Terrifying visions of the Apocalypse revealed the fears of medieval Spain

Written as Islam swept across the Iberian Peninsula, the Silos Apocalypse, a 10th-century illuminated manuscript, depicts biblical visions of the end of the world.

One of the most dazzling compositions in the Silos Apocalypse recounts a great battle in heaven in which the archangel Michael battles the red dragon, as described in the verses of Revelation 12.

The word “apocalypse” conjures images of the destruction of the Earth, and the end of time itself. In the early medieval period, the year 1000 was believed to herald the end-time. As it loomed ever closer, apocalyptic visions occupied the minds of Christian Europe.

For Christians living in the eighth century in what is now Spain, the visions were intensified by the cataclysmic events sweeping through the Iberian Peninsula. Those events inspired a monk, Beatus, to write a commentary on the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament that vividly describes how the end-time will unfold. Beatus’s work spread through Europe, and went on to inspire some of the most richly illustrated manuscripts of the medieval age.

(These biblical queens played crucial roles in the rise and fall of ancient Israel.)

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