BEATUS, of Liebana and Valcavado, Spanish priest and monk, theologian and geographer, was born about 730, and died in 798. About 776 he published his Commentaria in Apocalypsin, containing one of the oldest Christian world-maps. He took a prominent part in the Adoptionist controversy, and wrote against the views of Felix of Urgel, especially as upheld by Elipandus of Toledo. As confessor to Queen Adosinda, wife of King Silo of Oviedo (774-783), and as the master of Alcuin and Etherius of Osma, Beatus exercised wide influence. His original map, which was probably intended to illustrate, above all, the distribution of the Apostolic missions throughout the world - depicting the head of Peter at Rome, of Andrew in Achaia, of Thomas in India, of James in Spain, and so forth - has survived in ten more or less modified copies. One only of these - the "Osma" of 1203 - preserves the Apostolic pictures; among the remaining examples, that of "St Sever," now at Paris, and dating from about 1030, is the most valuable; that of "Valcavado," recently in the Ashburnham Library, executed in 970, is the earliest; that of "Turin," dating from about 1100, is perhaps the most curious. Three others - "Valladolid" of about 1035, "Madrid" of 1047, and "London" of 1109 - are derivatives of the "Valcavado-Ashburnham" of 970; the eighth, "Paris II," is connected, though not very intimately, with "St Sever," otherwise "Paris I"; the ninth and tenth, "Gerona" and "Paris III," belong to the Turin group of Beatus maps. All these works are emphatically of "dark-age" character; very seldom do they suggest the true forms of countries, seas, rivers or mountains, but they embody some useful information as to early medieval conditions and history. St Isidore appears to be their principal authority; they also draw, directly or indirectly, from Orosius, St Jerome, St Augustine, and probably from a lost map of classical antiquity, represented in a measure by the Peutinger Table of the 13th century.
The chief MSS. of the Commentaria in Apocalypsin are (1-3) Paris, National Library, Lat. 8878; Lat. nouv. acq. 1366 and 2290; (4) Ashburnham MSS. xv.; (5) London, B. Mus., Addit. MSS. 11695; (6) Turin, National Library 1, ii. (1); (7) Valladolid, University Library, 229; (8) the MS. in the Episcopal Library at Osma, in Old Castile.
There is only one complete edition of the text, that by Florez (Madrid, 1770). See also Konrad Miller, Die Weltkarte des Beatus, Heft I. of Mappaemundi: die ältesten Weltkarten (Stuttgart, 1895); d'Avezac in Annales de ... géographie (June 1870); Beazley, Dawn of Modern Geography, i. 387-388 (1897); ii. 549-559; 591-605 (1901).
(C. R. B.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)