Made in the mid-15th century in what is presently the region between southern Germany and France, the Medical and Astrological Almanac offers deep insight into the conceptual world of the Middle Ages. Its sumptuously decorated folios, filled with 12 medallions and 23 miniatures, include everything from health and nutrition advice to weather forecasts and monthly rules. Colorful book decorations and lively figures adorn each month of the manuscript, which served at the same time as a calendar, medical advisor, astrological guide, and weather forecast.
The manuscript was penned in German Swiss in the region between the cities of Basel and Strasbourg. Details of the binding suggest that it was once part of a much larger codex.
Everyday Advice Offered by the Stars
According to medieval culture, human well-being and character were shaped by cosmic forces — information about the seasons, stars’ and moon’s position, and weather phenomena were therefore essential to treat or prevent illnesses. The Medical and Astrological Almanac offered complex scholarly knowledge for everyday use. For instance, goat’s milk should be drunk every morning together with fresh herbs in May.
It has not yet been possible to ascertain the manuscript’s exact place of origin. While some of the saints’ festivals in the calendar point to the diocese of Strasbourg, the style of painting is mostly that of the Upper Rhine region (Freiburg/Colmar).
The images of the monthly medallions and signs of the zodiac have long been associated with the "Master B", who also worked as an illustrator for the famous Diebold Laubers workshop in northern Alsace. However, recent studies have rejected this view.
The fine gold details and precious opaque colors suggest the codex once performed a representative function. The manuscript, which belonged to David McCandless McKell (1881-1962), is currently preserved in Strasbourg's National University Library.