• Alfonso X was king of “Castilla, León, Sevilla, Córdoba, Murcia, Jaén, and el Algarbe.” As evidenced by his title, he came to have possession of various kingdoms in Iberia. He was born in Toledo in 1221 and died in Seville in 1284, at 63 years of age. He is called the Learned King because he was an author, poet, musician, and historian, and because he supported artists and translators. Furthermore, he employed Christians, Jews, and Muslims in his translation workshop in Toledo.
    His Cantigas de Santa Maria is a repertoire of songs compiled in four manuscripts between 1257 and 1283. The Cantigas consist of 420 narrative songs that focus on the Virgen Mary and the miracles that she performs across Christendom. Originally, the text was written in Galician-Portuguese, from the northeast region of Iberia. Galicia is the site of Santiago de Compostela, the final destination of the pilgrimage route known as the Camino de Santiago (Saint James’s Way). Each story is comprised of text, images, and music. The combination of texts and images portrays day-to-day life and, often, the less-documented common peoples of the Middle Ages in Europe.

    This unit, edited by Diane Burke Moneypenny and Allison Carberry Gottlieb, contains the original text in Galician-Portuguese of Cantiga 5, “How the Virgin Mary helped the Empress of Rome.,” with an English introduction, notes, and translation.