Slide #207D

TITLE: The Beatus Map, St. Sever, or Paris I
DATE: ca. 776 A.D.
AUTHOR: Beatus of Liebana (died 798)
DESCRIPTION: Next, chronologically, comes the map called St. Sever or Paris I measuring 37 X 57 cm. This work was executed ca. 1050 A.D. at the St. Sever Aquitanian monastery by the order of Geogory de Muntaner, Abbot from 1028 to 1072 A.D. The St. Sever derivative is considered by most scholars as the most valuable, the most carefully executed and the richest in content of all the ten transcripts of Beatus. The name of its author (or one of a group of executants responsible for the map) may be one Stephanus Garcia Placidus. The St. Sever copy is also considered to be the copy most representative of the original Beatus design, with respect to both form and content.

The points of the compass are to be found only on the St. Sever and the Paris III of 1250 maps; the windrose, so frequent in the larger medieval maps of later time, only occurs on the St. Sever. The classical world employed two kinds of windrose: one of these was eight-fold, the other twelve-fold. Both of these, of course, were based upon the four cardinal compass points. In the twelve-fold division, which was a favorite one among Greek scientists from the time of Aristotle, a classification of seven intermediate winds played a part. It is this twelve-fold division which is also to be found in Isidore, on the map of St. Sever, and in most of the circular designs of the later Middle Ages. The eight-fold arrangement was derived from Eratosthenes, and was accepted by Pliny, Orosius and also by Isidore of Seville, as a compliment to the twelve-fold partition.

A fourth continent, represented as a strip of land along the southernmost edge of the earth, beyond the Mare Rudrum [a.k.a. the equatorial ocean], is, as on all other Beatus maps, displayed here as well. A legend, again taken from Isidore, informs us on the St. Sever map that "In addition to the three parts of the world, there is a fourth part beyond the ocean in the midst of the south and unknown to us on account of the heat of the sun. Within its confines the Antipodians are fabulously said to dwell."

Pictorially, there can be found illustrations of fish and boats distributed throughout the surrounding great ocean. In this ocean and in the Mediterranean Sea are also sprinkled many islands including Tule, Britain, Hibernia, the Fortunate Islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, Cyprus and six others. On these islands and on the continental land masses are depicted castles, houses and churches of various sizes to symbolize major cities, famous sites or shrines. Roma is one city specifically named as well as represented by a symbol. Surprisingly, Jerusalem is not emphasized as on the Ashburnham, London and most probably the original map. The rivers on the St. Sever map are strikingly modern in their presentation when compared with the other Beatus derivatives or other maps of the 11th century. Also there are more rivers depicted on the St. Sever than any of the other derivatives, though none of these rivers are specifically labelled. One feature that this map has in common with most of the other Beatus copies is the vignette of Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge which is placed at the top of the map (east).

** see also Slide #207 Monograph **

Index of Early Medieval Maps