Beatus of Liébana - Burgo de Osma Codex

Biblioteca de la Catedral (El Burgo de Osma, Spain)

Alternate Titles:

Beato de Liébana del Burgo de Osma, Apocalypsis: El Beato de Osma

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Beato de Liébana del Burgo de Osma
Apocalypsis: El Beato de Osma

Type
Extent / Format

332 pages / 36.1 x 25.3 cm

Origin
Date
1086
Style
Genre
Language
Artist / School

Author: Beatus of Liébana (died after 798)
Scribe: Petrus
Illumintor: Martinus

Illustrations

71 pages with illuminations

Short description

The most famous Apocalypse commentary of the entire Middle Ages in a splendid and exceptionally high-quality manuscript: the so-called Beatus of Burgo de Osma is stored in the significant collection of the northern Spanish Cathedral of Burgo de Osma. This large-format codex presents the famous Apocalypse Commentary of Beatus of Liébana on 332 pages with a total of 71 miniatures. Originating in the year 1086 in the influential scriptorium of Sahagún, the Spanish manuscript impressively represents the transition from the Mozarabic to the Romanesque style. In luminously bright miniatures, magnificent figures present the apocalyptic events. Fantastical, sometimes gruesome, sometimes impressive creatures illustrate the Book of Revelation along with the accompanying commentary by Beatus of Liébana.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Beatus of Liébana - Burgo de Osma Codex

The most famous Apocalypse commentary of the entire Middle Ages in a splendid and exceptionally high-quality manuscript: the so-called Beatus of Burgo de Osma is stored in the significant collection of the northern Spanish Cathedral of Burgo de Osma. This large-format codex presents the famous Apocalypse Commentary of Beatus of Liébana on 332 pages with a total of 71 miniatures. Originating in the year 1086 in the influential scriptorium of Sahagún, the Spanish manuscript impressively represents the transition from the Mozarabic to the Romanesque style. In luminously bright miniatures, magnificent figures present the apocalyptic events. Fantastical, sometimes gruesome, sometimes impressive creatures illustrate the Book of Revelation along with the accompanying commentary by Beatus of Liébana.

The Biblical Tale of the Apocalypse

Apocalyptic riders on strong steeds, a naked woman beside a huge snake, colorful hosts armed with swords, and the enthroned Christ borne by two angels: all these images unite the Book of Revelation, the so-called Apocalypse. The Asturian monk and theologian Beatus of Liébana (ca. 730-800), composed an influential and significant commentary in 776 to the Book of Revelation. Divided into 12 books, Beatus of Liébana collected clarifying commentaries to the allegorical and symbolic images of the Book of Revelation in his magnum opus. In doing so he referenced sources from various older authors, which he condensed into set pieces. This most-famous Apocalypse commentary of the entire Middle Ages was recorded in splendid and exceptionally high-quality, for the most part wonderfully illuminated manuscripts. The famous Beatus manuscripts predominantly originated from the north of Spain from the 10th to the 12th centuries. 30 surviving Beatus manuscripts, of which 27 are richly furnished with magnificent miniatures, attest to this popularity and high quality.

Outstanding Romanesque-Mozarabic Miniatures

The so-called Beatus of Burgo de Osma stands at the threshold between the Mozarabic and Romanesque styles. It represents thereby a unique feature. The broad color palette of the magnificent miniatures is still starkly characterized by the Mozarabic, yet the figures in their physicality are already Romanesque. On 71 pages of miniatures, the Beatus of Burgo de Osma presents splendidly colored scenes before a monochrome background. The miniaturist, whose name Martinus is known, designed the picture pages in an extremely decorative fashion, e.g. with the idea in mind to invest the miniatures as geometrically and symmetrically as possible. The miniatures were surrounded by gorgeous frames, which appear simple, but are nonetheless adorned at the corners with ornamental elements of braids. These elements are strongly reminiscent of Celtic ornamentation and insular illumination.

The Apostles as Missionaries of the World

Famous above all is the mappa mundi of the Codex Burgo de Osma, the magnificent world map on a double page. The Earth is presented circularly engulfed by water. The map shows the continents with the 12 Apostles, who were sent by Jesus to missionary work in various regions of the world. Mythical creatures – e.g. a fantastical person with only one leg, called a sciapod by the Greeks – populate the so-called terra incognita. In research, the famous mappa mundi of the Codex Burgo de Osma has been compared with the world map of the Beatus of Saint-Sever.

Famous Place of Origin and Storage

This Beautus codex originated from Burgo de Osma in the year 1086. According to an inscription, the manuscript was begun on either the 3rd of January or 3rd of June of that year. Sahagún is presumed to be the place of origin. The scriptorium of this Cluniac monastery in the bishopric of Leon was cutting-edge in Spanish illumination. Today the manuscript is stored in the library of the Cathedral of Burgos de Osma. This Castilian episcopal city in the north of Spain is famous to this day for its gorgeous medieval old town. At the beginning of the 12th century, Saint Pedro de Osma acted as bishop, whose exceptional tomb can be inspected in the cathedral. San Pedro de Osma was also the one who ordered the construction of a cathedral in Burgo de Osma. The Gothic cathedral in Burgo de Osma houses a significant collection of codices, the famous Beatus of Burgo de Osma first and foremost among them.

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