Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, MS B.R.20

Florence Cantigas de Santa María Facsimile Edition

Our price

More Buying Choices

Request Info

The Cantigas de Santa Maria ("Canticles of Holy Mary") are 420 poems with musical notation, written in the medieval Galician-Portuguese language during the reign of Alfonso X of Castile El Sabio (1221–1284). Traditionally, they are all attributed to Alfonso, though scholars have since established that the musicians and poets of his court were responsible for most of them, with Alfonso being credited with a few as well.

It is one of the largest collections of monophonic (solo) songs from the Middle Ages and is characterized by the mention of the Virgin Mary in every song, while every tenth song is a hymn.
The Cantigas have survived in four manuscript codices: two at El Escorial, one at Madrid's National Library, and one in Florence, Italy. The latter, known as Códice de Florencia, in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale of Florence (F) is, together with the one in the Escorial (T), richly illuminated with narrative vignettes.

The Cantigas are written in the early Medieval Galician variety of Galician-Portuguese, using Galician spelling; this was because of Galician-Portuguese being fashionable as a lyrical language in Castile at the time, as well as Alfonso X having passed part of his early years in Galicia and so probably being a fluent speaker since his childhood.

The Cantigas are a collection of 420 poems, 356 of which are in a narrative format relating to Marian miracles; the rest of them, except an introduction and two prologues, are of songs of praise or involve Marian festivities. The Cantigas depict the Virgin Mary in a very humanized way, often having her play a role in earthly episodes.

The authors are unknown, although several studies have suggested that Galician poet Airas Nunes might have been the author of a large number of the Cantiga poems. King Alfonso X — named as Affonso in the Cantigas — is also believed to be an author of some of them as he refers himself in first person. Support for this theory can be found in the prologue of the Cantigas. Also, many sources credit Alfonso owing to his influence on other works within the poetic tradition, including his introduction on religious song. Although King Alfonso X's authorship is debatable, his influence is not. While the other major works that came out of Alfonso's workshops, including histories and other prose texts, were in Castilian, the Cantigas are in Galician-Portuguese, and reflect the popularity in the Castilian court of other poetic corpuses such as the cantigas d'amigo and cantigas d’amor.

The metrics are extraordinarily diverse: 280 different formats for the 420 Cantigas. The most common are the virelai and the rondeau. The length of the lines varies between two and 24 syllables. The narrative voice in many of the songs describes an erotic relationship, in the troubadour fashion, with the Divine. The music is written in notation which is similar to that used for chant, but also contains some information about the length of the notes. Several transcriptions exist.

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Florence Cantigas de Santa María": Cantigas de Santa María facsimile edition, published by Edilan, 1989-91

Request Info / Price
Manuscript book description compiled by Facsimile Finder Staff.
Please Read
International social justice movements and the debates that ensued prompted us to start considering the contents of our website from a critical point of view. This has led us to acknowledge that most of the texts in our database are Western-centered. We have asked the authors of our content to be aware of the underlying racial and cultural bias in many scholarly sources, and to try to keep in mind multiple points of view while describing the manuscripts. We also recognize that this is yet a small, first step towards fighting inequality.

If you notice any trace of racist or unjust narratives in our communications, please help us be part of the change by letting us know.

Cantigas de Santa María

Madrid: Edilan, 1989-91

  • Limited Edition: 1000 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Florence Cantigas de Santa María: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

Our Price

More Buying Choices

Request Info