ALFONSO X (EL SABIO) (1221 - 1284)
Alfonso el Sabio (‘Alfonso the Wise’) became king of Castile and León in 1252. As a patron of the arts and of learning he was responsible for a number of important publications, among them the Cantigas de Santa María, a varied collection of songs in honour, in one way or another, of the Blessed Virgin. His court was an artistic and scholarly centre, where Jewish, Islamic and Christian met. Politically he was less successful, his patronage of the arts leading to accusations of weakness.
The Cantigas de Santa María is a collection of songs which celebrate the Blessed Virgin, whether songs of praise or anecdotal accounts of miracles (probable or improbable). Alfonso el Sabio may have been both poet and musician, but he set greater store by collecting and ordering the songs of the Cantigas than by his own original creative work.