Chronological framework

ca. 1200

Geographical Framework

Catalonia (Ripoll? Cuixà? Tortosa?)


Ink on parchment

Profile and historiographical debate

Scribe, known by the colophon of a manuscript preserved in the archives of the Tortosa Cathedral, who has been frequently considered by the historiography the author of these manuscript illustrations, despite there are no further evidences to suggest that his work went beyond the scripture. Apart from the nature of his activity, the interest of the manuscript illustrations and the fact that it is not clear its place of execution, it might be necessary to find out the place where he worked. Even considering  bergedanus as an indicative of his origin (Berga, Catalonia), yet it is not for sure, this anthroponomy does not bring much light about this issue since it does not indicate anything else than a possible birth place and not where he developed his activity. The possibility that his work was developed in Berga should be dismissed, besides there is no evidence that makes credible the production of a manuscript of this nature in that place. The possibility that it was made ​​in Tortosa and therefore, that Nicolaus developed its activity there, it is not sure either, although cannot be excluded. In any case, it should be noted that the bishopric of Tortosa is of later creation (the Christian conquest was in 1148) and it is well-known that, at least initially, the Tortosa bishopric got manuscripts from other provenances. This hypothesis leads to suggest other possibilities for the execution of the manuscript, including the option of Sant Joan de les Abadesses (DALMASES-JOSÉ 1986: 294). The style of the illustrations, which entail a difficult filiation - perhaps by the internationality that characterizes much of the examples around 1200 - does not clarify the issue. So that, we can conclude that scribe Nicolaus Bergedanus worked on a manuscript even if it cannot be asserted that he also illustrated it. He worked in the Catalan territory, may be in the north (Ripoll? Cuixà?) or in the recent scriptorium of the Tortosa cathedral. Whoever was the author of these illustrations, he should have known Northern Catalan previous models, which he might translate into the typical figurative language around 1200.

Despite the fact that Nicolaus Bergedanus in the colophon of the De civitate Dei of Tortosa does not say anything else that he wrote between May and September, the interesting illustrations of the said manuscript have been often attributed to him, even if he has been considered from Berga (Catalonia). However, it has also been questioned that the final manuscript notebook, where the colophon is placed, was initially a part of the original codex (AINAUD 1961: 84) and, consequently, that it has no relation with the illustrations.

The illustrations of this manuscript do not give light of the place where they were made. There have been pointed out different relationships with another dispersed works. That is to say, from iconographic formulas of some illustrations produced in Ripoll (IBARBURU 1984: 265-272, 1997: 128-129), and also in Cuixà (ORRIOLS 1996: 37-38); to stylistic features and illustrative formats (lack of colour) which are found not only in other Catalan manuscripts from the Romanesque period (BOHIGAS 1960: 83) but also in Spanish (BOHIGAS 1974: 41) and central European examples (DOMINGUEZ BORDONA 1930: 48, 1962: 95). In addition, it has also been outlined his Byzantine character (DALMASES-JOSÉ 1986: 294) that is also common in the Northwest Catalan panel painting in those same dates (IBARBURU 1985: passim, 1997: 129-130).


Text copy (and according several authors, also the illustrations) of the manuscript De Civitate Dei of Tortosa (Arxiu de la Catedral, ms. 20)

Epigraphic Sources

Text of the colophon of the De Civitate Dei by Saint Augustine (Arxiu de la Catedral de Tortosa, ms. 20, f. 408v): “EGO NICOLAUS BERGEDANUS SCRIPSI HOC QUIDEM QUIDQUID DE MENSE MAY USQUE AD MENSEM SEPTEMBRIS. V[ER]N.... D[E]B[E]T" (the last two words cannot be well read) (I, Nicolaus Bergedanus, indeed wrote all of this from May to September…).

Text: Anna Orriols Alsina


DENIFLE-CHÂTELAIN 1896: 7; O’CALLAGHAN 1897: 37; MARCH 1916: 351-354; DOMÍNGUEZ BORDONA 1930: 48; DOMÍNGUEZ BORDONA 1933: 32; GUDIOL I CUNILL 1927: 128-131; DOMÍNGUEZ BORDONA 1957: 57; BOHIGAS 1960: 82-83; AINAUD 1961: 84; BAYERRI BERTOMEU 1962: 157-159, 686; DOMÍNGUEZ BORDONA, AINAUD 1962: 95; BOHIGAS 1974: 39, 41; DALMASES-JOSÉ I PITARCH 1986: 294; IBARBURU 1984: 93-124; 1999: 243-272; IBARBURU 1985: 103-121; 1999: 273-291; ORRIOLS 1996: 37-38; IBARBURU 1997: 125-131; 1999: 293-311.