Literature of Alfonso X

Literature of Alfonso X

, which was the language of prestige at that time. Although the works are generally attributed to Alfonso X, being a king with other business to deal with he did not himself write most of them. Instead, Alfonso’s role was that of choosing works to be produced and translated, funding the projects, selecting the true authors of the work, overseeing the production, and occasionally contributing personally.

Political works

Arguably the most important work produced in Alfonso X’s time was a political work: his advanced legal code known as the “Siete Partidas”. Although completed in 1265, Alfonso felt the code was too advanced to immediately be put into effect. The legal code actually used during his reign is known as the “Fuero Real” and was created by a team of Alfonso’s legal experts. Another political work ordered by Alfonso X was the “Setenario” which exclusively deals with religious matters."La Unificacion Linguistica De Alfonso X El Sabio." 6 Dec. 2007 . ]

Siete Partidas

The “Siete Partidas” was a legal code founded on Roman law and constructed by a group of legal experts chosen by Alfonso X. Although the work was probably completed by 1265O'Callaghan, Joseph F. "Image and Reality." Emperor of Culture: Alfonso X the Learned of Castile and His Thirteenth-Century Renaissance. Ed. Robert I. Burns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania P, 1990. 14-32.] , it did not go into effect until 1348 under the rule of Alfonso XI. Alfonso X felt that the code was too sophisticated for 13th century Spain.Burns, Robert I. "Stupor Mundi: Alfonso X of Castile, the Learned." Emperor of Culture: Alfonso X the Learned of Castile and His Thirteenth-Century Renaissance. Ed. Robert I. Burns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania P, 1990. 1-13.]

According to author Robert Burns, Alfonso attached a special symbolic meaning to the number seven, which is why he chose to construct his legal code in seven distinct divisions. Each division was furthered segmented by headings and subheadings. The first division of the code alone contains 24 headings and approximately 500 subheadings.

The divisions treat the following subjects:

*Division 1: The church and religious life
*Division 2: Public law and government
*Division 3: The administration of justice
*Division 4: Marriage
*Division 5: Commerce
*Division 6: Wills and inheritance
*Division 7: Crimes and punishments

The “Siete Partidas” was so advanced that it still functions in modern society. It was used as a basis for creating the United States laws used today, for which reason the image of Alfonso X appears in the US House of Representatives.

Historical works

Alfonso X did not write the great historical works that were published in his time, but he did personally supervise their production. The Estoria de España is a history of the country of Spain. It begins in prehistoric times and follows the progression of events nearly to the time .

Grande y General Estoria

The Grande y General Estoria covered the history of the entire world, beginning with Alfonso’s idea of the origins of the world and ending close to the birth of Jesus Christ in the year zero. Not just a political history, the Grande y General Estoria also included the social and cultural history of the world. This work set the foundations for the development of the entire field of historiography in Spain. It was the first book of its type written in a vulgar language rather than in Latin. Alfonso’s desire for accuracy led to the use of the great variety of resources used for the work, including Christian, Arabic, and other ancient sources. Alfonso hoped that the publication of such an important work in Castilian would elevate the tastes of the general population.

Scientific works

Many of the scientific works produced by Alfonso X were translated from earlier Arabic works, although often with revisions or updated information. The works were translated into Castilian by a special panel of trilingual Jews. Four of the major scientific works produced under Alfonso’s direction were Tablas alfonsíes (Alfonsine Tables), Libros del saber de astronomía (Books of Wisdom of Astronomy), Libro de los juicios de las estrellas (Book of Judgments of Astrology), and Lapidario. The Tablas alfonsíes were translated and updated from work originally done by al-Zarqali. . It is composed of more than twelve different scientific treatises. Alfonso’s interest in this field also led him to search for the perfect astrological clock, but his efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.

The Libro de los juicios de las estrellas is a more subjective work, treating the field of astrology. This work is of increased interest because it offers insight into the evolution of the Spanish language. Words appearing multiple times in the work often have differing spellings, and Catalan words are occasionally incorporated. [4] The Lapidario, which discusses the medical properties of various rocks and gems and which includes fabulous illustrations, is also of interest to linguists. It includes frequent loanwords taken directly from Arabic where Castilian words did not yet exist, for example in naming the stones.Kasten, Lloyd. "Alfonso El Sabio and the Thirteenth-Century Spanish Language." Emperor of Culture: Alfonso X the Learned of Castile and His Thirteenth-Century Renaissance. Ed. Robert I. Burns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania P, 1990. 33-45. ]

Religious works

Alfonso X’s reign is known for its religious tolerance. His literature not only included translated works from Arabic cultures, but also included translations of non-Christian religious works. The Qur’an - the religious book of Islam - was translated into Castilian on orders from Alfonso. Also translated were the Talmud – the religious book of Judaism – and Cabala, a mystical sect of Judaism. [1]

Other works

) translated into Castilian from Arabic and added illustrations with the goal of perfecting the work.


External links

* [] (Alfonso’s literary and linguistic impact)
* [] (La obra de Alfonso X)
* [] (Alfonso X el Sabio)
* [] (Book of Games)
* [] (Siete Partidas)
* [] (Calila e Dimna)

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