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By H. Salvador Martínez

A very groundbreaking publication, offering a portrait of Alfonso X, monarch and medieval highbrow par excellence, and the intense cultural heritage of Spain at the moment.

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Extra resources for Alfonso X, the Learned

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This approach to the subject is indeed very understandable, especially when personal details do not reveal much. Penetrating Alfonso’s inner self is not easy. 9 He did not leave behind a personal diary or a book of memoirs such as Llibre dels feyts by his father-in-law, Jaime I of Aragón. And the countless documents that remain, eloquent as they may be about his politics or the institutions of the kingdom, are not very helpful to discover how he felt or how he lived in private. All must be deduced from other sources, which, because of their poetic or allegoric nature, have always been considered unreliable, historiographically speaking.

As was to be expected, the invasion of Castile by the troops of her ex-husband Alfonso IX of León, happened quickly, supported by don Alvaro de Lara’s troops. But the Castilians, who had gathered in great numbers at Valladolid, proclaimed Berenguela as queen. She immediately transferred the crown to her son Fernando, who was present there (July 2, 1217). The CLRC narrates the event in these terms: One of the people, speaking for all, who were all agreed on this, recognized that the kingdom of Castile belonged by right to Queen Lady Berenguela and that everyone recognized her as Lady and Queen of the kingdom of Castile.

Alfonso was probably five or six when this miracle occurred. The miracle of his sister’s resurrection probably took place some years later, but certainly before November 5, 1235, when doña Beatriz died, since she played an important role in praying to the Virgin for her daughter’s life. This could have happened when Alfonso was a teenager. In the cantiga he composed years later as an adult and well-seasoned in matters of State, he speaks unhesitatingly about his presence at the site of the miracle, as if had just occurred: “I shall tell a miracle I saw which the Virgin performed in Toledo in Her chapel there” (Cantiga, 122, p.

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