Nicolò de Portis, Medical manuscript and recipe book

  • A. 1470 circa, paper; mm 290 × 205; ff. 73
  • Udine, ‘Joppi’ City Library, ‘Fondo Joppi’, 61

A kind of hodgepodge book put together by Nicolò de Portis from Cividale usefully witnesses the spread of books and knowledge of medical matters.

The book is a ‘collage’ of excerpts of a various provenance, but mainly on medical matters, collected by members of the family de Portis of Cividale del Friuli. As a matter of fact the following subscription can be read on f. 1r: «Ego Nicolaus filius ser Zenonis de Portis scripsi hunc librum in M°IIII°XLI° de mense Augusti»; and on f. 58r there is a drawing of the family’s coat of arms. Excerpts are taken from a large number of authors, from the medicine fathers, Galen, Avicenna, Razi, Isaac Judaeus, in the Latin translation by Constantinus Africanus, to Pietro de Argellata and Bartolomeo da Montagnana. The excerpts, which also include historical notes and family memories, as well as nursery rhymes and prayers, are not organized according to a pre-established design, but they can rather be considered as the result of subsequent annotations written all life long: a kind of hodgepodge book, therefore, or a ‘family book’, as it has been defined, that collects texts held as relevant for various reasons, events, memories. It is also to be noted that from the very beginning, and in the whole book, the author is engaged in urologic problems with a specific study on urine typologies and urination-favouring recipes, for both his father and he himself, according to his explicit statement, suffered from lithiasis, whether from kidney or vesical calculi is not to be known.

 Il f. 58, on the lower border the family de Portis’ coat of arms

Il f. 58, on the lower border the family de Portis’ coat of arms

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