Limited print-reproductions of illustration for "The Golden Legend"

I love medieval art and architecture. I love medieval poems and stories too. But the most of all I love very famous and popular in the medieval age book : "The Golden Legend" by Jacobs da Varagine from around the year 1260.
There are many strong and strange characters, dragons, devils and obscure situations. Of course, good and truth always wins. Medieval people didn't have a narrow mind. Their fantasy was wonderful and amazing. Jacob gathered many stories about saints and put them in "The Golden Legend:".
These stories were read in the churches. To be honest I think that was a little strange.
I was, and I'm still inspired by the storys of "The Golden Legend"; the medieval manuscripts with my fresh look at the contemporary illustrations. I have created the illustrations for this book.

If you are interested in purchasing the prints or original illustrations, please email me. If you have any questions or need further information, please feel free to contact me.


Nicholas is said of Nichos, which is to say victory, and of laos, people, so Nicholas is as much as to say as victory of people, that is, victory of sins, which be foul people. Or else he is said, victory of people, because he enseigned and taught much people by his doctrine to overcome vices and sins. Or Nicholas is said of Nichor, that is the resplendour or shining of the people, for he had in him things that make shining and clearness. After this S. Ambrose saith: The word of God, very confession, and holy thought, make a man clean. And the doctors of Greece write his legend, and some others say that Methodius the patriarch wrote it in Greek, and John the deacon translated it into Latin and adjousted thereto many things.


Nicholas, citizen of the city of Patras, was born of rich and holy kin, and his father was Epiphanes and his mother Johane. He was begotten in the first flower of their age, and from that time forthon they lived in continence and led an heavenly life. Then the first day that he was washed and bained [bathed], he addressed him right up in the bason, and he would not take the breast nor the pap but once on the Wednesday and once on the Friday, and in his young age he eschewed the plays and japes of other young children. He used and haunted gladly holy church; and all that he might understand of holy scripture he executed it in deed and work after his power.


And when his father and mother were departed out of this life, he began to think how he might distribute his riches, and not to the praising of the world but to the honour and glory of God. And it was so that one, his neighbour, had then three daughters, virgins, and he was a nobleman: but for the poverty of them together, they were constrained, and in very purpose to abandon them to the sin of lechery, so that by the gain and winning of their infamy they might be sustained. And when the holy man Nicholas knew hereof he had great horror of this villainy, and threw by night secretly into the house of the man a mass of gold wrapped in a cloth. And when the man arose in the morning, he found this mass of gold, and rendered to God therefor great thankings, and therewith he married his oldest daughter. And a little while after this holy servant of God threw in another mass of gold, which the man found, and thanked God, and purposed to wake, for to know him that so had aided him in his poverty. And after a few days Nicholas doubled the mass of gold, and cast it into the house of this man. He awoke by the sound of the gold, and followed Nicholas, which fled from him, and he said to him: Sir, flee not away so but that I may see and know thee. Then he ran after him more hastily, and knew that it was Nicholas; and anon he kneeled down, and would have kissed his feet, but the holy man would not, but required him not to tell nor discover this thing as long as he lived.


After this the bishop of Mirea died and other bishops assembled for to purvey to this church a bishop. And there was, among the others, a bishop of great authority, and all the election was in him. And when he had warned all for to be in fastings and in prayers, this bishop heard that night a voice which said to him that, at the hour of matins, he should take heed to the doors of the church, and him that should come first to the church, and have the name of Nicholas they should sacre him bishop. And he showed this to the other bishops and admonished them for to be all in prayers; and he kept the doors. And this was a marvellous thing, for at the hour of matins, like as he had been sent from God, Nicholas arose tofore all other. And the bishop took him when he was come and demanded of him his name. And he, which was simple as a dove, inclined his head, and said: I have to name Nicholas. Then the bishop said to him: Nicholas, servant and friend of God, for your holiness ye shall be bishop of this place. And sith they brought him to the church, howbeit that he refused it strongly, yet they set him in the chair. And he followed, as he did tofore in all things, in humility and honesty of manners. He woke in prayer and made his body lean, he eschewed company of women, he was humble in receiving all things, profitable in speaking, joyous in admonishing, and cruel in correcting.

Świety Mikołaj
"Swiety Mikolaj No2" | Limited print-reproductions of illustration
| 21,0 x 29,7 cm | 2017 |

€10 | Shipping not included

wiety Mikoaj
"Swiety Mikolaj No3" | Limited print-reproductions of illustration
| 21,0 x 29,7 cm | 2017 |

€10 | Shipping not included


The appellation “Matamoros” comes from the legend of Clavijo’s Battle, where he led the discouraged Christian troops to a smashing victory against the Mohammedans. King Ramiro I defeated the troops of Abd ar-Rahman II at the Battle of Clavijo with the assistance of a knight on a white horse who fought by his side and who was considered to be the Apostle. This was the beginning of a myth that would make the Apostle the Patron-Saint of the Spanish Reconquista.

Historians agree nowadays that strictly speaking there was no Battle of Clavijo. Still, this Battle is a major event in the history of the Reconquista. What happened then? Was it all an invention?

Not really. The first mention of Clavijo is found in a twelfth-century document, long after the events. It was written by Pedro Marcio, a canon from the cathedral of Santiago, who claims to copy another document from the ninth century in which King Ramiro I makes a series of donations to Compostela as a thanks-giving offer after the battle. The document by Pedro Marcio has been subject to discussions due to its historical and chronological errors. In any case, it was taken as a truthful testimony at the time and is credited in other early histories of the Reconquista. For instance in De rebus Hispaniae, by Bishop Jiménez de Rada, in the thirteenth century.


Let us travel in time to the middle of the ninth century in the north of Spain. Muslims have consolidated their supremacy over Spain, among other reasons, by converting much of the old Visigoth elite to Islam. Still, Galicia, parts of Leon, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque area have not been subdued. In the Cantabrian coast, Christians are organizing themselves. These were poor territories; therefore, as the population grows, the move to the south and the take-over of the Douro Valley becomes imperative. Muslim interest in those northern territories was limited: the Douro valley was just a series of woodlands. The Moors were satisfied controlling the border and punishing Christian territory with occasional looting campaigns. Things are different in the eastern Christian area, at the confluence of La Rioja, Navarra, Aragon and Castile. This is a rich area crossed by trade routes dating back to Roman times. Navarra and Aragon are under Muslim control. But the embryo of the future Castile, a frontier land between Cantabria and Vizcaya opened to the south, is no longer under Muslim rule.

Asturias is then ruled by king Ramiro I (842-850), a man with a crusader’s determination. It is a short rule, dedicated to waging war against Arabs and Normans. Ramiro I, whose banner is a red cross on a white background, creates the first order of the Knights of Santiago. As from him, the monarchy will be hereditary, and not elective.

Christian Spain lives under the constant threat of Muslim power. A threat which is particularly dramatic in the primitive Castilla, the area between Alava, La Rioja and La Bureba (Burgos), in the east of the kingdom, where Muslim pressure is stronger. That is the scenario of our story.


Legend has it that at the time, the powerful Muslim rulers had imposed a yearly, shameful tribute to Christians: the hundred maidens. In return, the Muslims would not attack the kings who agreed to the pact. This tribute dated back to the year 738, when king Mauregato accepted it. Since then, successive Christian kings had fought to abolish it.

Ramiro I bitterly resented that humiliation and under the banner of the Cross summoned the Christian knights. He himself led the group and marched against the Muslims to the most critical area: La Rioja, the upper half of the Ebro valley. The Moors were then entangled in the frequent quarrels with the Spanish convert Muslims ruling Navarre and had a large army. The chronicles say that the Moorish army was lead by none other than the Emir Abderraman II in person.

When Christians arrived at Najera and Albelda, they were surprised to find an innumerable Moor army, made of both Andalusian and Moorish troops. The Christians fought bravely, but were rooted by the crushing superiority of the Moorish troops. The knights were forced to take refuge in Clavijo Castle, in Monte Laturce, on May 23, 844. We can imagine the Christian troops exhausted and on the brink of despair. It was then when, half asleep, King Ramiro had a vision. This is his account, according to Pedro Marcio (I have simplified the original text, written in ancient Spanish):

I was still sleeping, when the blessed Santiago, protector of the Spaniards, appeared to me. I asked who he was. He assured me to be Santiago, the blessed Apostle of God. Astonished as I was, the blessed Apostle told me:

“Did not you know that my Lord Jesus Christ, while distributing the other provinces in the world to my brothers, the other apostles, luckily entrusted me the guardianship of all Spain and placed it under my protection? (…) Keep your courage, because I will come to assist you tomorrow, God willing, to vanquish all that big crowd of enemies surrounding you. However, many of your soldiers will be destined for eternal rest and will receive the crown of martyrdom during your struggle for the name of Christ. And so that there is no doubt you will see me dressed in white on a white horse, holding in my hand a white banner. Therefore, at dawn, after receiving the sacrament of penance with the confession of sins, after receiving the Communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Mass, do not be afraid to challenge the Saracens’ squadrons, invoking God’s name and mine, and taking for certain they will fall to the edge of the sword “.

Having said all that, the pleasant vision of the Apostle of God disappeared.”

It is not necessary to say how much this narrative resembles that of Jihad, the way of Allah, the total war against the infidel.

Ramiro quickly told everyone about his vision: knights, bishops, artisans… At dawn, Christian troops, sure of their victory, attacked the Saracens. For the first time some Spaniards used “Santiago” as a war cry. In the heat of the battle, a great white knight, with a white banner on a white horse, struck the field like a ray of light, to tilt the victory on the crusaders’ side. On May 25, in the town of Calahorra, the king vowed to Santiago in gratitude, inviting all Christians in the peninsula to go on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, carrying offerings to the Apostle.

The Way to Compostela


This legendary account of the Battle of Clavijo has been rejected on historical grounds. No official sources and chronicles of the time refer to Clavijo. The first accounts start much later. However, the Cronica Najerense refers to king Ramiro’s campaigns against the Arabs. Moreover, Muslim chronicles from Abderraman II refer to some Moorish campaigns against Alava. Perhaps most important: they agree on frequent fighting around the area in question. In particular, Astur-Leonese sources record that Ordoño I, son of Ramiro I, sieged the city of Albelda and established his base at Mount Laturce, the place where legend locates the Battle of Clavijo. Archaeological findings leave no doubt: there was a lot of fighting around Albelda.

There was, indeed, a battle in Albelda or, more precisely, two: one in 852 and another in 859. The context of both was the control of the corridors in the east of Christian Spain. But the Christian king leading those battles was not Ramiro (as in the legend), but his son Ordoño, and the rival was not Abderraman II, but Musa II, of the House of Banu Qasi, a powerful hispano-gothic family who converted to Islam. The first battle was won by the Muslims, just as in the Clavijo legend. But the second one was won by the Christians — also as in the legend. The legend condenses into twenty-four hours of struggle by Ramiro what could actually have been a seven-year offensive lead by his son Ordoño.

The historical controversy goes on. But the fact is that after the second battle of Albelda, Christian power in the area was strengthened, and the attempt by Muslims to build a stronghold in La Rioja was foiled. Ordoño immediately proceeded to defend the area by massive repopulation. It is equally true that Santiago, since then, has always been invoked by the Spaniards in distress.

Is it, then, history… or legend? Legend, certainly, but legend that soon became history. And a legend that since then has been part of the Spanish historical consciousness. The question now is: will Santiago Matamoros once more assist the current multiculti priests, who feel ashamed of his feats and hide him as an inconvenient, poor relative?

Santiago Matamoros
"Santiago Matamoros No1" | Limited print-reproductions of illustration
| 11,8 x 17,7 in | 2017 |

€25 | Shipping not included

Santiago Matamoros
"Santiago Matamoros No3" | Limited print-reproductions of illustration
| 11,8 x 17,7 in | 2017 |

€25 | Shipping not included