Ducal Geomancies

Roland Scriptoris of Lisbon graduated in medicine from Paris University in 1424. After serving as a master and dean of the faculty for the next fifteen years, he became physician to John, Duke of Bedford. Whilst so employed he wrote one of the clearest early manuscript geomancies now in the British Museum.28 It is neatly written in a large hand with illuminated initials, and was probably executed some time in the 1430s. The treatise begins with details of the sixteen geomantic figures and their relationship with the seven planets and twelve signs. The rules for deriving the figures are then laid out before the tables of reference and sample answers, to various questions, categorized under the twelve Houses of Heaven, each House covering from six to forty different categories of question. Apparently Roland was attempting a fairly complete coverage of the divinatory arts, as he also wrote treatises on physiognomy, chiromancy and astrology for the Duke.

Not only Bedford, but also Humphrey Duke of Gloucester had a geomancy drawn up for his use. It now resides in the British Library as part of one of the Arundel manuscripts,29 and is entitled Tabulae Humfridi Ducis Glowcestriae in judiciis artis geomansie being bound with another geomancy, Liber scientie arienalis [?] de judiciis geomansie ab Alpharino filio Abrahe Judeo editus, a translation from the Arabic of Alphatin^.* Humphrey, who

* Critical notes on this manuscript may be found in Tanner Bibl. Brit. Hib. and the Monthly Notes of the Royal Astronomical Society, 80(1920).


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