León, Archivio Capitular de la Real Colegiata de San Isidoro, Ms. 2

Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore Facsimile Edition

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This manuscript is very precisely dated, having been finished on 19 June 960. The names of its copyist, the miniaturist Florencio and the calligrapher Sancho, are recorded, and they left their portraits in duplicate alongside the large omega of the colophon. Little more than the name of Sancho is known, other than that he was a priest. His master, Florencio, has left us more details scattered here and there in six extant codices and seven donation charters which he drew up as the notary of the Counts of Castile.

He is believed to have emigrated to the North from Arabic-dominated southern Spain, and is recognised as outstanding among Spanish scribes. He copied the codices in the Mozarabic Monastery of Valeránica, on the banks of the River Arlanza. This was protected by the Torre de Ómar [Omar's Tower], Omar being another Christian refugee from the South. This fortification has left its name to the present-day village in the Province of Burgos, Tordómar. The Monastery of Valeránica did not survive beyond the tenth century, perhaps as a consequence of the Arabic raids led by Almanzor.

It is not known for certain how the codex came to St. Isidore's in Leon. It may be conjectured that it was donated to this, their favourite, church by Ferdinand I and his wife Sancha (1037), who had previously been Count and Countess and King and Queen of Castile. It is recognised to be one of the rarest and most valuable mediaeval manuscripts, of extensive interest to researchers and in great demand for international exhibitions. The references to it, research on it, bibliography and doctoral theses regarding it which are already beyond counting and cover every one of the numerous features of the pages of this renowned Bible and its illustrations.

This is a jewel among codices thanks to the beatuy of the calligraphy. It bears witness to a text prior to the Vulgate of Saint Jerome in its abundant marginal annotations in Latin. Unexpectedly, it bears similar marginalia in Arabic. In de amazing beauty of its miniatures the society of tenth-century Christian Spain appears: churches, palaces, household goods, civil and military costume, armour, even bull-fighting from horseback. Every aspect is outstanding, whether seen from the angle of palaeography, history, tradition, or art. It provides a wide scope for art critics or for specialists in Bible text transmission. These claims are borne out at first sight of the book, and confirmed by expert opinion.

The miniatures

More than one hundred episodes from the Bible, a profusion of illuminated initials, and the beautiful calligraphy of the text of this codex make it the undisputed leader among all Mozarabic Bible manuscripts. It has been said that this is the only Mozarabic Bible which can be properly documented. The creative genius of Florencio offered new departures in pictorial art, blending elements originating in Sassanid, Visigothic, and Islamic art together with new features from Carolingian sources. In the Bible episodes, Mozarabic art takes a new turning. In these illustrations, the characters speak and express themselves through the language of the eyes: dilated pupils against the huge whites of the eyes, large hands, long fingers gesturing, all in striking colour.

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, 1999

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Manuscript book description compiled by the publisher.
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Biblia Visigótica Mozárabe de San Isidoro

León: Fundación Hullera Vasco-Leonesa, 1999

  • Commentary (Spanish) by Vinayo Gonzàlez, Antonio; Alvarez Àlvarez, Cesar; Torres Sevilla, Margarita; Ruiz Asencio, José M.; Caverò Dominguez, Gregoria; Diaz y Diaz, Manuel C.; García Lobo, Vicente; Suàrez Gonzàlez, Ana I.; Dominguez Sànchez, Santiago; alii
  • Limited Edition: 640 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore: 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.

Even the smallest details of the original document appear in the copy, including the original holes, deteriorated edges, seams, etc. Chromatic precision has been achieved in the shades of the miniatures and the parchment. A Heidelberg machine of the latest generation of Speed Master was used for the printing, employing up to 8 colors on the sheets where needed, with special embossing of the golds, using inks of maximum quality and durability. The paper chosen for the printing of such a beautiful manuscript merited a preliminary study on the part of technicians and manufacturers. A parchment-like preparation was finally decided on, specially designed and produced for this edition with a mean volume of 200gr/m2. The commentary volume to the facsimile edition, a widely illustrated work, includes an exhaustive study on all the particulars of the manuscript.

Joint edition by Ediciones Lancia, S.A., Fundación Hullera Vasco-Leonesa, Universidad de León and Real Colegiata de San Isidoro.


The binding was done by craftsmen, stitched by hand with raw thread and hemp cord, and given a rounded spine and headbands of thread and cords. The covers, covered in leather taken from the butt of the hide, have been tooled with motifs from the Bible itself. Both front and back covers have corner-pieces of sterling silver and a silver clasp serves as fastener. The facsimile comes in an elegant fine wood case. When opened, the case becomes a bookrest-display.

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€ 9,000

approx US$ 10,853

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