Alfonso X

Pseudonym: The Wise
Category: King of Castille and writer
Birth Date: 23rd July 1221 (†In 1284)
Birth Place: Toledo

The Galician lyrical poetry reached its magnificent period in the reign of Alfonso X, the Wise, who was the King of Castile and became a universal patron of art and culture. He got a great education and was very keen on Music. He spent part of his childhood in Galicia (Maceda-Ourense), where he learnt Galician which was the language he used to write his poems. The court of Alfonso the Wise was a cultural centre where a great work of translation and compilation of all wisdom of that time was carried out.

 Work & Activities

Although the King did not get on well with Galicia, he chose Galician language to write poetry in an extensive work of all genres, even narrative and religious praise lyric. His religious collection of lyrical poems consists of the poems to St Mary (Las Cantigas de Santa María), 427 poems dedicated to the Virgin that can be divided into two groups: narrative poems (songs about the Virgin's miracles) and lyrical poems (prayers and songs dedicated to the Virgin). The so-called 'maias' are merely lyric but only one was preserved. They are songs dedicated to the Virgin, celebrating the coming of May. The most important group within the lyrical poems is made up of the praise poems, which are inserted between each nine poems. They are similar to the poems of troubadour love, in this case the troubadour King sings and loves the Virgin. The metrics in the poems to St Mary is varied and metrical discords can be explained taking music as a basis. The poems of Alfonso the Wise are considered as the most valuable jewel in Galician and Portuguese literature.