The Enigmatic Codex Gigas: The Devil’s Bible

The Enigmatic Codex Gigas: The Devil’s Bible

Introduction to the Codex Gigas

The Codex Gigas, often referred to as The Devil’s Bible, stands as one of the most mysterious and alluring medieval manuscripts in existence. Its name, which translates from Latin as the “Giant Book”, is fitting – the codex is the largest extant medieval illuminated manuscript in the world. This formidable book has captured the imaginations of historians, scholars, and the general public alike, not only due to its size but also because of the content and legends surrounding its creation.

Physical Attributes and Content

Measuring at a colossal 36 inches tall, 20 inches wide, and nearly 9 inches thick, the Codex Gigas weighs in at approximately 165 pounds. Thought to have been created in the early 13th century in Bohemia, it is astonishingly comprehensive. The codex contains the complete Vulgate Bible as well as other texts, such as medical works, historical documents, and a calendar. One of the most arresting features inside this mammoth book is a full-page image of the devil, earning the manuscript its ominous nickname.

The Legend of its Creation

An enduring legend tells of a monk who broke his monastic vows and was sentenced to be walled up alive. To avoid this harsh fate, he promised to create in a single night a book that would glorify the monastery forever. Desperate and realizing he could not complete such a task alone, he summoned the help of the devil. By morning, the book was complete, but at a terrible cost. Supposedly, the monk included the large portrait of the devil as a nod to his infernal helper. While this story is a fascinating piece of folklore, it’s likely that the codex took over 20 years to complete and was the work of multiple scribes.

Historical Journey and Current Home

The Codex Gigas has traveled great distances over time. Originally kept in a monastery in Bohemia (modern-day Czech Republic), the book survived the turmoil of the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century and eventually made its way into the collection of Queen Christina of Sweden. Currently, this enigmatic artifact is housed in the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm, where it has been kept since the late 17th century. Though the book can be accessed by scholars, it is also displayed for the public to see.

Mystique and Modern Analysis

The Codex Gigas continues to be an object of curiosity and speculation. Modern analysis has provided some insights into its origins and construction. For instance, handwriting analysis suggests that much of the book was written by one scribe. Scientists and historians have used ultraviolet light to view the manuscript’s pages and have found annotations suggesting that the book continued to be updated after its initial completion. Despite these inquiries, the Codex Gigas retains an air of mystery, with many questions about its past still unanswered.


The Codex Gigas, or The Devil’s Bible, is as enigmatic as it is impressive. Its blend of history, legend, and artistic prowess tells a story that goes far beyond the words on its pages. Thanks to the efforts of librarians and scholars, the tale of this remarkable book continues to be studied and appreciated, ensuring that its lore will captivate generations to come.

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