Angels and monsters: a Beatus manuscript with a turbulent ownership history and unique painting

Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex

Navarra (Spain) — 11th century

Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex

Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex

Navarra (Spain) — 11th century

  1. The desirability of this Beatus manuscript is attested to by a diverse history of ownership

  2. The illumination is distinguished by angels, monsters, and other figures both human and fantastical

  3. The 12th century work is now a prized possession of the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris

Beato de Liébana - Códice de Navarra

Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex

The Fifth Trumpet

Commanded by their king, the Angel Abbadon, an army of locust-hybrids launches an attack on mankind. “The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle.” (Rev. 9:7-9)

Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex

Alternative Titles:
  • Beato de Liébana - Códice de Navarra
  • Codex of Navarre
  • Navarra-Kodex
  • Codex de Navarre
  • Codice de Navarra
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The grandiose Navarra Beatus is an outstanding specimen of the North Spanish Beatus manuscripts of the 12th century. Impressive miniatures accompanying the famous 8th century Apocalypse commentary by Beatus of Liébana illustrate 64 of codex’s 314 pages. Multi-headed creatures, angels with trumpets, and other fantastic and sometimes terrifying figures and creatures populate this world. The Navarra Codex is completely bound up with the Spanish Beatus tradition. Alongside its particularly beautiful visual adornment, the history of the manuscript is one of the characteristics that makes it something special!

Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex

The grandiose Navarra Beatus is an outstanding specimen of the North Spanish Beatus manuscripts of the 12th century. Impressive miniatures accompanying the famous 8th century Apocalypse commentary by Beatus of Liébana illustrate 64 of codex’s 314 pages. Multi-headed creatures, angels with trumpets, and other fantastic and sometimes terrifying figures and creatures populate this world. The Navarra Codex is completely bound up with the Spanish Beatus tradition. Alongside its particularly beautiful visual adornment, the history of the manuscript is one of the characteristics that makes it something special!

The Famous Author of the Commentary

Beatus of Liébana (d. 798) was an important theologian and monk in the Asturian monastery of San Martín de Liébana. As an important scholar of his time, he is famous for his magnum opus, a commentary on the Apocalypse in twelve books, to this day. With its mysterious figures and terrifying events, the biblical Revelation of John about the end of the world offers many opportunities for interpretation, which require a thorough explanation. This was delivered by Beatus of Liébana in his clarifying and illuminating commentary. The Apocalypse commentary by Beatus attained great fame above all because of the numerous – mostly North Spanish – manuscripts, in which his text was recorded and illustrated from the 10th to the 13th century. These large-format and richly-illustrated codices constitute their own genre of illumination, the so-called Beatus Manuscripts.

Artistic Furnishings of the Highest Quality

The codex Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 of the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris is famous as the so-called Navarra Beatus. The gorgeous illuminations present themselves here full of luminosity and magic. Clearly, both the gorgeous Carolingian script with creatively-designed initials as well as the high-quality miniatures are stylistically Spanish, and the typical image program is closely associated with the Spanish Beatus tradition. The codex was made in the second half of the 12th century in Navarra, probably in Astorga in the La Rioja region, because this location is particularly explicitly referenced on the mappa mundi, the manuscript’s double-page world map.

Detailed and Mysterious Aspects of its History

The exact provenance of the Navarra Beatus remains a mystery to this day. According to the Jesuit priest José Moret, a magnificent Beatus codex existed in the library of the Navarra Cathedral in the 17th century. An additional exciting document from the year 1389 is imbedded in the binding of the codex, which King Charles III of Navarra (1361-1425) addressed to the Bishop of Dax, Juan Bauses, and the Prior of Roncesvalles, Miguel de Taver. Thus, conclusions can be made about the history of the manuscript. The Navarra Beatus passed through the hands of a book dealer on its way to Lyon, then Milan by means of another dealer, and finally came to Paris, where it was acquired by the Bibliothèque Nationale in 1879. The Navarra Beatus is a particularly beautiful example of this centuries-old Beatus tradition!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Beato de Liébana - Códice de Navarra
Codex of Navarre
Navarra-Kodex
Codex de Navarre
Codice de Navarra
Size / Format
314 pages / 34.5 x 23.5 cm
Date
11th century
Language
Illustrations
63 miniatures
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Beato de Liébana - Códice de Navarra

Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex

John's Vision and Commission

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” (Rev. 1:10-11)

Christ appears before John with a sword in his mouth, standing among seven lampstands, representing the seven churches of Asia, and holding seven stars, representing the seven angels watching over these churches. Bowing before him, John accepts the commission in a scene that is typical of the Spanish Beatus tradition with rich shades of red and purple, which is then highlighted with gold leaf.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex“

Beato de Liébana - Códice de Navarra
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Beatus of Liébana - Navarra Codex – Ms. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 1366 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
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Beato de Liébana - Códice de Navarra

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Millennium Liber – Madrid, 2007
Limited Edition
995
Binding
Leather over wooden boards with studs and two clasps
Commentary
1 volume
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