The attachment of Michael Scot to his master, the Emperor Frederick
II., may be conceived as acting in a double sense to procure him his
mysterious fame. With the Guelfs, who bitterly opposed that great monarch
and his followers, it of course became a reason for believing him to
have practised the blackest of arts. With the Ghibellines, on the other
hand, who formed the imperial party, and saw a very Arthur in their
famous leader, it served to confirm his character as a Mage and man of
mysterious might.

Commencing then with one of the first, and certainly the most famous
of the authors who have spoken of Scot in this romantic and legendary
style, the observation just made will enable us to understand without
much difficulty the sense of Dante’s reference to the magician. The poet
represents himself as reaching the fourth division of the eighth infernal
circle, when Virgil draws his attention to one of those who suffer there,
and says:

‘Michele Scotto, fù, che veramente
Delle magiche frode seppe il giuoco.’[298]

Dante was a Ghibelline, and must therefore be supposed to have known well
the tradition of commanding supernatural power woven by his party about
the name of Scot. There is, however, a strong element of contempt and
reproof in his lines, and this must be explained by a point of view which
was peculiar to himself. The _Commedia_, and especially the _Inferno_,
where this passage occurs, is nothing if not a retrospect of the past.
In it Dante calls up the mighty dead and subjects them to review; his
principle of judgment being largely, but by no means solely, drawn from
political considerations. Even more decidedly was it moral, and thus,
while in not a few instances he displays the working of party-spirit, in
others he permits himself to part altogether with the current Ghibelline

His reference to Michael Scot, then, is undoubtedly a case of the latter
kind. As a seer whose attention was fixed on the past he was naturally
impatient of those who pretended to unfold the future. Scot, as the
author of prophetical verses, seemed to Dante a fair object for censure,
as one who had degraded the sacred art of the bard to serve the purpose
of a charlatan. He placed him with Amphiareus, with Teiresias and the
other diviners, who, because they sought to pry into the future, appeared
to the poet with their heads turned backward in punishment of their
presumption. An additional proof that this was in fact the reason for
Dante’s harsh dealing with Scot may be seen in the _Dittamondo_ of Fazio
degli Uberti. This poem, composed towards the end of the fourteenth
century, was modelled on the _Divine Comedy_, and expressly formed to
expound it. Here are the lines which correspond in the _Dittamondo_ to
those of Dante relating to Michael Scot:

‘In questo tempo che m’odi contare
Michele Scotto fù, che per sua arte
Sapeva Simon Mago contraffare,
E se tu leggerai nelle sue carte
Le profezie ch’ei fece, troverai
Vere venire dove sono sparte.’

Here the reader will observe that the prophetical writings of Scot are
distinctly mentioned, and we are not left, as by Dante, to infer, merely
from the company in which we find him, the view that was taken by the
poet of his character and fame.

It was to reinforce this unfavourable judgment based on other grounds
that Dante adopted the legend already popular regarding Scot’s magical
studies. In doing so he gave the matter a turn which widely separated
his version of the tale from the prevailing Ghibelline stories, told
no doubt with bated breath, but told on the whole to Scot’s credit. In
thus dealing with the legend Dante made use of a distinction well known
to the Arabs, and now becoming familiar also in the West: that, namely,
which divided the art of magic into the real and the illusory; called by
Eastern magicians _Er Roóhhánee_ and _Es Seémiya_.[299] The former was
noble magic, and acted in power upon high spirits, subduing them to the
magician’s will; being either white or black according to the purpose
that was sought by their aid. The latter, on the other hand, produced no
real effects whatever on material things, but moved altogether in the
sphere of mind. At its highest it gave a mastery, which was perhaps
hypnotic, over the senses of those whom the magician sought to delude.
At its lowest it was the art of the juggler and his apes, cheating eye
and ear by tricks like those which have survived to form our modern
conjuring entertainments.[300] Here the apparatus of the higher magic
was still used, but so as to be degraded and distorted from its original
purpose. The circle now served to secure the mage, not from the assaults
of supernatural beings, but from the indiscreet approach of too curious
spectators. The brazier with its cloud of dense and stupifying smoke
served to affect the senses of the subject; the strange sound of recited
spells to impress his imagination; the magic mirror to fix his attention,
till he became the wizard’s captive and obedient to his every suggestion.
This was the art of _glamour_, as it used to be called, which, in one
sphere, seemed to change a ruinous and cobweb-hung hall into a bower of
delight; in another, made visions of distant places and future times
appear in mirrors or crystals; in yet another, provided the philtres
which provoked love, the ligatures which restrained it, and even dealt
in that accursed spell of _envoutement_ which promised to procure for
jealousy and hatred all their wicked will.

Such then were the _magiche frode_ of which Dante accuses Scot, and it is
easy to see that the sting of the verse lies just here; in the unreality
it attributes to this magician’s art, much as if the poet had called him
in plain prose, ‘no mage, but a common juggler.’ Resenting Scot’s pose as
a prophet, and persuaded of the futility of such dreams in comparison
with the splendid and enduring certainties of his own art, Dante used
that gift with cruel force to convey a similar accusation regarding the
romantic fame of the philosopher, holding him up to the world as no
mighty master of mysterious power, but, in this too, a mere impostor.

The anonymous Florentine, in his comment on the _Divine Comedy_, softens
the matter a little, and at the same time imports into it a confusion of
thought very difficult to unravel, when he says: ‘This art of magic may
be employed in two ways; for either magicians compose by cunning certain
bodies, all compact of air, which yet appear substantial, or else they
show things having the appearance of reality but not in truth real, and
in both these ways of working was Michael a great master.’ There is
an attempt here to vindicate for Scot a higher place than that of the
mere charlatan, but the commentator’s distinction is one not readily or
clearly to be apprehended, and we may greatly doubt if it ever entered
his author’s mind.

The hint thus given was speedily acted upon. For to it, no doubt, we
owe the numerous tales regarding Michael Scot of which Benvenuto da
Imola and the anonymous Florentine speak. Landino gives a specimen, as
follows. During the philosopher’s residence in Bologna he used to invite
his friends to dinner, but without making any preparation for their
entertainment. When the hour struck, and the guests were seated at table,
they found it nevertheless covered with the choicest viands. Their host
would then explain that one dish came from the royal kitchen at Paris,
another from that of the English king, and so on with the rest. Jacopo
della Lana repeats the same story, but with certain variations.[301]
According to this commentator, Michael Scot always kept the best company,
living in all respects as a gentleman and cavalier. In his tricks of
the table he did not spare even his own master, but, while choosing
his boiled meat from Paris, and his roasts from London, would always
procure his _entrées_ from the King of Sicily’s provision. The anonymous
Florentine adds another tale to the same purpose, saying that his guests
once asked Scot to show them a new marvel. The month was January, yet, in
spite of the season, he caused vines with fresh shoots and ripe clusters
of grapes to appear on the table. The company were bidden each of them
to choose a bunch, but their host warned them not to put forth their
hands till he should give the sign. At the word ‘cut,’ lo, the grapes
disappeared, and the guests found themselves each with a knife in one
hand, and in the other his neighbours sleeve. Francesco da Buti adds the
significant note, ‘all this was nothing but a cheat; for they only seemed
to feast, and either did not really do so, or else took the dishes for
something quite other than they really were.’ This is enough to show that
the sense we have given to Dante’s words is one which found favour in
early times.

Boccaccio, commencing his lectures on Dante in the Church of San Stefano
at Florence in October 1373, proceeded in them no further, unfortunately,
than the seventeenth canto of the _Inferno_, so that we are deprived
of his notes on the passage which refers to Michael Scot. In the
_Decamerone_, however, he treats the subject in a passing way; making a
citizen of Bologna speak of the magician’s residence in that town.[302]
Scot, he said, had performed many prodigies there, to the delight of
sundry gentlemen his friends, and at their request had, on his departure,
left behind him two scholars, who kept up fairly the traditions of his
art. This seems to indicate that Boccaccio had in mind the stories told
by the other commentators on Dante, and the tone of his novel supports
the conjecture that he agreed with the great poet and with Da Buti, in
regarding these prodigies as pertaining to the department of fictitious

More interesting, perhaps, are the tales which involve Michael the
magician with the fates of his great master, Frederick II. In the
_Paradiso degli Alberti_,[303] for example, we read how, at the feast
given by the Emperor to celebrate his coronation at Rome, which had taken
place on November 22, 1220, the company were entertained by a strange
event. They were just in the act of washing their hands before sitting
down to table in the great hall at Palermo. The pages were still on foot
with ewers and basins of perfumed water and embroidered towels, when
suddenly Michael Scot appeared with a companion, both of them dressed
in Eastern robes, and offered to show the guests a marvel. The weather
was oppressively warm, so Frederick asked him to procure them a shower
of rain which might bring coolness. This the magicians accordingly
did, raising a great storm, which as suddenly vanished again at their
pleasure. Being required by the Emperor to name his reward, Scot asked
leave to choose one of the company to be the champion of himself and his
friend against certain enemies of theirs. This being freely granted,
their choice fell on Ulfo, a German baron. As it seemed to Ulfo, they
set off at once on their expedition, leaving the coasts of Sicily in two
great galleys, and with a mighty following of armed men. They sailed
through the Gulf of Lyons, and passed by the Pillars of Hercules, into
the unknown and western sea. Here they found smiling coasts, received a
welcome from the strange people, and joined themselves to the army of
the place; Ulfo taking the supreme command. Two pitched battles and a
successful siege formed the incidents of the campaign. Ulfo killed the
hostile king, married his lovely daughter, and reigned in his stead;
Michael and his companion having left to seek other adventures. Of this
marriage sons and daughters were begotten, and twenty years passed like a
dream ere the magicians returned, and invited their champion to revisit
the Sicilian court. Ulfo went back with them, but what was his amazement,
on entering the palace at Palermo, to find everything just as it had been
at the moment of their departure so long before; even the pages were
still going the rounds with water for the hands of the Emperor’s guests.
This prodigy performed, Michael and the other withdrew and were seen no
more, but Ulfo, it is said, remained ever inconsolable for the lost land
of loveliness and the joys of wedded life he had left behind for ever in
a dream not to be repeated. This tale appears also in the _Cento Novelle
Antiche_,[304] but in that collection the place of Michael Scot and his
companion is taken by ‘three masters of necromancy.’

In the _Pseudo Boccaccio_[305] we find another tale, referring to the
later and less happy period of the imperial fortunes. The scene is laid
in Vittoria, the armed camp which Frederick pitched so long before the
walls of rebellious Parma. The Parmigiani had made a successful sally,
forced the defences of Vittoria, and were plundering the place. A poor
shoemaker of Parma, who made one of this expedition, was lucky enough to
come upon the imperial tent itself. Entering, he found a small barrel,
which he caught up and carried back to his home. On trial it proved to
contain excellent wine, which the shoemaker and his wife drank from day
to day, till at last it occurred to them to wonder why the supply never
came to an end. They opened the barrel to see, and found within it a
small silver figure of an angel with his foot planted on a grape, also of
silver, from which flowed constantly the delicious wine they had so long
enjoyed. ‘Now, this was made by magic art,’ continues the commentator,
‘and by necromancy, and it was Thales, otherwise called Michael Scot,
who contrived it by his skill and power.’ Needless to add that, by this
indiscreet curiosity, the charm was broken, and the generous wine flowed
no longer to gladden the hearts of the shoemaker and his wife.

We have thus traced the development of the legend as far as the close of
the fourteenth century. During the next hundred years no notable addition
seems to have been made to it, nor does it appear to have attained any
further expression of a remarkable kind in the region of pure literature.
But the fifteenth century had by no means forgotten Michael Scot, nor
the tales that embodied his mysterious fame. This, in fact, seems to
have been the period when most of the magical works attributed to the
philosopher’s pen were composed, and commended to the world under the
reputation attaching to so great a name. Such are the spell, which exists
in writing of this age, in the Laurentian Library of Florence,[306] the
_Geomantia_ of the Munich Library,[307] and, perhaps, the _Cheiromantia_.
As, however, a tract on at least one of these latter subjects is
attributed to Gerard of Cremona in the Vatican list,[308] it is possible
there may here have been only some not unnatural confusion between two
authors who were closely associated in much of the literary work they
accomplished in Spain.

To the sixteenth century belongs the mock-heroic poem entitled _De Gestis
Baldi_, composed by the famous macaronic writer Teofilo Folengo, who
wrote under the assumed name of Merlin Coccajo. A considerable passage
in this curious production is devoted to Michael Scot, of whom the poet
speaks in the following terms:

‘Ecce Michaelis de incantu regula Scoti,
Qua, post sex formas, cerae fabricatur imago
Demonii Sathan Saturni facta plumbo
Cui suffimigio per serica rubra cremato
Hac, licet obsistant, coguntur amore puellae.
Ecce idem Scotus qui stando sub arboris umbra
Ante characteribus designet millibus orbem.
Quatuor inde vocat magna cum voce diablos.
Unus ab occasu properat, venit alter ab ortu,
Meridies terzum mandat, septentrio quartum.
Consecrare facit freno conforme per ipsos
Cum quo vincit equum nigrum, nulloque vedutum,
Quem, quo vult, tanquam Turchesca sagitta, cavalcat,
Sacrificatque comas eiusdem saepe cavalli.
En quoque dipingit Magus idem in littore navem
Quae vogat totum octo remis ducta per orbem.
Humanae spinae suffimigat inde medullam.
En docet ut magicis cappam sacrare susurris
Quam sacrando fremunt plorantque per aera turbae
Spiritum quoniam verbis nolendo tiramur.
Hanc quicumque gerit gradiens ubicumque locorum
Aspicitur nusquam; caveat tamen ire per altum
Solis splendorem, quia tunc sua cernitur umbra.’[309]

Here the legend is not only considerably enriched, but it has recovered
much of its original tone. Michael Scot again appears rather as the
mighty mage than as the adroit juggler which Dante had represented him to
be. One would say Folengo had read the spell of Cordova, where a circle
similar to that described by him is actually proposed. The use of magical
images too, on which he insists, is the very art which the Arabian author
of the _Picatrix_ professes to teach.

These then, or such as these, must have been the ‘old wives’ tales’
spoken of by Dempster, who says that store of them passed current in his
day.[310] He was, like Michael Scot himself, a Scotsman long resident
in Italy, who taught in the universities of Pisa and Bologna at the
commencement of the seventeenth century:[311] an origin and situation
very favourable to the knowledge of these stories, both in their Italian
and Scottish form. That they had at an early period become part of the
romantic heritage of Scotland seems very certain. An anonymous author
supplies us with the Italian view of the matter when he says that the
great magician taught the Scots his art to such a degree ‘that they
will not take a step without some magical practice,’ and adds that he
introduced into Scotland the fashion of ‘white hose, and gowns with the
sleeves sewed together.’[312]

Perhaps the best known of these Scottish tales is that which relates how
Michael Scot had a particular spirit as his familiar, and describes the
difficulty he felt in discovering new tasks for his supernatural servant.
Sir Walter Scott says that this story had made so deep an impression,
that in his day any ancient work of unknown origin was ascribed by the
country people either to Sir William Wallace, Michael Scot, or the
devil himself.[313] But, as commonly told, the legend refers to certain
outstanding features of the country which are natural and not artificial;
a fact which may possibly account for its persistence and survival in
this form and not in the others. Michael is said to have commanded his
spirit to divide Eildon Hill into three.[314] The feat was accomplished
in a single night, but, the magician’s instructions being very precise,
and the spirit finding one of the peaks he had formed greater, and
another less than the mean, accommodated the matter very skilfully
by transferring what seems like a spadeful of earth, still visible as
a distinct prominence on the sky-line of the hill. Next night brought
the need for another task, and Michael gave orders that the river Tweed
should be bound in its course by a curb of stone. The remarkable basaltic
dyke which crosses the bed of the stream near Ednam is said to have been
the result of this command. On the third night, finding his familiar
still keen for employment, Scot bade him go spin ropes of sand at the
river mouth. This task proved so difficult as to relieve the magician
from further embarrassment. It is said to be still in progress, and the
successive attempts and failures of the spirit are pointed out as every
tide casts up, or receding, uncovers, the ever-shifting sands of Berwick

Another Scottish story, borrowed perhaps from the relations between
Michael Scot and Frederick II., and possibly suggested by the
philosopher’s journey in 1230, speaks of a high commission he once held
from the King of Scotland.[315] Some Frenchmen, it is said, had commenced
pirates, and had plundered Scottish ships. The King chose Michael as
his ambassador, sending him to Paris to demand justice and redress.
The magician, however, made none of the ordinary preparations for so
considerable a journey, but opened his _Book of Might_ and read a spell
therein; whereupon his familiar appeared in the form of a black horse,
just as Folengo describes him. In this shape the demon carried his rider
through the air with incredible speed. When the channel lay beneath
them, he asked Michael what words the old wives in Scotland muttered
ere they went to sleep. A less adroit wizard would have simply repeated
the _Paternoster_, and thus furnished the excuse sought by the demon,
who would then have hurled his rider into the sea. Michael, however,
contented himself by sternly replying; ‘What is that to thee? Mount
Diabolus, and fly;’ and, the demon being thus outwitted and compelled,
they presently arrived in Paris. Finding the French King unwilling to
hear his representations, Scot asked him to delay giving a final refusal
till he should have heard the horse stamp three times. At the first
hoof-stroke, all the bells in Paris rang. At the second, three towers in
the palace fell; and the horse had raised his foot to stamp once more,
when the King cried, ‘Hold,’ and yielded him to do as his cousin of
Scotland desired.

A more trivial and domestic tale is that which relates how Michael met
and overcame the Witch of Falsehope.[316] He was then residing at Oakwood
Tower, and, hearing much talk of this woman’s craft, he set forth one day
to prove her. The witch was cunning, and denied that she had any skill
in the black art, but, when Scot absently laid his staff of power upon
the table, she caught it to her and used it upon him with such effect
that he became a hare; in which shape he was hotly coursed by his own
hounds. Taking refuge in a drain, he had just time to reverse the spell
and resume his own form before the hunt reached his hiding-place. Thus
Michael returned to Oakwood with a high impression of his neighbour’s
skill and malice, and fully resolved to have his revenge at the first
opportunity. This occurred next harvest, when, under pretext of sport, he
sent his servant to the witch’s house to beg some bread for the hounds.
Met with the refusal that was expected, the man acted upon his master’s
instructions by privately fixing to the door a scroll containing, amid
magical characters, the following rhyme:

‘Maister Michael Scot’s man
Socht breid and gat nane.’

Meanwhile the witch-wife had returned to her work; which was that of
boiling porridge for the shearers. As soon, however, as Scot’s man had
left the door, she began to run round the fire like one crazy, repeating
as she ran the words of the spell. In a little the harvesters returned
from the field to their dinner, but, as each passed the enchanted door,
the spell took him, and he joined the dance within. Meanwhile Michael
and his men and dogs stood not far off on the hill, whence they could
command a full view of what went on. The last to leave the field was the
goodman, who, suspecting something more than common from the attention
Scot was paying to his house, was too cautious to enter immediately,
as the rest had done. He went to the window, and through it beheld the
orgy, now become terrible, and in the midst of all his wife, half dead
from compulsion and exhaustion, dragged around the house and through the
fire by the bewitched servants. Suspecting how matters stood, he went to
Scot, who, relenting, told him how to remove the spell by entering the
house backwards, and then taking the scroll down from the door. This he
did, and the unearthly dance ceased, but it was long ere those who had
taken part in it forgot the power of the magician, or ventured again to
provoke his resentment.

The northern tales had much to say of Michael’s _Book of Might_,
from which he learned his art, and of his burial-place, where it lay
interred with him. Dempster tells us that, in his boyhood, it used to
be said in Scotland that Scot’s magical works were still extant, but
might not be touched for fear of the powerful demons that waited on
their opening.[317] This form of the legend belongs then to the latter
part of the sixteenth century. In the beginning of the next age, and
precisely in the year 1629, occurred the traditional visit of Satchells
to Burgh-under-Bowness.[318] This author declares that one named Lancelot
Scot showed him in that place something taken from the works of the
mighty magician:

‘He said the book which he gave me
Was of Sir Michael Scot’s Historie;
Which Historie was never yet read through,
Nor never will, for no man dare it do.
Young scholars have pick’d out some thing
From the contents, that dare not read within.
He carried me along the castle then,
And shew’d his written Book hanging on an iron pin.
His writing pen did seem to me to be
Of harden’d metal, like steel or accumie,
The volume of it did seem so large to me
As the Book of Martyrs and Turks Historie.
Then in the church he let me see
A stone where Mr. Michael Scot did lie.
I ask’d at him how that could appear:
Mr. Michael had been dead above five hundred year?
He shew’d me none durst bury under that stone
More than he had been dead a few years agone,
For Mr. Michael’s name does terrifie each one.’

It will be observed that Satchells hesitates here between the title of
knighthood which had been bestowed on Scot for a century past on the
authority of Hector Boëce, and the more authentic dignity of Master which
was really his. He also antedates the philosopher’s lifetime by more than
a hundred years; so that plainly what we have in these verses is legend
and tradition rather than history.

This is probably the latest appearance in literature of the old
stories concerning Michael Scot told in the old way. Naudè[319] and
Schmutzer[320] presently came on the scene, in the late seventeenth and
early eighteenth century, with their critical defences of Scot, all too
imperfectly informed regarding his real reputation. In our own age the
poems of Sir Walter Scott and Rossetti, while serving to show that so
great a name has not been forgotten, breathe, it is plain, an entirely
different spirit. They are but the romantic and sentimental revival of
tales that the poets and their world had already ceased to believe.

Changed habits of thought, reaching and affecting every class of society,
make it useless now to seek in Scotland for any new developments of
the legend of Michael Scot. This is not so certainly true, however, of
the South of Europe; of Italy, Sicily, and Spain, where he was once
a familiar figure. There the slow progress of education has left the
common people still in possession of much legendary lore, and even of
the living faculty by which in past ages such tales have been formed.
To ascertain what an Italian story-teller in the present year of grace
would make of the name and fame of Michael Scot were clearly a curious
and interesting inquiry. It is one which, on actual trial, has yielded
two tales differing considerably from any hitherto published.[321] As
these are certainly the very latest additions to the legend, they deserve
a place here at the close of our collection. Freely rendered into English
they run as follows:

‘Mengot was a notable astrologer and magician. Mengot was his true
name,[322] but he had many surnames besides; among which was that of
Scotto. This name of Scotto was given him by a princess. One night the
Prince, her husband, happened to be in a company where the talk turned
on the virtue of women, and the Prince said he would put his hand in the
fire if his wife were not faithful to him; so sure was he of her virtue.
Then spoke up another of the company, who made light of the caresses and
compliments with which women use to deceive, and told a tale for the
Prince’s warning. “There was once a man,” said he, “who thought as you
do, dear Prince; for he took his wife for a pattern of virtue, and would
have pledged, not his hand only, but his very life that she was so. It
happened, however, that he had a friend who knew of the wizard whom they
call Mengot, dwelling without the Croce Gate of Florence, and having
his house below the ground, closed by a flat stone of the field so as
to be secret. Those who would inquire of him must pass to the place and
cry ‘Mengot! Master Mengot! I seek a favour of thee, and, if thou tell
me true, I shall not stint thy reward;’ whereupon he doth straightway
appear. This then was what the friend of the too confident husband did,
for he summoned Mengot, and, in presence of all, said to him: ‘Tell me
the truth, and whether the wife of this gentleman deserves his confidence
or not.’ After some thought, the wizard replied, ‘Do you wish a true
answer, or one made to please? I should be sorry to hurt the husband’s
feelings.’ When all desired to have the truth, Mengot told them that
the lady in question had gone to a place in the Via Calzaiuoli where
disguises were arranged, and that she would be found next day dressed as
a servant in the course of carrying on a vulgar intrigue in the Ghetto.
Now all this was verified; for the wizard told them even the very house
in the Via delle Ceste where she would be found with her lover, and it
proved to be exactly as he had said.” When this tale was done, all who
heard it cried that Mengot should be summoned again, to see whether the
Princess were faithful or not. So they called him, as had been done in
the other case, but with the same result; for here also the Prince’s
confidence had been misplaced, and that in a high degree. Then said the
Princess, between rage and shame, “Hast thou scotched me this time; but
next time I will scotch thee.”[323] She straightway sought a witch, said
to be more powerful than Mengot himself, and, telling what had happened,
promised her gold by handfuls if she would revenge her on the wizard. The
woman told her to be easy, for she would arrange the matter. She paid
Mengot a visit as if to take his advice, and, stealing his magic rod,
struck the ground three times, whereupon Mengot was turned into a hare,
and fled from his habitation. Having foreseen, however, by his art that
such danger might arise, Mengot had prepared a pool of enchanted water at
his door. Into this he now leaped, and by its virtue was able to resume
his proper form. The first thing he did was to seek the magic rod, and,
finding it still in his house, he struck the witch on the head. She
became a skinless[324] cat, and in that form haunted the guilty Princess
for her sins; while Mengot was ever afterwards distinguished by the name
of Scot.’

The second tale is to this effect:

‘Michael Scotti the wizard was a mighty master of witchcraft. There came
to him one day a young lady, richly dressed, and wearing a thick veil.
She told him that she wished to become a witch that she might cast a
spell upon the child of a man who had forsaken her for another woman,
now his wife; for she said that to bewitch this child would be the best
revenge she could have. Michael was willing to content her; but we must
here remark that wizards and witches gain their power, either at birth
or as a legacy from some dying person who has the gift. In either of
these cases, when the wizard or witch takes the form of an animal, both
body and soul are present wherever the form may appear. If, on the other
hand, any one becomes a witch of her own desire, as in the case before
us, her spirit may move and act under such a form, but her body lies all
the while where she left it. But to our tale.

‘Michael accordingly took his Magic Book, and the skin of a cat, and
kindling some hempen fibre[325] in an earthen pot, he commenced to read
his spells, which had such effect that the spirit of the young lady
entered into the skin of the cat. In the form of that animal she then
went about her business, while her body remained still in the chair
where she was sitting. At her return the wizard read again in his book,
whereupon the spirit of the new-made witch returned to her body as
before. Michael gave her a book of this kind, and the skin he had used,
and every night she turned herself into a witch, and became so wicked as
to cast ill upon many children, and even on an infant brother of her own.

‘Thus the sorceress was hardly entered on her power ere she brought about
the death of her rival’s child, and killed many others, but an end was
presently put to these ill-doings. Her brother, whom she had bewitched
out of jealousy, wasted away, and the parents were in despair, as none of
the physicians whom they consulted could understand the case. One morning
the child told them he had suffered much during the night from a cat,
which leaped upon his bed, howled, and played the most frightful antics.
They then began to suspect witchcraft, and resolved that the household
should watch during the next night. On the stroke of twelve a cat was
seen coming out of their daughter’s room. One of the servants gave chase,
and another went into the room, fearing that the young lady had also been
bewitched, and saw her lying on the bed as cold as marble. The cry arose
that she was killed. The parents, mad with grief, made after the cat to
destroy it, but with leaps and bounds, it kept them busy all night as
if they had been huntsmen chasing a hare, and all in vain. As the bells
began to sound for matins the cat ran into the young lady’s room, and
the mother, beating her brow, exclaimed: “she who has bewitched my son
is none other than his sister.” Rushing into the room they found her,
no longer like a dead body, but all panting from the night-long chase.
Her mother searched all the corners, and finding the book and earthen
pot, bade throw them into the Arno. They then besought their daughter to
undo the mischief she had wrought upon her brother, and so many more,
and to promise she would never do the like again; but to nothing of this
would she consent. Then they threw her out of window in fear and to the
breaking of her bones. The servants came and took her up; laying her on
her bed again; telling her to heal her brother. Not even in the last
moments of life, however, would she repent. She could not die till Mengot
had read for her a spell of loosing, and on him therefore she still lay
crying. The servants told this to her parents, who bade put horses to
the carriage and fetch the wizard, who was presently with them. First
he commanded her to cure her brother, and then he read for her in his
Magic Book that she might be loosed, and so she died. But when the skin
and earthen pot were cast away, they sank straight underground. Thus the
witch, who still came back every night to get the skin, and take the form
of a cat, found all her magic art in vain; for Michael Scotti had taken
her power away.’

‘Desinit in piscem mulier formosa superne!’ To such vain and trivial
conclusions has a reputation, justly renowned in its own day, been
reduced in ours. Michael Scot, now become a _troglodyte_, lifts his head
timidly and occasionally from a den in the Florence fields; he who, while
alive, filled Europe with his fame, and, by his _Averroës_, ruled the
schools of Padua as late as the seventeenth century. If a remedy is still
to be had for this, the fruit of Guelphic rancour, it must be found in
the direction we have sought to keep throughout these pages: that of a
serious and impartial study of Scot’s life, and of those labours of his
in philosophy and science which are so really, though remotely, connected
with the intellectual attainments of our own times.



✠ Experimentum Michaelis Scoti nigromantici.[326]

Si volueris per daemones haberi scientem, qui in forma magistri ad te
veniet cum tibi placuerit, expedit tibi primo habere quandam cameram
fulgentem et nitidam, in qua nunquam mulier non conversetur, nec vir ante
inchoationem triginta diebus, computato itaque tempore taliter quod xxxj
die fit luna crescens[327] –o– ☿ eius hora, castus per septimanam, rasus
totus, ac etiam lotus, necnon vestimentis albis indutus. Solus in ortu
solis, in quo, et ipsa hora ☿ habeas quoddam vas in quo sit lignum
aloes camphora et cipressum cum igne, ex quibus fiat fumus, et primo te
totum suffumiga, scilicet primo faciem, deinde alia, postea etiam totam
cameram. Quo facto, habeas oleum bacharum et totum te unge a capite
usque ad pedes, hoc facto, volve te primo versus 🜚 ortum, et sic dic,
flexis genibus: O admirabilis et ineffabilis et incomprehensibilis, Qui
omnia ex nihilo formasti, apud quem nihil impossibile est, te deprecor
cum humilitate vehementi ut mihi, famulo tuo tali, tribuas gratiam
cognoscendi potentiam tuam, Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre per omnia
saecula saeculorum, Amen. Praesta quaesumus mihi tutellam angeli tui,
qui me custodiat, protegat, atque defendat, et adjuvet ad huius operis
consummationem, et faciat me potentem contra omnes spiritus ut vincam
etiam dominer eis, et ipsi adversus me terrendi vel laedendi nullam
habeant potestatem, Amen, [here follow verses 25-28 of Psalm 119.]
Similiter versus occasum, meridiem, et septentrionem, et debes scire
quod, quando vertis te, debes te totum expoliare nudum, deinde dicere has
orationes: quo facto, debes te induere dicendo hunc psalmum, [Psalm 76:
1-.] usque _quomodo cogitatio hominis_, etc. quo dicto, et inducto, dic
tu haec verba [Psalm 37: 30.] Quibus dictis habeas unum frustrum panni
albi de lana, quae nunquam fuerit in usu, et habeas quandam columbam
albam totam vel –o– cuiuscumque coloris sit, et trunca eius collum, et
collige eius sanguinem in vase vitreo, et de dicta columba sive –ͨoͦ–ͬ
sanguinando dictum cor in 1º. o. Fac cum dicto corde cruentato, in dicto
panno, circulum, ut apparet inferius, quo facto, intra circulum cum ense
in manu: qui ensis debet esse lucidissimus, cum quo ense avis caput debet
truncari ut dictum est, et ipsum tenendo per cuspidem, aspiciendo versus
orientem, dic sic: O misericordissime Deus, Creator omnium, et omnium
scientiarum Largitor, Qui vis magis peccatorem vivere, ut ad penitentiam
valeat pervenire, quam ipsum mori sordidum in peccatis, Te deprecor toto
mentis affectu ut cogas et liges istos tres demones, videlicet Appolyin,
Maraloch, Berich, ut debeant per virtutem et potentiam tuam mihi obedire,
servire, et parere, sine aliquo fraude, malignatione vel furore, in
omnibus quae praecipio: Qui vivis et regnas in unitate Spiritus Sancti,
Amen. Debet haec enim oratio dici novies versus orientem, deinde debes
dicere, Appolyin, Maraloch, Berich, Ego talis vos exorcizo et conjuro
ex parte Dei Omnipotentis Qui vos vestra elatione jussit antra subire
profundi, ut debeatis mittere quendam spiritum peritum dogmate omnium
scientiarum, qui mihi sit benivolus, fidelis, et placidus ad docendum
omnem scientiam quam voluero, veniens in formam magistri ut nullam
formidinem percipere valeam, fiat, fiat, fiat. Item conjuro vos per
Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum ut per haec sancta nomina quorum
virtute ligamen, scilicet Dober, Uriel, Sabaoth, Semonyi, Adonayi,
Tetragramaton, Albumayzi, Loch, Morech, Sadabyin, Rodeber, Donnel,
Parabyiel, Alatuel, Nominam, et Ysober, quatenus vos tres reges maximi
et mihi socii, mihi petenti, unum de subditis vestris mittere laboretis,
qui sit magister omnium scientiarum et artium, veniens in forma humana,
placibilis aplaudens mihi et erudens me cum amore ita et taliter quod in
termino xxxta dierum talem scientiam valeam adipisci, promittens post
sumptionem scientiae dare libi licentiam recedendi, ut hoc etiam totiens
dici debet. Hac oratione vero dicta, ensem depone et involve in dicto
panno, et facto vasiculo, cuba super ipso ut aliquantulum dormias. Post
sompnum vero surge et induas te: quia facto vasiculo homo se spoliat
et intrat cubiculum ponendo dictum vasiculum super capite. Est autem
sciendum quod dictis his conjurationibus somnus acculit virtute divina,
in somno autem apparebunt tibi tres maximi reges, cum famulis innumeris
militibus peditibus, inter quos est etiam quidam magister apparens, cui
ipsi tres reges jubent ad te ipsum venire paratam. Videbis enim tres
reges fulgentes mira pulcritudine, qui tibi in dicto sompno viva voce
loquentur dicentes, Ecce tibi Domini quod multotiens postulasti, et
dicent illi magistro, Sit iste tuus discipulus quem docere tibi jubemus
omnem scientiam sive artem quam audire voluerit. Doce illum taliter et
erudi ut in termino xxx dierum in qualem scientiam voluerit, ut summus
inter alios habeatur:[328] et ipsum audies et videbis eum respondere,
dictum mei libentissime faciam quicquid vultis. His dictis reges abibunt
et magister solus remanebit, qui tibi dicet, Surge, ecce tuus magister.
His vero dictis, excitaberis statim et aperies occulos et videbis quendam
magistrum optime indutum, qui tibi dicet, Da mihi ensem quem sub capite
tenes. Tu vero dices Ecce discipulus vester paratus est facere quicquid
vultis; tamen debes habere pugillarem et scribere omnia quae tibi dicet.
Primo debes quaerere, O magister, quod est nomen vestrum: ipse dicet, et
tu scribes; secundo, de quo ordine, et similiter scribe: his scriptis,
dabis ensem, quo habito, ipse recedet dicens, Expecta me donec veniam:
tu nihil dices. Magister vero recedet et secum portabit ensem, post
cuius recessu tu solves pannum, ut apparet inferius,[329] etiam scribes
in dicto circulo nomen eius scriptum per te, et scribi debet etiam cum
supradicto, O, quo scripto involve dictum pannum et bene reconde: his
factis debes prandere solo pane et pura aqua, et illa die non egredi
cameram et cum pransus fueris accipe pannum et intra circulum versus
Appolyim et dic sic, O rex Appolyim magne potens et venerabilis ego
famulus tuus in te credens, et omnino confidens, quia tu es fortior, et
valens per incomprehensibilem majestatem tuam, ut famulus et subditus
tuus talis, magister meus, debeat ad me venire quam citius fieri potest,
per virtutem et potentiam tuam quae est magna et maxima in saecula
saeculorum, Amen. et similiter dicere versus Maraloth, mutando nomen, et
versus Berith similiter, his dictis accipe de dicto sanguine et scribe in
circulo nomen tuum cum supradicto corde ut hic apparet inferius. Deinde
scribe cum dicto corde in angulis panni illa nomina ut hic apparent. Si
autem sanguis unius avis non tibi sufficeret, potes interficere quot
tibi placent: quibus omnibus factis, sedebis per totum diem in circulo
aspiciens ipsum, nihil loquendo; cum vero sero fuerit, plica dictum
pannum spoliato, et intra cubiculum ponendo ipsum sub capite tuo, et
cum posueris dici sit plana voce, O Appolyin, Maraloch, Berich, Sathan,
Belyal, Belzebuch, Lucifer, supplico vobis ut precipiatis magistro
meo, nominando eius nomen, ut ipse debeat venire solus ante eras ad me,
et docere me talem scientiam sine aliqua alia fallacia, per Illum Qui
venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos et saeculum per ignem, Amen. Cave
igitur et praecave ne signum ✠ facias, propter magnum periculum. In
sompno scies quia videbis magistrum tota nocte loqui tecum, interrogans
a te qualem scientiam vis adiscere, et tu dices, talem. Itaque ut dictus
est tota nocte cum eo loqueris. Cum itaque excitatus fueris in ipsa
nocte, surge et accende candelam, et accipe dictum pannum et dissolve,
et sede in eo, scilicet in circulo, ubi nomen tuum scriptum est, ad tuum
commodum, et voca nomen magistri tui, sic dicens, O talis de talis (sic)
ordine, in magistrum meum datum per majores reges tuos, te deprecor
ut venies in forma benigna ad docendum me in tali scientia, quia sim
probīor omnibus mortalibus docens ipsam cum magno gaudio, sine aliquo
labore, ac omni tedio derelicto. Veni igitur ex tuorum parte majoris
qui regnat per infinita saecula saeculorum, Amen, fiat, fiat, fiat. His
itaque dictis, ter aspicias versus occidentem, videbis magistrum venire
cum multis discipulis, quem rogabis ut omnes abire jubeat, et statim
recedent: quo facto, ipse magister dicet quam scientiam audire desideras;
tu dices talem, et tunc incipies, memento enim quia tantum adiscens
memoriae commodabis et omnem scientiam quam habere volueris adisces in
termino xxx dierum. Et quando ipsum de camera abire volueris, plica
pannum et reconde, et statim recedet: et quando ipsum venire volueris,
aperi pannum, et subito ibidem apparebit continuando lectiones. Post
vero terminum xxx dierum, doctus optime in illa scientia evades, et
fac tibi dare ensem tuum, et dic ut vadat, et cum pace recedat. Debes
iterum dicere cum pro alia ipsum invocabis habenda scientia, quod tibi
dicet ad tuum libitum esse paratum. Finis capituli scientiae. Explicit
nicromantiae experimentum illustrissimi doctoris Domini Magistri
Michaelis Scoti, qui summus inter alios nominatur Magister, qui fuit
Scotus, et servus praeclarissimo Domino suo Domino Philipo Regis Ceciliae
coronato; quod destinavit sibi dum esset aegrotus in civitate Cordubae,
etc. Finis


Fondo Vaticano 4428, ms. perg. in fol. saec. xiii. cum min.

p. 1 recto. ‘Incipit Logica Avicennae. Studiosam animam meam
ad appetitum translationis lib. avicennae quem asschiphe i.
sufficientiam nuncupavit invitare cupiens, et quaedam capitula
… in latinum eloquium ex arabico transmutare.’ Then follows
a column and a half commencing: ‘Dixit abunbeidi filius ab,’
(? avicennae) which seems to give an account of the manner in
which he was wont to compose. At the middle of col. 2 begins a
new paragraph:—‘Dixit princeps abualy alhysenni filius abdillei
filius sciue’ noted in the margin as: ‘Vita avicennae.’ This
closes at the middle of the first col. of p. 1, verso.

p. 8 recto. A footnote says ‘translatus ab auendbuch de libro
avicennae de logico.’

p. 9 recto. ‘Incipit collectio secundi libri sufficientiae a
principiis ph’ici prologus. Dixit princeps Avicenna. Postquam
expedivimus nos auxilio dei.’ A short prologue follows extending
to three-quarters of a col. Then follows the treatise: ‘Iam nosti
ex tractatu.’ It closes on p. 20 _recto_ with the words ‘per se
notae sunt. Explicit liber phisicorum avicennae Amen.’

p. 20 verso. ‘Incipit liber Avicennae de celo et mundo, seu
collectiones expositionum ab antiquis graecis in librum
Aristotelis. Expositiones autem istae in quatuordecim continentur
capitulis. Per unum quod corpus perficiens.’ This tract closes on

p. 27 recto. with the words ‘completum xv capitulum, et ideo
completione completus est liber totus, et laus sit creatori
nostro et largitori … et sic pax et salus omni animae modestae et
benignae. Amen.

p. 27 verso. ‘Incipit particula prima Methaᶜᵉ avicennae cap.
1. de inquisitione … ad hoc ut ostendatur ipsam esse de numero
scientiarum liberalium. Avicenna de philosophia prima, sive
scientia prima divina. Postquam autem auxilio Dei explevimus
tractatum scientiarum logicalium et naturalium et doctrinalium,
convenientius est accedere ad cogitationem intentionum

p. 78 recto. The Metaphysica end here with the words:—‘quia
ipse est rex terreni mundi, et vicarius dei in illo. Completus
est liber. Laudetur deus super omnia … quem transtulit diaconus
gundissalui archidyaco’ tholeti de arabico in latinum.’

p. 78 verso. ‘Incipit liber primus Avicennae de anima et
dicitur sextus de naturalibus. Reverentissimo tholetanae sedis
archiepiscopo et yspaniarum primati Johannes Avendaut israelita
philosophus gratiam et vitae futuris obsequium.’ … ‘Incipiunt
capitula totius libri. Liber iste dividitur in partes.’ …
‘Ordinatio librorum Avicennae. Iam explevimus in primo libro.’ …

p. 79 recto. ‘Capitulum 1. Dicemus ergo …’ The De Anima closes on

p. 114 verso. with these words: ‘sicut postea scies cum loquitur
de animalibus. Explicit sextus naturalium Avicennae. Deo gratias
et nunc et semper Amen. Qui scripsit hunc librum Dominus
benedicat illum. Ffinito libro sit laus et gloria Christo.
Incipit sermo de generatione lapidum Avicennae. Terra pura non
fit lapis quia continuationem non facit.’ The second chapter is:
‘De generatione montium’ and the third ‘De generatione corporum
mineralium.’ In the latter chapter occurs the curious passage:
‘Sciant autem artifices alkimiae … et salem amoniacum’ which we
have translated on p. 74.

p. 115 recto. The short tract on minerals closes at the foot
of this page with the words: ‘exhibere res quaedam extraneae.
Explicit vere.’

p. 115 verso. is blank.

p. 116 recto. ‘De animalibus Avicennae. Frederice, romanorum
imperator, domine mundi, suscipe devote hunc librum michaelis
scoti ut sit gratia capiti tuo et torques collo tuo. Incipit
abbreviatio avicennae super librum animalium aristotelis. Et
animalia quaedam communicant in membris, sicut equus et homo.’
The treatise closes on

p. 158 recto, in the usual way: ‘sed de dentium utilitatibus jam
scis ex alio loco. Completus est liber avicennae de animalibus
scriptus per magistrum henricum coloniensem ad exemplar magnifici
imperatoris domini frederici apud meffiam civitatem Apuliae ubi
dominus imperator eidem magistro hunc librum permissum comodavit
anno domini mº ccº xxxijº in vigilio beati laurentii in domo
magistri volmari medici imperialis liber iste inceptus est et
expletus cum adiutorio iesu christi qui vivit.…

Frenata penna, finito nunc avicenna
Libro Caesario gloria summa Deo
Dextera scriptoris careat gravitate doloris.’

In the second col. of this page commences the arabo-latin
glossary (_see_ facsimile):—

‘Ex libro animalium aristotelis domini imperatoris in margine.’
‘Passer dicitur pscipsci,’
‘Rumbus. sciathi.’
‘Delfinis, delfinus.’

‘Fehed. leopardus.’

‘Ex libro secundo.’

‘Ex tertio libro.’

‘Glosa magistri al.’ ‘Explicit anno domini mº ccº x.’

Fondo Vaticano 2089 ms. in fol. perg. finiss. saec. xiii. The first
265 pages of this volume contain the _De Causis_ (pp. 1-5) and the
following commentaries by Averroës: _De coelo et mundo_ (pp. 6-195);
_De generatione et corruptione_ (pp. 195-254); on the fourth book of
the _Meteora_ (pp. 254-260); _De substantia orbis_, (pp. 260-265). Then
follow the commentaries by Avicenna in this order:—

p. 266 recto. ‘Titulus, Collectio secunda libri sufficientiae
avicennae principis philosophi. Prologus. Dixit princeps,
Postquam expedivimus nos auxilio dei ab eo quod opus fuit.’ …
‘Liber primus de quaestionibus et principiis naturalium Capitulum
de affligenda via qua pervenitur ad scientiam naturalium per
principia eorum. Iam scisti ex tractatu.’

p. 282 verso. ‘et consummate certo fine cessabit interrogatione.
Completus est primus tractatus de naturalibus cum auxilio Dei et
gratia. Incipit tractatus secundus de motu et de quiete et de
consimilibus. Capitulum de motu. Postquam perfecimus librum de

p. 306 verso. ‘cuius tempus non habet (?) esse initium. Completa
est pars secunda de collectione naturalium. Et ei qui dedit
intelligere gratiae sint infinitae. Pars tertia de hiis quae
habent naturalia ex hoc quod habent quantitatem. Prologus de
qualitate tractandi precipue in hoc libro. Naturalia sunt

p. 307 recto. ‘et haec propositiones per se notae sunt. Explicit
liber sufficientiae avicennae. Prologus in sextum naturalium
Avicennae. Reverentissimo toletanae sedis archiepiscopo et
yspanorum primati auendeueth israelita philosophus gratiam et
vitae futuris obsequium.… Quapropter, domine, jussum vestrum
de transferendo librum avicenae (cod. 4428 p. 78 verso reads
_aristotelis_) philosophi de anima effectui mancipare curavi
ut vestro munere et meo (4428 _nostro_) labore latinis fieret
certum quod hactenus extitit incognitum scilicet an sit anima,
et quid et qualis sit, secundum essentiam rationibus verissimis
comprobatum. Haberis (4428 _habes_) ergo librum vobis precipiente
(4428 _percipientibus_) et me (4428 omits _me_) singula verba
vulgariter proferente et dominico archidiacono singula in latinum
convertente ex arabico translatum quo quidquid aristotelis dixit
in libro suo de anima et de sensu et sensato et de intellecto et
intellectu ab auctore libri scias esse collectum. Unde postquam
deo volente hunc habes. In hoc illos tres plenissime vos habere
non dubiteris.’

p. 307 verso. ‘Incipit sextus de naturalibus auicenae translatus
a magistro Girardo cremonensi de arabico in latinum in toleto.
Iam explevimus in primo libro.’ … ‘Capitulum in quo affirmatur
esse anima et diffinitur secundum quod est anima. Dicemus igitur
quia quod primum.’

p. 315 verso. ‘Expleta est pars prima sexti libri de collectione
naturalium. Incipit pars secunda eius. Capitulum de certificando
virtutes quae sunt propriae animae vegetabilis. Incipiemus nunc
notificare sigillatim.’

p. 322 recto. ‘Completa est pars secunda sexti libri de
collectione naturalium. Deo sit gratia. Incipit pars eius tertia
de visu. Debemus loqui de visu.’

p. 335 recto. ‘non habet sensum communem ullo modo. Completa est
pars tertia sexti libri de naturalibus, Deo sint gratiae. Incipit
iiij vj libri de naturalibus. Capitulum in quo est verbum commune
de sensibilibus interioribus quos habent animalia. Sensus autem
qui est communis.’

p. 344 verso. ‘et hic est finis eius quod transtulit Auohaueth
ex capitulis illius libri ad hunc locum huius libri de anima.
Completa est quarta pars sexti libri de naturalibus auxilio Dei.
Incipit pars quinta libri eiusdem. Capitulum de proprietatibus
actionum et passionum hominis, et de assignatione contemplationis
et actionis. Quoniam jam explevimus tractatum de virtutibus

p. 356 verso. ‘quorum quaedam attrahunt materiam et quaedam
expellunt sicut postea scies cum loquitur de animalibus.
Completus est liber de anima qui est sextus liber collectionis
secundae de naturalibus. Et ei qui dedit intelligere sint gratiae
infinitae. Post hunc sequitur liber septimus de vegetabilibus et
viijº de animalibus qui et finis scientiae naturalis. Post ipsum
autem sequitur collectio tercia de disciplinalibus in quatuor
libris, seu arismetica, geometria, musica, astrologia, et post
hunc sequitur liber de causa causarum.’ Then follows an index to
the chapters of the _De Anima_ which ends the whole codex on p.
357 recto.

I have thought it well to give this complete account of these two
remarkable manuscripts not only because they show the exact place held
by the _De animalibus_ in the body of commentaries written by Avicenna,
but also on account of the view they give of the translations made by
the early Toledan school. In this respect they serve in some measure
to correct and extend the conclusions of Jourdain. It is evident, for
instance, that Avendeath did not finish translating the _De Anima_, but
only proceeded in it as far as the end of the fourth part.

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