Answered By: Katie Hutchison
Last Updated: Aug 24, 2016     Views: 307


John Arderne

John Arderne was a 14th century doctor from England who learned surgery during the 100 Years War and had breakthroughs treating anal fistulas.  Although pioneering in some ways, Arderne still believed in some of the rather unscientific medical practices of the Middle Ages. His methods are often obscured by his use of nonsensical names for ointments and plaisters, while many of his recipes for prescriptions are vague - apparently deliberate ploys to prevent his competitors from stealing his ideas. He was prepared to include folk charms and popular remedies in his texts, and believed in practicing astrology in the diagnosis, treatment and prognostication of ailments, as was the norm.

Medical Texts

  • The medieval surgery by Tony Hunt. Presents the complete set of illustrations which accompany a 13-th century Anglo-Norman translation of Roger of Parma's Surgery (c.1180), the first original treatise on surgery to be written in the medieval West. His commentary relates the drawings precisely to the sections of text they illustrate, providing accurate identification of the different medical treatments depicted.
    Available via OhioLink:
  • Tacuinum sanitatis – a medieval health handbook
    Available at Walsh:
  • The Middle English Translation of Guy De Chauliac's Anatomy
    Available via OhioLink:
  • The 'Liber de Diversis Medicinis.' - A collection of medical prescriptions and charms written in a mid-fifteenth century hand; the scribe, a Robert Thornton, has been variously identified with three persons of the name who flourished during that period.
  • Calendar and the Cloister - The Calendar and the Cloister is a scholarly resource devoted to a single medieval manuscript: Oxford, St John's College 17. This splendid volume was created in the first decade of the 12th century at Thorney Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Cambridgeshire. St John's 17 is a compilation of texts, tables, maps and diagrams. It is organized around the central theme of time-reckoning and calendar construction — what in the Middle Ages was called computus.

Secondary sources

For more help, contact the history liaison librarian Katie Hutchison at 330.244.4968 or

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