Beatus of Liébana - Silos Codex

Beatus of Liébana - Silos Codex Facsimile Edition

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

Sold by Napoleon's brother to the British Library in 1820: a fascinating Beatus manuscript with over 100 gilded miniatures that took 20 years to complete

  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

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
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  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
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.

Codicology

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
Origin
Spain
Date
April 18th, 1091 – June 30th, 1109
Style
Language
Script
Visigothic
Illustrations
106 miniatures, illuminated with gold
Content
Commentary on the Book of Revelation by Beatus of Liébana
Commentary on the Book of Daniel by Saint Jerome
Antiphonary
Excerpt from the Etymologies by Isadore of Seville
Various texts from St. Jerome, St. Gregory and St. Augustine
Division of Duties for
Patron
Abbot Fortunio
Abbot Nunnus
Abbot John
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) Facsimile Edition
M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 2004
Limited Edition: 987 copies
Detail Picture

Beatus of Liébana - Silos Codex

The Sealed of Israel

In Rev. 7, four angels stand at the corners of the earth holding back the winds as another angel appears in the east carrying the seal of the living God, which will be applied to the foreheads of the 144,000 chosen ones from the twelve tribes of Israel. The angel, who tells the others not to harm the earth and the sea until the faithful are sealed, is depicted here emerging from the sun upside down with a cross-staff in his hand and flanked by two of the angels restraining the winds in the corners.

Beato de Liébana, códice del Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos
Single Page

Beatus of Liébana - Silos Codex

Hell

This famous image of Hell is distinguished by its rarity and the complexity of its iconography, which draws from traditions ranging from Gnosticism to Ancient Egypt. Presented in a four-lobed frame corresponding to the golden ratio, it depicts the punishment of a rich man named Dives (center) by the devils Beelzebub (left), Radamas (bottom), Athimos (right), and Barrabas (top).

Outside the frame, the Archangel Michael holds scales to weigh souls in the manner of the Egyptian god Toth. The sin of Avarice is emphasized by placing it in the center, where the figure has two snakes biting his head while his feet are bitten by two toads symbolizing the enemies of the Egyptian god Ra. Lust, the only other sin depicted, is represented by two lovers wrapped in a blanket.

Beato de Liébana, códice del Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos
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
Price: Log in here!
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