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Illustrations from the Roda Bible:
Biblia Sancti Petri Rodensis.
BnF Ms Latin 6. c.1050-1100AD
also known as the 'Noailles Bible'
Although the stories portrayed in the illustrations are ancient, the figures wear 11th century Catalan costume.

Judges 4

Debora sending Baraq into

1 Samuel

Ark brought into the camp /
Death of the sons of Eli

Paralip. I-II

Death of Saul /
David and the Amalekite


Job tormented by Satan

Oratio Salomonis



The life of Jeremiah

Judith 6.10-14

Fighting around Bethulia


Four Horsemen

Apocrypha: I Maccabees

Mattathias kills the apostate/
Massacre on the Sabbath day

Judas Maccabeus Battles
Apollonius (166BC)

Battle of Bethzacharia (162BC)

Alcimus and Demetrius I/
Battle of Béerzeth (161BC)

Description : De Celebratione missae by Remigius Autissiodorensis (Remi of Auxerre) ca. 841 – 908.
Catalogued as Biblica Sancti Petri Rodensis, this is a four-volume Bible with some additional materials.
The name is from the monastery of St Peter of Roda, Catalonia. The published catalogue entry is in Ph. Lauer (ed.), Catologue Général, I pp. 5f. Vattioni (see under Editio princeps) gives the date as 10th or 11th cent. (p. 173): in this he follows PK. Klein, "Date et Scriptorium de la Bible de Roda. État des Recherthes", Cahiers de Saint Michel de Cuxà 3 (1972), pp. 91-101.
The first two volumes of the Roda Bible appear to have been created at Ripoll, the last two volumes may have come from the workshop of Rodes itself. (The Art of medieval Spain. A.D. 500-1200. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, N.Y.)
Manuscript volumes: Latin 6 (1), Latin 6 (2), Latin 6 (3), Latin 6 (4): Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

Referenced on pp128-9, Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era, 1050-1350, Western Europe and the Crusader States by David Nicolle.
321A AH   Roda Bible, Catalonia, 11th century
(Bib. Nat., Ms. Lat. 6, Paris, France)

Click on a figure to see the source:

Two extremely important 11th-century manuscripts survive from Catalonia: the Roda Bible and the Farfa Bible. One feature that has drawn the attention of armour scholars to these manuscripts is that they seem to show rectangular shapes on the breasts of normal mail hauberks (P, U, V, W, Z, AA and AG). This is otherwise only seen in the 11th-century Anglo-Norman Bayeux Tapestry and a handful of other isolated illustrations. Here, however, they almost certainly represent unlaced mail ventails that hang below the wearers' chins. Such unlaced ventails are frequently shown in 12th-century sources, and the square outline of those in the Catalan Bibles might indicate either that they were a new feature with which the artists were not fully familiar, or that early forms of unlaced ventail from the 11th century did tend to fall into a roughly rectangular shape rather than into the triangular shape seen in the fully developed 12th-century version. The figure of Judas Maccabbeus or perhaps King Eupator (Z) has sometimes been interpreted as wearing a coat of scales. This is unlikely in the 11th century and may simply be the manuscript artist's attempt to make this important figure more splendid. Most helmets appear to be of segmented construction (B, C, E, F, H, L, N, U, Y, Z, AA, AE and AG), either of two pieces joined along the comb in sub-Roman style or true spangenhelms with the segments fastened to a frame. One-piece helmets might also appear (G, I, P, R, V, W and AH). Some helmets have nasals (H, N, P, Q S, U, W, AA, AE and AG) but most do not. Some even appear to have extended neckguards (AE and AG), while others are shown with brims or partial brims like chapel-de-fer war-hats or even early salets (G and Z). One helmet might include a rudimentary representation of the decorative brow plate seen in later Andalusian helmets (S). The manuscript clearly reflects a period of experiment and change before the almost universal adoption of conical one-piece helmets with nasals in the late 11th and 12th centuries. The traditions and influences seen in the helmets of this transitional period seem to include late-Roman, north European, Islamic, and perhaps even Byzantine elements, none of which should be surprising given Catalonia's geographical and political position. Other features of interest are the variety of shields, which range from the large convex round forms for cavalry (H and I) to smaller round ones for infantry (P and AH). The whole early history of the kite shaped shield seems to be illustrated in this one manuscript, from almost oval forms (L and V), through round-based kite-shaped types (J) to the fully kite-shaped variety for both horsemen and footsoldiers (G, N, Y, Z, AA and AG). Apart from spears, mostly with wings or flanges, and swords with straight, curved and down-turned quillons, round, nut and a remarkable bar-like (AC) pommel, the Roda Bible includes other interesting weapons. Large staff-slings are shown no less than three times (F, K and AD). Such weapons were used in siege or naval warfare and should be seen in the context of other beam-sling devices, from the smallest man-powered mangonel to the largest counterweight trebuchet. Almost as surprising are the differently shaped long-hafted axes. The simpler types have similarities with Northern European war-axes (L, T and AB), but a second variety (D and X) has a half-moon blade and a long sleeve down the haft. It seems to be connected with the tabarzîn war-axes of Iran and the Middle East.

Text links to images referenced:
Debora sending Barak into combat
Defeat of the army of Sisera
Death of the sons of Eli
Death of Saul at the Battle of Mount Gilboa
Gezer taken(?)
The capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (587BC)
Fighting around Bethulia
Massacre on the Sabbath day
Detail of Staff Slinger and Armoured Warrior in Elephant Howdah
Battle of Bethzacharia (162BC)

A Spanish Heavy Cavalryman in Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 by Ian Heath, based on the Roda Bible
A staff-slinger in Armies of Feudal Europe 1066-1300 by Ian Heath, based on the Roda Bible

Monasteries of Santa Maria de Ripoll and Sant Pare de Rodes (Girona), mid to late 11th century
Tempera on parchment
18⅞ x 12¾ in. (48 x 32.5 cm)
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (MS. lat. 6; 4 vols.; 110, 179, 164, and 113 folios)

This Bible comes from the monastery library at Sant Pere de Rodes (San Pedro de Roda), where it is documented beginning in the middle of the twelfth century.1 It remains a matter of debate whether it was created in Rodes or, like the Ripoll Bible (cat. 157), in Ripoll. Most recent investigation has determined that the painter of the first two volumes of the Roda Bible was closely associated with the chief painter of the Ripoll Bible and certainly came from the same workshop in Ripoll.2 Yet the painters of the last two volumes of the Roda Bible reveal stylistic parallels not only with manuscripts from Ripoll3 but even more clearly with works from other Catalonian scriptoria, such as a Moralia codex from Vic, a homiliary in Girona, and a Gospel from Cuxa.4 Still more striking is the fact that the last volume of the Roda Bible, containing the text of the New Testament, borrows from pictorial precedents different from those called upon for the Ripoll Bible. The Gospel illustrations of the Ripoll Bible are altogether lacking, replaced in the Roda Bible by an Apocalypse cycle not included in the Ripoll Bible. Moreover, in contrast to all the other illustrations in both Bibles, this Apocalypse cycle does not appear before the text but is interpolated between the relevant sections.5
    All of this is best explained if we assume that the Roda Bible was written and illustrated for the most part in Ripoll and was from the very beginning destined for the library at Rodes—there would have been no reason to produce two so elaborately illustrated Bibles at the same time for Ripoll's own library.5 Still unfinished, the Bible must then have gone to Rodes sometime in the second half of the eleventh century, where toward the end of that century the text was completed and the illustrations to the Apocalypse were interpolated. These paintings were based on patterns apparently unavailable in Ripoll, otherwise the Ripoll Bible would also have contained them. Although the Roda Bible was largely created in Ripoll, there is no point searching for it in the inventories of the Ripoll library; it would not have been one of the three complete Bibles included in the Ripoll inventory of 1047 for it was both incomplete as well as destined for another monastery.
    The Roda Bible, like the Ripoll Bible, includes extensive pictorial cycles for the Old Testament, with especially rich illustrations for the books of the prophets. In the New Testament, however, there is only the one Apocalypse cycle, which remains unfinished. And, again like the Ripoll Bible, the Roda Bible contains picture cycles based on a variety of iconographic sources. Although some of these reflect native Spanish traditions, it is likely that central European iconography was also becoming increasingly influential. One senses it in the Genesis scenes, yet it becomes especially apparent in the illustrations for the books of the prophets and for the Apocalypse. The latter, for example, reveal particular parallels to Romanesque Apocalypse cycles in Italian wall painting, such as those at Castel Sant'Elia (Viterbo) and Anagni (Frosinone), and ultimately derive from an Italian archetype of the fifth or sixth century.7 The uncommonly extensive Daniel cycle in the Roda Bible may also come from a late antique Italian archetype, other variants of which are preserved in the Spanish Daniel illustrations (in the Beatus manuscripts and Pamplona Bibles), in the English Lambeth Bible, and in an Ottonian Daniel commentary in Bamberg.8 It has also been pointed out that there are Jewish elements in the Roda Bible's prophet cycles.9
    Originally in a single volume, the Roda Bible was executed by at least five scribes, one of whom is close to the chief scribe of the Ripoll Bible.10 The illustrations were essentially the work of two painters. The first of these illustrated the initial two volumes with brightly colored pictures comparable in style to those of the primary illustrator of the Ripoll Bible (cat. 157). The painter of the third volume contented himself with uncolored pen drawings and was already wholly Romanesque in style. The same is true of the various painters of the fourth volume, the illustrations of which were probably not produced until near the end of the century.
    The earlier chief painter of the Roda Bible also produced the frontispiece to the Psalms, which happens to contain a Solomon cycle for the First Book of Kings and the two books of Chronicles.11 The narrative begins at the top of the left-hand column with David's last exhortation to his son Solomon to build a temple for the Lord (1 Chronicles 28:9-21).12 Below follows the transport of materials for the construction of the temple (1 Kings 5:8; 2 Chronicles 2:16-17). At the bottom is the gathering of the elders before Solomon preceding the transfer of the ark of the covenant (1 Kings 8:1-2; 2 Chronicles 5:2-3). In the center of the illustration's main section we see Solomon's temple with the ark of the covenant and the two cherubim inside (1 Kings 8:6-7; 2 Chronicles 5:7-8). Below this is the consecration of the temple, with animal sacrifices and Solomon extending his arms toward heaven in prayer, just as in the text (1 Kings 8:54-64; 2 Chronicles 7:4-7). The bottom scene depicts the arrival before Solomon's throne of the queen of Sheba and her entourage (1 Kings 10:1-2; 2 Chronicles 9:1);13 interestingly, the queen places one of her hands in Solomon's hand in a gesture suggestive of the immixtio manuum (joining of hands) in the feudal rite of homage, probably meant to show her subordinate rank.14 While there are textual and pictorial precedents—from the Dittochaeum of the early Christian theologian Prudentius to a Romanesque fresco in the cathedral at Puy15—for combining the consecration of the temple with the visit from the queen of Sheba, the inclusion of the siege in the upper section of the picture remains unclear. Surely this is not meant to depict Solomon's building of the city and its fortifications (1 Kings 9:17-19; 2 Chronicles 8:2-6),16 for there are no signs of construction. It does appear to be the siege and ultimate capture of a city, even though the attacking knights are illogically placed inside the walls, doubtless for lack of space. Perhaps this is meant to be the capture of Geser by the Egyptian king, who then bestowed it on his daughter, Solomon's wife, as a wedding gift (1 Kings 9: 16-17).17

1. See the privilege of Pope Innocent II from December 5, 1130, on fol. 39r (Neuss 1922, p. 13). The Bible later found its way to France by way of the duke of Noailles, a marshal of King Louis XIV (1693), and subsequently into the Bibliothèque Royale (1740), which was absorbed into the present-day Bibliothèque Nationale.
2. Contrary to the almost unanimous opinion of most recent scholarship (Yolanda Zaluska, in Paris 1982, p. 37; Dalmases and José 1986, pp. 157-58), I do not believe that these two painters of the Ripoll and Roda Bibles are one and the same person.
3. Especially to the figural initials in the Archivo de la Corona de Aragón, Barcelona, MS. Riv. 52. See Neuss 1922, p. 27; Bohigas1960, pp. 46-47; and Klein 1972, pp. 96-97. 4. Now in the Museu Episcopal, Vic, MS. 26; Museo Diocesano, Girona, MS. 44; and, for the Cuxa manuscript, Bibliothèque Municipale, Perpignan, MS. 1. See Klein 1972, pp. 97-99. Also see Neuss 1922, pp. 18, 27; Bohigas 1960, pp. 47, 80. For the Cuxa manuscript, see Gudiol 1955, pp. 122-26 and figs. 110-21, and Dominguez 1962, p. 93 and figs. 100, 101. 5. See Klein 1972.-74, pp. 267-72, 298-301; Cahn 1982, pp. 70-72.
6. Regarding the latter, see Yolanda Zaluska, in Paris 1982, p. 42.
7. Klein 1972-74., pp. 290-96. See also Hoegger 1975, pp. 72-82.
8. For the Daniel illustrations of the Roda Bible, see Neuss 1922, pp. 89-94.
A thorough investigation of the iconographic traditions and sources of medieval Daniel cycles has yet to be undertaken.
9. Nordstrom1965, pp. 196-205. See also Nordstrom 1955-57, pp. 506-7
10. Yolanda Zaluska, in Paris 1982, p. 31. See also Bohigas 1960, pp. 68-69.
11. For this illustration, see Neuss 1922, p. 79; Gudiol 1955, p. 90; Ferber 1976, pp. 21-43 (with many mistaken interpretations!); Moralejo 1981, pp. 79-88; Cahn 1982, pp. 72-74; Yolanda Zaluska, in Paris 1982, pp. 36-37; Dalmases and José 1986, p. 265.
12. Ferber (1976, p. 26), Yolanda Zaluska (Paris 1982, p. 36) and Dalmases and José (1986, pp. 261, 265) want to identify this image with the scene of Solomon sending a messenger to King Hiram of Tyre (1 Kings 5:16; 2 Chronicles 2:2), which is unlikely, since in contrast to the other figures of Solomon on this side of the picture the king does not wear a beard.
13. For this scene in the Roda Bible, see Ostoia 1972, pp. 93-94.; Moralejo1981, pp. 80-88.
14. According to Moralejo 1981, pp. 85-86. It does appear that this is a misunderstood formulation of the gesture of the immixtio manuum, for Solomon appears to be lifting the queen by her hand (see Ostoia 1972, p. 93) instead of clasping the hand of his subordinate as in the feudal rite. Moreover, the queen is not depicted kneeling or even curtsying, as one would expect, but standing, although there are various pictorial precedents for the latter in the Catalonian manuscripts of the Liber Feudorum Maior and the Liber Feudomm Certianiae (see Gudiol 1955, fig. 169). For the ritual gesture of the immixtio manuum, see Le Golf 1976, pp. 687ff).
15. See at: Moralejo 1981, p. 81.
16. As Neuss 1922, p. 79, and Cahn 1982, p. 74, suspect.
17. According to Yolanda Zaluska, in Paris 1982, p. 37.
Source: pp.307-309 The Art of Medieval Spain AD 500-1200, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1993

See also Book of Maccabees in The Leiden I Maccabees manuscript, 10th Century
Subjugation of the Cantabrians by Visigoth King Liuvigild, Spain, 11th century
Other 11th century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers
Index of Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers