BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
Beinecke MS 558
England, s. XVImed
Astrological and other occult or scientific treatises, in English
Because of the multitude of texts in this manuscript only the headings of the chapters are given
in the present description.
f. 1r The saienges of Almansor in Propositionibus. How to fynde out pars fortuna.
ff. 1v-2r Judgment off sicknes out of Amicus medicorum.
f. 2r Off the tokens of lyfe and death.
f. 2v To know the thefe that hath stolen.
ff. 2v-3r To knowe how thou shalt spede in thy journey.
f. 3v The natures off planettes. The judgment off 8 windes.
f. 4r Note that the full sea is every 12 houres and the ebbe is every 12 houres ... To knowe
what [moon] maketh full sea at many portes whose names be as followith. [Table of high tide in
the English and some French ports. With the signature of Thomas Buttler of Harlow in Essex].
f. 4v Off eclipses. Significatyon off commettes. ... as sayth Leonard Digges. Of wether after
f. 5r Judgment of wether by Digges. How wether is knowen after the chaunge of [moon] by
the pryme dayes. ... And yet all shal be done that God wyll have done, sayth Buttler. ff. 5v-
f. 6v Thinges to be observid by the course of [moon]. ... Thus saieth Humfrey Loyde. Off
f. 7r Stoflers judgement upon the 28 mansions of the mone.
f. 7v For beginning of worke the mone aspecting the planettes.
f. 8r-v Judgement of mutacion of the ayre betwixt planet and planet.
ff. 9r-14v Judgement of Massahala and Hala Abenragell. To go to finde a man at home. For
the querente thought. Whether suspection be true or no. For opteining of substannce. For ones
brother howe he doth. To knowe off treasure. Whether a woman be with child or no. A woman
with child of one or two. A woman with child of man or woman. Iff a messenger comith. What a
messenger bringith. Yff gestes bidden shall come. Iff a prisoner shal be delyvered. Iff mariage
shal be or not. Whether a yong woman be a maid or no. How many husbandes. A woman have a
child or not. Yff a woman be true to her husband. For beaste strayed away, etc. Off the thefe
and of theft [quotes Dorothius]. Whether a thing stolen be one or mo. Whether the thefe be a
straunger or no. Iff a man be dead or alyve. If a sick man shal be healid. A woman gone from
here husband. Off removing from place to place. Off any house or heritage. ... And thus endith
the judgement of astronomy taken out of Haly Abenragell and Zahel De interrogationibus with
other notable auctours. Finis.
f. 15r: To knowe the forme of a house both without and within acording to the sygnificatyon of
the planettes by moving of a questyon. For to finde a thing hidden or lost in towne or filde.
ff. 15v-16r blank
f. 16v-20r Zahell saieth: Iff thou findest that the theft be in the house and thou woldest
knowe the place that yt is in. The signifycatyon off the 12 signes of the place of the thefte.
Whether the thefe be off the house or no. Iff the thing be in the house. Iff the thing be out off
the house. Iff a thefe or murderer shal be found. If thou wylt knowe what the theft ys that is
taken or stolen awaye. Judgment upon the 12 houses.
f. 20v Here folowith the usage off the old philosophers, whych day and houre in the weke ys
best to labour dyvers causes in. To knowe when a person commith. Whether newes be true or
f. 21r [diagram]. This figure above is off the aspectes, shewing how signes and planettes aspect
one to another in the Zodiack.
f. 21v [diagram]. The names and catherectes off signes and planettes.
f. 22r The natures off the twelve houses.
ff. 22v-41v [Manual of the astrolabe:] The names and natures off fixed starres in the
astrolaby... [f. 41r:] The declaratyon off the astrolaby. The Zodiack is in compas 360 greedes ...
The distaunce off realmes from the pole. The distaunce off townes in Englond from the pole.
What londes planettes governe. The governance of planetes in man. To knowe the love and
hatred of planetes one to another [etc.].
f. 42r-v [Horoscopes of Thomas Stalon, born 1500; Jhon Buttler, born 1524; Thomas
Buttler, born 1528; and Ales Buttler, born 1532]. f. 43r blank
f. 43v-45r [Mathematical problems, tricks??, etc., partly on an astrological basis:] Of 3
women [who sold apples]. Off a ship [transporting 15 Christians and 15 Saracens]. Off an hermet
[who came to St. Peter, St. Paul and St. Francis]. To lerne to multiply. Off hering [100 herrings
bought by a man]. Off otes [calculation of the price]. To knowe how many he hath bought. To
knowe what nomber one thinketh. To cast with dyce. With money or counters. Counters or
money. To knowe how many. For the bringing in of a thing in ones hand. To know what it is a
clock by fetching in of a thing. For to knowe who hath 3 thinges. Which syde of a grote lyeth
upward. What ende of a dager or knife is upward. Of 12 persons. Of 20 pilgrymes. A chauntry.
ff. 44r and 45v blank
f. 46r Judgement by the lord of the houre. f. 46v blank
f. 47r The ways from town to town on to London and the destawnce?? [Table in four
ff. 47v-48r The mape off Ynglonnd. [The map, with the East at the top, is inscribed with
countless place-names and the name of its maker "Thomas Buttlar" is written on a scroll at the
bottom. In the sea a sailing-ship trailing a boat].
ff. 48v-49r The kronykel of Yngland made short [ends 1543]. The rayn of all the kyngs
[chronology of the English Kings up to Edward VI (1547)]. ff. 49v-50r blank
ff. 50v-62r [Astrological and computistical texts and tables. On f. 51r table for the years
1485-1604. At the bottom of f. 61r: "Thomas Butlar"].
ff. 62v-63r Here folowith Alexanders distinctions and judgment. [Prognostications of life
and death]. Here endeth Salomons dystynctyons and after foloweth Pytagoras speares, but ther
judgmente be not here [note in another hand; see f. 68r] [f. 63r diagram:] Pitagoras sphere.
f. 63v [Notes on the Butler family 1500-1547].
ff. 64r-65r [Tables of measures, etc.].
f. 66r-v [additional astronomical problems and a horoscope (s. XVII)].
f. 67r-v Pro noticia volvelle sive lunarii est sciendum. Fyrst ye most take the grettest circle
ff. 68r-74r [Sphaera vitae et mortis (continuation of f. 62v) and other number prognoses
based on names, followed by lists of first names ("Nomina pro amore et vita")].
f. 74v Addition: year prognostications based on the Sunday-Letters.
ff. 75r-76r Off predestination [prognostications of health, career, marriage, psychology etc.].
ff. 76v-77r Faces off planettes in signes.
ff. 77v-78v Membres, complexions and sicknesses of pro... Membres of planetes in sygnes.
Dolars or sicknes [moon] in signes.
f. 79r For beginning off workes [moon] being in signes.
f. 79v-80r The governaunce, diseases off planettes.
f. 80v The names and natures off fyxed sterres. The houses, exaltacyons, joies and falles of
planetes. A table to finde the dignities of planetes in the 12 signes.
ff. 81r-82v The names and natures off herbes as Avycen and other saith in the Grete Herball
ff. 83r-84r To chose good tymes for to give medicins. Here folowith the natures and vertues
off herbes and spic[e]s to comfort and to purge.
f. 84r The saienges off Humfrey Loyde [on medicines].
f. 84v The judgement off Humfrey Loyde for wether.
f. 85r [Computistical data for the years 1540-1570].
f. 85v The 7 sciences.
ff. 86r-89 [Numerical tables].
Parchment and paper, ff. II (paper) + 89 + III (paper), various sizes, max. 205 x 150 mm.
Parchment are ff. 1, 7-14, 20-68, 71-72, 79-89.
Collation impossible due to the tight binding.
Apart from the additions and the tables on ff. 85r ff. written by 5 hands: A (ff. 1r-46v and 75r-
84v) writes a bold Gothica Cursiva Formata (Secretary), with headings in Gothica Textualis; B
(ff. 47r-62r and 63v-65v): Gothica Cursiva Currens (Secretary), perhaps Butler's hand; C (f. 67r-
v): Gothica Cursiva Antiquior Libraria (Anglicana); D (ff. 68r-72v line 2): Gothica Cursiva
Libraria (Secretary); E (ff. 72v line 3-74r): Gothica Cursiva Formata (Secretary).
Principal pen drawings: f. 15r: compass-card; f. 21r: circular diagram of the mutual aspects of the
Signs of the Zodiac and the Planets; f. 21v: square diagram of the 12 Houses; f. 23r: Astrolabe; f.
23v: Astrolabe with volvelles; f. 40r: circular diagram; f. 40v: Astrolabe with volvelles and animal
and human figures; ff. 47v-48r: map of England; f. 63r: Sphere of Pythagoras; ff. 68r-71r:
circular prognosticational diagrams.
Binding s. XIX: brown leather over cardboard, rebacked. The covers decorated with gilt frames
and five gilt stars (4 in the corners and one in the center); spine gilt with inscription
"ASTROLOG.". Red edges. Marbled endleaves.
The principal author or collector of the present manuscript is Thomas Butler from Harlow in
Essex, born in 1528 (see f. 42v). His name appears on ff. 4r, 5v, 47v-48r, 61r and he gives the
horoscopes of himself and several members of his family (f. 42r-v). Other contemporary scientists
quoted are Johann Stoeffler (1452-1531, f. 7r), Humphrey Llwyd ("Loyde", 1527-1568, ff. 4v,
6v, 84r-v) and Leonard Digges (c. 1515-c. 1559, ff. 4v, 5r). See about Stoeffler Deutsche
Biographische Enzyklopaedie v. 9 (1998), p. 543; about Llwyd Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography v. 34 (2004), pp. 174-176; about Digges Oxford Dictionary of National Biography v.
16 (2004), pp. 169-170. Earlier sources quoted are Almansor (f. 1r), the Amicus medicorum
written by the French Franciscan Jean Ganivet in 1431 at the request of the Brussels physician
Henry Amicus (f. 1v), Messahala, Haly Abenragel (f. 9r), Zael (f. 14v, 16v), Avicenna (f. 81r).
On Ganivet see Thorndike, History v. 4 (1934), pp. 134-139.
Engraved ex-libris of J. Brand A.M., F.S.A., of Lincoln College, Oxford (s. XIX). Collection of
Henry C. Taylor. Bequest of Henry C. Taylor, 1971.
Bibliography: Taylor Collection, no. 3.