First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

William (Guilielmus) the holy man, once Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitiers, was illustrious in the Year of the Lord 1157, in Gaul, for his virtue and miracles. From youth he had been taught by the Blessed Bernard. Realizing the presence of death, and scorning the pomp of the world, he went into a vast wilderness; and there he lived as a full-fledged servant of Christ, under the rule of Saint Augustine. Having entered upon a spiritual life, he now lived in the depths of humility, as once upon a time he had lived in the heights of honor. And as he had fought against the enemy, clad in armor, so now, in penance, he confined his naked body in the armor of God by constant prayer, watching, and fasting. For this reason not only laymen, but also a number of brothers of this and other orders, came to him as to a father and as the founder of this order. But when this holy man saw that the Cistercian order had increased much in a short time, while his own had declined and become so barren that it gave but little evidence of sanctity, he turned his mind to the resuscitation of his own order. By a remarkable increase in its spiritual membership, he brought the order into such ascendancy that he became known as its founder, and the monks were called Williamites (Guilielmite) up to the time of Pope Innocent the Fourth, when it was transferred from the wilderness to the city and its name changed by the same pope and his successors to the Hermits of Saint Augustine. This William, with the consent of popes Anastasius and Adrian, began to live in the city; and he built the first monastery in Paris, under the title of the Mendicants.[In the time of Innocent IV, all the hermits solitaries and small separate confraternities, who had lived under no recognized discipline, were registered and incorporated by a decree of the Church, and reduced under one rule, called the rule of St. Augustine, with some more strict clauses introduced, fitting the new ideas of a monastic life. Innocent IV died before he had completed his reform, but Alexander IV carried out his purpose. At length these scattered members were brought into submission, and the whole united into one great religious body (1284) under the name of Eremiti or Ermitani Agostini, hermits or friars of St. Augustine; in English, Austin-Friars. Nothing is known of the birth of William, the founder of this order, nor of his early life, on which he preserved an impenetrable secrecy. Several writers have confused this William of Maleval with William of Mariemont, and even with William I, Duke of Aquitaine, and William IX, Duke of Guienne. It seems that in the year 1153 there appeared in Tuscany a man who sought to conceal himself from his fellow men. The islet of Lupocavio, in the district of Pisa, seemed to answer his desire. There he constructed a small habitation, and his edifying example attracted a number of persons to him. They undertook to follow his rule of life, and their undisciplined manners obliged him to withdraw from his solitude to Monte Prunio, where he erected a hut in order to be alone with his God. But he was soon joined by idle vagrants, under pretense of a religious life. Their hypocrisy drove him again from his resting place, or the miscreants ejected him because they could not bear his sanctity. William returned to the island of Lupocavio, but not finding his former associates, he fixed his habitation in a desert valley, called at that time the “stable of Rhodes,” but since known as “the bad valley” (Maleval). It was situated in the territory of Sienna, about a league from Castigline, Pascara, and Buriano. It was in 1155 that he hid himself in this solitude, but in the beginning of 1156, he received a discipline, named Albert, who wrote the account of the close of his life. William practiced surprising austerities; thrice in the week he took only very little bread, and wine much diluted; on the other days he took bread, and herbs, and water. He wore sackcloth next his skin, and slept on the bare ground. He was endowed with a gift of prophecy. He died in the arms of Albert after having received the last sacraments from a priest of Castigline, who had been warned of the illness of the hermit. William was buried in his little garden. After his death, his disciples preserved the spirit of penitence and mortification with which he had inspired them during his life, and they endeavored to follow his maxims as their rule. And thus originated the order of Williamites (Guillemites), which rapidly spread from Italy, through France, the Low Countries, and Germany. From 1256, they had a monastery at Montrouge, near Paris, and were called White Mantles (Blancs-Manteux) from the great white mantles which they wore. They ceased to exist long before the French Revolution.]

Three Suns, beside one another, were seen in the West at this time, on the Nones of September. The middle one went to rest two hours after the other two had disappeared. In the same manner three moons appeared in the following year. Upon the central one a cross appeared. This phenomenon was interpreted by some as envisioning the dissension of the cardinals in the election of a pope, and of the electors in the election of an emperor. For at this time four popes were elected against Pope Alexander (as previously stated). This was a serious schism, which endured for 17 years.[The Latin text for the concluding phrase of this sentence is: quod scisma xx. annis. xvii. duravit, which translates as ‘which schism endured for 20 years 17.’] At this time also occurred such earthquakes, particularly in Syria and Sicily, that land, people and cities were destroyed.

John (Iohannes), son of Mesua, a physician of royal lineage, and a native of Damascus, was highly renowned at this time for his treatment and cure of diseases and plagues. In virtue of his knowledge of the art of medicine, he wrote several useful books on all kinds of medicines and their nature, properties, and application. He also began a book on the treatment and cure of illness, beginning with the head; but he died when he reached the heart.[John, son of Mesua, is supposed to have been a Jacobite Christian from Maradin on the Euphrates, who lived in the 10th century, according to Leo Africanus. As, however, none of his writings have ever been found in their original language and no Arabian bibliographer or biographer knows him, the personality of this author, in the course of time, became more and more improbable. “It is supposed that under the name of Messua is masquerading a Latin author of the twelfth century who hoped thus to obtain more ready recognition of his works.” (Neuburger-Playfair I). According to Sudhoff, the author lived in the beginning of the 13th century in the Upper Italy. At any rate, these works soon gained an authoritative importance as the pharmacological quintessence of Arabistic therapeutics, and the esteem in which they were held is shown by the fact that hey belonged to the first medical books to be printed (Venice, 1471). John’s works consist of three books. The first, , also called , or , deals with the choice of purgatives according to their properties and actions, and with the correction of the same. They are divided into laxative, mild and drastic. The second book, the , or apothecary’s manual (Antidotarium), was the most popular compendium of drugs in medieval Europe, and was used everywhere in their preparation. The work stands as the canon of the apothecary’s art in the west, and throughout the Middle Ages was held in highest esteem. The third book, the , is a manual of special therapeutics. It remained incomplete, containing only the diseases of the head and chest, breaking off with the treatment of the heart diseases.]

John, the bishop of Chartres, a confidant of the Blessed Thomas, bishop of Canterbury, and celebrated for his scriptural wisdom, learning and versatility, was held in high esteem and honor at this time. He wrote several beautiful manuscripts. Among others, he very accurately wrote a life of the Blessed Thomas himself.[]


Three Moons, which appeared at the same time, the central one inscribed with a cross. A new woodcut.


John Mesue, a physician, is portrayed as examining a specimen in a bottle.