Terrifying visions of the Apocalypse revealed fears of medieval Spain

Most of the copies were made in northern Spain in the Mozarabic style: a very colorful geometric style that borrows from Arab and Islamic art. In the 11th century, the monks of the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos (near Burgos, in northern Spain) created one of the most splendid: the Apocalypse of the Silos. Dominico and Munnio began the texts and some illustrations, but their work ended on April 18, 1091. It was not until 1109 that a third monk, Petrus, completed the astonishing illustrations: human figures are represented with bodies in profile and heads facing. . Their distinctive wide-eyed expressions bring the bizarre texts of Revelation to life.

The use of fine parchments, as well as gold and silver for the text and illustrations, made the Silos Apocalypse a luxury item. In the early 1800s, it was acquired by Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother Joseph, possibly while he was King of Spain (1808-1813). Joseph Bonaparte sold this edition to the British Library in 1840, where it is preserved to this day.

The beginning of the end

The battle of the Apocalypse between the forces of heaven and hell resonated strongly in the Christian enclaves of northern Spain, where Beatus completed his Commentary on the Apocalypse in 784. The details of the Apocalypse of Silos show the intensity and liveliness of the Mozarabic artistic style that reflects the destruction unleashed. God has a scroll bound by seven seals. When each seal is opened by the Lamb (representing Christ), a catastrophic event occurs, such as the arrival of the Four Horsemen of Revelation: Conquest, War, Famine, and Death.