In September 1301, the king of Aragon, James II, wrote urgently to his treasurer commanding him to get the royal Librum medicine vocatum Avicenne out of pawn. He had allowed his favourite surgeon to pawn the volume with a Barcelona merchant for 500 sueldos, but now he found a "valda necessarium" and had to have it back. Five hundred sueldos was an enormous amount, the price of fifty meters of Persian cloth, of a good mule or of a horse and not even the royal treasury always found such sums easy to produce.
The king had to repeat his order for the book's redemption for months to come. This volume, on which the king placed so much store, can only have been Avicenna's Canon, the great medical encyclopaedia of Ibn Sina, translated into Latin in the twelfth century.*