The Liddel Library

The Liddel Library

About Duncan Liddel

Portrait of Duncan LiddelDuncan Liddel left his library to Marischal College, Aberdeen on his death in 1613. Marischal College was a new institution founded in 1593 and Liddel's bequest, which included monies for bursaries and academic posts, was vital to the university's continuing growth. Although the exact number of books he left to the library is not known, 427 texts have been identified as belonging to Liddel, bound in 198 volumes.

Liddel was born in Aberdeen in 1561. At the age of eighteen, he left to study and teach in northern Europe, eventually settling in the newly-founded Protestant university of Helmstedt, the Academia Julia, where he taught mathematics and medicine. He returned to Scotland in 1607, where he practiced medicine until his death.

Many of the texts are rare and important but what makes Liddel’s books truly unique are his hand written annotations and glosses. Several of the books that he used in his teaching have extensive and complex manuscript marginalia. Others have long passages written on the blank pages that have been bound into some of the volumes. The most famous of Liddel’s manuscript additions is the copy he made of Copernicus' Commentariolus bound into a copy of the second edition of De revolutionibus.

As well as annotations, many of Liddel's books are signed by friends and colleagues, which helps to establish the network of scholars in northern Europe of which Liddel was a part.

This digital exhibition is part of a collaborative project between The Special Collections Centre (SCC) of the Sir Duncan Rice Library, University of Aberdeen, and the Herzog August Bibliothek (HAB), Wolfenbüttel. A complete catalogue of Liddel’s library is available here with links to digital copies of the texts held in the HAB and to details of the Liddel copy held in Aberdeen.

Exhibition Items
De revolutionibus and Commentariolus

Copernicus' De revolutionibus and Commentariolus
De revolutionbus was published in 1543. Copernicus proposed the revolutionary theory that the sun, rather than the earth, was at the centre of the cosmos, overturning the established geocentric theory of Ptolemy.

Ptolemy's Almagest

Ptolemy's Almagest
In many of the books that Liddel owned, there is evidence of personal connections between him and his friends and colleagues.

Erasmus Reinhold (1511-1553). Prutenicae tabulae coelestium motuum.

The Prutenic Tables
Astronomical tables were used to calculate the planetary positions, phases of the moon, eclipses and calendars. Although eagerly awaited, the tables in Copernicus’ De revolutionibus were not very extensive.

Plutarch. Vitae virorum illustrium, autoribus Aemylio Probo…

Gifted Books
This is a copy of Plutarch’s ‘Parallel lives’ containing biographies of 46 famous Greek and Roman philosophers and politicians. The lives are arranged in pairs, comparing the virtues and vices of Greek and Roman lives.

Tycho Brahe (1546-1601). Tychonis Brahe Dani epistolarvm astronomicarvm libri…

Tycho Brahe and Liddel
Duncan Liddel visited Tycho Brahe at his observatory on the island of Hven in Denmark in 1587 and again in 1588 having first met the famous astronomer at Rostock.

MSM 71

A catalogue of the Liddel Library
There is no catalogue of all of the books that were in Liddel’s library. The first catalogue to properly list the whole of Marischal College library is a manuscript which dates from 1659 to 1713.

Christof Wirsung. Ein new Artzney Buch darinn fast alle Glieder desz menschlichen Leibs...

Liddel's annotations
Many of the books that were owned by Duncan Liddel have manuscript notes and annotations. Nearly all of Liddel’s annotations are in Latin, even when the text is not.

The 'Celebration Book'

The 'Celebration Book'
This little book contains four short works, three of them published in 1596 when Liddel gained his medical degree. As part of the fulfilment for this degree, he was required to publicly defend a list of theses which would later be issued in printed form.

Ars medica

Evolution of the Ars medica and De febribus
Over 80 of the medical works in the Liddel Library are academic theses defended by students, with Liddel acting as praeses. Some of these formed the basis of Liddel’s published medical works, the Ars medica and De febribus.

Botany

Botany, Pharmacopoeias and Herbals
Around 30 of Liddel’s books are concerned with the identification of plants and herbs, and their use in the manufacture of medicines. Liddel not only taught medicine but was a practising physician himself.

Paracelsus book

Medicine: Galen and Paracelsus
Liddel studied and practised medicine at a time when the relevance of the traditional medical texts was the subject of debate. Traditionalists followed the teachings of the second-century physician Galen whilst the more revolutionary mediciners used the controversial works of the sixteenth-century alchemical doctor, Paracelsus.

Petrus Ramus book

Petrus Ramus and mathematics
Petrus Ramus (1515-1572) was an outspoken, revolutionary teacher and thinker. He viewed mathematics as a subject essential to all learning, and revolutionised the teaching of mathematics at the University of Paris where he lectured.

David Chytraeus book

The Chronologia of David Chytraeus
David Chytraeus (1530-1600) was a Lutheran professor of theology at Rostock. His Chronologia was a charted history of events since creation synchronising classical and biblical events. Of particular interest was the debate concerning the actual date of the birth of Christ.

Bookbindings

Bookbindings in the Liddel library
The majority of books in the Liddel collection are still in their original, contemporary bindings. Limp vellum and vellum over pasteboards are the main coverings found in the bindings of books in the Liddel collection.

References & Shelfmarks

References and shelfmarks of exhibition items

Nicolaus Copernicus, (1473-1543)

Copernicus' De revolutionibus and Commentariolus
Nicolaus Copernicus. De revolutionibus orbium caelestium. Basileae : Ex officina Henricpetrina., Anno M.D.LXVI, mense Septembri. [1566].
Interleaved with ms. copy of Copernicus’ Commentariolusin the hand of Duncan Liddel.

Shelfmark: pi f521 Cop 2²

Ptolemy's Almagest
Ptolemy. Claudii Ptolmaei Almagestum seu magnae constructionis mathematicae opus plane divinum.
In urbe Veneta : In officina Luceantonii Iunta, 1528

Shelfmark: pi f5131 Euc 1

Erasmus Reinhold (1511-1553). Prutenicae tabulae coelestium motuum.

The Prutenic Tables
Erasmus Reinhold. Prutenicae tabulae coelestium motuum. Tubingae : Per Ulricum Morhardum, Anno M. D. LI. [1551]

Shelfmark: pi 524 Rei p

Plutarch. Vitae virorum illustrium, autoribus Aemylio Probo…

Gifted Books
Plutarch. Vitae virorum illustrium, autoribus Aemylio Probo… Basileae : Per Henricum Petri., [1563]

Shelfmark: pi f920 Vit

Tycho Brahe (1546-1601). Tychonis Brahe Dani epistolarvm astronomicarvm libri…

Tycho Brahe and Liddel
Tycho Brahe. Tychonis Brahe Dani epistolarvm astronomicarvm libri : Quorum primvs hic illvstriss…ranibvrgi : [Ex officinâ Typographicâ Authoris.], Anno M D XC VI. [1596].

Shelfmark: pi 5204 Bra 1

MSM 71

A catalogue of the Liddel Library
Catalogue of Marischal College Library 1659-1713.

Shelfmark : MSM 71

Christof Wirsung. Ein new Artzney Buch darinn fast alle Glieder desz menschlichen Leibs...

Liddel's annotations
Christof Wirsung. Ein new Artzney Buch darinn fast alle Glieder desz menschlichen Leibs, sampt ihren Kranckheiten vnd Gebrechen vnd wie man dieselbigen curieren soll. Newstadt an der Hardt : Durch Mattheum Harrnisch, 1582.

Shelfmark: pi f616 Wir

The 'Celebration Book'
1. Themata de melancholia quae Praeside magnifico et clariss. viro, Francisco Parcovio Philosophiae & Medicinae Doctore, & in illustri Iulia facultatis Medicae professore & Decano, ac pro tempore Academiae vicerectore. Pro licentia consequendi gradum Doctoris in Medicina, publicè examinanda proposuit, M. Duncanus Liddelius Scotus superiorum Mathematum ibidem professor. Fiet disputatio 23. Septemb. Helmstedt: Lucius, 1596.

2. Disputatio de philosophia eiusque instrumentis. Proposita in illustri Academia Iulia à M. Duncano Liddelio Mathematum Professore: quam publicè defendet Cornelius Martinus Antuerpius. Erit disputatio die 24. Ianuarij. Helmstedt: Lucius, 1592.

3. Cornelis Martini. Clarissimo viro Duncano Liddelio Scoto artium et philosophiae M. in incluta Iulia professori mathematum primario amico meo veteri de summo in medicina gratulabar. Helmstedt: Lucius, 1596.

4. Viro clarissimo & excellentissimo dn. Duncano Liddelio Scoto philosophiae et medicinae doctori & superiorum mathematum preofessori, gratulantur collegae et familiares. Helmstedt: Lucius, 1596.

Shelfmark: pi 61689 Lid t

Evolution of the Ars medica and De febribus
1. Disputatio de febribus secunda… sub praesidio Duncani Liddelii Scoti, … pro viribus tueri conabitur Ioannes Loiecius Oppol. Siles. Med. stud. Ad 29 Novembris. Helmstedt: Lucius., 1601.
Shelfmark: pi 6102 Lid di

2. Disputationibus de febribus (Helmstedt: Lucius., 1601)
Shelfmark: SB 6102 Lid d

3. Duncan Liddel. De febribus libri tres. Hamburg : Froben, 1610.
Shelfmark: SB 61692 Lid d 1²

Botany, Pharmacopoeias and Herbals
1. Antoine Du Pinet (16th cent.) Historia plantarvm. Earum imagines, nomenclaturae qualitates, & natale solum... Lyon: Gabriel Cotier, 1561
Shelfmark: pi 58 Du P 1

2. Christopher Plantin (ca. 1520-1589). Icones stirpium, seu plantarum tam exoticarum quam indigenarum. Antverpiae : Ex officina Plantiniana, 1591
Shelfmark: pi 58 Ico

 

 

Medicine: Galen and Paracelsus
1. Paracelsus (1493-1541) Erster [-Zehender] Theil der Bücher und Schrifften des Edlen, hochgelehrten unnd bewehrten Philosophi unnd Medici, Philippi Theophrasti Bombast von Hohenheim, Paracelsus genannt. Franckfort am Meyn : Bey Joh. Wechsels Erben, Anno M. DC. III. [i.e. 1603].
Shelfmark: SB 1895 Par

2. Petrus Severinus (1542-1602). Idea medicinae philosophicae, fundamenta continens totius doctrinæ Paracelsicae, Hippocraticae, & Galenicae. Basileae, : Ex officina Sixti Henricpetri.,Anno M.D. LXXI. [1571]
Shelfmark: pi 5401 Bon

3. Galen. De sanitate tuenda. Basileae, : Per Balthasarem Lasium, Anno M. D. XXXVIII [1538-1539].
[With: ms. copy of Galen’s Commentary on Hippocrates’ Aphorisms in Liddel’s hand.]
Shelfmark: pi 8889:61 Gal sa

Petrus Ramus and mathematics
Petrus Ramus (1515-1572). P. Rami scholarum mathematicarum libri unus et triginta.Basileae, : Per Eusebium Episcopium & Nicolai Fratris haeredes., Anno M. D. LXIX. [1569]

Shelfmark: pi 5102 LaR S 1

The Chronologia of David Chytraeus
Chytraeus, David, 1531-1600. Davidis Chytraei Chronologia Historiae Herodoti et Thvcydidis. Helmaestadii. [Helmstedt] : Ex officia Typographica Iacobi Lucij., Ann M. D. XCIII [1593].

Shelfmark: pi 888104 Chy

Bookbindings in the Liddel library
Volume of 16th century scientific tracts 1573-1595.
Shelfmark: pi 52089 a

Tycho Brahe. Tychonis Brahe Dani epistolarvm astronomicarvm libri : Quorum primvs hic illvstriss…ranibvrgi : [Ex officinâ Typographicâ Authoris.], Anno M D XC VI. [1596].
Shelfmark: pi 5204 Bra 1

Duncan Liddel. Volume of 11 medical theses. 1598-1603.
Shelfmark: pi 6102 Lid di

Duncan Liddel. Volume of 15 medical theses. 1597-1600.
Shelfmark: pi 6102 Lid dis