Turismo Prerrománico > Copies of the Commentary : The Blessed

Copies of the Commentary : The Blessed

As we have already mentioned, very few Spanish manuscripts prior to the 10th century have been preserved, although there are many references to a large number of works by Hispanic authors from the second half of the sixth century and of many Christian scriptoriums both in the Visigoth kingdom, and later in Arab Spain and the kingdom of Navarre. The original of the Commentaries to the Apocalypse of Beato de Liébana is one of those manuscripts that disappeared, but in this case the work must have been well known and, for many different reasons, aroused the interest of those responsible for Christian worship in the reconquered territories, what coinciding with the great boom of monastic life in the tenth century and the hatching of the Mozarabic miniature, in which a whole generation of illuminators of enormous quality and creative ability flourished, has allowed them to reach us, within a wide set of codices miniados, an importantBeato de Turín (1109) number of copies of the “Blessed”, dated between the X and XIII centuries, some very complete and in an adequate state of conservation. Since the rediscovery of the Mozarabic miniature at the beginning of the 20th century, whose stellar moment was possibly the exhibition of Spanish manuscripts organized in Madrid by the Society of Friends of Art in 1924, a multitude of studies have been carried out on the Blesseds, by researchers in the categories of Gómez Moreno, Camón Aznar, Díaz y Díaz, Neuss, Sanders, Willians or P. Klein among others, in which they analyze both the texts and the characteristics of their illustrations and the different artistic styles of their illuminators, as well as the different influences that can be found in them. Since a detailed study in these areas is outside the scope of this work, we include below a brief summary of our findings in each of them, indicating on our Bibliography page the titles we can recommend to expand this information.
    I- Texts

    Although they all respect the structure of the original, in relation to its text three families of blesseds are distinguished, for which the nomenclatures I have been used, IIa and IIb, based on a theory which assumes that Blessed himself created three different editions of the Commentaries, the first in 776 and the other two in 784 and 786 and whereas the first two give rise to the family I, 786 to IIa and that a subsequent modification of IIa would generate branch IIb. Other authors, still respecting the classification, consider that all the codices of the Blesseds start from a single prototype, practically completed in the year 776 and concluded by the monk of Liébana in 786, of which successive copies from 776 gave rise to different textual families. This second option seems to us more likely since it is difficult to think that in the years in which the last two versions are dated, when Blessed was in full dispute with Elipando, which would last until the council of the year 792, could devote himself to writing new versions of such a vast work that had ended almost ten years earlier. According to this classification, generally accepted regardless of the theory adopted on the origin of these families, the distribution of the blesseds known so far -using in each Blessed its name of most habitual use and indicating its current situation and the approximate date of its completion- would be the following:


  • FAMILY I Beato de Cirueña (fragmento). Archivo del Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos. (900).Beato de Corsini (>1100) Beato Emilianense. Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional. (930?). Beato de El Escorial. Biblioteca del Monasterio de El Escorial. (955). Beato de San Millán. Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia. (990). Beato de Saint-Sever. París, Bibliotheque Nationale. (1060). Beato de Burgo de Osma. Museo de la Catedral de Burgo de Osma (1086). Beato Corsini. Roma. Biblioteca dell´Accademia Nazionale dei Liucei e Corsiana. (Primera mitad del s. XII). Beato de Lorvao. Lisboa. Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Lorvao. (1189). Beato de León. León. Archivo Histórico Provincial. (Second half of the 12th century).
  • FAMILY IIa Beato de San Miguel de Escalada. Nueva York, Pierpont Morgan Library. (945) Beato de Valcavado. Valladolid, Biblioteca de la Universidad. (970). Beato de La Seo de Urgel. Archivo de la Catedral de La Seo de Urgel. (975). Beato de Fernando I y Sancha. Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional. (1047). Beato de Berlín. Statatsbibliothec Preussischer Khulturbesitz, Berlín (Early 12th century). Beato de Silos. Londres, British Library. (1109) Beato de Navarra. París, Bibliotheque Nationale. (Finales del S. XII).
  • FAMILY IIb
    Beato de Tábara. Madrid, Archivo Histórico Nacional. (970). Beato de Gerona. Gerona, Museo de la Catedral (975). Beato de Turín. Turín, Biblioteca Nazionale. (Principios s. XII). Beato de Manchester. Manchester, John Rylands Library y Madrid, Museo Arq. Nacional. (Late 12th century). Beato de San Pedro de Cardeña. Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid y otros. (1185). Beato de San Andrés de Arroyo. París, Bibliotheque Nationale. (principios s. XIII). Beato de las Huelgas. Nueva York, Pierpont Morgan Library. (1220). Beato de México. Ciudad de México, Archivo General de la Nación. (mediados s. XIII). Beato de León (Fragmento). Archivo Histórico Provincial de León

    To this list must be added the recently discovered Beato de Ginebra, of Italian origin, which has appeared in the Library of Geneva and is awaiting a study to determine which family is staying.

    II- Illustrations

    As for the analysis of the illustrations they contain, it is evident that both their technical characteristics and their pictorial style are directly related at all times to the rest of the Spanish Mozarabic miniature, to the point that in some cases, some manuscripts of other types have been attributed to the illuminator of a Blessed. There is a relationship that we could define as biunivocal between the artistic developments observed throughout those years in the blesseds and those that occur in Bibles, antiphonaries and other codices.

    From our point of view, not only would the original Blessed be already enlightened, but possibly his illustrations would be inspired by an earlier manuscript of the Apocalypse, that would already define the model and the situation of most of the miniatures that will be repeated almost identically in the original of Beato and his later copies and that would also bring the whole set of indigenous artistic influences, Paleochristian, North African, Oriental and Byzantine decoration sculpted in some churches such as San Pedro de La Nave or Quintanilla de las Viñas are evident in the Visigoth art of the seventh century. Later there is a period of more than one hundred years in which several copies had to be made, of which only a single folio of the Blessed Surgeon has arrived, of great interest since it shows the existence of copies prior to the great birth of the Mozarabic miniature of the tenth century, with the same structure of texts and images of the great later blesseds, although with a still very primitive technique.

    But it is in the 10th century and early 11th century that, thanks to the emergence of large miniaturists such as Magio, Florencio o Emeterio Beato de Navarra (Finales del S. XIIworking on the scriptorium of many of the monasteries that were created during the repopulation in León, Castilla and La Rioja, the Spanish miniature reached the highest levels of quality and imagination. Scrupulously respecting the structure of the original images, these artists were able to use with great freedom all the stylistic concepts already existing in the previous manuscripts as well as the contributions they had received from Islamic art and the new trends coming from the Carolingian world and from the Irish miniature.

    Como en el análisis de los textos, también se distinguen dos familias en base a la composición de las imágenes de los beatos. Se supone que los de la primera seguirían fielmente la estructura de imágenes del beato original y está formada en su mayor parte por los manuscritos desarrollados en la Rioja y Navarra, mientras que los de la segunda familia, que incluirían las nuevas aportaciones de Magio en el Beato de San Miguel de Escalada, usually come from the monasteries in the territories of Leon and Bourgs.

    In said Blessed, appears a series of new images that include among others the portraits of the Evangelists and the non-existent genealogical tables in the manuscripts of the branch I, adding also the Illustrated Commentary to the Book of Daniel, all for “to announce the tremendous judgment that awaits the world and to the glory of the Father, the Son and the Spirit,” as Magio himself explains to us in his concluding remarks. These images, when they became part of some later blesseds, have been considered as the distinguishing element of the blesseds of the second pictographic family.

    III- Artistic characteristics

    In said Blessed, appears a series of new images that include among others the portraits of the Evangelists and the non-existent genealogical tables in the manuscripts of the branch I, adding also the Illustrated Commentary to the Book of Daniel, all for “to announce the tremendous judgment that awaits the world and to the glory of the Father, the Son and the Spirit,” as Magio himself explains to us in his concluding remarks. These images, when they became part of some later blesseds, have been considered as the distinguishing element of the blesseds of the second pictographic family.

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