New York, The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.644

Beatus of Liébana - San Miguel de Escalada Codex Facsimile Edition

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The story of the Beato Saint Michael of Escalada began in the middle of the 10th century, when a monk called Maius was commissioned from the abbot at the Monastery of Saint Michael in León, with a copy of the commentary of Beatus. Today, this copy is the oldest testimony to a change in the tradition of manuscripts on the Apocalypse in Spain. It is a pictorial reformation for which, if we are not taken in by the accidental nature of the copies that have survived from such a distant period of history, Maius was responsible.

The San Miguel de Escalada Codex is part of a group of twenty-seven illustrated commentaries on the Book of Apocalypse by Beatus of Liébana, a monk who lived in the Kingdom of Asturias, Spain, until ca. 800. For more information on the Beatus model, read our blog article by Amy R. Miller (PhD, Medieval Art History, University of Toronto).

On the death of Maius in 1566, the archbishop of Valencia, Martín Perez de Ayala, left the manuscript to the military order of Saint James at the grand master's residence in Uclés, near Cuenca. It remained there until 1837, when the possessions and land of the church in Spain were sold. Around 1840, a merchant called Roberto Frasineli handed over the manuscript in exchange for an old silver watch. Later, in 1847, Francique Michel sold it for 1,040 francs. The unscrupulous manuscript collector Guillermo Libri, bought the manuscript a little later for 1,500 francs, and before 1852 he sold it for 12,500 francs to the Count of Ashburnham.

In May 1897, the collector Hanry Yates Thompson (from London) bought the manuscript on 3 June 1919 as lot 21, through the intermediary Quartich, for the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. With such a purchase, the Morgan Library is now in possession of one of the most spectacularly illuminated texts dating from the high Middle Ages. In fact, no biblical commentary has ever been so extravagantly illuminated.

Binding description

Alum-tawed calf (contemporary binding).

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Beatus of Liébana - San Miguel de Escalada Codex": Apocalipsis de San Juan. Beato de Liebana. San Miguel de Escalada facsimile edition, published by Scriptorium, 2000

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Manuscript book description compiled by the publisher.
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Apocalipsis de San Juan. Beato de Liebana. San Miguel de Escalada

Valencia: Scriptorium, 2000

Apocalipsis de San Juan. Beato de Liebana. San Miguel de Escalad, New York, The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.644, Facsimile edition by Scriptorium
Facsimile edition by Scriptorium
  • Commentary (English, Spanish) by Voelke, William M.; Williams, John; Shailor, Barbara A.; Freeman, Leslie G.; Del Campo Hernandez, Alberto; González Echegaray, Joaquín
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Beatus of Liébana - San Miguel de Escalada 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.

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