Beatus of Liébana - Burgo de Osma Codex

Beatus of Liébana - Burgo de Osma Codex

Spain — 1086

The stylistic transition from Mozarabic to Romanesque: a Beatus manuscript with the famous double-page mappa mundi populated by mythical creatures

  1. This manuscript features a famous double-page *mappa mundi* populated by mythical creatures

  2. Martinus, the miniaturist, designed the pages to be as geometric and symmetrical as possible

  3. It impressively represents the transition from the Mozarabic to the Romanesque style

Beatus of Liébana - Burgo de Osma Codex

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Beatus of Liébana - Burgo de Osma Codex

The most famous Apocalypse commentary of the entire Middle Ages in a splendid and exceptionally high-quality manuscript: the so-called Beatus of Burgo de Osma is stored in the significant collection of the northern Spanish Cathedral of Burgo de Osma. This large-format codex presents the famous Apocalypse Commentary of Beatus of Liébana on 332 pages with a total of 71 miniatures. Originating in the year 1086 in the influential scriptorium of Sahagún, the Spanish manuscript impressively represents the transition from the Mozarabic to the Romanesque style. In luminously bright miniatures, magnificent figures present the apocalyptic events. Fantastical, sometimes gruesome, sometimes impressive creatures illustrate the Book of Revelation along with the accompanying commentary by Beatus of Liébana.

Beatus of Liébana - Burgo de Osma Codex

The most famous Apocalypse commentary of the entire Middle Ages in a splendid and exceptionally high-quality manuscript: the so-called Beatus of Burgo de Osma is stored in the significant collection of the northern Spanish Cathedral of Burgo de Osma. This large-format codex presents the famous Apocalypse Commentary of Beatus of Liébana on 332 pages with a total of 71 miniatures. Originating in the year 1086 in the influential scriptorium of Sahagún, the Spanish manuscript impressively represents the transition from the Mozarabic to the Romanesque style. In luminously bright miniatures, magnificent figures present the apocalyptic events. Fantastical, sometimes gruesome, sometimes impressive creatures illustrate the Book of Revelation along with the accompanying commentary by Beatus of Liébana.

The Biblical Tale of the Apocalypse

Apocalyptic riders on strong steeds, a naked woman beside a huge snake, colorful hosts armed with swords, and the enthroned Christ borne by two angels: all these images unite the Book of Revelation, the so-called Apocalypse. The Asturian monk and theologian Beatus of Liébana (ca. 730–800), composed an influential and significant commentary in 776 to the Book of Revelation. Divided into 12 books, Beatus of Liébana collected clarifying commentaries to the allegorical and symbolic images of the Book of Revelation in his magnum opus. In doing so he referenced sources from various older authors, which he condensed into set pieces. This most-famous Apocalypse commentary of the entire Middle Ages was recorded in splendid and exceptionally high-quality, for the most part wonderfully illuminated manuscripts. The famous Beatus manuscripts predominantly originated from the north of Spain from the 10th to the 12th centuries. 30 surviving Beatus manuscripts, of which 27 are richly furnished with magnificent miniatures, attest to this popularity and high quality.

Outstanding Romanesque-Mozarabic Miniatures

The so-called Beatus of Burgo de Osma stands at the threshold between the Mozarabic and Romanesque styles. It represents thereby a unique feature. The broad color palette of the magnificent miniatures is still starkly characterized by the Mozarabic, yet the figures in their physicality are already Romanesque. On 71 pages of miniatures, the Beatus of Burgo de Osma presents splendidly colored scenes before a monochrome background. The miniaturist, whose name Martinus is known, designed the picture pages in an extremely decorative fashion, e.g. with the idea in mind to invest the miniatures as geometrically and symmetrically as possible. The miniatures were surrounded by gorgeous frames, which appear simple, but are nonetheless adorned at the corners with ornamental elements of braids. These elements are strongly reminiscent of Celtic ornamentation and insular illumination.

The Apostles as Missionaries of the World

Famous above all is the mappa mundi of the Codex Burgo de Osma, the magnificent world map on a double page. The Earth is presented circularly engulfed by water. The map shows the continents with the 12 Apostles, who were sent by Jesus to missionary work in various regions of the world. Mythical creatures – e.g. a fantastical person with only one leg, called a sciapod by the Greeks – populate the so-called terra incognita. In research, the famous mappa mundi of the Codex Burgo de Osma has been compared with the world map of the Beatus of Saint-Sever.

Famous Place of Origin and Storage

This Beautus codex originated from Burgo de Osma in the year 1086. According to an inscription, the manuscript was begun on either the 3rd of January or 3rd of June of that year. Sahagún is presumed to be the place of origin. The scriptorium of this Cluniac monastery in the bishopric of Leon was cutting-edge in Spanish illumination. Today the manuscript is stored in the library of the Cathedral of Burgos de Osma. This Castilian episcopal city in the north of Spain is famous to this day for its gorgeous medieval old town. At the beginning of the 12th century, Saint Pedro de Osma acted as bishop, whose exceptional tomb can be inspected in the cathedral. San Pedro de Osma was also the one who ordered the construction of a cathedral in Burgo de Osma. The Gothic cathedral in Burgo de Osma houses a significant collection of codices, the famous Beatus of Burgo de Osma first and foremost among them.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Beato de Liébana del Burgo de Osma
Apocalypsis: El Beato de Osma
Size / Format
332 pages / 36.1 × 25.3 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
1086
Style
Language
Illustrations
71 pages with illuminations
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Beatus of Liébana - Burgo de Osma Codex – Biblioteca de la Catedral (El Burgo de Osma, Spain)
Vicent Garcia Editores – Valencia, 1992
Limited Edition: 1380 copies

Apocolípsis: El Beato del Burgo de Osma
Scriptorium – Valencia, 2015
Limited Edition: 390 copies
Detail Picture

Beatus of Liébana - Burgo de Osma Codex

The Woman and the Dragon

The Woman of the Apocalypse is one of the most prominent figures of John’s Revelation and is widely considered to be either the Virgin Mary or God’s people as a whole. She is shown with the moon at her feet, the sun at her back, and crowned with twelve stars as the red, seven-headed dragon who wants to devour her child approaches. This event provokes the War in Heaven, whereby the child is saved and the Archangel Michael smites the Dragon, casting it down from heaven.

Beato de Liébana del Burgo de Osma
Single Page

Beatus of Liébana - Burgo de Osma Codex

Mappa Mundi

One of the special features of this Beatus manuscript is the fact that it contains a double-page Mappa Mundi. Along with the specimen from the Saint-Sever Codex, it is one of the finest of these Quadripartite or Beatus Maps, which were intended to be more spiritual and symbolic – being East-oriented with Jerusalem at the center – than geographically accurate.

The Earth is artfully presented in a circle surrounded by water with Asia at the top, Europe and “Libya” (Africa) at the bottom, and the mythical continent, the so-called terra incognita or “Antipodes” separate and to the right, which is peopled by the one-legged monopods. The 12 Apostles can be found missionizing across the world, which has a simple but elegant design.

Beato de Liébana del Burgo de Osma
Facsimile Editions

#1 Beato de Liébana del Burgo de Osma

Vicent Garcia Editores – Valencia, 1992
Beatus of Liébana - Burgo de Osma Codex – Biblioteca de la Catedral (El Burgo de Osma, Spain)
Beatus of Liébana - Burgo de Osma Codex – Biblioteca de la Catedral (El Burgo de Osma, Spain) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Vicent Garcia Editores – Valencia, 1992
Limited Edition: 1380 copies
Binding: Parchment on wooden board
Commentary: 1 volume (436 pages) by José Arranz, John Williams, Barbara A. Shailor, Eugenio Romero Pose, Serafín Moralejo Álvarez and Asunción Madinaveitia

Languages: English, Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Specially made paper imitating vellum. Limited edition numbered by notary and signed by the printer-publisher. The book has numerous borders and drawings in full colour and illuminated with gold leaf.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!

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