The San Miguel Beatus Codex

Commentary on the Apocalypse by Beatus of Liébana, Spain, c.960AD
Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. Ms 644

Siege of Jerusalem


This miniature illustrates a siege in which Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem. Jeremiah sits outside lamenting.

We know it was produced by the archipictor Magius, commissioned by the abbot of the Leonese monastery of San Miguel de la Escalada. The author's name appears twice, once, in a long coda and then at the end of the text. Its datation is questioned as most authors place it in 922, but Camón Aznar suggests 958 and, according to John Williams, who in the last years has made a thorough study, it was written in 945. There is also a controversy about its scriptorium of origin. Initially it was believed that its origin was San Miguel de Escalada but it is more likely that it is Salvador de Tábara, as that was the place where Magius worked and was burried in 968.

This Beatus stayed in San Miguel de Escalada at least until the 14th century, in the hands of the Archbishop of Valencia, Martín Pérez de Ayala who, upon his death in 1566, donated the manuscript to the military order of Santiago in its master's residence of Uclés. It remained there until 1837, when the properties of the Church were confiscated in Spain. Around 1840, a merchant by the name of Roberto Frasineli handed it over to the manuscript collector Guillermo Libri Carucci, in exchange for an ancient silver clock. In 1852 he sold it to the Count of Ashburnham. In May 1897 it was acquired by the collector Henry Yates Thompson from London and on June 3rd 1919 it was acquired by the intermediary Quartich, for the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.


The death of the two witnesses, from the San Miguel Beatus Codex