The Apocalypse of 1313

The Apocalypse of 1313 f. 74r, The second eschatological combat (Ap. 20, 7-10)

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f. 74r, The second eschatological combat (Ap. 20, 7-10)

An army as numerous “as the sand of the sea” stands before the Beast released from the pit of the abyss (cf. f. 72). The devil has gathered the nations that have rallied to his cause to invade the land of the saints who had been living in the peace of the Church for a thousand years. The passage from the Apocalypse illustrated here is in fact the fulfilment of one of Ezekiel’s prophecies (Ez. 1: 29-30) predicting that tribes from the north will gather at the end of time under the leadership of Gog, the Lydian king of Magog, and attack the peaceful inhabitants of the mountains in Israel, thereby unleashing the anger of the Lord who will then reveal himself in his true light and will exterminate them all by raining fire and brimstone down up them.
Depicted in the illustration are the tongues of holy fire striking the seven-headed, winged dragon (upper register), before dragging it head first into “the pool of fire and brimstone”, the hell personified in the lower register by the mouth of the monster known as Leviathan. Caught between the heavenly flames and the hellish furnace, the compact group of naked damned, guilty of being unable to withstand the Beast’s seduction, also prepares to be engulfed and to undergo, according to the text (Revelation 20: 10), the very worst torments for ever and ever. The didactic aims of the volume do not wane and the antinomic juxtaposition, on their right, of a triumphant Church crowned with a gold cross extending beyond the dividing line between the two painted registers – as if to emphasise Christ’s almighty power – accentuates the tropological message of the group even more.
On the facing page, John, holding his penknife in his left hand, has started writing again.

Marie-Thérèse Gousset and Marianne Besseyre
Illuminated Manuscripts Research Center, Bibliothèque nationale de France
Fragment of the Apocalypse of 1313 commentary volume


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