Alfonso X of Castile-León
Alfonso X of Castile-León
Royal Patronage, Self-Promotion and Manuscripts in Thirteenth-century Spain
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Acknowledgments List of figures Abbreviations Introduction: 'the king makes a book' 1. Alfonso X, his Literary Patronage and the Verdict of Historians 2. Alfonso in his Texts: literary models and royal authorship 3. Reality, Politics and Precedent in Images of Alfonso 4. Codices Laid Out for a King: the appearance and production of Alfonsine manuscripts 5. The Circulation of Alfonsine Texts: astrological works and chronicles Concluding Remarks Manuscript Sources Index

Reviews and Features

"Kirstin Kennedy's book is a good addition [to new titles on Alfonso and his work]. It is an elegantly written contribution to one specific question in the Alfonsine era: to what extent did the king himself intervene in the production of his works? Kirstin Kennedy offers a multifaceted response to this question by examining the manuscripts that, containing Alfonsine works, can also be dated to Alfonso's lifetime."
- Jesús R. Velasco, The Medieval Review, 21.09.20 (2021)

"Kennedy’s erudite book makes an important contribution for scholars interested in Alfonsine manuscripts and identifies, in a systematic and convincing way, the weaknesses of existing scholarship."
- Heather Bamford, George Washington University, Speculum 96/3 (July 2021)

Kirstin Kennedy

Alfonso X of Castile-León

Royal Patronage, Self-Promotion and Manuscripts in Thirteenth-century Spain

Alfonso X 'the Learned' of Castile (1252-1284) was praised in his lifetime as a king who devoted himself to discovering all worldly and divine knowledge. He commissioned chronicles and law codes and composed poems to the Virgin Mary, he gathered together Jewish scholars to translate works of Arab astrology and astronomy, and he founded a university of Latin and Arabic studies at Seville. Moreover, according to his nephew Juan Manuel, Alfonso was careful to ensure that 'he had leisure to look into things he wanted for himself'. The level of his personal involvement in this literary activity marks him out as an exceptional patron in any period. However, Alfonso's relationship with the arts also had much in common with that of other thirteenth-century European royal patrons, among them his first cousin, Louis IX of France. Like his contemporaries, he relentlessly used literary works as a vehicle to promote his royal status and advance his claim to the imperial crown. His motivation for the foundation of the university at Seville was arguably political rather than educational, and instead of promoting institutional learning during his reign, Alfonso preferred to direct the messages about his kingship in the lavish manuscripts he patronized to a restricted, courtly audience. Yet such was the interest of the works he commissioned, that those who could obtain copies did so, even if these were still incomplete drafts. Three codices traditionally held to have been copied for Alfonso in fact show how this learning reserved for the few began to filter out beyond the Learned King's immediate circle.

Kirstin Kennedy

Kirstin Kennedy is a curator of metalwork (specializing in silver) at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. She previously held a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship at King's College London, in the Department of Spanish and Spanish American Studies (2000-2003).