Illustrated with outstanding miniatures: a unique synthesis of music, poetry, and painting for King Alfonso the Wise

Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico

Spain — 13th century

Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico

Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico

Spain — 13th century

  1. Unique masterpiece of the synthesis of music, poetry and painting

  2. Created on behalf of Alfonso X (1221–84), King of Castile, called the Wise

  3. It has 196 hymns in the Galician-Portuguese language, each illustrated with 6–12 outstanding miniatures

Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico

Alternative Titles:
  • Códice Rico
  • Cantigas de Alfonso X El Sabio
  • Cantigas de Santa Maria - Codex Rico
  • Lieder für die heilige Maria, CSM
Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico – Escorial Ms. T.j.I ("E2") – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico – Escorial Ms. T.j.I ("E2") – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico – Escorial Ms. T.j.I ("E2") – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico – Escorial Ms. T.j.I ("E2") – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico – Escorial Ms. T.j.I ("E2") – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The so-called Rich Codex of Cantigas de Santa Maria is one of the most significant pieces of evidence of 13th century Spanish history. Alfonso X, King of Castile, commissioned a manuscript that brought poetry music, and imagery together in a unique conjunction. Songs praising the Virgin Mary, composed from various poets, stand at the center of the manuscript. These poems dedicated to Mary were illustrated in marvelous pictures, which offer a glimpse into the manuscript’s time of origin and which are considered to be important sources for the history of Castile. A truly historical, literary, and artistic work of art!

Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico

The so-called Rich Codex of Cantigas de Santa Maria is one of the most significant pieces of evidence of 13th century Spanish history. Alfonso X, King of Castile, commissioned a manuscript that brought poetry music, and imagery together in a unique conjunction. Songs praising the Virgin Mary, composed from various poets, stand at the center of the manuscript. These poems dedicated to Mary were illustrated in marvelous pictures, which offer a glimpse into the manuscript’s time of origin and which are considered to be important sources for the history of Castile. A truly historical, literary, and artistic work of art!

A Royal Poet?

Alfonso X (1221–1284), called the Wise, was a significant Castilian king. He is presumed to be the patron of the manuscript of Cantigas de Santa Maria. This was an important project for the King himself, meant to impressively represent his land with its rich culture and history. Some researchers have gone so far as to suggest that Alfonso X himself composed some of the songs. One of the authors of the songs for the Virgin Mary was probably Airas Nunes. In the field of research, many of the songs are attributed to the 13th century Spanish poet and troubadour, who was active at the court of Sancho IV, the son of Alfonso X.

Over 1,000 Wonderful Miniatures

The Cantigas de Santa Maria contains 196 hymns in the Galician-Portuguese language. Their primary theme is the praise of the Virgin Mary, hence the name “Songs for the Virgin Mary”. Mary stands in the middle of the songs as the Mother of God, as a biblical figure, and as a participant in worldly scenes, e.g. holidays with a Marian connection. Each of the songs is illustrated with six or twelve miniatures, which incorporate references to the respective content. The miniatures enchant with their fine and gracile execution. Gothic architecture was often employed as a background. Wonderful imagery and fantastically vivid and realistic scenes unfold in marvelously adorned ornamental frames. A colorful text in black, blue, and red ink, the colors that also reign over the text, accompanies the image pages.

The Rich Codex

The 512-page manuscript measuring 50.2 x 35 cm from the famous El Escorial Library probably originated in the 1380’s, before the death of Alfonso X. It enchants with its unique and harmonious union of poetry, music, and imagery into a gorgeous synthesis of the arts. The Cantigas de Santa Maria is an exceptional piece due to its artistic adornment, but also because of its outstanding historical worth. The Cantigas de Santa Maria has been handed down in four codices in Madrid, Florence, and an additional copy in the El Escorial, respectively. The manuscript at hand, known as the codex rico – rich codex – noticeably stands out from among this group through its exceptionally impressive decoration.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Códice Rico
Cantigas de Alfonso X El Sabio
Cantigas de Santa Maria - Codex Rico
Lieder für die heilige Maria, CSM
Size / Format
512 pages / 50.2 x 35.0 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
13th century
Style
Gothic
Genre
Language
Illustrations
1,257 miniatures
Artist / School

2 available facsimile edition(s) of „Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico“

Las Cantigas de Santa Maria, el Códice Rico
Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico – Escorial Ms. T.j.I ("E2") – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico – Escorial Ms. T.j.I ("E2") – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico – Escorial Ms. T.j.I ("E2") – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico – Escorial Ms. T.j.I ("E2") – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - El Códice Rico – Escorial Ms. T.j.I ("E2") – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
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Las Cantigas de Santa Maria, el Códice Rico

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 2011
Limited Edition
980 copies
Binding
Full leather with two clasps
Commentary
1 volume by Laura Fernández Fernández and Juan Carlos Ruiz Souza.
Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€€ (7,000€ - 10,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
Cantigas de Santa María
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Cantigas de Santa María

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Edilan – Madrid, 1979
Limited Edition
2000 copies
Binding
Full leather with tooling
Commentary
1 volume
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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