Beatus of Liébana - San Millán Codex

Beatus of Liébana - San Millán Codex

Probably Castile (Mozarabic Part) and San Millán de la Cogolla (Romanesque part) (Spain) — First part: Late 10th or early 11th century (Mozarabic); Second part: second half of the 11th century (Romanesque)

With excerpts from the words of Isidore de Seville (ca. 560–636): a Beatus manuscript in Mozarabic and Romanesque style

  1. This unique Beatus manuscript was begun in the 10th century and completed over a century later

  2. Consequently, the first part is in the Mozarabic style and the second is distinctly Romanesque

  3. The manuscript is supplemented with excerpts from the Etymology of Isidore de Seville (ca. 560–636)

Beatus of Liébana - San Millán Codex

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Beatus of Liébana - San Millán Codex

Saint Beatus of Liébana (c. 730 – c. 800) wrote an authoritative commentary on the Book of Revelation, which was divided into 12 books and originates from ca. 776. It is one of the most influential texts of medieval theology, and inspired the creation of dozens of precious manuscripts, most from Northern Spain. The San Millán Codex represents one of the most complete surviving copies of the famous commentary. It is adorned with 49 full-page miniatures, which were produced in two phases during the 10th and 11th centuries and are fine specimens of the Mozarabic and Romanesque styles. The manuscript is named after the Monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla in La Rioja, where it was completed.

Beatus of Liébana - San Millán Codex

This is a fascinating specimen from the grand tradition of so-called Beatus manuscripts. Saint Beatus of Liébana (c. 730 – c. 800) wrote an authoritative commentary on the Book of Revelation, which was divided into 12 books. It originates from a time when most of the Iberian Peninsula had been overrun by the Moors. Only the Kingdom of Asturias, protected by the Cantabrian Mountains, stood against the Muslim invasion. It was in this precarious situation that Beatus wrote his commentary, and in which its meaning changed. The beast, once representing the Roman Empire, was now replaced by the Muslim Caliphate, and Babylon was no longer Rome, but Córdoba instead. That being said, most of his commentary is actually critical of other Christians, who put their own interests before the will of God, and Muslims are only mentioned in passing. The San Millán Codex also includes the prologue of the Apocalypse that was written by Saint Jerome (347–420), his commentary on the Book of Daniel, and extracts of the Etymologiae by Saint Isidore of Seville (ca. 560–636). 49 full-page miniatures adorn the extensive text, which comprises more than 560 pages. This manuscript represents one of the most complete surviving copies of the famous commentary.

Who Was Beatus?

Beatus of Liébana was a monk, theologian, and member of the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana in Spain. The monk is famous above all for his magnum opus, a commentary on the biblical Apocalypse in twelve books. It originates from ca. 776 and are known today as the Beatus-Series. These twelve books were adapted into countless manuscripts, many of which survive to this day. They are regarded as some of the finest examples of Mozarabic illumination, and were influenced by Moorish art, despite the antagonistic relationship between the two peoples. The majority of Beatus manuscripts originate from between the 10th and 11th centuries in northern Spain. The San Millán Codex was produced during the heyday of Beatus manuscript production.

Mozarabic Art meets the Romanesque

The manuscript at hand was produced in two phases, the first originated at the end of the 10th century in the province of León, and contains the majority of the text and most of the miniatures. These are rendered in the Mozarabic style. The second part originated from the Monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla in La Rioja, after which it is named, probably at the end of the 11th century. One new miniature was added, the preexisting miniatures received additional color, and this second phase shows influences of the Romanesque style. Thus, the manuscript is of great interest to theologians and art historians alike.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Beatus von Liébana - Codex San Millán
San Millan Beatus
Beato de San Millán de la Cogolla
Beato de San Millán
Size / Format
564 pages / 35.5 × 24.0 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
First part: Late 10th or early 11th century (Mozarabic); Second part: second half of the 11th century (Romanesque)
Style
Language
Script
Visigothic
Illustrations
49 large and full-page miniatures
Content
Commentary on the Book of Revelation by Beatus of Liébana
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Beatus of Liébana - San Millán Codex – Emil: 33 – Real Academia de la Historia (Madrid, Spain)
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 2002
Limited Edition: 980 copies

Detail Picture

Beatus of Liébana - San Millán Codex

John Receives the Revelation of Jesus Christ

An angel hands a book to John of Patmos; both figures have halos, wear robes with a stylized fall of folds, especially John’s swirling black cloak, and stare at each other with large almond-shaped eyes. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.” (Rev. 1:1-2)

Beato de San Millán
Single Page

Beatus of Liébana - San Millán Codex

Vision of the Lamb Receiving the Book with Seven Seals

A kaleidoscope of yellows, reds, blues, black, and white: this roundel is a tetramorph of the four Evangelist Symbols encircling the Lamb of God, which holds the book out toward the beholder. Their wings extend well beyond the borders of their respective medallions in a dynamic, counterclockwise motion that contrasts with the yellow background. The 24 elders, some with hands outstretched in praise, surround the roundel.

This miniature is exemplary of Mozarabic art, which is characterized by bold shapes, opaque primary colors, heavy patterns, and flat, stylized figures without shading. Their two-tone garments consist of simple shapes and folds drawn with black or white lines. Finally, an unfinished hand in the right margin points to the roundel.

Beato de San Millán
Facsimile Editions

#1 Beato de San Millán

Beatus of Liébana - San Millán Codex – Emil: 33 – Real Academia de la Historia (Madrid, Spain)
Beatus of Liébana - San Millán Codex – Emil: 33 – Real Academia de la Historia (Madrid, Spain) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 2002
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: Motifs from the work have been printed into the maroon goatskin binding on both the front and back covers as well as reproduced in the bronze clasps
Commentary: 1 volume (134 pages) by Manuel C. Diaz & Diaz and John Williams
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.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
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#2 El Beato de San Millán de la Cogolla

Edilan – Madrid, 1999

Publisher: Edilan – Madrid, 1999
Commentary: 1 volume by Soledad De Silva y Verástegui
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.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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