Testimony of a very special style: a Bible so old that the monastery in which it was created was abandoned more than 1,000 years ago

Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore

Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore

Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore

  1. The term Mozarabic derives from the Arabic name mustaʿrib (= Arabized) for Christians living under Arab rule but speaking Romance languages

  2. The exact date of its completion – June 19th, 960 – is recorded in a colophon, which is unusual for the period

  3. Two men, a calligrapher named Sancho and a miniaturist named Florencio are given credit for this magnificent work

Biblia Visigótica Mozárabe de San Isidoro

Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore

Christ in Majesty

Christ sits enthroned, his right hand is extended in the sign of benediction while his left holds a book displaying the words. A golden crossed-halo adorns his head and he is dressed in bright red garments – a color rarely associated with Christ outside of the Spanish tradition of Beatus manuscripts. The so-called Maiestas Domini is one of the most popular images in Western Christian art and is presented here flanked by the Evangelist Symbols.

Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore

Alternative Titles:
  • Biblia Visigótica Mozárabe de San Isidoro
  • Westgotisch-mozarabische Bibel des Heiligen Isidor von Sevilla
Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore – Ms. 2 – Archivio Capitular de la Real Colegiata de San Isidoro (León, Spain)
Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore – Ms. 2 – Archivio Capitular de la Real Colegiata de San Isidoro (León, Spain)
Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore – Ms. 2 – Archivio Capitular de la Real Colegiata de San Isidoro (León, Spain)
Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore – Ms. 2 – Archivio Capitular de la Real Colegiata de San Isidoro (León, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

A truly special early Spanish manuscript, significant for its age, rarity, artistic refinement, and as a source on life in 10th century Spain: the Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore. The exact date and location of its completion, as well as the scribe and miniaturist responsible for it, are all well documented in the manuscript’s colophon, making it additionally unusual and valuable. The monastery where it was created mysteriously disappeared not long after its creation in 960, and the manuscript made its way to its current repository, the monastery of San Isidoro de León, under similarly obscure circumstances. The masterfully executed script is adorned with an incredible hybrid of early medieval illumination and features marginal notes in Latin and Arabic. This combination of factors makes the thousand-year-old manuscript a unique artifact that is highly coveted by university researchers and museum curators around the world.

Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore

A Spanish Bible so old, the monastery where it was made disappeared over one thousand years ago: the Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore, also known as the León Bible of 960 or Codex Biblicus Legionensis. We do not know under what circumstances the Valeránica Monastery was wiped out, perhaps in a Moorish raid, nor do we know under what circumstances the codex came to its current residence, the monastery of San Isidoro de León, although King Ferdinand I of Leon (ca. 1015-65) and his wife Sancha are hypothesized as donors. It is one of the rarest manuscripts, coveted by university researchers and museum curators across the world, and is significant for a number of reasons. Uncommon for a manuscript of this period, the exact date of its completion is recorded in a colophon: June 19th, 960. Two men, a calligrapher named Sancho and a miniaturist named Florencio are given credit for this magnificent work. Although we know nothing more of the former, the Master Florencio was originally from Moorish southern Spain before coming north and has at least six codices attributed to him while other documents indicate that he was a notary for the counts of Castile. This incredible manuscript is a priceless specimen of the Christian realms of the Iberian Peninsula from a time when they were under siege by the forces of Al-Andalus (Moorish Spain) and is distinguished from among the hybrid Visigothic-Mozarabic works to survive to the present.

A Wonderful Artistic Hybrid

The Visigoths were a Germanic people who dominated the Iberian Peninsula from their invasion in 415 until the destruction of their kingdom in the course of the Moorish invasion in 711, reducing them to a series of rump states in the mountainous north of what is modern Spain. The Visigothic artistic style, the temporal and aesthetic contemporary of the Insular and Carolingian styles of illumination, is similarly characterized by highly refined calligraphy, striking colors, and figures with large eyes and clearly gesturing hands. Developed among Christians living in Al-Andalus who adopted some of the conquerors’ customs without embracing their religion, Mozarabic art is itself a hybrid of Islamic and Christian art. Its influences appear in the miniatures, as do those from the more far flung Islamic and Sassanid artistic traditions. Later driven north by the increasingly difficulty of life under Moorish rule, these Christians brought the artistic traditions of Islam with them. The manuscript additionally bears clear influences from Insular Illumination, particularly in the Celtic-knot initials. 100+ episodes from the Bible are illustrated in the text, in addition to numerous embellishing features. The miniatures are valued both for the quality of their artistry and for their detailed depictions of life in 10th century Spain: churches, palaces, household goods, civil and military costume, armor, even bull-fighting from horseback are all depicted. Finally, the text features numerous marginal notes in both Latin and Arabic. Thus, the manuscript is an incomparable source for paleographers and historians of art and culture.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Biblia Visigótica Mozárabe de San Isidoro
Westgotisch-mozarabische Bibel des Heiligen Isidor von Sevilla
Biblia Visigótica Mozárabe de San Isidoro

Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore

Incipit Page: Book of Genesis

This splendid incipit page is strongly influenced by contemporary Beatus manuscripts and is a wonderful hybrid of styles from early medieval illumination. Furthermore, marginal notes have been written in both Latin and Arabic. The highly refined calligraphy and striking color palate are typical of Visigothic art, while the intricate interlace patterns imitate Insular illumination.

Gold leaf has been liberally employed and is further highlighted by outlining it with a bright red-orange colors for the first few words of the Book of Genesis. The head and tail of the initial are magnificently adorned with leafy tendrils originating from the Mozarabic tradition and created with a complexity that rivals the work of Carolingian illuminators.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore“

Biblia Visigótica Mozárabe de San Isidoro
Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore – Ms. 2 – Archivio Capitular de la Real Colegiata de San Isidoro (León, Spain)
Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore – Ms. 2 – Archivio Capitular de la Real Colegiata de San Isidoro (León, Spain)
Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore – Ms. 2 – Archivio Capitular de la Real Colegiata de San Isidoro (León, Spain)
Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore – Ms. 2 – Archivio Capitular de la Real Colegiata de San Isidoro (León, Spain)
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Biblia Visigótica Mozárabe de San Isidoro

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Fundación Hullera Vasco-Leonesa – Lèon, 1999
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: €€€€
Edition available
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