The Great Stemma: Manuscripts


The only way that we know that a graphic artist – or studio – in the fifth century drew a magnificent chart of biblical history and genealogy is from the later copying of that work onto parchment manuscripts during the medieval period. Fortunately, 24 such copies are still in existence.

Even more pleasingly, digital surrogates of the best of them have been posted online, for free, so that anyone in the world can examine and enjoy them. This page is a nerve centre of the website, tabulating all these online witnesses at a glance. The amber-gold squares in the table below mark high-resolution images where you can click to find pages where the Latin text is distinct enough to read. The paler yellow squares mark low-resolution images and snippets.

By following each column downwards, you can easily compare names and patterns in the matching folio of each witness. Click in the columns at left and you will find catalogues and information about the monasteries that created these documents.

This Late Antique graphic masterpiece has no standard title, but Gryson and Frede's Beuron directory of early Christian authors gives it the code PROL gen. The Great Stemma is not listed as far as I know in Stegmüller's Repertorium or the Clavis Patrum Latinorum.[*]Gryson, Roger, Répertoire général des auteurs ecclésiastiques latins de l'antiquité et du haut moyen âge (Freiburg: Herder, 2007). Its editorial evolution is outlined on a page of this website setting out the recensions of the work that survive and identifying the oldest among them.

The table below is a springboard full of links for users who want to appreciate the original manuscripts in context, as part of medieval bibles and Beatus manuscripts. It will be clear after consulting the list that not only can you see the entirety of what is left of eight out of the 24 manuscripts (the codices are missing some pages), but that these eight neatly cover six of the recensions (alpha, beta, delta, gamma, epsilon and School), whereby the sigma recension (available at low-resolution only from the BNF) is not to be greatly missed. Happily, all four principal manuscripts (Plutei, Roda, San Millan and one of the finest of the School group) are now easily accessible online and one could hardly wish for more.

The first three columns of the table below give: (1) my own index numbers, (2) the recension codes proposed by Zaluska and (3) the sigla used by Wilhelm Neuss and Zaluska. Each section is in order of date of creation. The years of creation are not precise dates, but approximations intended as a unified notation to establish their order in the table.

N R C Name Repository Class. Folios Date Images+ Notes

in Beatus (Joachim and Anna Genealogy)

1 β M Morgan New York, Pierpont Morgan Library M. 644 4v 5 5v     6 6v 7 7v 8 8v 9 9v   940-945   4 low-res images at Morgan, others from N. Taylor website
2 α T Tábara Madrid, Archivo Histórico Nacional cód. 1097B     0 0v 1 1v                 970 Hi-res images TP H below was copied from this
3 α G Gerona Girona, Museu de Catedral Inv. 7(11) 8v 9 9v 10 10v 11 11v 12 12v 13 13v 14 14v 15 975   Tu below was copied from this
4 γ U Urgell La Seu d'Urgell, Archivo de la Catedral Inv. 501     Ir     Iv II IIv III IIIv IV IVv   V 980 Later pages The first folio is presumed missing
5 β J Facundus Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España VITR/14/2 10v 11 11v 12 12v 13 13v 14 14v 15 15v 16 16v 17 1047 Overview. A later page. OPAC
6 σ S Saint-Sever Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France ms lat 8878 5v 6 6v 7 7v 8 8v 9 9v 10 10v 11 11v 12 1060 Municipality images gone Low res at BNF; Mandragore: type "Latin 8878"
7 α Tu Turin Turin, Bib. Naz. Universitaria di Torino lat. 93 / Sgn. I.II.1 8v 9 9v 10 10v 11 11v 12 12v 13 13v 14 14v 15 1110   A copy of G above
8 α R Rylands Manchester, Rylands University Library ms. lat. 8 6v 7 7v 8 8v 9 9v 10 10v 11 11v 12 12v 13 1175 circa A facsimile  
9 α Pc Cardeña Madrid, MAN;
New York, Met
3 3v 4 4v 5 5v 6 6v 3
1180   Divided ownership. Origin unknown
10 α H Las Huelgas New York, Pierpont Morgan Library M. 429 6v 7 7v 8 8v     9 9v 10 10v 11 11v 12 1220 Hi-res images TP A copy of T above

in Bible or Beatus?

11 β Fi Fragment Vitr. 14-2 Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España VITR/14/2 5 5 5v   2 2v 3 3v 1
4 4v     975 Overview. Alt. 5 OPAC

in Vulgate Bibles (Joachim and Anna Genealogy)

12 β Le León Bible León, Colegiata de San Isidoro cód. 2 5v   6r   6v 7r 7v 8r 8v 9r   9v   10r 960   Fischer witness L
13 γ Ma San Juan de la Peńa Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España MSS/2
(lat. 2)
1   1v     2 2v   3 3v         1050 Overview. Extra image OPAC. Fischer witness M
14 β   Second León Bible León, Colegiata de San Isidoro cód. I. 3.                             1162   A copy of Le above
15 δ Ca Calahorra Bible Calahorra, Cathedral Treasury ms. III 5v     6r   6v     7r     7v     1183 RicardMN Photography Fischer witness C
16 δ Ac San Millán  Bible Madrid, RAH Cód. 2-3 1     1v   2 2v 3   3v 4     1170 Overview Fischer witness E. OPAC. Complete in 7 pages

in Chronicles (Joachim and Anna Genealogy)

17 α Ro Roda Codex Madrid, RAH cód. 78 198v 199 199v 200 201v 202 202v 203 203v 204 204v 205 205v 206 990 Overview OPAC. Two pages after the 4th contain mappamundi and text
18 ε   unnamed Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana Plut. 20.54 38   38v 39 39v 40 40v 41
42 42v
44v 45 45v 1050   Seven-word description in Bandini. tlion

School Stemma (an 18-page arrangement adapted to the levirate-marriage doctrine)

-- ζ   Ripoll Bible Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana Vat. lat. 5729 359   359v     360   360v     361     361v 1020   Not graphic: text only.
19 ι1   Parc Abbey Bible London, British Library Add.Ms. 14788 198v 199 199v 200 200v 201 201v 202
203 203v
204v 205
207 1148    
20 ι2   Floreffe AbbeyBible London, British Library Add.Ms. 17737 24v 25 25v
26 26v 27 27v 28
29 29v
30v 31
  1155   The final page is missing
21 ι3   Foigny Abbey Bible Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France lat. 15177 2v 3 3v 4 4v 5 5v 6
7 7v
8v 9
11 1190 2: BNF Banque d'Images  
22 ι4   Burgos Rom- anesque Bible Burgos, Biblioteca Pública deL Estado MS 173 1v 2 2v   3 3v 4r 4v
5v 6
7 7v 8 8v 1160   Compressed to 15 pages

Conjecturally a six-page arrangement

23 β   Ávila Bible Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España VITR/15/1     2     2v                 1010
Overview OPAC. Only 1 extant folio

Eight-page arrangement with the chronicle continued to 1039

24     Codex Amiatinus III Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana Amiat. 3 169   169v 170 170v 171 171v 172           172v 1040   Description in Bandini 642, 643-644, 645-646


Lost Manuscripts

1. A Great Stemma copy was evidently in the now-lost bible of Oña made in 943, of which only a few pages (without the stemma) now exist.[*]John Williams argues that Oña was the model for both Leon bibles, but notes Ayuso's argument that both León bibles derive from yet another other lost bible known as Legionense supuesto: 'A Model for the Leon Bibles.' Madrider Mitteilungen VIII (1967): 281-286. See also Klapisch-Zuber, 63.

2. There was almost certainly another lost codex at León which Ayuso terms the Legionense supuesto and from the early 1950s coded Leg 3. It is described as containing the genealogical table.[*]The only question that has been raised about this lost bible is whether it might not have been identical with Oña. On balance that seems implausible. Descriptions of Legionense supuesto are extant from Manuel Risco and José María Eguren. Williams (1965) quotes the latter: Contiene este códice, como el anterior [Bible of 960], la genealogia de Jesucristo desde Adam, y en dos espacios circulares de noticia de la época en que empezaron a profetizar los profetas mayores y menores; concluye la genealogia de Jesucristo, y al fin de la misma hay una miniatura que representa Anunciación, y dentro de un círculo se lee: colligitur omne tempus ab Adam usque ad Christum VCXCVIIII (5199). En la misma miniatura se ve el catálogo de los reyes de Roma ... Es completo y bien escrito de letra del siglo IX. No consta el año en que se hizo, ni el nombre del transcriptor.

3. The School Stemma pages are absent from the damaged Bible of Arnstein an der Lahn (British Library, London, MS Harley 2798-2799, digitized), but there are grounds to speculate that the diagram might have once been copied into that bible, which in so many other respects is similar to the Parc and Floreffe Bibles above.

4. Two Italian miscellanies appear to have once included the Great Stemma, but those codices are now incomplete: See my article New Found Manuscript.


The table above was inspired by the Beatus tabulation and folio numbering which was compiled by John Williams and another listing by Christiane Klapisch-Zuber. [*]Klapisch-Zuber's text refers in the past tense to the two chronicles and eight Spanish bibles known to have contained genealogies. She offers no explicit listing of those bibles, but apparently counts Le, Ma, Le2, Ca, Ac, Burgos, Ávila and the fragmentarily extant bible Oña bible, making eight without the lost León bible (L. supuesto). Zaluska's second article [*]Zaluska, Composition. authoritatively confirmed that the sum total then discovered of extant specimens of the Joachimite Stemma (including the Avila derivative, which I set apart above) was 19. To my knowledge, no new manuscripts of the Great Stemma have been discovered in the past 30 years.

The tabulation above is organized according to the common, 14-codex-page order of the Great Stemma in the Beatus manuscripts and the Roda Codex, and each column displays a "tool tip" which is visible when the cursor is hovered over it. For the order of the 14 see for example these thumbnails. The content is disposed as follows:

I have matched the content of the seven-page, 16-page and 18-page manuscripts to the 14 columns of my table by stretching or folding.

A partial transcription of the first nine pages, collated from four of the bibles, was published by Bonifatius Fischer in his 1951-1954 edition of the Vetus Latina Genesis.[*]Fischer, Genesis. Fischer omitted all material that was not demonstrably biblical, such as glosses and the commentary on Lot, and suppressed such apocryphal details as the names of Noah's daughters in law. Wilhelm Neuss had published a transcription in 1931 of the panels on the first two pages. Zaluska collated many of the stemmata, but as far as I know did not publish her collation. The transcription, issued in 2010 on this website of all the roundels is, to the best of my knowledge, the first beginning-to-end publication of the core content of the Great Stemma since the invention of type. Since early 2013, a transcription of the Saint-Sever Beatus has been online in France.

The School Stemma series, all in bibles, provides important evidence about the early form of the diagram, since, as the table shows, the graphic partition of the material has certain similarities to that in the Epsilon recension. A complete assessment of the School (S) recension waits on the issue of a digital version of the Ripoll Bible by the BAV in Rome.

For more details on the Beatus series, see an unsigned article (in Spanish) in Arte Historia describing the Beatus series in general (including those manuscripts for which no genealogy is extant) (Bing Translation) and Pablo García-Diego's list of pre-romanesque manuscripts on his Guía del Arte Prerrománico Español website.

Zaluska rightly does not include in the list a 20th item, a 14th- or 15th-century bible at the University of Barcelona, which Ayuso claimed to be one of the series. Ayuso's 1943 article terms it Barc1, but it later becomes Barc3 in his peculiar numbering. This is Sig. Ms. 762, described at volume 2, page 308 of Miquel Rosell's printed catalog as follows: Ff. 2-7. Genealogias. Inc.: De Cain. Cain agricola dolens ... Expl.: De Tiberio ..., sub quo Dominus est passus. It also contains an Interpretationes Hebraicorum Nominum. A cursory examination of the digital version makes clear that it contains a much later evolution of the idea, the Compendium historiae in genealogia Christi of Peter of Poitiers. See my blog for more discussion of the Compendium.

The Manuscripts: Further Bibliographical and codicological details

Most of the codices have been subject to extensive study by art historians on account of the illuminations they contain. The Morgan Library, for example, has enormous hand-managed bibliographies for its two Beatus codices. Links above lead to these. The following list contains some brief notes on each manuscript, but only scratches the surface of that mass of published material.

1. Made at Tábara(?); illuminated by Maius. Believed to have been ordered for either the Monastery of San Miguel de Escalada or that of San Miguel de Moreruela. Print facsimile: A Spanish Apocalypse, with introduction by John Williams.

2. San Salvador de Tábara; illuminated by Maius and Emeterius.

3. Origins in the Kingdom of Léon, probably San Salvador de Tábara; illuminated by Emeterius and Ende. Print facsimile: Comentario al Apocalipsis (OpenLibrary).

4. Origins in the Kingdom of Léon. The Archivo de la Catedral is attached to the Museu Diocesŕ d'Urgell. Print facsimile: Beatus de Liebana Codex Urgellensis (WorldCat) with introduction by Peter Klein.

5. León royal scriptorium, executed by Facundus on commission by King Fernando I and Queen Sancha of Léon. Print facsimile: Beato de Fernando I y Sancha (WorldCat) (Barcelona, Moleiro: 2006).

6. From a monastery in Gascony in a town, Saint-Sever-sur-l'Adour, that is today part of France. Executed by Stephanus Garsia Placidus. The codex was ordered by Abbot Gregory. The codex and its contents have received an excellent and comprehensive description since 2013 on the CEHAG website. Print facsimile: El "Beato" de Saint-Sever (OpenLibrary).

7. From Catalonia, probably Ripoll. The full name of the library is Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria di Torino.

8. From Burgos, San Pedro de Cardeña? At the John Rylands Library. Print Facsimile: Beato de Liébana codice de Manchester (OpenLibrary), edited by Peter Klein.

9. The reason for the peculiar number of the last folio is that IV, V and XIV have been separated and are now owned by the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Print facsimile: Beato de Liébana (OpenLibrary ).

10. From Santa María de Las Huelgas in Burgos? The manuscript in the "Kilroy" look. Facsimile: Beato del Monasterio de Santa Maria la Real de Huelgas de Burgos (WorldCat), edited by Peter Klein (Valencia, Scriptorium: 2004).

11. From Kingdom of León. Neuss guessed this came from a bible. Spanish scholars have suggested the fragment is a missing section from the Valladolid illustrated Beatus dated to 970. Zaluska disagrees. Williams, not entirely seriously, suggests it be allocated to the Beatus camp simply because these comprise a majority of the extant forms.

12. From SS Pedro (y Paul?) twin monasteries at Valeranica, near Burgos. Executed by Florentius, Sanctius. Five double plates. Briefly described by Ayuso and Neuss. Genesis part transcribed (with gaps) by Fischer. Description on Guía del Arte Prerrománico Español. Print facsimile: Biblia Visigótico Mozárabe (OpenLibrary ) (FHVL/Lancia: 1998).

13. Former signature: A.2. Only six pages extant, as far as the roundel: Elisaba filius David. Neuss estimated the lost final section comprised a single folio. Genesis transcribed by Fischer. See Bordona: the bible ends at Ecclesiastes.

14. This bible is a close copy of Le. Also from León? Jose Carlos Martín advises that the final section of the Great Stemma (in the first of the three volumes) is missing: the final roundel extant is Resa genuit Anna.

15. Genesis transcribed by Fischer. Jose Carlos Martín advises that the end of this manuscript copy is missing: 7v finishes with Naum genuit Amos and the two large circles on the prophets. The opening spread is published in Historia de Calahorra (Amigos de la Historia de Calahorra, 2011. ISBN 978-84-939155-06) and the image can be purchased from RicardMN Photography.

16. From San Millán de la Cogolla Monastery. Full name of depository: Real Academia de la Historia. The catalogue description is in a large (20MB) PDF file. Detailed description by Williams in JWCI. Genesis transcribed by Fischer.

17. Executed under the direction of Sisebut, bishop of Pamplona. This codex contains histories of the Visigothic Kingdom, Asturia and Navarre. Full name of depository: Real Academia de la Historia.

18. Zaluska, Composition accepts that this 16-page version is the principal witness to the tradition preceding α and β. From Bandini, there is only a seven-word description. It has an entry in tlion.

--. The Bible of Ripoll at the Vatican (BAV, Vat. lat. 5729) is excluded from the count, because only the School Stemma text, minus the graphic elements, appears in its pages, according to Zaluska.[*]En introduction au Nouveau Testament, fol. 359-361v, la Bible de Ripoll contient des généalogies bibliques qui, contrairement ŕ celles dont nous avons traité jusqu'ŕ maintenant, ne sont pas disposées en médaillons, mais sont écrites comme un texte continu. Ce texte se poursuit sur un peu plus de cinq pages et il présente une trčs étroite parenté avec celui du groupe Parc-Floreffe-Foigny-Burgos. Toutefois le texte de Ripoll est plus court et les longs développements typologiques n'y figurent pas. For a recent survey of the art-history literature on this bible with a variety of images of its illuminations, see Castineiras (2009). Facsimile (WorldCat).

19. Found in the first codex of a three-volume bible. Köllner mistakenly gives the shelfmark "14789". See Sarah Biggs' talk suggesting that this Stemma dates from about 50 years after the rest of the bible.

20. In the first codex of a two-volume bible. The final page is missing. 27r illustrates Köllner's article.

21. In the first codex of a four-volume bible. Peculiarly, Mandragore has indexed this, but presents no matching images (yet). 5r illustrates Köllner's article.

22. From San Pedro de Cardeña Monastery, Burgos? Referred to as the Burgos Romanesque Bible to distinguish it from other bibles of Burgos. The Cistercian monastery at Vileña/ Villeñas has been proposed as an alternative origin to San Pedro. A later page is included in an English description of the library. Print facsimile: Biblia Romanica de Burgos (WorldCat).

23. This is a most peculiar version, compressing all the material from Noah to the Horrites onto two sides of a single folio. The image of Noah's Ark is charming and elaborate. One suspects that two or so folios have become lost and that this stemma was originally spread over about six pages. If this is so, a previous left side of a double-page spread would have once depicted Adam, and perhaps three further pages were allotted for the names from Jacob to Jesus, ending in a right-side illumination of the Incarnation. Zaluska uncertainly categorized this as belonging to recension β.

24. Almost certainly drawn at San Salvatore, Monte Amiato, Italy. It mentions a post-1039 king, hence the scholarly estimate of its date of creation. Melville published a schematic copy. Description by Klapisch-Zuber. See my blog for the most up to date discussion.

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