f. 214 (detail)
The Codex Calixtinus–or Liber Sancti Jacobi / Book of Saint James–, a
jewel in medieval bibliography, is one of the richest medieval sources
for historians, geographers, musicologists,
sociologists, ethnologists, art historians and linguists. Due to its
heterogeneous and composite
character, this codex is believed to be the work of several authors and
compilers. It is known as Codex
Calixtinus not because this Pope had been one of its authors but on
account of the extraordinary influence that
he, his secretary and the people of Cluny had in the gestation of the
Before his election as Pope in 1119, Calixtus II had been the Abbot at
Cluny; the people of this Burgundian city had originated and promoted
the pilgrimages to Santiago and, as Pope,
Calixtus became the most impassioned benefactor of these crusades. This
Pope from Cluny, brother
of the Count of Galicia, son in law of King Alfonso VI, raised the
status of the city of Santiago to
Archdiocese. It has also been established that the French cleric
Aymeric Picaud, Secretary of Pope
Calixtus, was an important participator in the writing, or at least,
compilation of the codex. Scholars believe that the codex was compiled
around 1160 and no later
than 1173, since at that time a monk by the name of Arnaldo de Monte, a
pilgrim in Compostela, made a "copy" of the work
for his abbot and brothers of the Ripoll Cloister (MS Ripoll 99,
Barcelona, Archivo de la Corona
The Jesuit historian P. Fidel Fita rediscovered the codex in 1886; for
unknown reasons the book had been hidden and forgotten. In 1964 the
entire codex was restored in the workshop of the
National Library of Madrid; one of the parts of the codex, Libro IV
(Historia Turpini), which had been removed
in the 17th century was then reincorporated into the manuscript.
Codex Calixtinus is composed of 5 "libros" or sections:
Libro I (fols.4-139) contains sermons, liturgical texts and homilies
for the liturgy of Saint James (Santiago),
including numerous musical chants and two polyphonic settings written
specifically for the new liturgy (fols.
101v-139). Book I is preceded by a bizarre and clearly spurious letter
from Pope Calixtus (fols.1-3).
Libro II (fols.140-155), known as the "Book of Miracles," is a
collection of 22 miracles credited to Saint James which had
occurred in different areas of Europe.
Libro III (fols.156-162) narrates the moving of Saint James' body from
Palestina to Compostela.
Libro IV (fols.163-191), or Historia Turpini, is a history of
Charlemagne and Roland (Historia Karol Magni et
Rotholandi). It has been falsely attributed to Turpin, Archbishop of
Reims. Although this book was originally
a part of the Codex Calixtinus, it was removed in 1620 and circulated
widely as an independent unit.
Luckily, as just mentioned, the book has now its original place in the
Libro V (fols.192-225) is the very famous "Liber Peregrinationis"
("Guide of the Medieval Pilgrim") attributed to
Aymeric Picaud. It is considered the oldest touristic guide of Europe.
Musical settings (including
plainsong and polyphonic conducti, tropes, and organa) follow on fols.
214-222. The codex ends with an
appendix which has several poems and hymns related to Santiago.
Codex Calixtinus is a marvellous witness to the political, social,
cultural, religious, musical and intellectual fabric
of the medieval world. "The Guide of the Medieval Pilgrim", offering
vivid descriptions of the different towns and people, their customs,
organization, lingustic manners, and its unique fusion of
franco-hispanic elements, is a beautiful
ethnographic lesson. The music in the codex is a topic in itself and
offers a wonderful snapshot of the state
of music composition in the 12th century: the texts for St. James along
with their accompanying
monophonic tropes and sequences clearly illustrate how the liturgy was
embellished for a new great feast day. The musical highpoint is its
repertoire of polyphony; it includes the first
known composition for three voices and serves as a vital bridge for the
Notre Dame School. Without this
repertoire our understanding of the birth and evolution of polyphony in
the western world would be
It is because of its invaluable role in so many and varied disciplines
that the Codex Calixtinus, a
medieval studies, will be a basic and treasured tool in your library.
• Full-color reproduction of the entire
manuscript, 250 folios
pages) in the
original format, 21 x 29.5 cm,
special vegetable parchment.
• Miniatures/decoration: 4 colored
Calixtus, Saint James, Bishop Turpin
Santiago the Younger(?). 291 initials; 16
capitals in several colors.
• Companion volume: "A Practical Guide
for Pilgrims - The Road to
Prof. M. Bravo Lozano (245
pp, with 404
color illustrations and 47 detailed maps).
• Binding: Full
with an antique finish; leather
edition of 845 copies.
Price on request.
Old Manuscripts & Incunabula
PO Box 6019 FDR Station, New York NY
tel/fax 212/ 758-1946