Simon Doubleday


Eleanor of Castile

Alfonso’s half-sister Leonor—daughter of Fernando III and his second wife, Jeanne de Dammartin—was raised with her mother in the sophisticated courtly circles of Córdoba and Seville.

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Alfonso X

In this image from the Códice de los músicos [Musicians’ codex] of the Cantigas de Santa María, the Wise King—who is dictating the text to a scribe—radiates a spirit of happiness that pervades the court.

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Fernando III

The Wise King’s father, Fernando III, was a devastatingly effective military leader whose reign was a critical phase in the centuries-long campaign to colonize central and southern Spain, wresting the Iberian Peninsula from Islamic rule.

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Brunetto Latini

In 1260, the Italian humanist and former Chancellor of Florence Brunetto Latini (circa 1220-1294) had arrived in Castile, with an urgent message for Alfonso the Wise. Brunetto’s mission in Castile was to persuade the king to campaign for the position of Holy Roman Emperor.

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Muslims in Seville

Before Fernando III’s conquest of Seville in 1248, the city had enjoyed a period of remarkable growth and literary vitality, encapsulated by the early thirteenth-century tale Hadīth Bayād wa Riyād.

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Queen Berenguela

When ten-year-old Enrique I had inherited the throne in 1214, his older and politically masterful sister Berenguela had briefly acted as regent.

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