Manchester, John Rylands Library, MS Lat. 8

Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex Facsimile Edition

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The renowned tradition of medieval manuscripts featuring the Commentary on the Book of Revelation by the Asturian monk Beatus of Liébana counts more than thirty exemplars. Due to its completeness, the codex of Beatus preserved at the John Rylands Library in Manchester stands out among the Beatus exemplars. The manuscript is also remarkable as it is one of the most extensive and best-preserved copies of the Commentary by Beatus.

The Making of the Manuscript

Written in a script that shares characteristics with the Caroline and the Gothic, the manuscript is datable to the second half of the twelfth century, probably around the year 1175. The origin of the codex is not documented, but it is almost certain that it was copied in Castile, for it seems it was used as a model for the Cardeña Beatus (Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid, MS 2).

Since the Cardeña Beatus was probably made in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña, outside Burgos, the Ryland Beatus may have been produced in the same scriptorium.

A Rich Iconography in Bright Colors

The Beatus at the Ryland Library contains 123 full-page miniatures painted in a colorful Romanesque style with embellishments in gold. The codex features highly detailed representations of the scenes described in the Book of Revelation.

Along with the traditional miniatures included in the Beatus manuscripts, such as the Map of the World, the Angels playing the Trumpets, and the Adoration of the Lamb, the illuminator of the Manchester Beatus focused on themes quite new for the Beatus.

One of the original scenes is the Ark of Noah, which is painted as an architecture filled with couples of animals framed by what seem to be small square windows. The illuminator enhanced the salvific role of the Revelation and the theme of the spiritual battle by representing scenes of war and siege along with fighting animals, an instance of this being the full-page miniature of the bird killing the serpent.

A Long Travel through Different Countries

In the nineteenth century, the manuscript passed from Spain to France and was then auctioned in Paris with other codices from the collection of the Marquis of Astorga and Count of Altamira. In 1901, the codex finally entered the John Ryland Library collection in Manchester.


For more information on the Beatus model, read our blog article by Amy R. Miller (PhD, Medieval Art History, University of Toronto).

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex": Beato de Liébana, códice de Manchester facsimile edition, published by Patrimonio Ediciones, 2001

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Manuscript book description compiled by the publisher.
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Beato de Liébana, códice de Manchester

Valencia: Patrimonio Ediciones, 2001

  • Commentary (Spanish, English) by Klein, Peter K.
  • Limited Edition: 999 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.


Leather binding with blind tooling.

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