One of the most important surviving medieval manuscripts, the Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore, also known as the Bible of León, is a priceless source of information about the transmission of text and image in early Medieval Europe. Created at the Monastery of SS Peter and Paul Valeránica in Tordómar, Spain, it was completed on 19 June 960 by the scribe Sanctius and his master, Florencio. It contains the complete text of the Vulgate Bible as well as numerous marginalia in Old Latin and Arabic written in a Visigothic cursive script.
The large tome has eighty Old Testament illustrations placed within its two columns of text. This practice reflects the use of images in early Christian scrolls and books and suggests the models for the Codex Biblicus Legionensis reach back into late antiquity. This makes this manuscript a vital source of information about early book illumination, the original sources of which have not survived.
Iconic of the Visigothic style, it blends disparate iconographic and textual sources. Its complete biblical text and commentaries coupled with extensive illumination make this manuscript among the most important produced during the European medieval period. For more information on the Beatus model, read our blog article by Amy R. Miller (PhD, Medieval Art History, University of Toronto).
A Link to Early Christianity
The text in this is ultimately drawn from a variety of sources, as evidenced by the irregular use of illustrations in different books. The in-column illuminations seen in the Old Testament look back to the earliest codex traditions, themselves developed from scrolls.
It is among the earliest of the illustrated Spanish bibles and thus has a closer connection to its source material, which would date from the fourth through eighth centuries. Few complete books from this tumultuous period survive making the Bible of León an especially important survival for understanding the development of Christian texts in Europe.
Combines Styles from Many Cultures
The Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible is a hybrid of styles from many different cultures. Models for the iconography of the Old Testament illustrations are drawn from various sources that include Sasanian silver, Insular interlace, Carolingian evangelist portraits, and northern Spanish Beatus commentaries.
With this last, it is unusual that despite some heavily illustrated books in the Old Testament, the book of Revelation is not illustrated, suggesting this text was not copied from the contemporary and famously illustrated Beatus Apocalypse manuscript tradition.
Florencio, Maker of Great Books
A decorated colophon at the end of the Bible of León records the exact date of completion, the 19th of June in 960, and the two men responsible for its creation: a priest name Sanctius, the scribe, and the master, Florencio. They are depicted toasting one another for their great achievement.
Florencio produced six existing manuscripts and an additional seven donation charters after he moved to northern Spain from the Arabic south. He is one of the most prolific known manuscript masters of the Carolingian period.
We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore": Biblia Visigótica Mozárabe de San Isidoro facsimile edition, published by Fundación Hullera Vasco-Leonesa, 1999Request Info / Price