Beatus of Liébana - Silos Codex

Beatus of Liébana - Silos Codex

Scriptorium of the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos (Spain) — April 18th, 1091 – June 30th, 1109

Sold to the British Library by Napoleon's brother in 1820: a fascinating Beatus manuscript that is the product of 20 years work

  1. This Beatus manuscript with 106 gilded miniatures took nearly 20 years to complete

  2. The codex documents the work's scribes, illuminator, patron, and date of completion

  3. It was sold to the British Library in 1840 by Joseph Bonaparte, brother to Napoleon (1769–1821)

Beatus of Liébana - Silos Codex

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Beatus of Liébana - Silos Codex

The Silos Codex is one of the newest manuscripts in the Beatus tradition. The document originates from the scriptorium of the Santo Domingo Monastery in Silos between 1091 and 1109. The work contains 106 exciting miniatures embellished with gold. The oldest brother of Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte, assigned the manuscript to the British Museum in 1840.

Beatus of Liébana - Silos Codex

The Book of Revelation, which is also known as the Apocalypse, is the last book of the New Testament. The story of the end of the world, of Judgement Day, of the sinners’ descent into hell, tremendously fascinated Christians from every land. A Spanish monk by the name of Beatus wrote a commentary on this book from the Bible, which was adapted over several centuries thereafter. The Silos Codex is one of the newest editions of the Beatus manuscripts. The valuable original of the manuscript is found today in the British Museum in London.

Who Was Beatus?

Beatus of Liébana was a monk and theologian, who belonged to 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. These twelve books originate from ca. 776 and are known today as the Beatus-Series. The twelve books were adapted into countless manuscripts, many of which survive to this day. The majority of Beatus manuscripts originate from between the 10th and 12th centuries in northern Spain. The Beatus manuscript of Silos was completed in 1109.

A Well Documented Masterpiece

As is noted several times in the Beatus codex, the text by the scribes Dominicus and Petrus was completed in April 1091, while the miniatures by the illuminator Petrus were finished on July 1, 1109. The work was begun under the direction of Abbot Fortunius von Santo Dominigo de Silos. After his death, it was carried on under Abbots Nunnus and Johannes. Joseph Bonaparte, the older brother of Napoleon, acquired the work when he was King of Spain. In 1840 he sold it to the British Museum, where it is found today.

Stylistic Particularities

At the end of the 11th century, there were profound changes in ecclesiastical and cultural life in the Christian kingdom in northern Spain. Art and architecture increasingly approximated the Romanesque forms prevalent in France. These influences occasionally show themselves in the marginal miniatures of the Silos Codex. The first miniature is an extraordinary depiction of Hell, in which a rich man and a lewd couple are tormented by several demons. Further depictions show angels and multiple Johns in various garb. He sashays through the pictures in more fashionable worldly clothes with a splendid headdress. The true allure of the miniatures of the Silos Codex does not come from their artistic perfection, but rather from their modern narrative style. The unusual illustrations make the Silos edition one of the most interesting versions of the Beatus manuscripts.


Alternative Titles
Beatus von Liébana - Codex von Silos
Beato de Liébana, códice del Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos
Silos Beatus - Codex of the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos
Beatus von Silos - Codex aus dem Kloster von Santo Domingo von Silos
Beato di Silos - Codice del Monastero di Santo Domingo de Silos
Beato de Silos - Códice do Mosteiro de Santo Domingo de Silos
Béatus de Silos - Codex du Monastère de Santo Domingo de Silos
Silos Beatus
Beatus of Liébana
Silos, Silos Apocalypse
Size / Format
560 pages / 38.0 × 25.0 cm
April 18th, 1091 – June 30th, 1109
106 miniatures, illuminated with gold
Commentary on the Book of Revelation by Beatus of Liébana
Commentary on the Book of Daniel by Saint Jerome
Excerpt from the Etymologies by Isadore of Seville
Various texts from St. Jerome, St. Gregory and St. Augustine
Division of Duties for
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Cardinal Antonio of Aragon
Pascal of Aragon
King Charles IV of Spain
Joseph Bonaparte, King of Spain

Available facsimile editions:
Beatus of Liébana - Silos Codex – Add. Ms 11695 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 2004
Limited Edition: 987 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Beato de Liébana, códice del Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos

M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 2004

Publisher: M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 2004
Limited Edition: 987 copies
Binding: Bound in blind embossed green leather with a leather case
Commentary: 1 volume (240 pages) by Fr. Miguel C. Vivancos, Ángela Franco and Fr. Clemente Serna González
Languages: English, 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: €€€€ (7,000€ - 10,000€)
Edition available
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