Alfonso X of Castile-León

Alfonso X of Castile-León

Royal Patronage, Self-Promotion and Manuscripts in Thirteenth-century Spain

Today, the literary patronage of Alfonso X 'the Learned' of Castile (1252-1284) seems extraordinary for its time in the context of Europe. His cultural programme, which promoted his royal status and imperial ambitions, was hugely ambitious, and the paucity of information about the intellectual circumstances in which it took place magnifies the scope of Alfonso's achievements still further. This book argues that rather than providing a new cultural template for his kingdoms, Alfonso did little to promote institutional learning and preferred instead to direct the literary works he commissioned to a restricted, courtly audience who would understand the complex layers of symbolism in the representations of him that accompanied the texts. Despite this careful control, this book cites codicological and paleographical evidence to show that some codices traditionally ascribed to the royal scriptorium were copied at the behest of readers beyond the king's immediate circle.
  • Cover
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Figures
  • Abbreviations
  • Introduction: ‘the king makes a book’
  • 1. Alfonso X, his Literary Patronage, and the Verdict of Historians
  • 2. Alfonso in his Texts: literary models and royal authorship
  • 3. Reality, Politics, and Precedent in Images of Alfonso
  • 4. Codices Laid Out for a King: the appearance and production of Alfonsine manuscripts
  • 5. The Circulation of Alfonsine Texts: astrological works and chronicles
  • Concluding Remarks
  • Manuscript Sources
  • Index
  • List of Figures
    • Figure 1: Alfonso, wearing the livery of the royal Order of Santa María de la Estrella, with scribes, singers, and musicians. Cantigas, códice rico, Escorial MS T.I.1, fol. 5r. © Patrimonio Nacional
    • Figure 2: Type and anti-type: the early years of Nebuchadnezzar (below), whose life prefigures that of Alfonso (above). General estoria IV, BAV Urb. Lat. 539, fol. 2v. Reproduced by permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, with all rights reserve
    • Figure 3: A scribe writes out a treatise on games played with dice on the orders of Alfonso and supervised by his agent. Libro de los juegos (Libro de los dados), Escorial T.I.6, fol. 65r. © Patrimonio Nacional
    • Figure 4: Book rubric framed by a roundel and square at the start of the General estoria IV, BAV Urb. Lat. 539, fol. 1r. Reproduced by permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, with all rights reserved. ©2018 Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
    • Figure 5: Imperfect circles and untidy layout in the Libro delas cruzes, Madrid MS 9294, fol. 136v. ©Biblioteca Nacional de España
    • Figure 6: Marginal note citing the opinion of ‘the translators and the emendator’, with underdotting in the main text. Libro conplido en los iudizios de las estrellas, Madrid, MS 3065, fol. 142v. ©Biblioteca Nacional de España
    • Figure 7: Marginal note in a reader’s hand that refers to ‘the translators’. Libro conplido en los iudizios de las estrellas, Madrid, 3065, fol. 46r. ©Biblioteca Nacional de España
    • Figure 8: Rubric announcing book number and contents, framed in a roundel. General estoria I, Madrid MS 816, fol. 231v. ©Biblioteca Nacional de España



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