In this thesis I have examined a plague treatise in a largely unnoticed manuscript in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, MS 261.
The text is on ff. 9v-19 and belongs to the so-called "Canutus" group of plague tracts. It is called "A litil booke the whiche traytied and reherced many goode thinges necessaries for the infirmite and gretesekenesse called Pestilence".
This particular English text has not been printed before.
There are two other English translations of the "Canutus" treatise:The A-version in BL MS Sloane 404, which exists in a modern edition, and the B-version which is found in six extant manuscripts and all known prints. The B-version was printed in a facsimile edition from 1910, based on a printed text in the John Rylands Library.
Numerous prints of copies of the "Canutus" tract, mainly Latin, have been spread to many European countries.
The "Canutus" plague tract was previously attributed to the clergyman Bengt Knutsson (Benedictus Canuti) who was elected Bishop of Arosia, i.e. Västerås in Sweden in 1461. He died in 1462, before his consecration had taken place.
There are, however, strong indications that the author of the treatise is the Frenchman Johannes Jacobi, who lived in the fourteenth century. He was a renowned professor and chancellor of the University of Montpellier. He probably died in 1384. I have had three main concerns in this thesis:First, to transcribe the copy of the tract in MS Fitzwilliam 261 and determine whether it is an A- or a B-version.
Second, I have tried to shed some light upon the question of authorship of the so-called "Canutus" group of tracts.
Third, to try to explain how the so-called "Canutus" tract came to be regarded as a medical authority.