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Simon Forman and his protégé Richard Napier were infamous in early 17th-century England for their apparent ability to diagnose and even cure all kinds of ailments – from bewitchment to the "bloody flux" – by consulting the planets and stars.
However, for historians who tried to study the notes of 80,000 cases these astrologer-physicians left behind, another notch was added to their notoriety: the perennial doctor's trait of illegible handwriting.
End - Decade - Spent - History - Sets
Now, to mark the end of a decade spent digitising one of history's largest surviving sets of medical records, a team of Cambridge researchers have picked their 500 favourite cases and rendered them readable – if not entirely comprehensible – for modern audiences.
Meet John Wilkingson, hair lost to the "French disease" and "thrust with a rapier in his privy parts," or Joan Broadbrok, who "thinks her children to be rats & mice," and Edward Cleaver, whose ill thoughts ("kisse myne arse") may stem from the witchery of a puppy-suckling neighbour.
Animals - Visitations - Dreams - Marriages - Accounts
Ranging from lost animals to angelic visitations, bad dreams to bad marriages, and accounts of delirium, depression, and lovesickness, the transcribed cases are a trap door into the complete casebooks: an arcane archive of magic and medicine that has puzzled and fascinated scholars of history and the occult for centuries.
The transcriptions will be online today: casebooks.wordpress.com/ . The complete casebooks edition can be found at: www.casebooks.lib.cam.ac.uk , which houses digitisations of all 80,000 cases worth of original notes in the hand of both astrologers. After centuries contained within 66 calf-bound volumes in Oxford's Bodleian Library, these extraordinary archives can now be searched and browsed online by anyone.
Transcriptions - Tip - Thousands - Pages - Scrawl
"Our transcriptions are the very tip of the iceberg: thousands of pages of cryptic scrawl full of astral symbols, recipes for strange elixirs, and details from the lives of lords and cooksmaids suffering with everything from dog...
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