31 Days of Medieval Manuscripts · Medieval Art and Architecture

Apocalypse Manuscripts – Day Thirty of Medieval Manuscripts

Hell: monsters, devils, and fire. British LIbrary Add MS 42555, f. 76v

I’m just going to carry on with this Halloween theme. Apocalypse manuscripts contain St. John the Divine’s writings in the Book of Revelation, including supposed details about the end of the world. Remember that the saved and the damned are supposed to have very different experiences in the end, so Apocalypse manuscripts frequently have some pretty extreme contrasts in their imagery.

MS. LUDWIG III 1 (Getty museum) – Dyson Perrins Apocalypse. English, c. 1255-1260. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Illustrations range from beautiful to horrifying to just bizarre. For example, the caption attached to the image shown above was “The Dragon Giving the Sceptor of Power to the Beast from the Sea“. I can’t even pretend to understand what that means, though I noticed from looking at the rest of the manuscript that these beasts seem to create an awful lot of havoc. Many apocalypses also contain other Biblical imagery, such as St. George fighting the dragon and the adoration of the Magi. I haven’t included any of those images here because they’re relatively similar to things we’ve already looked at before.

Souls being judged in Queen Mary’s Apocalypse. England, early 14th century. British Library (Royal 19 B XV f. 11).

For more about Apocalypse manuscripts, read this excellent post on the British Library’s blog and Nancyross.com’s Apocalypse Project. I’ve written about Apocalypse imagery before, but that article would spoil tomorrow’s post, so you’ll have to wait to receive that particular link.

This is what Heaven looks like, according to the Cloisters Apocalypse (f.5v). French, c. 1330. Cloisters Collection/Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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4 thoughts on “Apocalypse Manuscripts – Day Thirty of Medieval Manuscripts

  1. There is a lovely fifteenth-century Last Judgement painted on the wall of a chapel in Hall-in-Tirol. I am trying to decide whether the demon in the first picture is pushing the creatures inside the Hellmouth, or trying to let them out into the wider world.

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