fiat tanta decoctio in eo sicut luna. Et notum est quod sicut 7 sunt
metalla ita 7 sunt planete et quodlibet metallum habet suum planetam.
Dixerunt ergo philosophi quod aurum est filius solis Argentum filius lune
Aes filius veneris Argentum vivum filius mercurii stagnum filius jovis
Plumbum filius Saturni Ferrum filius martis. Causa intentionis est ut
ex tali mutatione nobiliora fient metalla. Utilitas quod habita notitia
huius libri qui lumen luminum appellatur transfigurari possit mars in
lunam et venus in solem et constringere omnes spiritus volantes. Quorum
quaedam sunt subtilia et quaedam volativa. Volant enim sicut sulphur et
arsenicum et ex illis est etiam argentum vivum. Sed primo de salibus
loquamur 2º de alluminibus 3º de atramentis, 4º de pulveribus. Salium
autem sunt diversorum specierum scilicet Masse Alcali Rubeum Armoniacum
Nitrum salsum Agrum Allebrot albo et communis.


Sal autem commune convenientior est omnibus salibus scilicet marti. Dixit
philosophus quod [si] quisquis ipsum prius ipsius separationem acceperit
et quater per atramenta transire fecerit postea cum ana sui ydragor
sublimati in aquam redire fecerit ac coagulati quod es [sic pro “aes”]
cum ipso mirabiliter dealbabit et isto fit sal tostum quod tali modo fit.
℞ ex eo libram. 1. et pone in patellam ferream et combure sufficienter et
iste est sal tostus.

Sal masse ponit qualiter sal in massam naturaliter redactus ut gemma
Alexandrinus ungarricus Sardonicus et hermoni (?).

Sal autem alkali est nobilior omnibus salibus excepto sali alebrot facit
autem coagulare alios sales. Iste autem sal fit de herba salsifera que
juxta mare complicatis foliis invenitur, sive de allumine gattivo quod
extrahitur de supradicta herba. Salem autem alkali prius ipsius meram
separationem si quis ter per atramenta transire fecerit et eodem modo de
communi masse armoniaco egerit ipsius quoque in unum redactis iterum per
atramenta transire fecerit ac cum ana sui ydragor in aquam redire fecerit
et coagulaverit quod convertet martem in lunam et constringet omnes
spiritus volantes.

Iste autem sal inter reliquos sales retinet naturam vetetabilitatis et


Dictis de salibus et eorum virtutibus sequitur de sale rubeo sive Indico.
Dicitur autem Indicum eo quod apportatur de India est enim durissime
odorifere nature rubedine quadam cum citrinitate participans. Habet autem
fortem virtutem super venerem rubificandam et dando ei colorem bonum.
Verum est quod hoc non facit per se solum sed cum tercia parte sui salis
alebrot rubei et virtute pulveris talparum[332] et camfore et masticis
et virtutis omnia simul terantur et cum urina taxy vel gāgelis usque
7 distemperetur et cum hoc pulvere venerem tinges martemque in lunam


Sal autem armoniacum est magne virtutis quoniam ex fumositate eq. ā (_sic
pro_ fimositate equorum) fit est autem multiplex naturale et fictitium.
Naturale aliud album aliud rubeum. Album longus est super quem lamina
velociter currit. Rubeum rotundum est et sale alebrot rubeo affiliatur
velociter enim currit sine fumi emissione super laminam. Primus in lunam
secundus in solem cum ana sui pulveris talparum super omnia metalla per
optime laborat. Ficticium etiam secundum predictos modos diversificatur
ad optinendam supradictam virtutem.


Sal nitrum est multiplex. Est enim nitrum qui est pulvis niger. Est etiam
sal nitrum allexandrinum et Indicum sive rubeum salsum isti similiter in
massa lata reducti funditur et findere facit.

Est etiam nitrum salsum de isto due sunt maneries folliatum ut talcum.
Alter depillatur ut allumen de pluma in eo autem est salsedo cum
punctuositate et magnus philosophus [dicit] quod si quis acceperit ex eo
ʒ · 1 · et tantundem pulvis talparum et exsiccaverit cum urina tassi sive
gāgelis convertet martem in lunam et constringet omnes spiritus volantes.
Item tolle de predicto pulvere ʒ · 1 · et 5 et callaminare et trita simul
et incorpora cum urina tassi vel gāgellis usque 9 cum isto pulvere super
omnia metalla in solem obrigō laborare possis.

℞ Sossile rubificate ʒ · 1 · gutte rubee ʒ · 1 · et 5 pulvis talparum ʒ
· 1 · et parum nitri salsi ac simul trita et incorpora cum aceto et pone
cum aceto et pone super m. [mercurium] et habebis solem obrigō.


De sale agro in quo est virtus magna quam pauci sciunt et sapientes
constringunt cum eo m. mundant cum eo corpora (?) et albificant ea
sufficienti albedine et reddit ea clara et lucida. Et iste a quibusdam
philosophis alibrot appellatur licet in veritate non sit idem et diversus
quod sit frigidus et siccus quamvis videatur hoc esse contra naturam et
de proprietate eius est constringere m. et omnes spiritus volantes et
quanto magis studueris in eo tunc invenies eius albedinem ultra quam
aliquis possit excogitare quia cum eo albificantur corpora et non cum
alio deus novit. Et dixit magnus philosophus cum moriebatur filio suo O
fili mi secretum tuum habeas in corde tuo nec dices alicui nec filio tuo
nisi cum amplius non poteris retinere.

Desiderio desideraverunt philosophi sapientes scire veritatem huius
salis. Sed pauci eam sciverunt et qui eam noverunt non dixerunt in libris
suis veritatem eius secundum quod viderunt. Illinant enim martem et
clarificat a superfluitatibus terreis et facit quod mars transmutatur in
lunam hoc modo ℞ ex eo libra 1. gutte rubee que inveniuntur in allumine
de pluma l · 1. pulvis talparum l · 1. sal armoniaci alkali arborum
separatorum ʒ · 6. trita omnia simul nonies et impastina et exsicca cum
urina illuminata.

Postea soliatī suttus et supras es in pecia madescam pone et cola et
cave ne discooperias ante quam fundatur quoniam perderis opus tuum. Sed
quum liquatum fuerit deice super ipsum parum ydragor resolutum in aqua
et coagula vel parum lapidis alcotar preparati sed melius est ydragon
cum parum de predicto sale balneato cum aqua et deice in aqua et habebis
bonam lunam.

℞ sal atincar libra 1. gutte rubee et pulvis talparum ana l. 1. ydragor ʒ
· 1 · trita simul et impastrina cum urina soliata sel’ postea fac redire
in aquam et coagula. De isto pulvere si posueris super m. bulliendo
pulverem cum aqua dulci habebis de m. nobilem lunam.


Sal allebrot album sali acro assimilatur in colore et longitudine
fixionis autem et unctuositatis est fb’e locoque ipsius poni potest.
Separatio autem eius ut asserant sapientes secundum hunc modum. ℞ ex eo
l. i. vel gutte albe vel azuree que inveniuntur in allumine de pluma ʒ
· 1 · sanguis hominis rubei ʒ · 3 · talchi mortificati ʒ · 1 · et 5 et
parum sulphuris albi omnia simul trita et inpastina cum sanguine et sale
et desicca ad solem. Et cum volueris operare utere eo spargendo super
m. igne super accenso retinebit enim eum nec sinet volare et quantitas
m. l. 5, et non plus et non moveatur ab igne usque ad magnum tempus
postea in aquam proiciatur poterit enim optime malleari. Item accipe v.
buffones[334] et pone eos in aliquo vase unde non valeant exire postea
accipe suci affodillorum vel ermodatilorum et eleboris albi extracti
cum aceto quia aliter non poterit extrahi l · 2 · et pone in vase ubi
sunt buffones et dimitte eos bibere per 9 dies vel quousque bene sint
inflati tunc eos pone infra (sic) duas scutellas ad comburendum et cave
ne spitare (sic) possint ne fumus exeat tunc pulverisa et ℞ de dicto
pulvere ʒ · 1 · salis alebrot ʒ · 1 · et 5 salis armoniaci et salis
alkali ana ʒ · 5 · omnia simul trita et in pastina et deinde exsicca
usque nonies cum urina tassi vel gāgellis cum pulvere isto poteris facere
mirabilia pulvis iste constringit m. et mutat ipsum in lunam purissimam
et perfectam clarificat martem et mundificat eum a superfluitatibus
terreis et feculentis et facit quod mars transmutatur in lunam mutatione
perfecta. Si acceperis de pulvere isto ʒ · 1 · et 1 eris et miscueris
cum eo secundum quod docet in igne ubi fuerit spiritus gaudebis super
operationem eius quoniam exaltavit illum super omnes sales. Loco autem
ipsius potest poni sal acrum. Item et afronitrum. Item et salsedo
muidorum (?) dummodo per atramenta transeant. Item et salacrum dummodo
per atramenta transeat ter. Dum vero sales hēb’ ad hoc separatos ad
meron. Sal alkali Semen communis. Armoniacum allm̄s jam simul fac in
aquam redire et duplum aquam quam spiritus deice et super marmor pone et
congela et ista est p’a (? pura) ceraton propter quod vos omnes erratis
credentes vos habere secundam nec primam habetis. Postea pone inter duas
scutellas vel in vase vitreo quod melius est et claude os eius et dicoque
per dimedium diem tunc extrahe et ablue salem et invenies ipsum in
speciem ceruse sed et fixe sb’e (? sublimate) non timens ignem. Separatur
enim hoc in calcinationem ut ubicumque spiritus calcinatus intromiseris
sine dubio ex m. bonum opus habebis. Dealbat enim spiritus. Calcinat
martem ad modum mercurii nec ultra vestigia albedinis amittit excepto sub
experimento veneris. Sed si in aquam reduxeris et postmodo teraveris sub
experimento noveris. Sed si in aquam reduxeris et postmodo teraveris sub
experimento perfectissime durabit. Incalcinatio eorum in sole unde potest
fieri ut Archelaus docuit. Ac tum unde potest fieri in aqua atramenti
rubificati ac per se in aqua solutiones calcinationes melius est in vase
vitreo quam in alio.

Explicit prima pars et Incipit secunda de alluminibus. Et primo de
allumine Jammeno.

Allumen Jammeni triplex vocatur. Jammenum de pluma Scagloli. Aportatur
autem de Spania.

Est autem frigide nature et sicce hoc bonitatis in se continens ut
si jungatur cum re rubea facit ruborem acquirere in ea sicut alba
albedine augmentare facit in ipsa. Sicut illuminat pannos ita illuminat
martem ut recipiat formam lune ut enim lana illuminatur ita et metalla
illuminantur.[335] Et quante magis mars fuerit illuminatus et depuratus
a superfluitalibus a (? et) feculenciis terreis tanto efficiatur ex eo
melior operatis. Illuminatur autem sic. Accipe urinam puerilem et per
7 dies in vase vitreo esse permitte vase obturato postea per alios 7
dies in vase transmuta distillando per nitrum semper sel’ postea bulli
ipsum usque ad terciam sui partem et dispuma et distilla per filtrum
bis vel ter postea pondera ipsum si est libra 1, adde ʒ · 11 · et 5
salis armoniaci separati ab atramento et ʒ · 8 · alluminis jammeni et
bulli insimul et permitte requiescere clarum solummodo accipiendo et
feculentum abjiciendo et in ista urina es calefactum et intus extinctum
et per alios 9 dies in ipsam stare permitte et est optime illuminatus.
Omnia etiam metalla in hac aqua taliter illuminare possis et abiliora
erunt ad recipienda colorem. Dixerunt enim vnay et melchia philosophi
quod ubi mars fuerit taliter illuminatus non convertetur perfecte in
lunam. Consentiendum est eis quia philosophi fuerunt. Oro enim quod talis
illuminatio metallorum valet et utilis est omni creature Dei.


Allumen rubeum apportatur de buzea (? Bugia) depillatur autem ut
allumen de pluma. Istud autem a quibusdam philosophis allebrot rubeum
appellatur eius proprietas est cum ana sui auripigmenti sublimatum rubei
m. in solem transmutare. Quidam autem de philosophis scilicet Seno et
Rogiel accipiebant de isto allumine rubeo et ja. et gut. et de roco sal
armoniaci semine amborum arsenicorum sulphuris Tartari talci Cinabrii
omnium ana ponebant super m. et ex ipso extrahebunt lunam pretiosam.


Allumen de maroc est pulvis subrufus acetositatem parvam in se continens
est autem mundificative et depurative nature.


Allumen zucharinum est albissime nature acetositatem mordacem in se
continens locoque alluminis jameni post poni (? potest poni).


Allumen de rocco est in massa redactus acetositatem subtilem in se
continens cum isto et pinguedine colcotar et melle sophisticatur borax.


Allumen romanum borbaci (? boraci) assimilatur acetositatem minimam in
se continens de minera atramenti sive alluminis Jameni extrahitur cuius
proprietas est per se solvere vel cum ana sui sulphuris albificati m. ad
naturam lune transformare.

Explicit secunda pars. Incipit tertia,


Ratio autem atramentorum est secundum hunc modum. Atramentorum autem
sunt multe species Colcotar Calcadis vitriolum nigrum capernum viridis

Ex colcotar et calcadis secundum Platonem extrahuntur lapides rubei vel
trahentes ad rubedinem qui loco salis indici possunt poni.

Vitriolum nigrum apportatur de Francia et idcirco dicitur terra
francigena cum isto mulieres vulvam constringunt ut virgines appareant
non est autem magne utilitatis in ista arte. Est autem utilis ad
sublimandum ydragor cum vis facere sal naticum. Cipernum est crocei
coloris mollitiem in se continens requiritur autem multum in arte ista
secundum Archelaum. Viride dicitur vitriolum romanum loco etiam caperni
potest poni sed nobilior est eo ut Hermes philosophus testatur in libro
alluminum.[337] Atramentum nunquam pro alio ponitur. Sed cuperosum est
album subazurii coloris fitque de superfluitate martis cum de minera
extrahitur que quidem etiam locoalluminis romani recipiunt licet in
veritate non sit idem. Explicit tertia pars.


Sunt quidam spiritus qui ad ignem in fumum convertuntur et converti
faciunt alias res, Sulphur et Arsenicum et ex illis est argentum vivum.
De sulphure flavo. De sulphure croceo. De sulphure rubeo. De sulphure
albo. De arsenico croceo. De arsenico rubeo. Sulphuris quatuor sunt
species scilicet croceum flavum rubeum et album. Croceum est magis
depuratum et istud dicitur cannellatum quoniam in canellis terreis ad
hec factis deicitur. Rubeum aportatur de India et valet a quibusdam sal
indicum dicitur licet in veritate non sit cuius proprietas est venerem
cum ana sui ydragor sublimati in obrizō solem transmutare.

Album portatur de hyspania de insula quadam que belle appellatur.[338]
Recipitur etiam pro nitro salso sed non equiperatur ei quoniam ille
funditur et fundere facit. Istud vero fugit ab igne. Arsenici tres sunt
species scilicet croceum rubeum et album. Croceum cum teritur lucens
apparet ut aurum foliatum quasi ut talcum. Rubeum non ita folliatur immo
est in massam reductum minorem in se ignitatem continens quam primum.
Album est aliquantulum crocei subalbique coloris et minoris igneitatis
est quam reliqua duo. Istud de Turciae partibus apportatur reliqua vero
duo de Armenia. Explicit quarta pars.


In preparatione allumini sufficit ut solvatur in aqua vel in urina
distillata et coletur per pannum et coaguletur.

In atramentis sufficit ut fundatur in ciato (? scyatho) super carbones
et buliat quousque humiditas evaporet. Preparatio boracis est ut in
testa super ignem modicum ponatur nam statim inflatur et siccatur cumque
stringi ceperit tollatur nam infrigidata faciliter pulverisatur. Tunc
pulverizata a massa cum modica porcine (? portione) asungia (? axungiae)
donec sit sicut terra et teratur et amassetur cum ea media pars salis
petrae et hoc totum sicut terra amassetur et erit tibi cerotum pretiosum
corpora et spiritus terans. Sic autem boracis partem 1 · salis petrae
partem 1 · ceruse partem 1 · ana de tribus addideris et miscueris ea
fortiter cum eius oleo vel simpliciter capillorum vel ovorum donec sit
sicut massa cere et massam illam bene siccaveris. Pro certo scias quod
ceroneum istud ferrum et cristallum et quocumque volueris lapides calces
ignis huius violentia remollit et resolvit in resolutione liquida omnia
ingrediens et penetrans et ignea virtute dissolvens. Ceraton fit de
oleis vel aquis rectificatis · 6 · per alembich. Fit autem spiritum ut
aggerentur utrumque partes in eis ex multis fiat unum scilicet corpus
fiat dissolubile hoc autem ex ceratione olei vel aque. Quia spiritus
corpore vel corpus spiritibus ingredi non potest nisi oleo vel aqua
duce videlicet cum quo ceratur. Ut enim temperatura ferrum affirmat sic
cerato spiritus in corpore nec sine ceratione potest aliquod corpus plene
rectificare. Agnoscitur autem res cerata hiis signis. Res cerata sine
ulla fumi emissione velociter super laminam currit ignitam quod incerata
minime agit. Fit autem ceracio cum oleo vel aqua rectificata hoc modo.
℞ rem quam cirari debet et pone in vase argenteo aureo vel stagneo et
desuper pone de oleo preparata (sic) donec fundatur ut sagimen. Dum ita
videris velociter ab igne remove et infrigidari permitte. Eo infrigidato
prova ipsum super laminam et sic resolvitur super ipsam sicut cera
ceratum est et si non reduc eam ad crucibulum et fac sicut predixi donec
sic contingat.


Solutio cuiuslibet rei fit super lapidem vel in viscere (?) sub fimo
seu in aqua tepida fumi resolvis melius aprobo fit ea de cā resolutio
ut spiritus vel res in lapidibus possit coagulari nam spiritibus crudis
nisi sint in lapidem constricti volueris operari non augmentum sed
decrementum volueris incurrere nisi forte essent incalcinati vel cerati
hanc scientiam (?) firmiter teneas.

℞ calcis testarum ovorum libre 5 · arsenici sublimati ʒ · 3 · Ag’ omnia
fac redire in aquam cum alembich et super marmor productam confice
quousque in similitudinem lactis redigas laminas eris x in hac aqua
extingue vel intringa et cola sic enim ipsum durum et album in speciem
meron te invenisse letaberis. M. cum sossile et nitro salso ana in aqua
resolutis ac coagulatis es ad naturam lune reduxi.[339] ℞ vitrioli romani
libra 1 · salis nitri libra 1 · salis armoniaci ʒ · 3 · hec omnia comisce
in unum terendo et pone in curcubita cum alembico et quod distillaverit
serva et pone cum m. crudo ita quod in ʒ aque fundatur super mediam
libram m. in una ampulla et pone in cineribus bene clausam et da lentum
ignem per unam diem et postea invenies m. in aquam purissimam. ℞ m.
congelatum cum odore saturni partes 3 de allumine jameno partes 2 de
corticibus ovorum ʒ · 1 · et tere per diem 1 · et inbibe cum aceto
fortissimo et ita fac 7 vicibus et solve et solvetur in aquam clarissimam
et optimam pro lavandis dissolvens etiam omnia corpora calcinata in
aquam. Hermes ergo alu (minis) ʒ · 3 · ydragor sublimati et ʒ sossile
separate accipi (_sic_) et in aqua reduxi totamque in lapidem congelavi
et cum isto es ad naturam lune reduxi. Ydragor et piron ana sublimatis
fac redire in aquam et coagula confectio ista ex stagno lunam procreat.
Pastor Saturnus dominus est yndorum et omnis voluntas populorum in illo
est sicut ergo mollificatur acrem cerusam veneris et tantundem salis
armoniaci et fac in viscere (?) redire aquam similiter in hac aqua
Saturnum 7 · extingue et sic enim de facili colatur et purum in speciem
aneron te invenisse letaberis. Recipe sulphurem vivum et ipsum cum leni
igne funde et extingue in lixivio facto de calce viva et cineribus.


Riccardian Library, Florence, L. III. 13, 119, p. 195 verso and p. 196,

    Aristotle in the _De Anima_ (i. 3) says that there was a legend
    of Daedalus which represented him as having given motion to a
    Venus of wood by filling it with mercury. This may have suggested
    the adoption of his name to the author who wrote this alchemical

1. De natura salium et quot sunt. Sales autem sunt diversarum specierum
est enim sal commune sal masse sal gemme sal rubeum sal nitrum sal alkali
sal armoniacum sal elebrot album.

8. Sal gema aportatur de Hispania. Sal autem commune convenientior est
omnibus creaturis. Utuntur enim ex eo in condimentis mundat enim corpora
et reddit ea clara propter hoc dedit eum omnipotens Deus in cognitionem
ut per eum omnia corpora conservarentur in sanitate bona. Dedit enim
bestiis cognoscere eum nedum hominibus. Condiuntur enim omnia animalia
cum eo et dolcan̄tur (? deliciantur) pecudes in eo. Et scias si sal
iste accipiatur in quantitate una et ponatur in sartagine et comburatur
combustione forti quod iste sal appellatur tostus. Et cum inveneris in
arte ista sal tostum accipias ex isto secundum quod volueris. Verum
est quod non inveni ipsum congruum in hac arte nisi raro. Eius tamen
receptō est valde utilis in talem quia fingitur cum aliis salibus ad
purificationem martis in lunam et est peroptimus.

7. Sal autem alkali est nobilior omnibus salibus excepto sale tabor vel
alebrot. Facit enim coagulare alias sales et iste sal alcali fit de herba
quadam in partibus baldrach coagulat vitrum et facit ipsum clarum atque
currentem (?) mundat corpora albificat a superfluitatibus terreis ultra
modum. Sal autem alkali si adjungatur cum sale masse et terantur simul
et ponantur cum x partibus aque dulcis et dimittantur bulire usque ad
consumptionem quarti partis et ponatur in vase virtreo ut clarificetur
et cum clarificatum fuerit suaviter coletur et quod purum erit in aliquo
vase mittatur et quod tenerum est abiciatur et dimittatur usque quo
coagulatum fuerit et non operabis cum eo nisi tritum dissolutus quoniam
operacio eius esset inutilis et si admisceris cum eo aliquantulum
salis armoniaci vel boeci vel alebrot erit operacio eius fortior et
convenientior omnibus operationibus. Dixit enim Abymelech quod sal alkali
erit nobilior omnibus salibus et convenientior in omnibus operationibus
excepto sali tabor vel alebrot. Preterea quod fit ex vegetabilibus unde
retinet naturam minere et vegitabilitatis. Unde solvit vitrum et facit
ipsum coagulari et clarificat ipsum clarificatione bona.

4. De sale indico rubeo. Sal autem rubeum apportatur de India et id circo
vocatur sal indicum. Habet enim fortem virtutem super venere rubificando
ipsum et dando ei colorem bonum. Verum est quod hoc non facit per se
sed cum adjutorio videlicet cum duabus partibus istius et 3 bus salis
alebrot dissolvendo totum simul et addendo etiam huic terram armenie
rubeam masticem et camforam ad quantitatem ʒ · 11, et salis armoniaci
ʒ · 111. ista omnia simul misceantur et cum urina tapsi distemperentur
et iterum exsiccentur hoc 7 in omnibus fiat. Pulvis iste stringit
spiritus volantes albificat corpora et reddit clara et lucida et mutat
martem in lunam mutatione perfecta et bona. Addit enim in tm̄ (? talem)
rubificationem veneri quod mutat venus in solem.

5. Aliud quod est utile mulieribus multum et maxime dominabus. Accipe
etiam de sale indico ʒ. 11. diligenter teratur et distemperatur cum urina
pueri virginis et sit urina libra· 1· et ponatur in vase terreo in quo
ponuntur rose et cum fit aqua rosa et supponatur alembicho et accendatur
ignis sub eo et non multum fortis et cum videris fumum ascendere in cufa
superius tunc facias ignem levem et quod inde exierit collige et in
ampulla vitri reconde. Talis enim aqua vero ultra modum in pannis faciei
et betiginibus adalbat sēd pigines destruit omnem maculam et si posueris
in calaminas eris erit albior ad recipiendum colorem quam scis.

14. Sal autem armoniacum est magne virtutis quoniam de stercoribus
animalium scilicet camelorum pecudum et asinorum fit in hunc modum.
In quibusdam partibus terre sarracenorum non habentes ligna etiam ex
paupertate lignorum calefaciunt balneum cum stercoribus predictorum
animalium et ille fumus resolutus ab eis condensatur in balnea et
accipitur illa talis condensatio et teritur et bulitur cum urina puerorum
tam diu quod coagulari incipit et post modum projicitur in peraside et
colatur. Cum isto enim sale fit azurum optimum et fit in hunc modum.
Accipe de sale armoniaco et tere ipsum diligenter et distempera cum
urina pueri virginis ponendo ipsum in vase vitreo et sepiliendo ipsum in
letamine pecudum per dies 3. Post modo habeas plagellas factas de argento
et pone eas cum filo legatas ita quod non tangas urinam et lamine sint
abrase et dimittantur per diem et noctem. Et cum autem fuerint denigrate
iterum abradantur et iterum sepiliatur et quod habebis in laminibus a
prima vice in antea erit azurum optimum et quanto plus durabunt tanto
melius erit. Verum est quod alio modo fit azurum quia invenitur quedam
vena terre juxta venam argenti illa terra optime teritur et distemperatur
cum aqua calida et ponitur super linteum positum super aliquo vase et
colatur subtiliter et quod grassum et feculentum cadit in vase proice
quando autem fuerit purum vel juxta illud exsiccabitur et recondetur.
Si autem non fuerit bene purum terantur adhuc bene et ponantur in aqua
calida et accipiatur · pix · cera et masticis et dissolvatur et ducatur
ita cum manu per vas ubi est azurum et depurabit eum a superfluitatibus
terreis et si vena fuerit bona azurium erit bonum. Si mala azurium erit

9. Sal nitri est plurium specierum. Una species est salis nitri que
apportatur de Alexandria et ille est vere sal nitrum cum illo vero
lavant mulieres sarracenorum pannos lineos et faciunt eos albissimos
ut nix, lavant etiam facies earum et corpora sua in balneis. Destruit
enim pannum faciei lentiginis et albicat optima albedine. Non extendo
sermonem meum in laudes eius quia non est magne utilitatis in hac arte
nec etiam recipitur in ea quod sciatur. Alia species salis nitri que
vere nitrum salsum appellatur et de eo sunt due maneries. Una quarum
foliatur et altera filatur et depilatur sicut caro porcina macra et in
ea est salsedo cum ponticitate. Dico enim tibi per Deum omnipotentem
quod in eo est tanta virtus et utilitas quod pauci fuerunt de sapientes
(sic) qui eam potuissent cognoscere quoniam in eo est secretum nature
quod nullus stolidus et insipiens potest cognoscere. Sed qui sapiens est
et discretus extractabit multum circa eum. Ille forte inveniet de quo
cor suum gaudebit. Dixit enim hermes filius Gelbeo cum exaltatus fuerit
sal nitrum salsum et acrum si in vinctum fuerit cum sale alcali erit
operacio eius nobilior et magis utilis. Et dixit magnus philosophus qui
multum doctus fuit in talibus quod si acceperis ex eo aliquem quantitatem
et triveris eum fortiter et postea miscueris cum eo urinam tapsi et
exsiccaveris ipsum et tuttueris eum fortiter usque septies et accipies
tantum de pulvere cullaxe i. [e.] illius animalis que talpa vocatur
quantum fuit pulvis salis nitri convertetur mars in lunam et venus in
solem et constringet omnes spiritus volantes. Constringitur enim argentum
vivum cum isto et non cum alio Deus scit et novit.

10. Pulvis autem culaxe debet fieri secundum hunc modum. Accipiantur enim
ex eis 4 vel 6 secundum quod poteris invenire quia sub terra morantur et
pones eas in testa terrea et luta ipsam luto sapientie ita quod fumus non
exeat aliquo modo pone eam in furno bene calido et dimitte a mano usque
ad sero vel a sero usque ad mane postea extrahe et pulveriza subtiliter
et reconde et cum opus fuerit operare cum ea et scias firmiter quod
pulvis iste valet plus quam aurum et est utilis et multum conveniens
multis operacionibus et habeas eum valde carum quia pauci fuerunt de
sapientibus qui bene cognoscerent virtutem eius nisi magnus philosophus
qui dixit in libris suis et est in eo id quod deest et ego temptavi et
operacionem eius inveni maximam efficaciam in eo. Sed ponebam in duplo de
pulvere nitri salsi.

2. Et postea est sal acrum et in eo est virtus maxima quam pauci
sciunt invenitur enim in hispania et sapientes constringunt cum eo
mercurium. Clarificat enim corpora munda et albificat ea albedine
sufficienti. Mutat enim martem in lunam et defendit eum a superaciis et
a superfluitatibus terreis et dat ei colorem bonum et clarum. Et iste a
quibusdam philosophis sal alebrot vocatur et de quod scit et sint (?)
generalius videatur hoc esse contra naturam et de proprietate eius est
retinere omnes spiritus volantes et quanto magis studueris in eo tanto
magis inveneris eius altitudinem ultra quod possit excogitari quia cum eo
aluminantur (sic) vel albificantur corpora et non cum alio Deus novit. Et
dixit magnus philosophus cum moriebatur O fili mi secretum tuum habeas in
sinu tuo nec dicas filio tuo nisi cum eum amplius non poteris retinere
quoniam in eo invenies secreta nature quam desiderio desideraverunt
sapientes sed pauci intraverunt in eum et qui intraverunt operationem
eius non dixerunt in suis libris secundum (? scilicet) quod viderant.

11. Aliud ad preparacionem martis. Accipe de sale alcali ʒ· x. et de sale
armoniaco ʒ· 2. et tere subtiliter et distempera cum urina zāzel et cum
casus ad libram 1. pone in aliquo vase terreo vitreato et luta cum luto
sapientie et pone in furno mediocriter calido et dimitte a mane usque ad
sero vel converso. postea extrahe de vase illo si coagulatum fuerit. Si
non iterum ponatur in furno super vase optime lutato et cum coagulatum
fuerit teras ipsum et misce cum 3 libris aque dulcis et dimitte residere
in vase vitreo et quod clarum fuerit repone ipsam aquam (?) et quod
feculentum fuerit t’i eum ejice. Postea accipe laminas factas ex marte
factas tot quot possunt submergi in aqua ista et dimitte ibi per ix dies.
Decimo autem die pone ad ignem et dimitte bulire per magnum tempus. Et
ipsis laminibus extractis et exsiccatis in igne debes accipere pannum
lineum novum et balneare ipsum aliquantulum et stringe intra manus et
debes ponere laminas in panno isto p’ns pulvere supradicto asperso et
ponendo laminas et spargendo pulverem usque ad finem et involvendo eas
in tali panno. Accipe fortiter exstringendo et pone ipsum pannum cum
laminibus in vase qui dicitur alludel ponendo ipsum in fornace et super
sufflando cum manticello ac bonum ignem faciendo donec sit solutum.
Et caveas quod non discooperiatur donec bene dissolutum fuerit quia
amitteres operacionem tuam. Eciam non peneteas in prolongacione ignis
quoniam si ignis prolongatur aliquantulum magis ultra quam tibi videatur
erit operacio tua multum melior. Sed ex abreviatione possit operacio tua
destrui et in idem revertens quod prius fuerat. Stude autem inquantum
potes ut videas sine discopercione magno ignis nec is quod est cruciolo
albē (? albescere) videatur. Sed discooperiendo plane et si dissolutum
fuerit ipsum prioce in aqua ut refrigescat. Et cum frigidum fuerit
accipies in manu tua. Dico enim in veritate quod tu gaudebis de eo quia
habebis lunam pretiosissimam in omni operacione.

12. Alia operacio que fit cum pulvere isto, Accipe m. et pone ipsum in
luteollo in quo artifices infundunt argentum ad quantitatem quam vis
et super pone de pulvere supradicto super m. cum tribus qº teis aq̃.
miscendo cum digito leviter et pone ad ignem in furnello et suprapone
carbones accensos in luteollo et fiat ignis mediocriter nec nimis magnus
nec nimis parvus et non discooperiatur usque ad magnum tempus et postmodo
proiciatur in aqua et habebis quod utile est et habebis illud bonum quod
omnes sapientes desideraverunt.

13. Aliud similiter de pulvere isto adhuc expertum. Accipe ʒ · 1. de
supradicto pulvere et pone ʒ · 5. ematicis in ʒ · 5. talci merabilis et
diligenter teras et accipe ʒ · x. veneris et pone in panno lineo faciendo
laminas de venere et spargendo pulverem super pannum et super laminas
et sit pannus madefactus et stringendo totum simul et ponendo ipsum in
luteollo in igne et cooperiendo ipsum carbonibus faciendo ignem nec
nimis fortem nec nimis levem usque quo dissolutum fuerit et cum fuerit
dissolutum proice ipsum in aquam. Habebis enim nobilem operacionem ad
quam pauci devenerunt.

3. Operacio allebrot ut asserunt sapientes est secundum hunc modum.
Accipe ex eo secundum quantitatem quam vis s. ʒ · 5 · et tere diligenter
postea habeas sanguinem alicuius hominis rubei ad quantitatem ʒ · 3
· et comisce cum eo et degutta. Aut accipe ʒ · 5 · de talco parum
sulfuris albi et tere omnia diligenter et incorpora cum sanguine et
sale et dimitte siccari in furno vel ad solem, et cum exsiccatum fuerit
teratur id totum in mortario lapideo subtiliter et cum opus fuerit utere
eo spargendo super m. igne super accenso et sufflando cum manticello
retinebit enim eum et non sinet eum volare. Sit quantitas m. librae 5
et non plus et non removeatur ab igne usque ad magnum tempus postea in
aqua proiiciatur poterit hec enim optime malleari. Accipe decem bufones
tenentes venenum et fiant vive et ponantur in aliquo vase unde non
valeant exire. Postea accipe anfodillos recentes et eleborum album in
bona quantitate extrahe inde succum cum eis quantum pones (sic), pone
succum in vase illo in quo sunt rane et dimitte eas bibere per ix dies.
Tunc accipe eas et pone in olla rudi et luta eam luto sapientie et pone
ipsam in furno ita ut animalia comburantur combustione sufficienti et
extrahe inde ea et tere diligenter et cum opus fuerit de illo pulvere
accipe ʒ · 1 · de sale alebrot ʒ · 1 · de sale alcali ʒ · 5 · de sale
armoniaco tantundem et teras diligenter permiscendo cum ea urinam tassi
et iterum exsicca et tere et hoc nonies fiat et de illo pulvere poteris
facere mirabilia. Pulvis iste constringit m. mutat jovem in lunam et
albificat martem clarificat eum et dat ei colorem bonum et clarum et
mundat eum a superfluitatibus terreis et facit quod mars transmutatur in
lunam. Mirabilis enim in suo effectu. Si vero accipies de pulvere isto ad
quantitatem ʒ · 1 · et miscueris cum ere secundum quod docet et in igne
fuerit. Sapientia et sit quantitas eris ʒ · viiij. gaudebis. Sal rubeum
gummum rubeum terram armenie gerssam vel gerussam et pulverem bufonis
equaliter et operati sunt valde in suis operibus. Habuerunt enim talem
scientiam quam pauci noverunt et benedixit eam Deus omnipotens qui causa
prima fuit omnium rerum. Dico tibi firmiter quod cum istis rebus omnia
necessaria possunt acquiri. Idcirco tacuerunt onēs et verterunt se ad
salem armoniacum nec dixerunt de eo quicquam aperte.

16. Racio autem alluminum est secundum hunc modum. Est enim allumen
salsum et alumen de rocha et alumen de bolkar et alumen jameni et alumen
scaiole et alumen de pluma. Sed nota quod alumen de pluma jameni sissi
idem sunt secundum quod ego credo quia inveni in libris philosophi quod
eadem est virtus jameni cum virtute de pluma et sissi et est eius virtus
modo albatione et retinet colorem cum conjungitur. Si vero conjungitur
cum re alba facit ipsam albam et si conjungitur cum re rubea facit
rubedinem acquiri in ea. Sed quidam dicunt quod sint idem in genere sed
diversi in specie. Et quod alia est species aluminis jameni alia scissi
et alia de pluma. Dicotamen tibi in veritate quod una et eadem est
operatio etsi diversificantur in omnibus. Et scias ipsum esse frigidum et
siccum tamen nec dissolvitur ab igne nisi misceretur cum rebus humidis
et cum illis dissolvitur et sicut illuminat pannos ita illuminat martem
ut recipiat forma lune. Et quanto magis mars fuerit illuminatus et magis
depuratus a superfluitatibus terreis et feculentis tanto efficitur
ex eo melior operatio. Illuminat autem secundum quod ego dixi tibi
multociens faciendo laminas ex marte et accipiendo etiam alumen de pluma
ad quantitatem quam vis scilicet si mars fuerit ʒ · ix · aluminis debes
accipere ʒ · 2 · et tere subtiliter et misce cum ʒ · 1 · salis armoniaci
triti subtiliter et debes ponere libra 1, urina (sic) pueri virginis
secundum quod ego dixi tibi multocies et bulire omnia simul in vase
vitreato. Postea dimitte residere et cola quod clarum est accipe et quod
feculentum proice et pone laminas illas in aqua illa et dimitte ita stare
per 8 dies postmodo extrahi eas et exsicca et operare cum (sic) sicut
scis et habebis nobilem operacionem si bene scivisti ea que processerunt.
Non habeas hoc vile quia istud est secretum maximum et non obliviscaris
pannum faū et pulverem ex nitro salso acro. Aliter enim non valeat
operatio tua.

6. Dixerunt cuidam (_sic_) philosophi quod aqua ista preparat martem
ut recipiat formam lune et consentiendum est eis. Scito enimvero quod
preparatio eius est optima ad recipiendum formam bonam que est utilis
omni creature.

17. Alumen autem de rocha non durat in igne sed siccatur et facit sicut
borax de petra ex isto sophisticatur borax cum pinguedine calchatam et
melle. Unde cum ponitur super ignem funditur alumen sicut et illud. De
isto autem alumine nichil ad nos quoniam nullam facit utilitatem in arte
ista et idcirco non curamus multum de eo loqui.

18. Aliud experimentum quod extractum fuit de libris quorundam
philosophorum. Habeatur pro maximo secreto scilicet haninan camescia[330]
qui summi fuerunt in arte alchimie et fuerunt de lamacha sarracenorum
qui dixerunt ita nisi mars fuerit expoliatus a superfluitatibus suis
non convertetur perfecte in lunam. Purgatur enim cum aqua virginum et
aluminum secundum quod tu scivisti superius si tu intellexisti quod
narratum est. Sed concordati sunt isti philosophi in hoc cum dixerunt.
Si quis acceperit ʒ · 3· de nitro salso et adiunxeris ʒ · 2· de sale
alkali et ʒ · 1· de sale armoniaco ista simul terantur et cum urina pueri
virginis distemperantur ad quantitatem ʒ · viiii et de urina animalis
qui tapsus dicitur ʒ · viiij. et ponatur totum in vase vitreato et sit
vas lutatum luto sapientie circumcirca ita quod fumus non possit inde
exire et accendatur ignis levis sub eo et dimittantur bulire valde plane
a mane usque ad terciam vel a tercia usque ad nonam. Postea accipiatur
et ponatur in letamine pecudum et dimittatur ix dies. Postea accipiatur
et discooperiatur. Si coagulatum fuerit bene erit sin autem non fuerit
adhuc coagulatum in vase lutato reverteris adhuc in letamine pecudum et
dimittatur ibi per 6 dies erit coagulatum si Deus voluerit. Tunc accipies
vas et extrahes totum id de vase et teras illum diligenter trituratione
bona. Postmodo accipe de pulvere isto ʒ · 1· et talem camphore et ʒ ·
1· lapidis armenie et unam terre rubee et tantundem de alumine jameni
et terantur omnia ista simul et cum opus fuerit accipe de pulvere isto.
1· de laminibus sublimatis ʒ · ix· accipiendo pannum lineum grossum et
balneando ipsum cum aqua parum exprimendo ipsum et supra aspergendo
istam pulverem. Postea spargendo eodem modo pulverem supradictum super
laminas preparatas ponendo iterum laminas et pulverem desuper usque ad
complementum. Et scire debes quod in fine debes plus ponere pulverem et
stringendo istas laminas in panno isto fortiter ponendo eas in luteolo
et postea in igne faciendo ignem circumcirca et sufflando fortiter cum
manticello donec bene dissolutum fuerit. Tempore autem dissolutionis
potest esse in duabus horis si bene meditaberis et in usu habueris
omnia bene habeantur usu. Et scias quod tu debes magis ponere modum in
dissolutione quam in alio quia per te ipsum debes dissolvere et videre
quantum tempus habes dissolutionis et secundum quod tu videris in hora
secundum hoc poteris comprehendere dissolutionem eius cum pulvere et
aliquantulum plus ut non decipiaris quia si aliquantulum plus fuerit in
igne quam tibi videatur erit operatio tua melior. Sed si nondum esset
dissolutum tu discoperiens amitteres tuam operationem.

19. Aliud secretum in quo concordati sunt omnes sapientes qui aliquid
cognoverunt de arte ista.[331] Et est secundum hunc modum. Accipe
libra 1· sanguinis alicujus hominis rubei et sanguinem xi talparum et
sex bufones ranam magnam habentem venenum et accipe libra· 11· succi
anfodillorum et libra· 1· succi elebori albi extracti cum aceto quia
aliter extrahi non potest. Ista ponantur omnia in una olla. Postmodo
habeatur alia olla in duplo maior ea vel in triplo ita quod parva possit
stare in ea et distet ab alia per x digitos et plus et ponatur parva bene
lutata cum rebus supradictis in olla magna et ponantur carbones inter
ollam magnam et parvam et accendatur ignis circumcirca et dimittantur
ita semper faciendo ignem per dies duos postea extrahe ab olla et
discoperi eam et videbis pulverem nigrum. Postea accipe pellem ericii
et comburatur fortiter et tere omnia trituratione forte videbis quasi
argentum et miscebis talem de alio pulvere cum isto et habebis urinam
tapsi et distemperabis cum ea istem pulverem ponendo ipsum ad solem per
3 dies et totidem noctes ad rorem et miscendo ipsum semper quousque
desiccatum fuerit. Postea accipe de sale nitro acro quartam partem et
terciam de sale alcali et tantundem de sale allap et alluminis de pluma
tantundem omnia terantur simul et usui serventur. Dico enim tibi et juro
quod si tu scis legere librum istum et intelligere accipere sublimare
mundificare constringere ignem facere et componere res secundum quod
debent componi in veritate tu habebis lunam perfectam et solem perfectum
ita quod cor tuum gaudebit in ea. Sed huic arti necessarium est studium
vehemens ut scias et sic forte poteris scire artem istam. Ego quidem
multum studui in ea atque sudavi an̄quā invenirem artem istam et id quod
volebam et non potui pervenire ad hoc nisi cum magno studio et labore
exercitando artem usque quod inveni in ea que volui. Et ita dico tibi
fili h’mē ut non sis piger in probacione huius artis quia tibi dico
veritatem. Si tu probaveris artem istam invenies in ea omne bonum quod
erit utile omnibus hominibus.

15. Racio alluminum et de diversis ipsorum generibus. Racio autem
alluminis et atramentorum secundum hunc modum. Atramentorum vero x sunt
species scilicet Colcotar Calcandis Vitriolus et viride es. Ideo enim
tinguntur et denigrantur. Calcari est nobilius et magnopere valet in
operatione alchimie. Purificantur enim corpora ex eo mundificantur a
superfluitatibus terreis ut meliorem recipiant formam et nobiliorem. Et
fit secundum hunc modum. Accipe Calcatar libra 1 · et dissolve ipsa cum
urina pueri virginis. Et quare dico cum urina pueri virginis quia est
magis mundificata et penetrativa est et inveni quod maximus philosophus
laudavit multum in suis operationibus et debet esse ad quantitatem trium
librarum et facias eam bulire in vase vitreato usque ad consumationem
tertie partis: Postea dimitte residere et quod clarum fuerit collige et
quod feculentum et terreum proice. In ista enim aqua apponantur lamine
martis et dimittatur usque ad ix dies postea extrahe et operentur et fit
cum eis luna secundum modum in igne quo modo tu pluries intellexisti.
Calcandis utitur in veneris et non est eius utilitas multum in hac arte.
Sed inveniuntur in eo lapides rubei qui valent multum in operatione
alchimie mutando corpora planetarum. Secundum quod enim audivisti in
libris cuiusdam philosophi ex calcadis vel calcatar extrahuntur lapides
rubei vel tendentes ad rubedinem qui valent multum ad mutacionem
metallorum naturalium transformando ea secundum quod oportet et dando ei
colorem optimum. Et ego credo quod isti lapides sint de specie alluminis
et si hoc esset non esset mirum si poterint perficere solem et dare
ei colorem bonum. Unde sicut luna illuminatur ita metalla illuminari
possunt. Verum est quod ista scientia scribi non potest nisi cum maximo
studio et labore. Sed in quo tu magis debes studere est in igne et
sublimationibus pulveribus et mundificare metalla secundum quod tu
scivisti et intexisti superius.


20. Sunt autem quidam spiritus qui recedunt ab igne et in fumum
convertuntur et faciunt convertere alias res sicut est sulphur arsenicum
ex illis est argentum vivum. Sulphuris tres sunt species. Est enim
sulphur croceum flavum et est album. Flavum autem est sicut extrahitur
de vena et tunc non est purum. Purificatur enim sic quia ponitur tritum
in patella ferrea et dissolvitur ab igne et cum dissolutum est tollatur
et iterum ponatur in patella super ignem ut eo dissoluto ponitur in
canellis factis de ferre (sic) et istud sulfur dicitur canelatum et est
valde purum a superfluitatibus. Operatur autem aliquid de eo in arte
al-chimie sed illud est valde purum. Verum est quia preparat artem (?
martem) et dat ei colorem lune. Quidam autem accipiunt laminas eris et
ponunt eas in igne et cum sunt bene rubee extinguunt eas in sulfure bene
trito miscendo fortiter cum aliquo ligno. Postmodo accipiunt laminas
illas et ponunt in igne et dimittunt purificari et cum volunt operari
accipiunt et componunt eas secundum quod scis et intellexisti superius.
Et quidam ponunt etiam de eo parum cum pulvere supradicto quando apponunt
martem in panno et bene accidit eis quia sapienter agunt.

Album enim sulfur invenitur in hispania et portatur de insula que
heble appellatur. Accipitur etiam pro nitro salso sed non equiparatur
ei quoniam igne fugit sicut spiritus, ille autem stat et non solvitur
ab igne sed funditur et tu audisti satis de eo in superioribus. Nec
loquar de eo tibi amplius. Arsenici autem due sunt species. Una est
crocei coloris et alia est rubei coloris. Croceum autem multum valet
quia mulieres utuntur eo faciendo depilatorium et preparando facies
earum a pilis. Quidam de sophistis accipiunt ʒ · 1· auri limati, libra
1· auripigmenti et terent ipsum fortiter et balneant ipsum cum urina et
ponunt totum simul in sacculo corei et stringunt ipsum et dimittunt ita
stare usque ad mensem et videtur aurum. De rubeo arsenico fit realgar.
Ista sufficiant. Et sic est finis huius libri. Explicit liber dedali in
arte alchimie.


Text in the author’s possession.—Ms. in 4to perg. saec. xvi. vel. xvii.,
red, black, and green ink.

Interpretacio et Instruccio pro Discipulis seu Amatoribus Artis Magice
pro iis scilicet ad quorum manus post obitum meum libellus iste fortuito
aliquando perventurus est.

Parvi licet Compendii libellus iste sit, magni tamen momenti esse eundem
experieris. Nam scias velim, Curiose Lector, opus hoc in Arabica lingua
conscriptum esse cuius ego per multos quidem annos possessor virtutis
in eiusdem ob linguae insciciam ignarus semper permanseram; donec
tandem auxilio Rabbi cuiusdam extraneam hanc linguam optime callentis
ad genuinum verborum sensum, rerumque contentarum noticiam pervenissem.
Quae autem exinde expertus et adeptus sum et tu experiri adipiscique
poteris si vir constans et intrepidus sis moreve prescripto processeris.
Ast cum spiritibus astutissimis et humano generi infensissimis tibi
agendum est: Quare cum previa sane mentis deliberacione et cautela maxima
procedas necesse est. Quod si vero rem rite tractaveris grandia et
mirabilia perpetrare poteris. Reliqua te opus ipsum satis docebit. Unum
hoc ultimatim te enixe adhortamus ut libellum istum optime custodias, ne
in manus curiose juventutis seu ignorancium hominum incidat. Siquidem
per eius lecturam, nisi more prescripto fiat, funestissime tragedie
orirentur. Quare ipse autor in prima pagina admonet ut in silencio
legatur. Nemo igitur quiscumque sit absque circulo clara et alto voce
insertas Spirituum citaciones legere presumat nisi miserrimum sui
detrimentum et interitum preceps ruere velit. Quapropter quicquid agis
prudenter agas et respice Finem. Vale. Michael Scotus Prage in Bohemia
pridie Id. Febr. Anno mcclv.

    Sequitur interpretacio tocius operis.
    Aspice Inspice pervolve alta sed
    legere voce omnino cave.

Almuchabola Absegalim Alkakib Albaon _i.e._ Compendium Magie Innaturalis
Nigre, continens Citaciones et Vincula diversorum Spirituum.

Primum et maxime necessarium requisitum in experimentis Magicis
Composicio Circuli est. Nam sine eo nemo a malis Spiritibus tutus foret.
Quare Magister ex pelle caprina _i.e._ charta virginea faciat Circulum
in latitudine novem pedum ad quem cum sanguine Columbe scribi debent
nomina que videntur in figura pag. iij. (this refers to the other
quire containing the Arabic original which alone has illustrations).
Quodsi vero illum forcius munire cupis poteris pro lubitu addere plura
ex sanctissimis Dei Nominibus Hebraicis v.g. Elohim Adonai Zebaoth
Agla Jehovah, item nomina iiij Evangelistarum et iiij Archangelorum et
adhuc alia que ex rituali Ecclesiastico sive aliis libris sat colligas.
Secundo habeatur baculus qui abscindatur Corilo in quem inscindi et
cum sanguine columbe inscribi debent verba et nomina in figura pag.
iij indicata. Tereio fiat Mitra pariter ex pelle capre Alba posterior
Nigra et scribantur m. ad illam cum sanguine columbe nomina que habet
figura pag. iiij. Quarto Magister habeat habitum nigrum longum usque
ad pedes super habitum vero Scapulare sive pentaculum factum ex ante
dicta charta virginea et iterum cum sanguine columbe scribantur ad illud
nomina, uti monstrat figura pag. iv. Proinde omnia hec predicta requisita
debent preparari in novilunio in diebus Mercurii et Veneris horisque
hisce Planetis propriis. Que autem sint hore Planetarum ex libris
Astrologorum satis aliunde patet. Quinto formetur Sigillum sive titulus
characteristicus illius Spiritus quem citare intendis: debet autem scribi
cum sanguine corvi nigerini ad pellem capre nigre factam et appendatur ad
baculum quoque abscissum corilo erigaturque ad margines circuli uti docet
figura pag. v. Sexto Magister sive debet esse solus sive si velint esse
plures sit numerus semper impar. Septimo requiritur locus securus absitus
et solitudinarius quod si in domo fiat operacio habeat cubile aptum
versus Orientem et relinquatur sive porta sive fenestra aperta; nec sint
plures in domo persone quam que ad operacionem pertinent; quare semper
melius et securius est ut experimenta fiant sub celo, in eremis, silvis,
pratisque desertis nullorumque hominum conspectui et auditu obnoxiis.
Octavo experimenta fiant in diebus Mercurii sive Veneris sive in prima
hora noctis sive in sexta post solis occasum; de die autem debent fieri
in ipsissimis horis Planetarum Veneris seu Mercurii. Nono Magister ante
Operacionem bene deliberet quale negocium tractare velit cum spiritibus
ne medio experimenti fiat confusio seu perturbacio. Magistrum itaque
oportet esse virum gravem animosum, qui in lingua et pronunciacione non
paciatur defectum. Socii omnes nec verbum loquantur sed solus Magister
cum spiritibus tractare audeat. Hiis omnibus denique bene preparatis et
ordinatis Magister adhibeat fumigia ex sequentibus speciebus:

    ℞: Semen papaveris nigri
       Herba Cicuta
       Apium et crocus et hec in equali pondere.

Decimo si Magister rem habet quam Spiritus adimplere resisterent,
accipiat baculum et cum eo feriat eorum Sigilla, sed si nimium pertinaces
forent, appropinquet ea ad carbones cum quibus fumigatum est, faciat
quasi assare et successive ardescere velit et statim eos obedientes

Circulum cum Sociis ingressurus dicat:

Harim Kasistacos Enet miram Baal Alisa mamutai arista Kappi Megiarath
Sagisiya Suratbakar.

Sequuntur Citaciones Nomina et Sigilla Spirituum qui per hoc opus
advocari et citari possunt.

Sigillum primi Principis vid. pag. viij.


Asib Hecon Anthios Rarapafta Kylim Almuchabzar alge Zorionoso Amilech
Amias Segir Almetubele Halimasten Rarapafta Kylim O Almuchabzar horet


Aritepas Oulyri Hecon asib alperiga O Almuchabzar! Rabet Almetubele
Syrath alecla icarim alderez Aldemel met cadir Measdi Algir aleclar Ryia
sothus Alchantum ioradio Ealusi Amilkamar Alenzod:


Albantum alenzod Almuchabzar! Hecon asip Amilcamar alperiga algir
filastaros aleclar Syrath asyngarum berumistas legistas Ruppa sastaraya
aronthas Baracasti hemla Omisyrath abdilbak Amilkamar alcubel taris Algir
alasaff megastar Magin horet Karapatta Kylim O! Almuchabzar.

Quam primum apparent Spiritus in forma humana visibili Magister eos
interroget utrum isti sint qui ab eo fuerunt citati? et si spiritus hoc
iureiurando cum iureiurando (sic) cum imposicione manuum super baculum
[qui ex circulo iis porrigi debet] confirmaverint; salutet eos et sistat
modo subsequenti in fine pag. xv. et pag. xxxv. Hunc Principem vero modo

Alkumkazar medidosta Asaristatos falusi algir abdilbak = karis helotim
latintos O Almuchabzar! milasarintha iubarath mimas Amka Solit karytos
Faribai aliasi miron kylim arastaton tyrantus Almuchabzar.

His dictis Spiritus ipsum interrogabunt quare fuerint vocati? etc.
Magister illis negocium proponat et si adimpleverint dimittat illos prout
sequitur in fine pag. xv. et pag. xxx istum vero specialiter sic:

Sarmistaros labyratha Asanta bartha Megimaia karapatta horet kylim O



Asip hecon anthios karapatta kylim Achunchab Perificanthus alasaff haram
astarladip Megastar hagiasesta parit hemla pantustata amagarim kalip
kisolastar aleclar elgir altemel alperiga Horet kylim O Achunchab!



Hamagit hecon asip Kampatta kylim Aghizikke sisalmaz alenzod alcubel
algir sarmistaros alasat Abdilbak Guscharasch heam diadrasas dalasai
Betaran herik iulem Megastar Helib istam horet kylim O Aghizikke!



Megaras Galim asip hecon kylim Baltuzaraz negyrus haleai amith aresatos
gimastas permasai alar aluhazi Hacub salataya almetubeli algir Abilbak
mirastatos Alenzod medagasti O Baltuzaras kylim horet.

Sequuntur alia adhuc sigilla aliquorum Spirituum qui per subsequentem
coniuracionem advocantur. Sigilla vide pag. xiiij. Nomina eorum numeres
secundum ordinem sigillorum a manu dextra ad sinistram suntque sequentia:



Mabgatusta berenata sarmistaros gorisgatba Helotim latintos aciton
Axagiatum amka iaribai artas gilgarkipka Selingarasch alberalabon
gimistas Kateraptas amogiorith miagastos Diadrasi Radistar dalasa
hagaigia Belzop hecon asip Karapatta kylim O Suhub Galhabari O Almischak
Kapuliph antios guschorasch Alcubel alenzod algir Rabet almetubele
Abdilbak mirastatos alasaff algir megastar ioradip faluli zorionoso
alget kapkar imat Abdilbaim eralim fiascar albirastos perifiantus
Berapkukagapharam Abdilbaim erasin Zakarip Aresatos Talmasten Karapatta
kylim horet kylim.


Harim kelit Amogar Bail namutai aristakappi Megiarath agualim Segirit
beranabtar Cesastus megarustat amargim Bargastaton ioratkar Karistacao
Alim Miron anasterisatos horet kylim.


Bedarit labyratha Asonta barda Meles kalas hemastar Bemtsstaras Bedarit
Enet elmisistar Almiranthus.

Quando Magister cum Sociis egreditur circulo dicat hec sequentia verba
vide pag. xvi.

Begarsten alengip Harim Gantalsa stai Becekym Dingiltas Mecarkayrup
Hermagastus aganton Badaky Gragaim Bemdastoras Argint.



Regesta Vaticana, Tom. xii., fol. 136 vo., epist. 170.

… archiepiscopo Cantuariensi sancte Romane ecclesie cardinali. De
provisione dilecti filii magistri Michaelis Scoti, cuius eminentis
sciencie titulus de ipso testimonium perhibet, quod inter litteratos
alios dono vigeat sciencie singulari patris intimo cogitantes affectu,
pro eo tibi, quod inter ceteros per orbem sciencia preditos eminenti
litteratura et profundioris prerogativa doctrine coruscas, fiducialiter
affectione plena dirigimus scripta nostra, firmam spem fiduciamque
tenentes, quod probos clericos diligas et delecteris in illis ac per hoc
ad providendum tante sciencie clerico promptus et facilis inveniri debeas
per te (137ro.) ipsum. Quocirca fraternitati tue per apostolica scripta
mandamus, quatinus tam liberaliter quam libenter predicto magistro infra
provinciam tuam auctoritate nostra provideas in beneficio quod recipiente
congruat et deceat providentem, ita quod ex hoc devocionem et diligenciam
tuam in Domino commendare possimus et nos illud habeamus acceptum qui
nollemus omnino quod dictus magister, qui maioribus dignus esset, gracie
nostre, que reputatur ei debitum, frustraretur effectu, contradictores
autem per censuras ecclesiasticas appellacione remota compescas. Dat.
Lateran. xvii Kal. februar. anno octavo.

This extract, which has not hitherto been fully printed in any of the
authorities (Pressutti, _Regesta Honorii Pape III._ vol. ii. pp. 194,
258; Bliss, _Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers_, vol. i. pp. 94,
97) has reached me from the Vatican just before going to press. I owe
it to the kindness of Monsignor Ehrle, the Prefect of the Bibliotheca
Apostolica, and am glad to reproduce it here, not only because of the
light it throws on the events mentioned in Chapter viii., but as a
testimony to the opinion then held of Scot’s attainments in science.
Incidentally too, it places beyond question the fact mentioned on p.
14, namely, that he was in holy orders. With regard to the title of
‘Master,’ here repeated, I may add that this would seem to have been
equivalent among the Regulars to that of ‘Doctor’ among the secular
clergy; so that there is a further probability that Scot belonged to one
of the monastic orders. Should any one still doubt that the ‘M. Scotus’
whom Honorius named for Cashel is the same person as Michael Scot, this
extract may help to resolve the matter. Honorius evidently held Michael
in the highest esteem, and it will be difficult to find another M. Scotus
so likely to have been preferred by him in the very same year.


[1] _De Michaele Scoto Veneficii injuste damnato_, Lipsiae, 1739.

[2] Some account of Scottish grammar-schools in the twelfth century will
be found in Sir James Dalrymple’s _Collections_, pp. 226, 255 (Advocates’
Library, Edinburgh); also in Chalmers’s _Caledonia_, vol. i. p. 76.

[3] _Compendium Studii_, vol. i. p. 471, ed. Master of the Rolls. London,
Longmans, 1859.

[4] Boncompagni _Vita di Gherardo Cremonense_, Roma, 1851, and the _De
Astronomia Tractatus_ x. of Guido Bonatti, printed at Bâle, 1550.

[5] _Historia Ecclesiastica_, xii. 494.

[6] In the last edition of Chambers’s Encyclopædia, _sub nomine_.

[7] See _infra_, ch. vii.

[8] Leland’s work was published in 1549.

[9] _Comento alla Divina Commedia, Inf._, canto xx. Bologna, Fanfani,

[10] The _Scotorum Historia_ of Boëce in which this statement appears was
published at Paris in 1526.

[11] Between 1260 and 1280. See Cartulary of Dunfermline.

[12] Exchequer Rolls.

[13] See _infra_, p. 55.

[14] Bulaeus _Historia Univ. Paris._, vol. iii. pp. 701, 702.

[15] Sir James Dalrymple’s _Collections_, pp. 226, 255. There was also a
school at Dryburgh, where Sibbald says Sacrobosco studied, but had Scot
entered here he would hardly have been distinguished in later years as a
man in close relation with another order—the Cistercian.

[16] Not excepting the north. ‘Morebatur eo tempore (_c._ 1180) apud
Oxenfordiam studiorum causa clericus quidam Stephanus nomine de
Eboracensi regione oriundus,’ _Acta Sanctorum_, Oct. 29, p. 579. At the
exodus in 1209, no less than three thousand students are said to have
left Oxford.

[17] _Opus Majus_, ed. Jebbi, pp. 36, 37. The words are ‘Tempore
Michaelis Scoti, qui, annis 1230 transactis, apparuit, deferens librorum
Aristotelis partes aliquas,’ etc. See _infra_, ch. viii.

[18] See Anderson, _Scottish Nation_, _sub nomine_.

[19] _Lay of the Last Minstrel_, Note Y. See _infra_, ch. x.

[20] See _infra_, p. 18.

[21] Romance of _Elinando_.

[22] He probably joined the Cistercian Order.

[23] _Compendium Studii_, p. 425.

[24] In the printed edition of Dempster, the reference is ‘lib. 3
sententiarum, quaest. iii.,’ but I have not been able to verify it.

[25] _Hist. Litt. de la France_, vol. ix. p. 65.

[26] _Opus Majus_, p. 84.

[27] _Elinando._

[28] _Decamerone_, viii. 9.

[29] See _infra_, chap. x.

[30] The MS. of Scot’s _Physionomia_ in the Vatican Library (_Fondo della
Regina di Svezia_ 1151, saec. xvi?) has joined to it some extravagant
lines in praise of the Parisian schools, where the writer compares them
to Paradise. There is no reason to suppose Scot wrote these verses, but
they fully support the statement made in the text.

[31] Pl. lxxxix. _sup._ cod. 38. See Appendix, No. 1.

[32] See p. 244 of the MS.

[33] _Domini Magistri._

[34] _Philipo._

[35] _Coronato._

[36] _Destinavit sibi._

[37] See Ducange, _sub voce_.

[38] Huillard-Bréholles, _Hist. Dip. Frid. II._, vol. i. pp. 44, 68, 242,

[39] No. 354.

[40] See _infra_, p. 37.

[41] L’Anonimo Fiorentino, _Comento alla Divina Commedia_. Bologna,
Fanfani, 1866-74.

[42] See especially the preface to the _Physionomia_.

[43] Smith’s _Dictionary of Christian Antiquities_, _sub voce_ ‘Magister.’

[44] From August 1200 to January 1208. See Amari, _Storia dei Musulmani
di Sicilia_.

[45] See the _Hist. Dip. Frid._, _passim_.

[46] Amari.

[47] See _infra_, pp. 26, 59, and ch. vi.

[48] _Compendium Studii_, p. 434.

[49] See the preface to the _Secreta_.

[50] Amari. See _infra_, p. 83.

[51] Bibl. Bodl. MSS. Canon Misc. 555; cod. memb. in 4to ff. 97, saec.
xiv. ineunt., with a portrait of Michael Scot in one of the initials.
The preface opens thus:—‘Cum ars astronomie sit grandis sermonibus
philosophorum.’ The book begins:—‘Cronica Grece Latine dicitur series
ut temporis temporum sicut dominorum,’ and closes thus:—‘De expositione
fundamenti terrae volentes his finere secundum librum quem incepimus
in nomine Dei, Cui ex parte nostra sit semper grandis laus et gloria,
benedictio et triumphus in omnibus per infinita saecula saeculorum Amen.’
Other MSS. of the _Astronomia_ are found at Milan, Bibl. Ambros. L. 92,
_sup. cum figuris_; and at Munich, see Halm and Meyer’s _Catalogue_, vol.
ii. part i. p. 156, No. 1242, saec. xviii.

[52] ‘Quasi vulgariter.’

[53] Bodl. MS. 266, chart. in fol. saec. xv. 218 leaves; Bibl. Nat.
Paris, Nouv. acq. 1401; the Escorial has another MS. of this work on
paper, in writing of the fourteenth century. The _Liber Introductorius_
commences thus: ‘Quicumque vult esse bonus astrologus’—an expression
which betrays the churchman in Scot. It closes with these words:
‘finitur tractatus de notitia pronosticorum.’ Extracts from the _Liber
Introductorius_ are found in the MS. Fondo Vaticano 4087, p. 38, ro.
and vo., MS. in fol. chart. saec. xvi., and in the Bibl. del Seminario
Vescovile, Padua, MS. 48, in fol. chart. saec. xiv.; also Bibl. Ambros,
Milan, MS. I. 90.

[54] The Paris MS. reads ‘in Astronomia,’ a good example of the confusion
mentioned above.

[55] ‘Leviter.’

[56] This is a mistake common to both the MSS. Innocent IV. did not begin
to reign till 1243, when Scot was long in his grave. Innocent III.,
who was Pope from 1198-1216, is the person meant. He was guardian to
Frederick II. during his minority.

[57] According to the line: ‘Lingua, Tropus, Ratio, Numerus, Tonus,
Angulus, Astra,’ in which the Trivium and Quadrivium were succinctly and
memorably expressed.

[58] His mother was nearly fifty years old at his birth.

[59] See the description of this palace in the poem by Peter of Eboli.

[60] Zurita says that Sancia, the Queen Dowager of Aragon, claimed the
crown of Sicily for her son Fernando, in case there were no heir of
Frederick II. by Constance.

[61] See on this whole subject three most learned and satisfactory works
by Prof. R. Foerster of Breslau—_De Arist. quae feruntur physiognomonicis
recensendis_, Kiliae, 1882; _De trans. lat. physiognomonicorum_, Kiliae,
1884; and especially his _Scriptores Graeci Physiognomonici_, Teubner,

[62] A _Physionomia_ ascribed to Al Mansour himself was commented on by
Jacopo da Samminiato. It is preserved in the Bibl. Naz. of Florence, MS.
xx. 55.

[63] See Book II. chap. xxvi. _et seq._

[64] B. J. II., 8. § 6. See also the Church Histories of Neander (i. 61,
83) and Kurtz (i. 65).

[65] The word Ἀβράξας read numerically gives the total of 365 = the
number of days in which the sun completes his circle through the twelve
signs. In this way it is equivalent to _Mithras_. These gems often bear
the figure of a cock = the sun-bird, not without reference to Æsculapius.
They were worn to recover or preserve health.

[66] This reminds one of the somewhat similar introduction to the alchemy
of Crates, which speaks of a youth called Rissoures, the scion of a
family of adepts, who made love to a maid-servant of Ephestelios, chief
diviner in the Temple of Serapis at Alexandria, thus inducing her to
steal the book and fly with him. The tradition of discovery is common
to both legends, but the Crates has a colour of worldly passion and the
Sirr-el-Asrar a shade of ascetic practice which agrees admirably with
what we know of the Therapeutae. _Crates_ is probably Democritus. The
Arabic version was due to Khalid ben Yezid, and bears the title of _Kenz
el Konouz_, or treasure of treasures. It is found in MS. 440 of Leyden.
In a later chapter we shall recur to this subject with the view of
showing that alchemy as well as physiognomy owed much to the Therapeutic

[67] The printed copy—in fol. Venice, Bernardinus de Vitalibus, s. a. but
probably 1501—reads ‘romanam,’ which would be neo-Greek or Romaic.

[68] See on this whole subject the excellent remarks of Foerster in his
treatise _De Aristotelis quae feruntur Secretis Secretorum_, Kiliae,
1888, pp. 22-25.

[69] Wright’s _Cat. of the Syriac MSS._, Nos. 250 and 366.

[70] _Recherches_, pp. 117, 118.

[71] _Op. cit._ pp. 26, 27.

[72] Viz., P. xiii. sin. cod. 6; P. xxx. cod. 29; and P. lxxxix. _sup._
cod. 76. There is also one at Paris, Fonds de Sorbonne, 955.

[73] See the MS. of the Laurentian Library, p. lxxxviii. cod. 24.

[74] By transposition ‘G. de Valentia vere civitatis,’ etc. (Bibl. Naz.
Flor. xxv. 10, 632); by corruption ‘vere de violentia’ (Barberini MS.),
or ‘grosso pontifici’ (Fondo Vaticano, 5047). This bishop has not yet
been identified.

[75] MSS. of the _Secreta Secretorum_ are found in Florence, Bibl. Naz.,
xxv. 10, 632, chart. saec. xv.; Bibl. Laur. (S. Crucis) xv. sin. 9; Rome,
Fondo Vaticano, 5047; Oxford, Bibl. Bod. Can. Misc., 562; Troyes and St.
Omer, _v._ Cat. MSS. des Depart., vol. ii. pp. 517, 518, and iii. 295;
Berne, v. Sinner’s Cat., vol. iii. p. 525. It is interesting to note that
the title of this last MS. is _Physionomia_, just as the _Physionomia_
of Scot is called _De Secretis_ in the editions of 1584 and 1598. This
confirms the relation between his work and that of Philippus Clericus.
MSS. of the Italian version of the _Secreta Secretorum_ are found at
Florence, Bibl. Riccard., Q. I. xxii. 1297; R. I. xx. 2224; L. I. xxxiv.
108. The first of these is dated 1450. In the Bibl. Naz., Florence,
there is another, and a similar one of the _Physionomia Aristotelis_.
In the Chigi Library of Rome there is a MS., chart. saec. xvii., with
the curious title: ‘Migel franzas, auctor obscurioris nominis, ad
_Physionomiam_ Aristotelis Commentarium.’ It is numbered E. vi. 205, and
consists of 326 pages. The _Secreta Secretorum_ with the _De Mineralibus_
was printed at Venice (? 1501), by Bernardinus de Vitalibus, and a new
version by G. Manente, comprehending the _Morals_ and the _Physionomia_
as well as the _Secreta_, issued from the same place in 1538. It was
printed in 4to by Tacuino da Trino.

[76] MSS. of the _Physionomia_: Oxford, Bibl. Bod. MSS. Canon. Misc.
555 (with the _Liber Particularis_) saec. xiv.; Milan, Bibl. Ambros. L
92 _sup._ (with the _Liber Particularis_); Padua, Bibl. Anton. xxiii.
616, chart. saec. xvii; Vatican, Fondo della Regina 1151 perhaps saec.
xvi. Printed editions: 1477 perhaps double; 1485 Louvain and Leipsic;
1499 s. l. and five or six others of this century in 4to, s. l. et a.;
1508 Cologne, Venice, and Paris, the last in 8vo; 1514 Venice 8vo; 1515
s. l.; 1519 Venice 8vo; 1584 Lyons 24mo along with the _Abbreviatio
Avicennae_ and the _De animalibus ad Caesarem_ under the general title
of _De Secretis Naturae_; 1598 Lyons, _De Secretis Naturae_ cum tractatu
_De Secretis Mulierum_ Alberti Magni; 1615 Frankfort 8vo; 1655 and 1660
Amsterdam 12mo. Editions of the Italian version appeared at Venice in
1533, 8vo, and 1537. During the sixteenth century an edition of the Latin
text in 8vo appeared from the press of Pietro Gaudoul without date.

[77] _Histoire Littéraire de la France._ The list given above will show
that this statement rather falls short of the truth than exceeds it.

[78] See Ticknor’s _History of Spanish Literature_, p. 395.

[79] _Recherches sur l’âge et l’origine des trad. latines d’Aristote_,
Paris, 1843, chap. iii. passim.

[80] The bones of Aristotle were said to lie in the Mosque of Palermo,
where they were highly reverenced. See _Charles III. of Naples_, by St.
Clair Baddeley, London, 1894, p. 122.

[81] _Notices et extraits des Mss._, vol. vi. p. 412.

[82] _Die Uebersetz. Arabischer Werke_, Göttingen, 1877, p. 99.

[83] See Lane’s _Modern Egyptians_, vol. i. p. 197 note.

[84] We should remember, however, the Emperor’s instructions to his
translators: ‘verborum fideliter servata virginitate.’ See his circular
of 1230 to the Universities.—Jourdain, _Recherches_, p. 133.

[85] _De Animalibus ad Caesarem_, chap. ix.

[86] Bibl. Laur. Pl. xiii. sin. cod. 9 in fol. perg. This MS. was written
in 1266.

[87] Fifteenth Century s. l. et a. in fol. pp. 54. There are also Venice
editions of 1493 and 1509.

[88] Fondo Vaticano 4428 in fol. perg. saec. xiii. See a complete
inventory of this MS. in Appendix II.

[89] See Roger Bacon, _Opus Majus_, p. 37.

[90] P. 158 _recto_, the last line of the third column.

[91] _Recherches_, p. 133.

[92] See _ante_, p. 10.

[93] There is an evident reference to Prov. i. 9 in these words which
accords well with Scot’s usual style.

[94] Printed, but very incompletely, at Augsburg in 1596 in 8vo.

[95] _Hist. Dip. Frid. II._ vol. iv. pt. i. pp. 381, 382.

[96] Can this have been _Cologna_, a village about four miles north of

[97] Fondo Vaticano 4428.

[98] The words are: ‘Ex libro animalium Aristotelis Domini Imperatoris in
margine’ (p. 158 _recto_): see facsimile at p. 55.

[99] Bibl. Chisiana E viii. 251, at p. 41 bottom margin.

[100] P. 158, _recto_ col. 1.

[101] p. 164.

[102] Pl. xiii. sin. cod. 9. Other MSS. of the _Abbreviatio Avicennae_
are these: Fondo Vaticano 7096; Fondo Regina di Svezia 1151; Bibl.
Burgensis 8557 in 8vo memb. saec. xiii. vel xiv.; Bibl. Pommersfeld,
saec. xiv.; Paris, Anc. Fonds 6443; Venice, Bibl. St. Marc. 171 memb.
saec. xiv. (the same library has another MS. in 4to memb. saec. xiv.,
see the Catalogue by Valentinelli, vol. v. p. 58). Bologna, Bibl. Univ.
1340 in fol. chart. saec. xiv. doubtful; Oxford, Bodl. MSS. Canon. Misc.
562 saec. xiv. et xv.; Merton Coll. MS. 277 saec. xiv.; All Souls MS. 72
saec. xiv.

[103] _Recherches_, p. 133.

[104] P. 13, _recto et verso_, in the undated fifteenth century edition
of the _Abbreviatio_.

[105] _Ibid._ pp. 33 _verso_, 34 _recto_.

[106] See _ante_, p. 32.

[107] _La Chimie au Moyen Age_, Paris, 1893. One cannot praise too highly
the interest and value of this monumental work. I am greatly indebted to
it for many of the facts and conclusions here repeated.

[108] The _Mappae Clavicula_ (Key to Painting) belongs to the tenth
century; the _Compositiones ad Tingenda_ is of the age of Charlemagne.
A MS. of the eighth century (not the ninth as Berthelot says) is extant
at Lucca (Bibl. Capit. Can. I. L.). Muratori has printed it in his
_Antiquitates Italicae_, ii. 364-87. It contains receipts for the colours
used in making _tesserae_ for mosaic, for dyeing skins, cloth, bone, horn
and wood; for making parchment; for various processes such as gold and
silver beating and drawing, and the gilding of iron; for chrysography and
the gilding of leather; ‘quomodo eramen in colore auri transmutetur,’
‘operatio Cinnaberim,’ a perfume for the hands called _lulakin_, and for
certain amalgams of gold and silver called _glutina_.

[109] See Chwolson, _Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus_. The Egyptians
extended this correspondence to the members of the human body.

[110] Σπουδάζουσιν ἐκτόπως περὶ τὰ τῶν παλαιῶν συγγράμματα, μάλιστα τὰ
πρὸς ὠφέλειαν ψυχῆς καὶ σώματος ἐκλέγοντες. Ἔνθεν αὑτοῖς πρὸς θεράπειαν
παθῶν ῥίζαι τε ἀλεξητήριοι καὶ λιθῶν ἰδιότητες ἐνερευνῶνται.—_Bell.
Jud._, ii. 8. § 6.

[111] _Roma, Vincentio Accolti_, 1587. My copy is the one presented by
the author to the great Aldrovandus of Bologna, with whom he seems to
have been on intimate terms.

[112] See the Paris MS. 6514, pp. 133-35.

[113] Of Pannopolis, a chemist of the fourth century.

[114] 6514.

[115] Fondo Vaticano, 4428, p. 114. This treatise is the same as the _De
mineralibus_ published along with the _De Secretis_ at Venice (? 1501) by
Bernardinus de Vitalibus.

[116] Speciale MS. No. vi. See the work by Sac. I. Carini, _Sulle Scienze
Occulte nel Medio Evo_, Palermo, 1872. ‘Kalid Rex’ was Khaled ben Yezid
ibn Moauia, and ‘Morienus’ was Mar Jannos, his Syrian master.

[117] _Gayangos_, i. 8. Eighty thousand books are said to have been
burned in the squares of Granada alone.

[118] In the editions of 1622 and 1659, Argentorati. It has been
stated that the _Quaestio Curiosa_ is a chapter taken from the _Liber
Introductorius_ of Michael Scot. The alternative title of that work,
_Judicia Quaestionum_ would seem to favour this idea, and may in fact
have suggested it. But an examination of the _Liber Introductorius_ (MS.
Bodl. 266), which I have caused to be made, proves that the statement
referred to is without foundation. It was advanced in a paper read before
the Scottish Society of Antiquaries by Mr. John Small, and printed in
their _Proceedings_, vol. xi. p. 179.

[119] See the note to p. 75 _supra_.

[120] _Inf._ iv. 131.

[121] In the _Theatrum_ of Zetzner there is a tract: ‘Aristoteles de
perfecto Magisterio,’ and the Bibl. Naz. of Florence has a MS., ‘De
Tribus Verbis,’ ascribed to the same author.

[122] Sic pro _indagine_, v. cod. xvi. 142 of the Bibl. Naz. Florence,
where this treatise is given to _Alfidius_, _i.e._ Al Kindi. In it
occur the significant words: ‘est (alchimia) de illa parte physice quae
_Metheora_ nuncupatur.’

[123] No. 6514.

[124] ‘Penitus denegatam,’ see _infra_, p. 89.

[125] It is remarkable in this connection that ‘Transubstantiation’ was
finally imposed on the faithful by the Lateran council of 1215. The term
had not been previously used in theology. This was the very epoch of
Michael Scot and of the introduction of alchemy in the West.

[126] MS. Ricc. L. iii. 13. 119, p. 35vo.

[127] ‘In quo talia continentur, Intencio, Causa Intencionis et
Utilitas,’ etc.

[128] See Appendix, No. III.

[129] Pp. 192vo.-195vo.

[130] The Paris MS. 6514 has these words: ‘Magister Galienus scriptor qui
utitur in Episcopatu est alkimista et scit albificare eramen ita quod est
album ut argentum commune.’

[131] Pp. 190ro.-192vo.

[132] Pp. 185vo.-190ro.

[133] Manuel Comnenus reigned as Emperor of the East from 1143 to 1180,
while Frederick I. was Emperor of the West from 1152 to 1190. This would
seem to indicate the twelfth century as the time when these works of the
Pseudo Archelaus were produced. It is curious to notice that Manuel was
the Emperor who suffered defeat by sea at the hands of George of Antioch
the Sicilian admiral (Gibbon, chap. lvi.) This brave seaman was the same
who founded the library of the Martorana in Palermo (see above, p. 25),
and enriched it with the literary spoils of his conquests. It is highly
probable that it was in this way the scholars of Sicily became acquainted
with the Byzantine alchemy.

[134] MS. Ricc. L. iii. 13. 119. pp. 19vo.-29ro.

[135] Titles resembling this are not uncommon in the literature of
alchemy. Thus the Paris MS. 6514 has two treatises, both called _Lumen
Luminum_ and both ascribed to Rases. The latter of these, the _Liber
Lumen Luminum et perfecti Magisterii_, is that which has been printed
by Zetzner in the _Theatrum Chemicum_, under the name of Aristotle. It
contains, as we have already observed, the _Liber XII. aquarum_ and other
material derived from the _Liber Emanuelis_. The former treatise bearing
the name of the _Liber Lumen Luminum_ in the Paris MS. (pp. 113-120)
is remarkable on account of the words with which it closes: ‘explicit
liber autoris invidiosi,’ which Berthelot notes, but does not attempt
to explain. The _Mappa_ of the Pseudo-Archelaus mentions the ‘Liber
invidiosus’ (‘quia liber iste invidiosus est ab omnibus hominibus’),
but what may be the true reading of the matter is found in the _Liber
Dyabesi_ or book of the distillation of the land-tortoise (MS. Ricc. p.
4ro.) where these words occur: ‘Omnia ista pondera fuerunt occulta a
philosophis, et dederunt nobis alia pondera … quia fuerunt invidiosi,’
_i.e._ unwilling to make public the secrets of their art. In later days
the title _Lumen Luminum_ is found in use by Raymond Lull and his school.

[136] _Liber Luminis Luminum_, ii. 1.

[137] Corpus Christi MS. cxxv. pp. 116-119.

[138] In MS. Ricc. L. iii. 13, 119, No. 37.

[139] See on the whole subject the _Annales Minorum_ of Wadding,
especially vol. i. p. 109. In vol. ii. p. 242, we find the reproof
addressed by the Pope to Fra Elias. The words referred to above are
these: ‘mutari color optimus auri ex quo caput (_i.e._ Franciscus) erat

[140] For example, ‘quaedam gumma quae invenitur in alumine de pluma, et
ista gumma est rubea, et gumma quae invenitur in alumine rubeo et ista
gumma est preciosa et bona valde.’ The word becomes intelligible when
read as ‘gemma.’

[141] Such as ‘Yader saracenus,’ ‘Arbaranus,’ ‘Theodosius saracenus,’
‘Medibibaz,’ and ‘Magister Jacobus Judaeus.’ The name of the place
‘halaph’ which is probably Aleppo, and of the herb ‘carcha’ point in the
same direction.

[142] Bibl. Naz. Flor. MS. xvi. 142, see _supra_, p. 79.

[143] Romanus de Higuera, a very doubtful authority.

[144] This village gave name to another Moorish writer, Abu Gafar Ahmed
ben Abd-el-Rahman ben Mohammed, also surnamed el Bitraugi. He died in
1147 and his fame survives as that of the author of an encyclopedia of

[145] For the unfavourable judgment of Mirandola on this astronomer, see
_infra_, p. 143.

[146] See the excellent account in Munk.

[147] _Recherches_, p. 133.

[148] These are _Ancien Fonds_ 7399 and _Fonds de Sorbonne_ 1820.

[149] ‘Qui vivit in aeternum per tempora.’

[150] There is a copy in the Barberini library (ix. 25 in fol. chart.
saec. xv.) which reads ‘cum abuteo len̄ite.’ Another at Paris, MSS.
lat. 1665 (olim Sorbonicus) has ‘c. Abuteo Levite.’ It would be rash to
conjecture the sense of this curious phrase. It is evidently a sign of
time, and perhaps astrological.

[151] The Barberini MS. (ix. 25) gives 1221 as the date of the version,
but the consensus of the other copies shows this to be a mistake. Almost
all the MSS. mention that the work was done at Toledo.

[152] See the references made to this work of Scot by Albertus Magnus and
Vincent of Beauvais.

[153] For the life and opinions of Averroës, see the excellent monograph
_Averroës et l’Averroïsme_, which Renan published at Paris in 1866. I
have drawn largely upon it in composing this chapter.

[154] See _infra_, p. 128. Nicolas Damascenus was born B.C. 64.

[155] This was purely Alexandrian doctrine: ‘enseñaron Plotino, Porfirio
y Iamblico, que, en la union extatica, el alma y Dios se hacen uno,
quedando el alma como aniquilada por el _golpe intuitivo_.’ Pelayo,
_Heterodoxos Españoles_, vol. ii. p. 522.

[156] Albertus Stadensis speaks of a heretical sect which appeared at
Halle in 1248. They abused the clergy, the monastic orders and the Pope,
but their preachers exhorted them to pray for the Emperor Frederick and
his son Conrad, _qui perfecti et justi sunt_. Among the Albigenses and
Cathari generally the word _perfecti_ was used in a technical sense to
indicate those who had been received into complete fellowship as opposed
to the _credentes_ who were still on probation. As applied therefore
to the Emperor and his son it would seem to indicate at least certain
leanings to these opinions on Frederick’s part. This might explain the
action he certainly took in trying to detach the Sicilian clergy from
the see of Rome and to set up a national or imperial church in which he
pretended to the earthly headship.

[157] _Opera_, p. 102.

[158] _Averroës_, pp. 28, 254, 291.

[159] See _ante_, p. 18.

[160] This inquiry was afterwards interpreted to Scot’s disadvantage and
in a way that heightened his necromantic fame. See _infra_, ch. ix.

[161] See Appendix, No. I. Averroës had maintained in opposition to Galen
that the best of all climates was that of the fifth terrestrial region:
that in which Cordova was situated.—_Colliget_, ii. 22. Michael Scot can
hardly have shared this opinion.

[162] St. Victor, 171.

[163] De Rossi MS. 354. See _ante_, p. 20.

[164] See preface to the _De Anima_ of Avicenna, MSS. Fondo Vaticano
4428, p. 78vo, and 2089, p. 307ro. Jourdain has reprinted this preface in
his _Recherches_, p. 449, from the MSS. Fonds de Sorbonne 1793 and Ancien
Fonds 6443.

[165] Bibl. Rabb. i. p. 7. ‘Eiusdem Avicennae Physicorum lib. iv.,
Magistro Johanne Gunsalui et Salomone interpretibus, No. 449,’ _i.e._ of
the Fondo Urbinate.

[166] Bibl. Española, ii. pp. 643-4. ‘Conhesso’ may be a mistake for
_converso_. There is reason to think that Andrew had embraced the
Christian faith.

[167] ‘Michael Scotus, ignarus quidem et verborum et rerum, fere omnia
quae sub nomine ejus prodierunt, ab Andrea quodam Judaeo mutuatus
est.’—_Opus Majus._ In his _Compendium Studii_, a much later work, Bacon
repeats the accusation in a milder form: ‘Michael Scotus ascripsit sibi
translationes multas. Sed certum est quod Andreas quidam Judaeus plus
laboravit in his.’ It has been conjectured that Andrew was a convert to
Christianity, _v._ Renan, who cites the preface to Jebb’s edition of the
_Opus Tertium_ of Bacon. It is curious at any rate that the name given
him was that of Scotland’s patron saint.

[168] Bibl. Max. Vett. Patrum, Lugduni, 1677, vol. xxii. p. 1030.

[169] The letter, namely, of Pope Gregory IX.

[170] Paris, Fonds de Sorbonne 924, 950; St. Victor, 171; Navarre, 75;
Venice, St. Mark, vi. 54; Fondo Vaticano, 2184, 2089, p. 6ro.

[171] See ‘Proviniana’ in the _Feuille de Provins_ for 7 Février 1852;
also the _Hist. Litt. de la France_, xvii. 232; the Bibl. Imp. Colb.
_Suite du Reg. Princ. Campan, III._ 50ro. and 199vo.; and the letters of
Gregory IX., anni v. 9 kal. Maii (1231 or 1232), anni vii. kal. Feb., and
3 kal. Martii in the collection of Laporte du Theil.

[172] See _ante_, p. 6.

[173] Paris, Sorbonne, 932, 943; St. Victor, 171; Ancien Fonds, 6504;
Venice, St. Mark, vi. 54.

[174] _Vita di Gherardo Cremonense_, Roma, 1851. The distinction
between the elder and younger Gerard had been noticed by Flavio Biondo
(1388-1463); by Zaccharia Lilio (_obiit_ _c._ 1522) and by Giulio
Faroldo in the sixteenth century. I have found the same accuracy in the
_Risorgimento d’Italia_ of the Abate Saverio Bettinelli, which appeared
at Bassano in 1786 (vol. i. p. 81). Only foreigners, therefore, seem to
have overlooked it.

[175] _Compendium Studii_, p. 471.

[176] No. 354; see _ante_, pp. 20, 116.

[177] See the list of MSS. already given, p. 123.

[178] _De la Philosophie Scolastique_, i. 470.

[179] _Opera_, ii. 140.

[180] _Averroës_, p. 108.

[181] See _Metaphysica_, xii. 334.

[182] Avicenna. See _Destruction of Destruction_, iii. 350.

[183] The doctrine of spontaneous generation, common among the Arabian
Philosophers, and specially taught by Ibn Tofail.

[184] This is a notable saying which may well have given rise to the
legend of a book _De Tribus Impostoribus_. It was certainly one of the
_foeda dicta_ blamed by Albertus Magnus.

[185] St. Mark, vi. 54 _memb. saec._ xiv. The _De Substantia Orbis_ is
said to have been completed by Averroës in Morocco in 1178.

[186] Also Fondo Vaticano, 2089, p. 1, with commentary by Alfarabius.

[187] This title recalls a passage in the _De Anima_ of Averroës
as reproduced by Pendasius: ‘Si intellectus esset numeratus ad
numerum individuorum, esset aliquod hoc (_i.e._ aliquod particulare)
determinatum, _corpus aut virtus in corpore_. Si hoc esset, esset quid
intellectum potentia.’

[188] No. 620. See _Cat. Gen. des Bibl. des Dep._ vol. iii. Paris, 1855.

[189] See _ante_, p. 125.

[190] Colophon to cod. lxxix. 18 of the Laurentian Library.

[191] See _ante_, p. 59.

[192] _Opus Tertium_, Master of the Rolls ed. p. 91.

[193] _Compendium Studii_, p. 467. The _De Plantis_ is found at p. 83 of
MS. Fondo Vaticano 4087.

[194] Namely the novel called _Il Paradiso degli Alberti_ (Bologna,
Wesseloffsky, 1867, vol. ii. pp. 180-217), and No. xx. of the _Cento
Novelle Antiche_ (Testo Borghiniano).

[195] _Inferno_, xx. 115, 116.

[196] The _faja_ still worn in Spain is a direct survival of this custom.

[197] According to ecclesiastical reckoning; the direction of the altar
being taken as eastward. The frontispiece reproduces part of this fresco.

[198] See _infra_, chap. ix.

[199] The fact that Averroës himself is painted on the opposite wall
holding in his hand the _Great Commentary_ seems highly to increase
the probability that the figure here described was meant for Michael
Scot, the recognised interpreter of that forbidden philosophy. Averroës
occupies a similar position in Orgagna’s fresco in the Campo Santo of

[200] Scot reckoned twelve signs in augury answering to the twelve
celestial houses. Six came from the right hand: Fernova, fervetus,
confert, amponenth, scimasarnova, scimasarvetus; and six from the left:
Confernova, confervetus, viaram, harenan, scassarnova, scassarvetus. See
the _Physionomia_, chap. lvi.

[201] Unless indeed these, or some of them, should prove to be merely
detached fragments of the _Liber Introductorius_ itself, like those at
Milan, Padua, and Rome. See _ante_, p. 27.

[202] No. 1091. It is perhaps the same as the _Astrologorum Dogmata_,
which appears in the lists of Bale and Pitz.

[203] No. 3124. Incipit: ‘Primum signum duodecim signorum.’ Explicit:
‘principio motus earum.’

[204] As a characteristic specimen, we may take the chapter of the _Liber
Introductorius_ on the moon as it is given in the Roman MS. (Fondo
Vaticano 4087, p. 38ro.). It commences thus: ‘Luna terris vicinior est
omnibus planetis.’ Some passages are curious, as when Scot says that the
moon has her light from the sun and he again receives his ‘a summo coelo
in quo Trinitas residet.’ The heathen, he adds, used to call the moon
Diana, and the sister of the sun, whom they named Apollo. Her proper
figure is that of a virgin with a torch in either hand whereof the flames
are triple to signify the Trinity, that ‘true light which lighteneth
every man that cometh into the world’ (S. John i. 9). ‘Virgil saith of
her “tria Virginis ora Dianae,” that is heavenly, earthly, and infernal.
Her power causes hunters to profit more by night than by day, and the
owl and night-hawk sleep all day that they may follow their prey by
night. Such creatures of the night are hated by the rest and hate them
in return. The wolf hates the sheep, and birds the owl. This last is of
use in fowling when they use a night-hawk. Builders, too, know that wood
must be felled in the wane of the moon or it will warp.’ It ends thus:
‘Explicit Liber quem edidit micael scotus de signis et ymaginibus celi,
qui scriptum (sic) et exemplatum fuit per me baltasaram condam (quondam)
Domini Dominici in mcccxx de mense Aprilis Deo gratias Amen.’

[205] _Opera Omnia_, Bale, 1527. _In Astrologiam_, lib. viii. chap. vi.
and lib. xii. chap. vii.

[206] In No. 1 of the _Cento Novelle Antiche_ Frederick answers the
ambassadors of Prester John by saying that the best thing in the world
‘si è misura.’ This may possibly refer to his passion for mathematics.

[207] MSS. of this work are in Paris, Ancien Fonds, 7310; Milan,
Ambrosiana, T. 100; Florence, Bibl. Naz. xi. D. 64, II. ii. 35, and Rome,
Fondo Vaticano, 2975.

[208] See _Narducci’s Catalogue_ of the Boncompagni MSS., Rome, 1862.

[209] _Histoire des Sciences Mathématiques._

[210] _Lay of the Last Minstrel_, Author’s Edition, Note 3 I.

[211] Lenormant, _Quest. Hist._ vol. ii. pp. 144, 145.

[212] _Cento Novelle Antiche_, No. C.

[213] 22 July 1232. See ‘Ann. Colon. Max.’ in Pertz, _Scriptores Rei
Germanicae_, xvii. 843.

[214] ‘Physicorum motuum.’ The passage will be found in the _De Utilitate

[215] This city was founded in 1067-68 by En-Nacer ben Alennas ibn
Hammad, who made it his capital.

[216] MSS. of the _Liber Abbaci_ are to be found in Florence, Bibl.
Naz. i. 2616, iii. 25, and xi. 21. The first of these has been exactly
reprinted by Boncompagni at Rome, 1857. Other MSS. are in the Boncompagni
library, see _Narducci’s Catalogue_, Nos. 176 and 255. The most important
work on the whole subject is ‘Della Vita e delle Opere di Leonardo
Pisano,’ by Boncompagni, Rome, 1852.

[217] See _infra_, chap. ix.

[218] The University Library of Genoa has an interesting MS. (F. vii.
10), written in Arabic by an African hand. It belonged, A. H. 483, to
Judah ben Jaygh ben Israel, servant of Abu Abdallah Algani Billah, a
Moor of Malaga. It contains medical works by Johannes ben Mesue, Rases,
Alkindi, Geber, and others.

[219] For an account of the school of Salerno, see Sprengel, _Versuch
einer pragmatischen Geschichte der Artzneykunde_; Carmoly, _Histoire des
Médecins Juifs_, Bruxelles, 1844; and De Renai, _Collectio Salernitana_,
Naples, 1852.

[220] The _De Urinis_. See _ante_, p. 20.

[221] _Historia Ecclesiastica_, xii. 495. Dempster professed at Pisa and
Bologna between the years 1616 and 1625.

[222] This was Symphorien Champier, physician to Henry II. of France.

[223] See the Sibbald Collections, Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh.

[224] See D’Herbelot. This author was a Jew.

[225] See _ante_, pp. 20, 151. Further investigation might show that it
was Michael Scot himself who undertook this work for the Emperor. In
that case it would probably be the original from which the two Italian
versions mentioned above were made. Nor is it unlikely he should have
devoted himself to medicine as early as 1212 considering the nature of
the work by Avicenna on which we know he was engaged in 1210.

[226] In Ideler’s _Physici et Medici Graeci Minores_, Berlin, 1842, vol.

[227] Florence, Bibl. Naz. xv. 27, cod. chart. saec. xv.; Naples, Bibl.
Naz. cod. chart. saec. xv. from the Minieri Riccio collection.

[228] Vatican, Fondo della Regina di Svezia, 1159, p. 149. This treatise
closes thus: ‘et istud sufficit tempore presenti facto urinarum. Finis
urinarum Magistri Michaelis Scoti. Incipit Practica Magistri R. de Parma

[229] British Museum, add. MSS. 24,068. This is a volume in 8vo
containing a medical collection. It belonged in 1422 to Heinrich Zenner
and afterwards to Magister Wenceslaus Brock. No. 22, at fol. 97vo, is
as follows: ‘Pillulae Magistri Michaelis Scoti, quae fere competunt
omnibus egritudinibus, et non possit scribi earum bonitas, unde nolo eas
amplius laudare etc. Recipe Aloe epatice optimum, uncias iii., brionie,
mirobolonorum indorum, reb. belliricorum, emblicorum, citrinorum,
masticiis, dyagridii, azari, rosarum, Reubarbari an. unciam i. Confice
cum succo caulium vel absynthii. Dosis sit vii. vel v. Et iste competunt
convenienti et ydonea dieta observata. Et valent iste pillulae contra
omnem dolorem capitis, ex quacumque causa, vel ex quocumque humore
procedat, purgant mire omnes humores, Leticiam generant, mentem acuunt,
visum reddunt et reparant, auditum restituunt, Juventutem conservant,
Scotomiam et vertiginem reparant, canes (? canities) retardant, memoriam
conservant, Emigraneam depellunt, oculos illuminant, aciem reparant, et
in puerilem etatem reducunt. Et si aliquis humorum est impedimenti in
gingivis et dentibus, medifica[n]t et in soliditatem conservant, arterias
de flemate purgant, Epiglotum et uvam (? uvulam) cum voce clarificant,
appetivam virtutem confortant, Stomachum epar et splenem coadjuvant.
Sonitum aurium et surditatem tollunt, causas febrium omnino extingunt et
auferunt, ascarides vermes necant, omnibus etatibus et temporibus tam
masculino quam feminino sexui conveniunt.’ In the Laurentian Library,
xii. 27. p. 48, I find a similar prescription which may have been given
either by Michael Scot or Master Volmar who succeeded him as court
physician. It is as follows: ‘Pulvis Domini Fred. Imperatoris, valens
contra omnium humorum exceptionem et precipue contra fleumaticum et
melanconicum, ex quibus diuturnae infirmitates capitis et stomachi
habent [?] provenire. Valet quippe contra defectum visus et stomachi
debilitatem cibaria sumpta digeri et membris incorporari facit, valet
contra stomachi ventositatem Scotomiam ante oculos inducentem, restaurat
memoriam quocumque humore perditum, verum (?) dolorem ex frigiditate
provenientem mitigat. Recipe: Carium, petrosillini anisi, marati,
sexmontani, Bethonice, Cymini, calamite, pulegii, ysopi, spicenardi,
piperis, sal gemme, rute, centrumgalli, herbae regiae, heufragie,
olibani, mastici, croci, mirabolanorum, omnium, et plus de citrinis, an.
ʒ 1. et utaris omni tempore indifferenter. Addenda sunt ista; Cynamomi,
Schināti, maiorane, folii balsamite, mzimi, (?) cardamomi, galenge,
regulitie, an. ʒ 1. pulverizza, et utaris indifferenter.’ The MS. is in a
hand of the thirteenth century. The Myrobalans, long discarded from the
Pharmacopœia, were the dried fruits of various species of Phyllanthus and
Terminalia which grow in India. They are still used in native practice,
especially in the preparation of the _Bit laban_, a remedy in rheumatic
gout prepared by calcining these seeds with the fossil muriate of soda.
See _Asiatic Researches_, xi. pp. 174, 181, 192. The bellirica and
emblica are other species of the same plant, the Terminalia. See Bauhin’s
_Historia Plantarum_, 1613. The Dyagridium or Dacridium is an alternative
name for scammony. Azarum, the same as asarum, the Aristolochia. Maratum
or Marathrum an old name for fennel. Reb. is probably the Robes of the
early chemical authors = a vinegar, here impregnated with the active
principle of the fruits prescribed. Cyminum = cumin. Calamita = mint.
Pulegium = pennyroyal, another of the mints. Salgemma = rock-salt. We
shall become familiar with this term in perusing the _Liber Luminis_ of
Michael Scot. Centrumgallus, according to Du Cange, the common garden
cockscomb. Herbia regia, the Ocymum citrinum or citron basil. Olibanum,
frankincense. Galengha, the root of a species of Alpinia. Regulitia,
liquorice. I have been greatly helped in identifying several of these
forgotten simples by the kindness of Mr. J. M. Shaw, sub-librarian to the
Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh.

[230] Year viii. of his Pontificate, namely Jan. 16, 1223. See the
interesting article by Milman in the _Miscellany of the Philobiblon
Society_, vol. i. 1854. He refers to the papers of Mr. W. R. Hamilton in
the British Museum, and especially to vol. ii. pp. 214, 228, 246.

[231] _Monumenta_, _sub anno_ 1259, Feb. 12.

[232] ‘Quod inter literatos vigeat dono scientiae singulari.’

[233] Theiner, _Monumenta_, p. 23, _ad annum_ viii. Hon. III. _i.e._ 1223.

[234] Declinature noted June 20, 1223.

[235] Milman’s _Church History_, vol. iv. p. 17.

[236] ‘Nec contentus littera tantum erudire Latina, ut in ea melius
formaretur, Hebraice et Arabice insudavit laudabiliter et profecit, et
sic doctus in singulis grata diversorum varietate nitescit.’—Hamilton
MSS. in British Museum, vol iii. p. 57.

[237] He was a Calabrian abbot, who died in 1202.

[238] This author died in 1306.

[239] See Muratori ‘Rerum Italicarum Scriptores,’ viii. (1726) ad calcem
_Mem. Potest Reg._

[240] Muratori, _Op. cit._ ix. 669 B.


    ‘Quaedam de Te presagia, Cesar,
    A Michaele Scoto me percepisse recordor.
    Qui fuit astrorum scrutator, qui fuit Augur,
    Qui fuit Ariolus, et qui fuit alter Apollo.’

Poem of Henri d’Avranches in ‘Forschungen zur Deutschen Geschichte,’
xviii. (1878), p. 486.

[242] Vol. x. p. 105. See also the same vol., pp. 101 and 148.

[243] L. ii. xvii. 338, p. 183vo.

[244] Bibl. Univ. No. 1557, p. 43. This MS. is of the fifteenth century.

[245] ‘Chronica F. Salimbene,’ Parma 1857, pp. 176-177.

[246] Muratori, _Op. cit._ ix. 660 B.

[247] Similar deceitful prophecies are not uncommon in mediæval story.
Walter Map in the _De Nugis Curialium_ tells how Silvester II. was
assured by his familiar spirit that he would not die till he had said
Mass at Jerusalem. The prediction was fulfilled, however, when the Pope
did so at the altar called ‘in Gerusalemme’ in one of the Roman Churches,
and soon thereafter expired.

[248] Muratori, _Op. cit._ ix. pp. 128 B, 670; and xiv. p. 1095. Other
forms of this word are _cerebrerium_, _celeberium_ or _cerobotarium_. It
is of course derived from _cerebrum_, and the English equivalent would be

[249] See the _Epistolarium_ of Petrus de Vineis. Jourdain reprints this
letter with a French translation in his _Recherches_, pp. 156-162.

[250] In 1224.

[251] Frederick sought at Bologna for scholars to fill the chairs in

[252] Martenne, ‘Vett. scriptt. et Monumenta,’ ii. 1220.

[253] _Opus Majus_, pp. 30, 37, ed. Jebbi. ‘Tempore Michaelis Scoti, qui,
annis 1230 transactis, apparuit, deferens librorum Aristotelis partes
aliquas de naturalibus et mathematicis, cum expositoribus sapientibus,
magnificata est Aristotelis philosophia apud Latinos.’


    ‘Veridicus Vates Michael, haec pauca locutus,
    Plura locuturus obmutuit, et, sua mundo
    Non paciens archana plebescere, jussit
    Eius ut in tenues prodiret hanelitus auras.
    Sic acusator fatorum fata subivit.’

_Op. cit._ verse 80 _et seq._

[255] ‘History of the Rt. Hon. Name of Scot,’ in _Lay of the Last
Minstrel_, Note W.

[256] The diploma is dated at Melfi on the 9th of August 1232. The
colophon to the copy then made of the _Abbreviatio Avicennae_ is as
follows: ‘Completus est liber Avicenne de animalibus, scriptus per
Magistrum Henricum Coloniensem, ad exemplar magnifici Imperatoris nostri
Domini Frederici, apud Meffiam civitatem Apulie, ubi Dominus Imperator
eidem Magistro hunc librum premissum commodavit, anno Domini MCCXXXII, in
Vigilia Beati Laurentii, in domo Magistri Volmari medici Imperatoris.’
See Huillard-Bréholles, _Hist. Diplom. Frid._ II., vol. iv. part i. pp.

[257] See this poem, canto xxv. oct. 42 and 259. Consult also Soldan,
_Magia Antica_, and _Storia dei Processi di Stregheria_, and _Conrad de

[258] _Illustrium Miraculorum_, v. 4. See also i. 33 for another tale of
the same kind.

[259] See Lenormant, _La Magie Chaldéenne_.

[260] See Wright’s Cat. of the Syriac MSS. in the British Museum.
Iamblicus occurs in cod. dccxxix.

[261] I use this word in the general sense then given to it, which seems
to indicate how little the Greek language was understood in those days.

[262] Said to be written by Norbar the Arab, who compiled it from
many sources in the twelfth century. It consists of four books: I. De
Coelo, II. De figuris Coeli, III. De proprietatibus Planetarum, IV. De
proprietatibus Spirituum; and was translated into Latin by command of
Alfonso X. (1252-84). Two MSS. of this version exist in the Bib. Naz. of
Florence, xx. 20 and 21. Arpenius gives some account of it in his ‘De
prodigiosis Naturae,’ Hamburg, 1717, p. 106. It is to be hoped it may
never be translated into any modern language.

[263] As the author of the _De Coelo et Mundo_, the treatise most nearly
bordering on this magical doctrine.

[264] ‘In quo exposuit secretiora Naturae.’—_Opus Majus_, p. 37.

[265] That the Arabian magic was familiar to Scot, there can, however,
be no manner of doubt. Take, for instance, the following passage from
the _Liber Introductorius_ (MS. Bodl. 266, p. 113): ‘Puteus, qui alio
nomine sacrarius, navigantibus per contrarium eo quod sequitur caudam
scorpionis inter astra, et dicitur poetice quod Dii prius fecerunt in eo
con[junctio]nem et sacrificium, cum esset locus secretus intrinsecus,
et locus plenus spiritibus multe sapientie, a quorum astuciis pauci
evadunt, et ipsi sunt fortiores ceteris ad opera conjuratorum de
omni dum con[junctio]ne removentur obedientes vate (?) et[iam] ante
pyromancie. Illos libentius convocant contra ceteros, et sibi reperiunt
in agendo valentiores, set ipsi sunt multis penis ignis afflicti, et
ex hac de causa nigromantici requirunt studiose Puteum intueri, sive
stellas Sacrarii, ut eorum auxilio plenius operentur optata. Et dicitur
a multis quod de illo exeunt lapides et sagipte tonitruale, opere
spirituum inferorum. Cum non sit ymago celi, habet stellas pervisibiles
quatuor, dispositio quarum sic certificatur: in superfitie flammarum
exeuntium sunt duo, et duo parum sub ore puthealis, et hec est forma
in celo aspectus sui.’ Over against this we find the application, as
follows: Natus in hoc signo erit gratiosus habere experimenta et scire
incantationes, constringere spiritus et mirabilia facere, et mulieres
convincere artis ingeniosus erit, quietus, sagax, et plus pauper quam
dives, et uti metallis, et alchemesta, et nigromanticus et erit homo
quietus, ingeniosus, sagax, secretus, debilis, pauidus, timidus, etc.’
The superstition of which Mirandola accuses Scot is very evident here,
but it is no less plain that the author’s purpose was astrological and
not magical.

[266] See especially the circular letter of Gregory IX., anno 1239.

[267] Albert Beham, _Regist. Epistol._ p. 128.

[268] Book iv. chap. ix. ‘De imaginibus quae virtutes faciunt mirabiles,
et fuerunt inventae in libro qui fuit inventus in Ecclesia de Cordib.’

[269] Nectanebus, sometimes spelt Neptanebus, is perhaps the ‘Naptium’
of the _Picatrix_ (iii. 8). See also on this curious subject the
_Pancrates_ of Lucian, the verses of Adalberone or Ascelin (A.D. 1006) in
the _Recueil des Hist. des Gaules_ (Bouquet x. 67), the English romance
of _Alisaundre_ (Early English Text Soc. 1867) and the _Alexander_ of
Juan Lorenzo Segura de Astorga. In this last poem, which belongs to the
thirteenth century, the hero’s arms are said to have been forged by the
fairies. There is an article on ‘Nectanebo’ by D. G. Hogarth in the
_Eng. Hist. Review_, Jan. 1896. The same mystic fame attached itself to

[270] In the poem of Albéric de Besançon.

[271] St. Chrysostom (A.D. 398) speaks of the custom of using brass coins
of Alexander as amulets.

[272] It is a curious fact that under the historic Nekhtneb (362-45 B.C.)
the Greek philosophers Eudoxus and Chrysippus spent eleven years in Egypt
to learn the astronomical secrets of the priests.

[273] A _Geomancy_, said to be the work of Scot, is preserved in the
Munich Library, No. 489 in 4to, saec. xvi. See the _Thousand Nights_ for
instances of the prevalence of this art.

[274] This MS. reached me from Germany. It is unbound and contained in an
envelope made from the leaf of an old choir-book covered with manuscript
music. This cover is secured by three large seals bearing the arms of
Dunkelsphuhl, to which family it seems to have belonged. The preface is
dated at Prague. It is possible the MS. may have had something to do with
the magical studies of Dr. John Dee, who spent some time in Prague at the
beginning of the seventeenth century. See Appendix IV.

[275] Leonardo Pisano uses this word in the _Liber Abbaci_. See p.
187vo of the Florence MS. Bibl. Naz. i. 2616, where the following
passage occurs: ‘Secundum modum algebrae et almuchabalae, scilicet ad
proportionem et restaurationem.’ In an ancient list of works by Gerard
of Cremona (? the younger) found in the Vatican (No. 2392) we have
this title: ‘Liber alcoarismi de iebra et almucabala tractatus.’ See
Boncompagni’s _Life of Gerard_, Rome 1851. Works on almuchabola are found
also under the names of Al Deinouri, Al Sarakhsi, Al Khouaresmi, Khamel
Schagia ben Aslam, and Al Thoussi. See D’Herbelot.

[276] They show a distinct likeness to the Magreb or West African writing.

[277] This resemblance should be studied in the remarkably beautiful MS.
of the _Liber Abbaci_, numbered xi. 21 in the Bibl. Naz. Florence.

[278] _Epistola de Secretis_, ed. Master of the Rolls, Longmans, 1859,
pp. 531, 544.

[279] _Explanatio in Prophetias Merlini_, iii. 26.

[280] See the interesting work by Graf, _Miti, Leggendi e Superstizioni
del Medio Evo_, Torino, Loescher, 1893.

[281] ‘Otia Imperialia’ in Leibnitz _Scriptores Rerum Brunsvicensium_, i.

[282] _Illustrium Miraculorum_, xii. 12. The next tale, in chap. xiii.,
relates how some men, wandering by chance on Etna, heard a voice cry from
under the hill ‘Prepare the fires.’ This was heard by them a second time,
and then the cry was ‘Prepare a great fire,’ upon which other voices
asked for whom this should be done, and the answer came back that it was
for the Duke of Thuringia, a friend and trusty servant of these lower
powers. This the hearers made faith of in a writing given to the Emperor
Frederick, and it presently appeared that Bertolph of Thuringia, a noted
tyrant, heretic and persecutor of the Church, had died at the very day
and hour when these voices were heard on Etna.

[283] See _Anecdotes Historiques_, by Lecoy de la Marche, Paris, 1877, p.

[284] This romance was published by the Roxburghe Club, London, 1873.

[285] See Grimm’s _Deutsche Mythologie_.

[286] The sarcophagus was opened in 1781 and all was found as described
above. The body of the great Emperor was in good preservation and with it
were remains of Peter II. of Aragon, and Duke William, son of Frederick
II. of Aragon.

[287] German prophecies of the same kind are given by Grimm, _op. cit._

[288] See Pertz _Scriptores Rerum Germanicarum_, xviii. 796.

[289] For example, he is called: Dei ‘coöperator, et Vicarius constitutus
in terris’; ‘the cornerstone of the Church,’ etc. See Huillard-Bréholles
_Vie et correspondance de Pierre de la Vigne_, Paris, Plon, 1864.

[290] See also another romance called _L’Histoire de Maugis d’Aygremont_.

[291] See also Leyden’s _Scenes of Infancy_, pt. ii.

[292] Timbs’s _Abbeys, Castles, and Ancient Halls of England and Wales_:
London, Warne, vol. iii. p. 126.

[293] _Lay of the Last Minstrel_, Note Y.

[294] I quote from the edition of Florence, 1580.

[295] P. 343. See _ante_, pp. 140, 192, and Renan’s _Averroës_, p. 314.

[296] P. 375.

[297] I cannot leave this interesting though obscure author without
noticing the undoubted reference he makes in his _Specchio_ to the
Gipsies. ‘Certain people,’ he says (p. 351), ‘have a superstition
regarding lucky and unlucky days, which have been pointed out to them
by those who call themselves Egyptians.’ We have hitherto supposed that
1422 was the time when Gipsies first appeared in the West. That year is
cited by Muratori in his _Dissertazioni_ as the date of a document which
speaks of the coming of Andrew, who called himself Duke of Egypt, and all
his tribe. Passavanti, however, wrote about 1350, so that the epoch of
migration must be carried back at least a century.

[298] _Inferno_, xx. 116, 117.

[299] Lane’s _Modern Egyptians_, 1837, vol. i. p. 360. For a tract on _Es
Seémiya_, by the Shaik Ali Al Tarabulsio (of Tripoli), who composed it in
1219, see Asseman, Cat. Bibl. Pal. Med. p. 362.

[300] See the _De Secretis_ of Bacon for a curious account of these
tricks as practised in his day.

[301] _Inferno di Dante col Comento di Jacopo della Lana_, Bologna, 1866,
vol. i. p. 351.

[302] In the ninth novel of the eighth day.

[303] _Wesseloffsky_, Bologna, 1867, vol. ii. pp. 180-217.

[304] No. xx.

[305] _Chiose sopra Dante_, published by Lord Vernon; Florence, 1846, pp.

[306] Pl. lxxxix. sup. cod. 38.

[307] No. 489.

[308] Fondo Vaticano 2392, p. 97vo. and 98ro. See Boncompagni, _Della
vita e delle opere de Gherardo Cremonese_; Roma, 1851, p. 7.

[309] _Maccheronea_, xviii.

[310] ‘Innumerabiles fabulae aniles circumferuntur, et jam nunc hodie.’
_Hist. Eccl._ p. 494.

[311] _Obiit_ 1625.

[312] ‘Chiose anonime alla prima Cantica della _Divina Commedia_’;
Torino, Salmi, 1865, p. 114.

[313] _Lay of the Last Minstrel_, Note W.

[314] _Ibid._ Note Z.

[315] _Lay of the Last Minstrel_, Note Y.

[316] _Lay of the Last Minstrel_, Note Y.

[317] ‘Et, ut puto, in Scotia libri ipsius dicebantur, me puero, extare,
sed sine horrore quodam non posse attingi ob malorum daemonum praestigias
quae, illis apertis, fiebant.’—_Hist. Eccl._ p. 495.

[318] _Lay of the Last Minstrel_, Note W.

[319] _Apologie des Grands Hommes accusez de Magie_, Paris, 1669.

[320] _De Michaele Scoto, Veneficii injuste damnato_, 1739.

[321] My readers owe these tales to the kindness of Mr. C. G. Leland,
who procured them for me from an old Florentine woman. She is familiar
to Mr. Leland’s friends as ‘Maddalena,’ and is the depository of that
traditional lore on which he has so happily drawn in his _Legends of
Florence_. Her stories are interesting if only as an example of folklore
up to date, and of the way in which an Italian mind deals with the legend
of Michael Scot, while some points they offer are certainly original and
highly curious.

[322] This may be a variant of ‘Maugis’ or Merlin. In the romance of
_Maugis d’Aygremont_ we find the following passage: ‘Il n’y avoit
meilleur maistre que lui … et l’appelloit-on Maistre Maugis.’ On the
other hand Mengot is a genuine early Teutonic name. ‘Et hic liber finitus
est per manus Mengoti Itelbrot, Anno domini mºcccºlxxxv.’ is the colophon
to a manuscript of the _Almagest_ of Ptolemy in the Vatican, Fondo
Palatino, 1365, p. 206ro.

[323] ‘M’hai _scottato_ me, ma ora _scotto_ te.’ This play on words is
the turning-point of the tale.

[324] ‘Scorticata.’ It may be that a play on words is intended here also.

[325] This is no doubt the _benj_ or _bhang_ of the Arabs and Indians
which still furnishes them with a potent narcotic.

[326] Laurentian Library, P. lxxxix, sup. cod. 38, p. 409 (old number
256) verso.

[327] Here and elsewhere in this text are astrological signs which cannot
be reproduced in print.

Transcriber’s Note: By comparison with a copy of Scot’s manuscript
(Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, MS Plut. 89 sup. 038, ff.
409v-413r), the correct astrological signs have here been added.

[328] _Cf._ with the expression in the colophon ‘qui summus inter alios
nominatur magister.’

[329] The manuscript shows a drawing of a magic circle here. It has the
names of demons alternately with those of the cardinal points.

[330] These are names of philosophers probably the same as the ‘vnay
et melchia’ of the _Luminis Luminum_, the rather that the phrase ‘non
convertitur perfecte in lunam’ occurs in both passages. I do not know how
to explain the fact that two paragraphs of the _Liber Dedali_ correspond
so closely with one in the _Liber Luminis_.

[331] There is probably a reference here to the disputes which divided
the different alchemical schools.

[332] The nature of this powder of moles is explained a little further on
in the Liber Dedali, par. 10.

[333] A double chloride of ammonium and mercury, represented by the
formula _2NH₄Cl. HgCl₂, H₂O_.

[334] The use of matters derived from the animal kingdom, carbonised
toads or moles, may be illustrated from the Liber Dyabesi (Ricc. ms.
l. iii. 13, 119, p. 4 recto) which treats of what had been ‘ab omni
Latinitate intemptatum’ viz. the distillation of a white land-tortoise
(v. p. 7 verso). Pliny remarks that goat’s blood sharpens and hardens
iron tools and polishes steel better than any file.

[335] This passage is highly significant, and furnishes a key to the
title of the treatise.

[336] The doctrine of the vitriols is here substantially the same as in
the great work of Ibn Beithar of Malaga.

[337] There is a well-known tract _De aluminibus et salibus_ ascribed to
Rases in the Paris MS. (6514 p. 128); it also occurs in the Speciale MS.

[338] This phrase is found in the _De aluminibus et salibus_ of Rases
(Paris ms. 6514 p. 128) who calls the place ‘Elebla.’ Vincent of Beauvais
ascribes the saying to Geber.

[339] The use of the first person singular here agrees with the notion
that in this part of the _Liber Luminis_ we have the record of the
author’s own experiments. See _ante_, p. 87.


    _Abbreviatio Avicennae_, 53-59, 66, 152, 177, 178.

    Abd-el-Mumen, 112.

    Aboasar, 101, 143.

    Abraxas gems, 132.

    Abrincensis, Henry, 164, 176.

    Achinas, 31.

    Alain de l’Isle, 195.

    Alamout, Castle of, 147.

    Albategni, 100.

    Albertus Magnus, 78, 127, 143, 185.

    Albigenses, 109, 111.

    Albigensian Crusade, 111, 112, 193.

    Alchemy, 65-95.

    ⸺ Disputes concerning, 73, 259.

    Alexander the Great, 32, 33.

    ⸺ Legend of, 187-189.

    Alexandria, 32, 69.

    Alfarabi, 129.

    Al Faquir, 49, 118.

    Alfargan, 101.

    Algebra and Magic, 100, 190-192.

    Al Khowaresmi, 100.

    Al Kindi, 71, 73, 74, 79.

    _Almagest_, 98.

    Al Mamun, 100.

    Al Mansour, 112.

    Almuchabola, 190, 192, 270.

    Alpetrongi, 99-105, 124.

    Alphagirus or Al Faquir, 49, 118.

    Alphonso of Castile, 112, 143.

    Ambassador, Scot as an, 169-175, 218.

    Andrew, Scot’s interpreter, 119.

    Anonymous Florentine, The, 8, 210, 211.

    _Apologie des Grands Hommes_, 222.

    Aquinas, S. Thomas, 204.

    Arabic known to Scot, 24.

    Arabs, their influence, 42-45.

    ‘Archelaus,’ Alchemy of, 82, 83.

    Archimedes, 67.

    Aristotle, 33, 46, 47, 107, 129.

    ⸺ Legend of, 187-189.

    _Ars Aurifera_, 77.

    Ars Notoria, 192, 195, 204.

    Arthurian Legend, The, 195-205.

    _Assephae, Liber_, 54, 235, 237.

    _Astrologia_ of Scot, 141.

    _Astrologorum Dogmata_ of Scot, 142.

    Astrology and Magic, 184, 189.

    Astrology taught by Scot, 141, 142.

    _Astronomia_ of Scot, 26, 27, 28, 40.

    Astronomy of the Arabs, 96-105.

    Avalon, 194-205.

    Avendeath, John, 35, 46, 53, 117-119, 235-239.

    Averroës, vii, 106-110, 140, 185.

    Avicenna, 46, 47, 53, 54, 73, 74, 106, 129, 183, 235-239.

    Azarchel, 101, 103.

    Bacon, Roger, 5, 12, 13, 14, 16, 118, 126, 135, 136, 145, 174, 175,
      183, 185, 192, 195.

    Baconthorpe, John, 15.

    Baldi, Bernardino, vii-ix.

    Balwearie, Scotts of, 9.

    Bartholomew of Messina, 38.

    Benefice sought for Scot, 157-163.

    Benvenuto da Imola, 210.

    Berwick, Bar of, 218.

    _Bibliotheca_ of Manget, 77.

    Birth of Scot, when, 10; where, 7-10.

    Boccaccio, 16, 211, 212.

    Boece, Hector, 222.

    Bologna, 16, 173, 174, 210.

    Bonacci, Leonardo, 148, 149.

    Bonatti, Guido, 6, 124.

    Book of Might, Scot’s, 203, 218, 221.

    Burgh-under-Bowness, 221.

    Byzantine Alchemy, 83.

    Camperius, 153.

    Canterbury, Archbishop of, 158.

    _Capitulum_ of Scot, 142.

    Cashel, Archbishopric, 160, 161.

    Castrensis, Robert, 75, 80.

    Catskin, the bewitched, 225-227.

    _Cento Novelle Antiche_, 197, 214.

    Cervilerium, The, 168.

    Character of Scot, 168, 169.

    _Cheiromantia_, The, 215.

    Circular Letter of Frederick II., 173.

    _Compositiones ad Tingenda_, 67.

    Constantia, Queen, 19.

    ⸺ Empress, 29, 111.

    Cordova, 106, 112-114, 132.

    ⸺ Magic at, 19, 114, 115, 169, 215, 216, 231-234.

    Courçon, Robert de, 110.

    Crates _or_ Democritus, The Alchemy of, 33.

    _Cronica dei Matematici_, viii, ix.

    Crusades, 30, 156, 171, 172.

    Da Buti, Francesco, 211.

    Dante and his Commentators, ix, 16, 138, 206-211.

    D’Avranches, Henry, 164, 176.

    _De Alchimia_ of Scot, 88-94.

    _De Aluminibus_, 262, 264.

    _De Anima_, 125, 236.

    _De Animalibus Avicennae_, 236, 237.

    _De Animalibus ad Caesarem_, 48-53, 117.

    Death of Scot, 175-178.

    _Decamerone_, 212.

    _De Causis_, 132, 237.

    _De Coelo et Mundo_, 123, 235, 237.

    _De Deo Benedicto_, 132.

    Dee, Dr. John, 190.

    _De Generatione_, 126, 237.

    _De Generatione Lapidum_, 236.

    _De Gestis Baldi_, 215, 216.

    _De Mineralibus_, 73, 78, 79.

    Democritus, 72.

    Dempster, 6, 15, 152, 153, 216, 217, 221.

    _De Partibus Animalium_, 59, 60, 134.

    _De Presagiis_ of Scot, 142.

    _De Secretis_, of Bacon, 209.

    Despondency of Scot, 163-170.

    _De Substantia Orbis_, 126, 237.

    _De Tribus Impostoribus_, 130, 131, 186, 203.

    _De Urinis_, 20, 153.

    Dioscorides, 155.

    _Dittamondo_, The, 207, 208.

    Doxopatros, 163.

    Dress of Scot, 138-140.

    Dryburgh School, 11.

    Dunkeld, See of, 161, 162.

    Durham, 8, 11, 12.

    Education of Scot, 11-16.

    Eildon Hills, The, 10, 199, 200, 217.

    Elias, Fra, 90-92.

    El Mohdy, 198, 199.

    Emanuel, Alchemy of, 83-85.

    ⸺ Comnenus, 163.

    Erythræan Sibyl, the, 163.

    Es-Seémiya, 208-209.

    Essenes, 32.

    Étienne de Rheims, 124.

    Etna haunted, 194, 195.

    Eugenio, Admiral, 145, 164.

    Falsehope, Witch of, 219-221.

    Familiar Spirit, Scot’s, 217, 218.

    Fata Morgana, The, 195, 202, 203.

    Fazio degli Uberti, 207.

    Florentine tales of Scot, 222-227.

    _Florian and Florete_, 195.

    Folengo, Teofilo, 215, 218.

    Frederick I., 30, 196.

    ⸺ II., 18, 19, 20, 22, 29, 56, 57, 110-112, 116, 131, 137, 138, 144,
      147, 150, 151, 167, 171-174, 186, 196-198, 212, 214, 218.

    Fresco at Florence, 139, 140, 203.

    Galienus, 83.

    Gazzali, 109.

    Geber, 72, 264.

    Geomancy, 190.

    _Geomantia_, The, 215.

    George of Antioch, 25, 83.

    Gerard of Cremona, 20, 46, 191, 215, 238.

    ⸺ Sabloneta, 115, 125, 126.

    Gervase of Tilbury, 194, 195.

    Giovacchino di Fiora, 164.

    Gipsies, The, 204, 205.

    Glamour, what, 208, 209.

    Grammar Schools of Scotland, 4, 11.

    Grave of Scot, where, 177.

    Greek, Scot’s knowledge of, 24, 38, 133-135.

    Gregory IX., 162, 163, 171, 172.

    Gundisalvus, Dominicus, 46, 53, 117-119, 236, 238.

    Guy, Bishop of Tripoli, 37.

    Hakim, Caliph, 112.

    Heisterbach, Cæsar von, 180, 195.

    Hemp used in Magic, 225.

    Henry of Colonia, 57, 177.

    Hermannus Alemannus, 5, 134.

    Hispalensis, Johannes, 34, 36, 143.

    Hispanus, Johannes, 35, 36.

    _History of Animals_, Aristotle’s, 38, 43-63.

    Ibn-Badja, 108.

    Ibn-Beithar, 95, 155, 260.

    Ibn-el-Bitriq, 34-36.

    Ibn-Moauia, 72-75.

    Ibn-Tofail, 100, 109.

    Images, Magic of, 216.

    Ittisal, The, 108, 109, 132.

    Jacopo della Lana, 211.

    Jacopone da Todi, 164.

    Joachim, Abbot, 197.

    Josephus, 32, 70.

    Kitab Alchefâ, The, 54, 235.

    Kyffhauser, The, 196.

    Landino, 210.

    Legend of Scot, 179-227.

    Leonardo Pisano, 190, 192.

    Lesley, 152.

    _Liber Abbaci_, 148, 149, 190, 192.

    _Liber Dedali_, 82, 84-86, 241-265.

    _Liber duodecim Aquarum_, 84-85.

    _Liber Dyabesi_, 85, 252.

    _Liber Introductorius_, of Scot, 27, 28, 40, 77, 97, 141, 142, 184.

    _Liber Invidiosus_, 85.

    _Liber Lumen Luminum_, 85.

    _Liber Luminis Luminum_, of Scot, 81-89, 240-268.

    _Liber Particularis_, of Scot, 27, 28, 40, 97.

    _Logica_, The, 235.

    Lucken Howe, The, 200.

    Lydgate’s version of the _Secreta_, 38.

    Maddalena’s Tales, 223-227.

    Magic, Arabian, 181-184.

    ⸺ Book ascribed to Scot, 191, 192, 270-274.

    ⸺ not impossible, 179.

    ⸺ power, how obtained, 224, 225.

    ⸺ Schools of, 180, 184.

    ⸺ Scot familiar with, 184.

    ⸺ Tales of, 180.

    Magician, Was Scot a, 184.

    ⸺ Why Scot called a, 185-193.

    Magisterium, what, 90.

    _Magisterium_ of Scot, 79, 80.

    Magna Grecia, 24.

    Maimonides, 132.

    Manuel Comnenus, 83.

    _Mappae Clavicula_, 67, 68.

    Mar Iannos, 72, 75.

    Martorana, Library of the, 25, 83.

    Master, Scot’s title of, 14, 19, 22, 23, 233.

    Mathematician, Michael the, 13, 26.

    Mathematics, Scot’s studies in, 26.

    Maugis, 223.

    _Maugis and Vivien_, 199.

    Mauritius Hispanus, 110.

    Medicine, 66, 149-156.

    Mengot, Master, 223-227.

    Merlin, 164, 199, 223.

    Merlin Coccajo, 215.

    _Metaphysica_, The, 126, 127, 235.

    _Meteora_, The, 36, 71, 73, 79, 126, 237.

    Mirandola, Pico della, 142, 143.

    Mohammed, 199.

    Monk’s Heath, tale of, 200-202.

    Moorish Libraries, 76.

    Morgana, The Fata, 195, 202, 203.

    Naples, A Legend of, 146, 147.

    Nationality of Scot, 5, 7.

    Natural History, The Arabian, 60-63.

    Naudé, x, 222.

    Nectanebus, 187-189, 198.

    Nicolas Peripateticus, 108.

    _Notitia Convinctionis_ of Scot, 142.

    _Nova Ethica_, 133.

    Oakwood Tower, 10, 219.

    Old Man of the Mountain, 147.

    _Optica_ of Ptolemy, 145.

    Oxford, 12, 175.

    Palermo, 23, 25, 29, 30, 40, 41.

    _Paradiso degli Alberti_, 212.

    Paris, 13-15, 17, 174.

    ⸺ Council of, 109.

    ⸺ Tale of, 218, 219.

    Parma, Tale of, 214.

    _Parva Naturalia_, The, 125.

    Pascal compared with Scot, 169.

    Passavanti, Fra Jacopo, 203, 204.

    Patronage, Abuse of, 158.

    Pendasius, 132.

    Peter the Notary, 119.

    ⸺ of Toledo, 119.

    ⸺ the Venerable, 119.

    Philemon _or_ Polemon, 31.

    Philip of Salerno, 37.

    ⸺ of Tripoli, 36, 37, 116, 157.

    Philippus Clericus, 19, 21, 36.

    Philopon, Johannes, 129.

    _Physica_, The, 126, 127.

    _Physionomia_ of Aristotle, 38.

    ⸺ of Scot, 30-40, 51, 52.

    _Picatrix_, The, 183, 187, 216.

    _Pillulae_ of Scot, 154, 155.

    Plague, The, 40, 41, 156.

    Plato, 130.

    Pliny, 252.

    Porphyry, 107.

    Proclus, 132.

    Prophecies of Scot, 163-168.

    ‘Province of Scotland,’ what, 8.

    _Pseudo Boccaccio_, The, 214.

    Ptolemy, 97-99, 101, 103, 143, 145.

    Publication of Scot’s Works, 169-175, 177, 178.

    _Pulvis Dom. Fred._, 154, 155.

    Quadrivium, The, 28.

    Quattrami, Fra Evangelista, 71.

    _Quaestio Curiosa_, The, 77, 78.

    _Quaestiones Nicolai Peripatetici_, 108, 127-132.

    Rases, 32, 65, 73, 74, 79, 80, 152, 262, 264.

    Raymon, Archbishop of Toledo, 45, 46, 53, 117.

    Rossetti, 222.

    Roxburgh School, 11.

    Sacrobosco, Johannes, 11, 145.

    Salerno, Philip of, 19, 20, 21, 23, 37.

    ⸺ School of, 150.

    Salimbene, his tale, 144.

    Saracens, The, 30, 198.

    Satchells, 176, 221, 222.

    Schmutzer, x, 222.

    Scot, Bishop of Dunkeld, 161, 162.

    Scotland dislikes Rome, 159.

    ⸺ in the twelfth century, 1-5.

    ⸺ Magic in, 217.

    Scott, Sir Walter, 222.

    Scottish Grammar Schools, 4, 11.

    Scotus Erigena, 4, 7.

    _Secreta Naturæ_, 82-84, 89.

    _Secreta Secretorum_, 20, 25, 37.

    Seismometer, a, 147.

    Sergius of Resaina, 72.

    Sicily, Arthurian, 194.

    ⸺ Court of, 18, 40, 137.

    ⸺ Languages spoken in, 24, 25, 194.

    Signatures, Doctrine of, 31.

    _Sirr-el-asrar_, The, 32-38.

    Spain, Scot visits, 41.

    _Specchio di Penitenza_, 203, 204.

    _Sphera_, 98, 99.

    ⸺ of Sacrobosco, ix, 145.

    Stephen of Bourbon, 195.

    ⸺ of Provins, 123, 124.

    Suppression of Scot’s _Averroës_, 141, 157.

    Tarasia, Queen of Spain, 35, 36.

    ‘Thales,’ Scot called, 214.

    _Theatrum Chemicum_, 77, 79.

    Themistius, 129.

    Theological studies and style of Scot, 14, 15, 50, 56, 89.

    Therapeutæ, The, 32, 33, 70.

    Thuringia, Bertolph of, 195.

    Tibbun, Samuel, 36.

    Toledo, 63, 64.

    ⸺ Schools of, 35, 45, 46, 54, 106, 115-123.

    ⸺ Astronomy at, 97, 98, 104.

    ⸺ Magic at, 187.

    Transformation a ruling idea, 80, 81.

    Tripoli, Bishop of, 37.

    ⸺ Philip of, 20, 21, 36, 37.

    Troubadours, The, 195, 196.

    Trouvères, The, 195.

    Tweed, The River, 218.

    Urine, Works on the, 20, 153.

    _Vergilius_, Romance of, 146.

    Vincent of Beauvais, 176, 185, 264.

    Vivien, 203.

    Volmar, Master, 178.

    Witchcraft, 182.

    Zosimus, 72.



Page 55, line 11. _For_ ‘mºcºcºx,’ _read_ ‘mºccºx.’

Page 81, note 1. _For_ ‘The term had not been previously used in
theology,’ _read_ ‘The term seems not to have been previously used in
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