Bernardus de Gordonio
Bernardus de Gordonio (ca. 1258–ca. 1320).
Escalona, Spain, 11 January 1466.
Decorated manuscript on paper. (BRMS 22)
Bernardus de Gordonio completed the Lilium medicinae in 1303–1305 following twenty years of teaching medicine at the University of Montpellier in France. He intended to gather the essential “flowers” of medical knowledge into a handbook for young doctors, and the Lilium served this instructional purpose in Europe for more than three centuries. Comprising ancient and medieval sources as well as important original observations, the work was translated into French, German, Hebrew, Provençal, Spanish, and Irish. It was printed in dozens of editions in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The text is remarkable evidence of the period of cultural coexistence in Spain before the expulsion of the Jews in 1492. Compiled from European and Arabic sources and brought to Spain by Christian doctors, it was translated into Hebrew for the first time by Moses ben Samuel at Seville circa 1360. The present manuscript was transcribed by Moses ben Shmaya de Castro, a Jewish doctor of Escalona, in 1466. The volume also represents a wondrous survival from the widespread destruction of Hebrew books following the expulsion.