The Liber Uricrisiarum survives in a remarkable number of manuscripts, many of them complete or nearly complete. A large majority of the full-text manuscripts are one-person productions; copies on paper and copies on parchment occur in roughly similar numbers, as well as a few copies on mixed paper and parchment.

Many of the manuscripts are professional productions, with clear and handsome scripts, navigational aids in the text and the margins, and occasional tables of contents or indexes. Others appear to have been written by individuals for their own use. Elaborate decoration is relatively rare, though a number of the manuscripts use dropped or decorated capitals and rubrication as navigational aids. Most of the copies include several diagrams in books 1 and 2.

Professor E. Ruth Harvey has identified two principal versions of the Liber Uricrisiarum, distinguished in part by the division of their content into relatively few longer chapters vs. many shorter chapters, along with three intermediate versions (see her chapter in Henry Daniel and the Rise of Middle English Medical Writing, ed. Star, 87-107). Aside from the chapter divisions, language and style in the two principal versions and their substages are consistent, and the second version appears to be Daniel’s own revision to his original text, possibly made in order to facilitate finding cross-referenced material within the treatise. We have labelled the long-chapter textual type the “alpha version” and the short-chapter type the “beta version.”

These two broad categories are additionally complicated by further large-scale and probably authorial variation, related partly to at least two or three more phases of revision: one or two within the alpha version (yielding an earlier, incomplete “proto-alpha” version, a possible first revision, and the final complete alpha version); and one within the beta version (the complete beta version and an incomplete, “beta star” (beta*) revision of the latter part of that text).

Besides these differences, some scribes chose to graft different textual types onto each other, yielding texts that begin as one type and then change allegiances to a different type later in the manuscript.  These changes of allegiance usually occur at one of two different points in the Liber Uricrisiarum (in books 2.6 and 2.12), and are sometimes but not always accompanied by a change in the chapter structure and numbering.  In one or two manuscripts, there may be even more frequent alternation of textual allegiances, perhaps reflecting copying from multiple exemplars.

Page header image: Oxford, Bodleian Library, e Musaeo MS 187, f. 75r.