Turismo Prerrománico > LIBER COMMICUS


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Notas Previas


  • Reference: Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid. Códice 22.
  • Other names: Liber Comitis.
  • Dimensios: 400 X 270mm.
  • 195 folios of parchment in Visigothic script, written in two columns per page.
  • Multiple miniatures and illuminated initials.



Entorno histórico

The creation of a Mozarabic liturgy book in San Millán de la Cogolla, completed in 1073, may seem surprising. in full bloom of Romanesque art and at a time when the Spanish Christian kingdoms were under great pressure, both from Rome and from the Cluniacense order, to demand the implantation throughout Spain of the Gregorian liturgy replacing the so-called “Mozarabic rite” that was being used since the time of the Visigoth monarchy.
At that time Aragon was ruled by Sancho Ramirez (1063-1094), friend of Rome and promoter in all its territories Folio 88v: Detalleof the Gregorian reform, which put his kingdom under the protection of the Holy See in 1068 and was congratulated in 1074 by Pope Gregory VII for his collaboration. Also in Castile, during the reign of Alfonso VI (1072-1109) was beginning to replace the Mozarabic rite with the Roman, although in this case through an alliance with Cluny, which allowed the monarch to make the change demanded by Rome without giving up political control of the Castilian-Leonese church, taking advantage of its resistance to change in its liturgy.

However, the situation in the Kingdom of Navarre was very different. His monarch, Sancho IV “that of Peñalén” (1054-1076) showed little partisan of the elimination of the Mozarabic liturgy, which explains that in the most important monastery of his territories, as was considered San Millán de la Cogolla, there was great resistance to change and possibly Folio 104r: Detallethe main representative of this conservative current was Peter, his abbot until 1067 when he passed, it seems that at his own request, to devote all his efforts to the scriptorium of the monastery.

He was the author of this Mozarabic liturgical text retaining in his miniatures the style of the codices of San Millán of the previous century, without any concession to the new Romanesque iconography, and written in Visigothic script, except the colophon, located in folio 193v, for which diplomatic writing was used. It also includes some samples of Carolina’s transition to Gothic, which are supposed to be added later and the work of another copyist.

The Liber Commicus remained in the Monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla until the confiscation of Mendizábal in 1835, when it was deposited in the Library of Cortes, from which it subsequently passed to the Library of the Royal Academy of History, where it is still preserved.


The Christian community at first read the Bible directly, with ample freedom of choice, but it was soon convenient to prepare a selection of Bible readings for the different periods of worship and on special holidays. This type of codices, which contained an organized system of readings for use in liturgical celebrations, received various names: “comes”, “liber commicus”, “leccionario”, “epistolario”, “evangeliario”, “capitulare” or “liber comitis”.

The Liber Commicus of San Millán de la Cogolla is written in black ink to two columns with a high quality Visigothic letter and initials Folio 122v: Detallevery prominent and highly complex primaries, which include zoomorphic and anthropomorphic laceries, common features within the style of the scriptorium of San Millán de la Cogolla since the mid-tenth century. They are located on the margins of the writing column, where are also the miniatures that decorate the book.

His images take us back to earlier times. Even J. Camón Aznar considers it possible that it is a copy of a manuscript from the eighth century because of the simplicity of its garments, of net, parallel folds, rigidly cut by horizontal lines, all of a great monotony. However the faces fit the Emilian style of the previous century, with details such as the ears always bilobed in front of the hair, or the long jaw and protruding lips in the profile characters. All this forms a style that, despite its date of creation, seems prior to the Emilianense Codex, finished in 992, that is, almost an older century.

The colors used are also common with those of the Emilian production of the previous century: they dominate the tones dark and light green, yellow, blue, purple, red and brown, of pure and light tones, with the fields of color perfectly delimited, as if it were enamels.

The first miniature of the codex, the only one that occupies a whole page, deserves a special mention. It is a Cross of Oviedo that appears in folio 3v, framed by a horseshoe arch on columns with bases and capitals decorated solely based on interlocks and on which two angels rest. The cross, which seems to be inspired by the one that exists in the Emilianense Codex, is of equal arms widened at the ends, with the letters “alpha” and omega”suspended from the horizontals, and placed on a stem that holds, with a front leg, a Lamb that has drawn a heart in its hindquarters.


In short, it is a very interesting codex not only because of the quality of its writing and its images, but also because it confirms the resistance that existed in the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla until the last quarter of the 11th century, to replace the Mozarabic liturgy with the Roman one that was being introduced in Spain by the Cluniac order and the Gregorian reform. It is a manuscript of Mozarabic appearance but created in full Romanesque phase, anachronism that could have generated great problems for its cataloguing if it were not perfectly dated in its text. 



Historia de España de Menéndez Pidal: Tomos VI y VII*
L’Art Préroman Hispanique: ZODIAQUE
Arte y Arquitectura española 500/1250: Joaquín Yarza


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