Alfonso X the Learned. II.
Written in Galician-Portuguese, the illustrations portray the harmony existing between Jews,
Christians and Moors in the tolerant Spain of that time. One of the largest collections of
medieval monophonic songs to survive, the Cantigas reflect the many musical styles of
the era, Gregorian chants applied to texts in the vulgar tongue, polyphonic motets in Latin or
French, epic poems based on the Castilian, Galician, Portuguese, Jewish, Moorish music, etc.
In addition, they show the social and religious reality of the times; the Virgin’s ubiquitous
influence on every day life, the king, his family and life at court, in commerce and in battle,
and provide an unrivalled and detailed description of the musical instruments and clothing of
There are three codices of the Cantigas. The E Codex and the T Codex and the Florence
manuscript. Until recently the former with its 1262 illustrations was thought to be the oldest.
Scholars are now of the opinion that the T codex may be the oldest and even date from the lifetime
of Alfonso X.