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Alfonso X (the Wise)

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Alfonso X ( “El Sabio,” the Learned, or Wise, 1221–1284), king of Castile and Leon from 1252, reigned during a complex and troubled period. Although elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1257, he was unable to gain recognition for this appointment; his son Sancho rebelled against him in 1282 in dispute over the succession, and Alfonso died during the ensuing civil war. Despite the tumultous political situations through his reign, Alfonso gained great fame as a scholar, poet, and patron of the arts. His court became an important cultural center, attracting Christian, Jewish, and Muslim scholars who produced numerous texts and translations in the vernacular . Among the many works authored or supervised by Alfonso are the Siete partidas (a comprehensive code of law), the Crónica general , and the Grande e general estoria. Alfonso’s Cantigas de Santa Maria , over 400 works in praise of the Virgin *Mary, were assembled between 1260 and 1280. These ballads of miracles performed by and hymns honoring the Virgin were produced in several extremely lavishly illustrated copies containing detailed pictorial narratives of these popular legends.

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