Secreta mulierum, c. 1493

(fl. late 13th century).
Secreta mulierum et virorum.
[Paris]: André Bocard, [c. 1493-96]. (06977)

Falsely attributed to St. Albertus Magnus (c. 1206–1280), the “Secrets of Women and Men” was compiled from a variety of Western and Arabic treatises on medicine and astrology. Just as the discussion of male physiology reflects the primitive state of medieval medicine, the moralizing and misogynistic “Secrets of Women” is a compendium of thirteenth-century gynecological misinformation.

Bridwell Library’s copy is one of only two recorded. The title page (an increasingly popular feature at the end of the fifteenth century) includes the printer’s woodcut device, in which three shields serve as a heraldic emblem of his allegiances: the uppermost shield, crowned and supported by two angels, displays the arms of France; at the right are the arms of Paris; at the left are the arms of the University of Paris. Their significance is clarified by the French verse in the border, which pledges honor to the king, his court, the city, and its university.

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Printing in France
Secreta mulierum, c. 1493