Purple splendor for the King of Léon: a Castilian masterpiece with Mozarabic and insular influences

Ferdinand I Book of Hours

Spain — Mid 11th century

Ferdinand I Book of Hours

Ferdinand I Book of Hours

Spain — Mid 11th century

  1. The commission of Ferdinand I (1015–1065) is considered to be a primary work of 11th century Visigothic illumination

  2. The masterpiece of Castilian illumination impresses with its purple backgrounds and lavish gold décor

  3. The marvelously creative initials in particular makes both the Mozarabic and Insular influences apparent

Ferdinand I Book of Hours

Alternative Titles:
  • Prayer Book of Ferdinand I
  • Libro de Horas de Fernando I de León
  • Stundenbuch Ferdinands I.
Ferdinand I Book of Hours – Ms. 609 (Res.1) – Biblioteca Universidad de Santiago (Santiago de Compostela, Spain)
Ferdinand I Book of Hours – Ms. 609 (Res.1) – Biblioteca Universidad de Santiago (Santiago de Compostela, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The so-called Book of Hours of Ferdinand I of Castile and his wife Sancha is considered to be a primary work of 11th century Visigothic illumination. The masterpiece of Castilian illumination impresses with its purple backgrounds and gold, lavishly artistic décor of the highest quality, and its marvelously historical aura. Mozarabic influences, in addition to examples from Insular illumination, are discernable in the grandiose and exceptional initials that adorn every page of the manuscript. A testimonial to an exciting epoch in Spanish history and the great skill of Castilian artists in the mid–11th century!

Ferdinand I Book of Hours

The so-called Book of Hours of Ferdinand I of Castile and his wife Sancha is considered to be a primary work of 11th century Visigothic illumination. The masterpiece of Castilian illumination impresses with its purple backgrounds and gold, lavishly artistic décor of the highest quality, and its marvelously historical aura. Mozarabic influences, in addition to examples from Insular illumination, are discernable in the grandiose and exceptional initials that adorn every page of the manuscript. A testimonial to an exciting epoch in Spanish history and the great skill of Castilian artists in the mid–11th century!

The First King of Castile-León

Ferdinand I (1015–1065), King of Castile, was the owner or at least the patron of this magnificent prayer book. In the year 1037, Ferdinand finally became King of León, the ancestral homeland of his father. As a result the first unification of the kingdoms of Castile and León occurred during his reign, which would finally be sealed two centuries later. As the son of Sancho III of Navarra and Munia Mayor of Castile, Ferdinand inherited the united Kingdom of Castile. León came to him through military maneuvers and marriage politics, which had already been initiated by his father. In addition, he is famous for his struggle against the Moors and for the territorial expansion his dominion experienced as a result.

A Castilian Masterpiece

The co-called Book of Hours of Francis I is stored in the library of the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela. This manuscript is not exactly a book of hours in the sense of a private prayer book, but rather a psalter, a Liber canticorum et Ordo notrunalis. It originates from the year 1055 and comprises 488 pages, each of which is adorned with an impressive initial or even a large miniature. The names Pedro and Fructuoso are mentioned in the book as the copyist and miniaturist.

The Alphabet as a Fascinating Work of Art

The manuscript from the collection of Ferdinand I is undoubtedly a primary work of 11th century Visigothic illumination. The marvelously creative initials are especially amazing. In them one finds, inter alia, human and animal figures, also in connection with one another, as well as artfully ornamented elements. The rich ornamentation makes both the Mozarabic and Insular influences apparent. There are also a few full-page miniatures in the manuscript. For example, a miniature with the presentation of the manuscript to the King in the company of his wife Sancha under an artfully draped curtain and amidst a splendid decorative frame. The marvelous variety of forms competes with curious visual inventions with the initials, e.g. a man dangling from a crossbeam. All of this, with the addition of precious gold and purple backgrounds, is an indication of its royal owner, making it a grandiose masterpiece!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Prayer Book of Ferdinand I
Libro de Horas de Fernando I de León
Stundenbuch Ferdinands I.
Size / Format
448 pages / 27.0 x 22.0 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
Mid 11th century
Language
Libro de Horas de Fernando I de León

Ferdinand I Book of Hours

Incipit Page: Beatus Vir

This initial page is a masterpiece of the Spanish Romanesque style, with artistic influences ranging from the Mozarabic to the Insular. It contains the phrase Beatus vir or “Blessed is the man”, which are the opening words of the Book of Psalms in Latin. The page has survived in remarkably good condition and is worthy of its royal owner, King Ferdinand I of Castile.

Only the finest materials were used for the creation of this incipit page: red and blue were the most expensive inks, which are contrasted by the liberal use of gold leaf. Insular influences are obvious in the interlace, human faces, and animal heads that make up the “B”. Mozarabic elements are more subtle but can be found in the ornate patterns of the color fields.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Ferdinand I Book of Hours“

Libro de Horas de Fernando I de León
Ferdinand I Book of Hours – Ms. 609 (Res.1) – Biblioteca Universidad de Santiago (Santiago de Compostela, Spain)
Ferdinand I Book of Hours – Ms. 609 (Res.1) – Biblioteca Universidad de Santiago (Santiago de Compostela, Spain)
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Libro de Horas de Fernando I de León

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1995
Binding
Full leather with generous tooling, metal bosses and two clasps
Commentary
1 volume (202 pages) by Manuel C. Díaz & Díaz
Language: Spanish
More Information
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: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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