Beatus of Liébana - Huelga Codex

Beatus of Liébana - Huelga Codex – Scriptorium – MS M.429 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)

Las Huelgas Monastery, Burgos (Spain) — 1220

The last and at the same time largest manuscript of the famous Spanish Beatus tradition: over 100 Gothic miniatures, some of them double-pages, created for the daughter of King Alfonso III of Castile

  1. The last and greatest of the magnificent Beatus manuscripts from northern Spain originated ca. 1220

  2. Created for Berenguela de Castilla, daughter of King Alfonso VIII of Castile (1155–1214) and Eleanor Plantagenet

  3. The grandiose manuscript features 100+ Gothic miniatures, some spanning a double-page

Beatus of Liébana - Huelga Codex

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Beatus of Liébana - Huelga Codex

In the Royal Abbey of Las Huelgas, the last and simultaneously the greatest of the magnificent Beatus manuscripts arose from northern Spain in the year 1220. At the behest of Berenguela de Castilla, the daughter of King Alfonso VIII, true masters of their craft completed an impressive work of art. The well over 100 miniatures, which sometimes even stretch across a double page, firstly allow the tradition of the Beatus manuscripts to be wonderfully understood. However, the miniatures likewise present innovative reinventions to the illustration of the famous Apocalypse commentary of Beatus of Liébana. The splendidly colorful miniatures overwhelm in their unmediated force allow the fantastical world of the Book of Revelation to come to life before the eyes of the beholder. It simultaneously offers a glimpse into the grandiose tradition of illumination in medieval Spain.

Beatus of Liébana - Huelga Codex

In the Royal Abbey of Las Huelgas, the last and simultaneously the greatest of the magnificent Beatus manuscripts arose from northern Spain in the year 1220. At the behest of Berenguela de Castilla, the daughter of King Alfonso VIII, true masters of their craft completed an impressive work of art. The well over 100 miniatures, which sometimes even stretch across a double page, firstly allow the tradition of the Beatus manuscripts to be wonderfully understood. However, the miniatures likewise present innovative reinventions to the illustration of the famous Apocalypse commentary of Beatus of Liébana. The splendidly colorful miniatures overwhelm in their unmediated force allow the fantastical world of the Book of Revelation to come to life before the eyes of the beholder. It simultaneously offers a glimpse into the grandiose tradition of illumination in medieval Spain.

A Royal Monastery

The gem of the final phase of the Beatus manuscript is found today in the Morgan Library in New York. An exciting history is wrapped around the so-called Beatus of Las Huelgas. The manuscript originated in the year 1220 in the Las Huelgas Abbey near Burgos. The Abbey of Los Huelgas was a royal cloister, founded by the Castilian King Alfonso VIII. The great significance of Las Huelgas is evidenced among other things by an outstanding collection of codices. It was precisely in this abbey that Berenguela de Castilla died on November 8, 1246.

The Important Commissioner

Berenguela de Castilla (1180–1246) is presumed to be the commissioner of the Huelga Codex. She was the daughter of King Alfonso VIII of Castile and Eleanor Plantagenet, as well as the mother of King Fernando III. In the year 1217, Berenguela, as the only child of the king at the time, was the Queen of Castile, albeit briefly. The splendid manuscript of the Huelga Codex is worthy all-around of such an important commissioner. The grandiose format of 52 x 36.4 cm already makes the codex something special. Yet the greatest and last manuscript of the Apocalypse commentaries of Beatus of Liébana unfolds a splendor from within, which can probably overwhelm any beholder.

The Exciting Apocalypse, the Genealogy of Christ, and More.

On 368 pages, the Huelga Codex presents 116 miniatures, which sometimes stretch across a double page. As to content, the manuscript begins with a cycle of Christological miniatures. An impressive Maiestas Domini and representations of the four Evangelists present the outstanding style of the miniatures. The eight miniatures of the prefacing cycle originate from a master, who was probably located in Toledo. An extensive genealogy of Christ familiarizes the reader with the biblical background. Thereafter follows the actual Apocalypse and lastly the Book of Daniel with the accompanying commentary by St. Jerome.

The Last Great Beatus

Originating in the year 1220, the Beatus of Los Huelgas presents miniatures in the Gothic style. This is especially perceptible in the figures, which appear exceedingly slender and graceful. The miniaturists oriented themselves on numerous examples, e.g. the arrangement of the miniatures on monochrome, bright backgrounds and in narrow, simple frames. The miniatures are sometimes subdivided into several registers and show symbolic scenes from the Book of Revelation. Colorful crowds of people, gruesome denizens of hell, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and magnificent angels populate the depictions. Sometimes the events play out before impressive city architectures, with embellishing columns, artful capitals, and grandiose archways. The intensively luminous colors lend the miniatures their vividness and their impressive pull on the beholder. As simultaneously the last and most comprehensive Beatus manuscript, the Huelga Codex offers therewith a wonderful overview of the tradition of Beatus manuscripts, which the miniaturists could substantially draw from. Nevertheless, the artists likewise presented themselves as exceptionally innovative by expanding traditional iconography to new representations.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Las Huelgas Apocalypse
Beatus Las Huelgas
Apocalipsis de San Juan
Beato de Liebana - Monasterio de Las Huelgas
Size / Format
368 pages / 52.0 × 36.4 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
1220
Style
Language
Script
Carolingian minuscule
Illustrations
116 miniatures
Content
Commentary on the Book of Revelation by Beatus of Liébana
Commentary on the Book of Daniel by Saint Jerome
Patron
Berenguela, mother of Fernando III and sister of Alphose VIII
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Detail Picture

Beatus of Liébana - Huelga Codex

Christ in Majesty

Within a circular mandorla supported by angels, Christ sits enthroned with bare feet resting on a footstool before a starry heaven and flanked by the sun and moon. Christ’s right hand is extended in the sign of benediction while his left holds a book displaying the words EGO SVM ALFA ET OMEGA. The golden crossed-halo on his head is lined with pearls and his robes possess a very naturalistic fall of folds made possible through subtle coloration and shading.

Beatus of Liébana - Huelga Codex – Scriptorium – MS M.429 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Single Page

Beatus of Liébana - Huelga Codex

Victorious Cross Of Oviedo

The Cross of Oviedo is commonly found at the beginning of a Beatus manuscript and is named after the Greek-shaped crosses found in the treasury of Oviedo Cathedral. These imitate the cross carried by Pelayo of Asturias in his victory over the Moors at the Battle of Covadonga in 722, which first stemmed the tide of Moorish conflict in Spain, beginning the Reconquista.

Here, the Master of the Prefatory Pages associates the cross with the symbolism of the Passion. The cross, rooted in the Lamb of God, is flanked by two angels, one holding the spear and sponge. The crown of thorns and the three nails float above the arms of the cross, the Greek symbols for Alpha and Omega below. The cross, their halos, and the Lamb’s halo are highlighted in gold leaf.

Beatus of Liébana - Huelga Codex – Scriptorium – MS M.429 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Apocalipsis de San Juan. Beato de Liébana Monasterio de las Huelgas Beatus of Liébana - Las Huelgas Codex

Scriptorium – Valencia, 2004

Publisher: Scriptorium – Valencia, 2004
Limited Edition: 666 copies
Binding: Leather
Commentary: 1 volume by Peter K. Klein, David Raizman, Joaquín G. González Echegaray, Leslie G. Freeman, Alberto Del Campo Hernández, and William M. Voelke
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding. Topics covered in the commentary volume include: codicological and historical information, position of the Las Huelgas codex in the Beatus tradition, description and analysis of the miniatures, transcription of the text, translation of the commentary by Saint Jerome into Spanish, and bibliography.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
You might also be interested in:
Beatus of Liébana - San Andrés de Arroyo Codex – M. Moleiro Editor – Nouv. acq. lat. 2290 – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - San Andrés de Arroyo Codex
Scriptorium of the Monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña (Burgos, Spanien) – Ca. 1220

An unprecedented picture program for King Ferdinand III of Castile: one of the last and at the same time most beautiful Beatus manuscripts with 69 gold and silver adorned miniatures from the monastery of San Pedro de Carden͂a

Experience More
Beatus of Liébana - Berlin Codex – Millennium Liber – Ms. Theol. lat. fol. 561 – Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin, Germany)
Beatus of Liébana - Berlin Codex
Italy – Early 12th century

A true rarity as an Italian Beatus manuscript: unique pen and ink drawings with John, the author of the Apocalypse, hidden in each miniature

Experience More
Beatus of Liébana - San Pedro de Cardena Codex – M. Moleiro Editor – Museo Arqueológico Nacional (Madrid, Spain) / Francisco de Zabálburu y Basabe Library (Madrid, Spain) / Museu Diocesà (Gerona, Spain) / Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters
Beatus of Liébana - San Pedro de Cardeña Codex
Scriptorium of the Monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña (Burgos, Spain) – Between 1175 and 1185

The pictorial bridge between Romanesque and Gothic: a fascinating Beatus manuscript with 51 gold-ornamented miniatures by two genuine masters of their respective styles and today scattered in four parts across two continents

Experience More
Beatus of Liébana - Corsini Codex – Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Cors. 369 (40 E. 6) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Beatus of Liébana - Corsini Codex
Monastery of Sahagún (Léon, Spain) – 1151–1200

Miniatures of haunting beauty: in some respects perhaps the most interesting of the 27 Beatus manuscripts that have survived to the present day

Experience More
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex – Patrimonio Ediciones – Ms. Lat. 8 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex
Probably Castile (Spain) – 12th century

With 123 full-page miniatures in the Romanesque-Byzantine style: a Beatus manuscript with epic scenes such as the Great Flood embellished with gold and silver

Experience More
Beatus of Liébana - Turin Codex – Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Ms.J.II.I (Lat.93) – Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Beatus of Liébana - Turin Codex
Gerona Cathedral (Gerona, Spain) – 12th century

A woman in the team of illuminators: a Beatus manuscript based on the 10th century Girona Codex and yet with unique miniatures

Experience More
Blog articles worth reading
Filter selection
Publisher