#207.14

The San Andrés del Arroyo Beatus map, 1248, Bibliotheque Nationale Paris


This is another Beatus map, extracted from a different copy of Apocalipsin in the National library of France. This map is circular in shape and its presentation is somewhat different from the others Beatus mappamundi. Dating from the first half of the 13th century, this is one of later copies of Beatus maps.

The map is oriented win East at the top. Provinces are represented by vignettes of buildings and churches and the mountains by piles rocks, all richly colored. The fourth continent in the south (right) is very small and bears no inscriptions. The Earthly Paradise is at the top, with figures of Adam and Eve trying to cover themselves. The surrounding ocean is full of fish, sailing boats, floating islands and a dragon. Although the map names many towns and countries, their relative positions area at best very approximate.

In this map the legend Armenia appears next to the large pile of rocks (a mountain) at the top center-left of the map, between the two unnamed rivers, which we can assume to be the Euphrates and the Tigris. Below, to the left of Armenia is the province of Capoadocia, which is shown sandwiched between mountains of Armenia and Mons Caucasus. There are no other Caucasian provinces depicted.

The vertical body of water correcting the eastern and western oceans is the Mediterranean. This layout is similar to that of the Navarro/Paris II Beatus map and remains an exaggeration and misrepresentation. The horizontal river going left from the Mediterranean represents the river Don flowing into the Black Sea, with the Black and Aegean Sean strung along a line. On the European side of the water, to the right of the two rivers flowing into the sea is the city of Constantinople, marked with a banner bearing a red cross, with Thessalonica to its right. On the right of the vertical Mediterranean, is the river Nile marking the border between Africa and Asia with its downward curving path. The floral depiction at its end is the lake which was assumed to be the source of the Nile. To the east of the lake we can see India (?). This terminology was often used very loosely to indicate eastern far-away lands. In this case it could to be assumed as referring to Ethiopia.

The mountains to the right of Paradise are (from the top) Mons Liban [Mount Lebanon], Mons Syriay [Syrian Mountains]. Mons Syna [Mount Sinai] and Mons Carmel. Ihrlm [Jerusalem] is located directly below Adam’s feel followed by Askelon and Judea.

Inside the territory of Europe the map shows many vignettes and toponyms. In order to accommodate all of these names and to make space, the boundaries of Asia have been pushed upwards. Anglia [England] is the second island in the group of four islands located at the lower left of the map, with Irlanda [Ireland] to its left. Scocia [Scotland] is inexplicitly pushed far eastward and appears at the top left of the map near Armenia.

As mentioned earlier, the map in the San Andres de Arroyo Beatus, which was made ca. 1248, is circular as opposed to the rounded rectangles of the Girona and Manchester maps. It is artistically more sophisticated than the two other maps, with many images of cities, and the mountains are imaginatively depicted as piles of rocks; and it has a dramatic color palette different from those of the other Beatus maps: the earth is burgundy, and there are stripes of white in the water. Many of the sea creatures are elongated fish or sea serpents, but there are some sea monsters. There are two sirens, one in the southeast, and the other in the northeast. Both are beside ships, and given the dancing gesture they make with their hands, we are no doubt to understand that they are singing seductive songs to the sailors on the ships, as the sirens did to Odysseus in the Odyssey—and as sirens are said to do in medieval bestiaries












A siren beside a ship in the southern ocean in the San Andres de Arroyo Beatus,

c. 1248; the siren’s dancing gesture indicates that she is singing to the sailors on the ship.


In the western ocean on the Arroyo Beatus there is an underwater human figure who is wrestling with two sea serpents, and this is a personification of the ocean—something that appears on no other Beatus map. There is also an octopus, a starfish, and a large lizard- like creature, perhaps a draco marinus or sea-dragon. The location of the starfish on the San Andres de Arroyo map accords with that ascribed to the creature by Thomas of Cantimpre, On the Nature of Things (De natura rerum) 7.73, and Albertus Magnus, On Animals (De animalibus) 24.52, who say that it lives in the western ocean; the map was made in the 13th century, after 1248, and thus after Thomas had finished his work (by 1240), and possibly after Albertus finished his (before 1256 or so). The starfish in the western ocean almost certainly represents the influence of Thomas of Cantimpre, particularly as its smiling face resembles that in at least two illustrated manuscripts of Thomas’ work, a mid 14th century manuscript in Prague, and an early 15th century manuscript in Granada. This is a striking case of an encyclopedic work influencing a mappamundi shortly after the work was compiled. In addition, the differences between the sea monsters on this map show very clearly that the artist felt free to innovate, and did not feel bound to copy the monsters that he found in the Beatus manuscript that he was using as a model.




An aquatic dragon, a personification of Ocean wrestling with two sea serpents, and a starfish in the western ocean on the San Andres de Arroyo Beatus, c. 1248