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Alfonso X 'the Wise'

  • Facsimile edition of 'El libro de los juegos' by King Alfonso X 'the Wise' © EFE

    Facsimile edition of 'El libro de los juegos' by King Alfonso X 'the Wise' © EFE






Date of birth

Nov 23, 1221

Date of death


" King of Castile. His reign was outstanding for the policy of cooperation between the three cultures present in mediaeval Spain: Hebrew, Arab and Christian."

He was born in Toledo in 1221 and died in Seville in 1284. He promoted an active economic policy, reformed the currency and the inland revenue and recognised the Honoured Council of La Mesta (the powerful association of sheep owners). He produced an outstanding body of literary, scientific, historical and legal work through his Royal Scriptorium. Alfonso X patronised, supervised and frequently contributed with his own writing, and in partnership with the cohort of intellectuals known as the School of Translators of Toledo, in the composition of an extensive literary collection which largely served as the starting point for prose works in Castilian. Of particular note are his 'Songs of Santa María' (lyrical songs in Galician-Portuguese accompanied by musical notation), the collection of exemplary tales known as 'Calila et Dimna' in Castilian, and the legal work 'Siete partidas'.

Essential works

  • Songs of Santa María © Biblioteca Nacional de España

    Cantigas de Santa María

    The lyrical poetry written in Galician-Portuguese includes 470 songs known as cantigas. 426 of them are about religious themes. They are collected in the “Cantigas de Santa María”, the finest example of a medieval religious songbook.

    More info
  • “Las Siete Partidas” © Biblioteca Nacional de España

    Las Siete Partidas

    A medieval legal compendium, generally attributed to Alfonso X “the Wise”, it constitutes the most important contribution of Hispanic Law to universal legal history.

    More info
  • Songs of Santa María © Biblioteca Nacional de España

    Copy of the "Songs of Santa Maria"

    A collection of songs for one voice in Galician mensural notation. Their traditional and simple nature and their expressionism are the main features.

    Spanish National Library (Madrid)

    More info

Other highlighted works

  • Calila et Dimna
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