Book of Testaments

Book of Testaments

Spain — 1109–1112

A masterpiece on many aspects of medieval life: perhaps the most beautifully illuminated manuscript of 12th century Spain

  1. Treats historical, social, and historical topics of the emerging Spanish kingdom

  2. The illuminator's name remains unknown to this day

  3. The composition and technique of the artistic equipment are a novelty

Book of Testaments

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Book of Testaments

The Book of Testaments arose between 1109 and 1112 in Spain. It was commissioned by the Spanish Bishop Pelayo in the municipality of Oviedo and contains historically valuable information about medieval life in Spain. The unusual miniatures of the work make the manuscript especially appealing.

Book of Testaments

In the Middle Ages, France and Belgium were considered in particular to be true strongholds of European painting and book art. Nevertheless in Spain in the early 12th century, there arose a few breath-taking codices that were in no way inferior to the French and Belgian artworks. One of these masterpieces is the Book of Testaments, which was completed by a master who was named after this special codex. The work contains 17 high quality miniatures and is embellished with numerous decorative initials and further border decoration.

Unique Documentation

The Book of Testaments conveys information about life in medieval Spain in the most detailed manner. It contains information from legally valid documents that are concerned with the diocese of Oviedo. In the document, the donations to the congregation, tax exemptions, privileges of the church, and additional legal documents were recorded. Also interesting is the register of wealthy inhabitants of Oviedo, who made the construction of splendid cathedral possible through their generous donations. Alongside charming book illustrations, the manuscript also supplies valuable historical information.

At the Behest of the Bishop

The illuminated manuscript was commissioned in the first third of the 12th century by Bishop Paelayo in Oviedo. It cannot be said for certain today who was responsible for the design of the codex. The gifted artist received the name of convenience Master of the Book of Testaments after his masterpiece. The valuable document is housed in the Oviedo Cathedral to this day.

Innovative Illustrations

The comprehensive manuscript contains information that is of great significance for the historical origin of Spain. Alongside its historically significant content, the document impresses through true masterworks of Romanesque illumination from Spain. The miniatures of the work display a characteristic painting style as is seen in no other manuscript from Europe. The Book of Testaments already caused a stir at its creation and has lost none of its artistic appeal today.


Alternative Titles
Libro de los Testamentos
Liber testamentorum ecclesiae ovetensis
Buch der Testamente
Libro dei Testamenti
Livre des Testaments
Livro dos Testamentos
Libro Notarial de Don Pelayo, Obispo de Oviedo
Size / Format
226 pages / 36.4 × 24.0 cm
Carolingian minuscule Protogothic
17 miniatures plus illuminated initials and marginal decorations
The Cathedral of Oviedo's most important documents
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Book of Testaments – Catedral Metropolitana (Oviedo, Spain)
M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 1995
Limited Edition: 987 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Libro de los Testamentos

M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 1995

Publisher: M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 1995
Limited Edition: 987 copies
Binding: Embossed brown leather in leather slipcase
Commentary: 1 volume (828 pages) by Joaquín Yarza Luaces, Josefa Sanz Fuentes, Elena E. Rodríguez Díaz, Gabino Díaz Merchán, and Emiliano Fernández Vallina
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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