Inspiration for Picasso's *Guernica*: illuminated, didactic stories about proper behavior created for King Sancho IV of Castile

The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave

Spain — Around 1290

The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave

The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave

Spain — Around 1290

  1. An exemplary illuminated text of the didactic and moralizing literature of the 13th century

  2. The moralizing stories teach how one should behave toward God, themselves, and one’s subjects

  3. This commission of Sancho IV of Castile (1258-1295) has a miniature that supposedly inspired Picasso's painting *Guernica*

Castigos e Documentos de Sancho IV el Bravo

Book of Simple Medicines

Expulsion from Paradise

The original sin brought about the original punishment – Adam and Eve are shown being expelled from the Garden of Eden by an angel armed with a sword for defying God’s explicit ban on eating fruit from the tree of knowledge. As the deceitful snake wraps itself around a tree in the background, the first humans are scurrying away while covering their shameful nudity with large leaves. On the left, God’s angry face is shown emerging from the clouds, his wrath represented by wind.

The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave

Alternative Titles:
  • Castigos e Documentos de Sancho IV el Bravo
  • El Libro de los Castigos e documentos para bien vivir
  • Buch der Strafen und Dokumente von König Sancho den Tapferen
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

How was one expected to lead a virtuous life in the Middle Ages? Those wanting to inform themselves on the matter can take a look at Sancho IV – the Brave’s – Book of Punishment. The artfully illuminated manuscript contains instructive legends by saints and prophets. The precious manuscript originated ca. 1290, it contains 22 miniatures in muted colors, and some of these are furnished in precious gold leaf.

The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave

The special codex with the translated title The Book of Punishment and Documents for a Better Life is an exemplary text for the didactic and moralizing literature of the 13th century. It consists of sermons and apologetic texts from various clerical and heathen sources. The book was dedicated to Sancho IV – called “the Brave” – the King of Castile and his son Ferdinand IV. The moralizing stories in the work are supposed to teach the reader good manners as well as how one should behave toward God, themselves, and one’s subjects. An inscription on the last page of the codex indicates that the work was authored in the name of Sancho IV. Here it states that editing of the work was completed in 1292 and that it was composed “…with the help of wise scholars”. The book probably originated in the scriptorium of the King’s father Alfonso X the Wise.

The Spanish Royal House’s Love of Books

Sancho IV was as big of a literary buff as his father Alfonso X. Both accumulated a comprehensive and incomprehensibly valuable book collection during their lives. Alongside the Book of Punishment, Sancho had two great encyclopedias translated. Those were the Book of Treasures by Brunetto Latini in 1293 followed two years later by the lexicon Elucidarium by Honorius of Autun. Between 1284 and 1289, a chronology of the history of Spain was composed in Sancho’s name. In the Middle Ages, this was considered to be a reliable historical source in the Middle Ages, like the Book of Punishment. Today, it is clear that some of the depictions in these works do not completely reflect reality. Nevertheless, they inform us in an entertaining way about life under the great King Sancho the Brave.

Informative and Expressive Illustration

The Book of Punishment points to various tales about how one behaved ethically in medieval Spain. The particularly illustrious Chapter XI contains a wondrous legend from the life of the prophet Daniel. In this chapter, it is elucidated how vassals should fittingly honor their masters. The gifted illuminator Beatus of Saint-Sever painted a scene of the Daniel and a Lion. The prophet is not attacked by the lion, as one expects. The legend is supposed to teach, that nothing bad can happen to those who serve the Lord. For his illustrations, the artist Beatus only used a few primary colors, but realized an unbelievably creative effect. An image on page 85 of the Book of Punishment is supposed to have inspired Picasso for his painting Guernica. The miniatures of the work are extremely diverse. The show armored knights on horseback, but also typical people in medieval robes. One sees starry night skies in a few pictures, in others the earth hills and mountains overgrown with green, and in others the sea with fish and ships.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Castigos e Documentos de Sancho IV el Bravo
El Libro de los Castigos e documentos para bien vivir
Buch der Strafen und Dokumente von König Sancho den Tapferen
Size / Format
166 pages / 37.0 x 26.5 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
Around 1290
Style
Gothic
Language
Illustrations
22 miniatures of various sizes, some containing gold
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Castigos e Documentos de Sancho IV el Bravo

The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave

Sign of King Don Sancho

This is a perfectly composed example of Spanish Gothic illumination and is dominated by brilliant shades of red and blue ennobled with gold leaf. Surrounding the King’s coat of arms, an inscription reads Signo del Rey Don Sancho and is presented in the style of a cathedral’s rose window. King Sancho IV is seated on the left in blue brocade and is flanked by his counselors.

A cardinal, likely the patron, is seated across from the King before a group of tonsured men representing the “wise scholars” responsible for the work. The miniature simultaneously depicts both the interior and exterior of the building, showing the tiled roof and pointed arch windows on the outside at the same time as showing the vaulted roof and columns inside.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave“

Castigos e Documentos de Sancho IV el Bravo
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
The Book of Punishment and Documents of King Sancho IV the Brave – Cod. 3995. Vitr. 17‐8. – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
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Castigos e Documentos de Sancho IV el Bravo

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Club Bibliófilo Versol – Madrid
Limited Edition
500 copies
Binding
Leather on board
Commentary
1 volume
Language: Spanish
Price Category: €€
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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