Heritage releases the codices of the Cantigas de Alfonso X | Culture


National Heritage will show the world before July the two codices of the Cantigas de Santa María – the collection of more than 400 songs in Galician produced by King Alfonso X the Wise in the 13th century – inaccessible until now. The Codex Rico and the Codex of the Musicians have slept a secular dream guarded in the Royal Library of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. The state body that watches over historical assets linked to the Crown has delayed its online exposure while the other two manuscripts of the same Cantigas kept by the National Library of Spain (Toledo Codex) and the Central National Library of Florence (Codex of Florence) were available to the public and researchers at a single click.

The impossibility of accessing the manuscripts kept in El Escorial generated the discomfort of some institutions. Last January, the Real Academia Galega (RAG) sent a letter to the president of Patrimonio Nacional, Llanos Castellanos, demanding online access.

“National Heritage owes it to Galician, Hispanic, European and universal culture,” said the Galician institution after highlighting that libraries around the world that have significant funds disseminate them through the web. Among others, the National Library of Portugal with the Galician-Portuguese troubadour songbook that guards and the Vatican Apostolic Library with another two Galician-Portuguese troubadour songbooks more important.

The impossibility of accessing the manuscripts kept in El Escorial generated the discomfort of some institutions

The RAG made the request highlighting the coincidence with the 800th anniversary of the birth of Alfonso X, “an inspired poet in our language who also welcomed in his court a plethora of troubadours and minstrels who composed cantigas in Galician of which the Galician-Portuguese troubadour songbooks us they offer a splendid testimony ”. And it highlighted the Cantigas de Santa María considered one of the jewels of the cultural heritage of humanity.

Last year, the Galician Academy wanted to edit the Musicians Codex, whose last publication dates from the 1960s, but assures that it only encountered problems while the Toledo Codex that the National Library guards could already be accessed from the website of that institution.

A copy of 'Las Cantigas de Santa María' in the National Library.
Copy of ‘Las Cantigas de Santa María’ in the National Library.SAMUEL SÁNCHEZ

The Consello da Cultura Galega, a body in charge of protecting the cultural values ​​of the Galician people, produced two editions of the Toledo Codex (in 2003 and 2008) “of great quality but at a price accessible to the public.” In view of this, this body emphasizes, of the two that Patrimony guards in the El Escorial Library, the Musicians Codex was published in the 1940s “in very precarious conditions” and the Rico Codex, famous for its illustrations, “It was the subject of several luxury editions by private publishers only available to people and institutions that can acquire them at very high prices.”

Editorial Company Testimony, to which Patrimonio has so far sent to the RAG, is listed on the website of the state agency as co-editor of the facsimile in Spanish of the Cantigas de Santa María. For its part, the publisher shows on its website the deluxe edition of the Codex Rico published in 2011 Of which stands out its “discreet modern Escurial binding stamped on goatskin with bronze fittings, following the guidelines of the binding that it received upon arrival at the Monastery.” And he adds that the work has been done “on high resolution digital capture, adapted and printed in high resolution stochastic raster. Its support is in eight colors to which two different gold printing processes have been added. The binding is hand-sewn on a loom with covers stamped the same as the original ”.

From the end of the month, the manuscripts will already be available to the world through the website www.patrimonionacional.es. The Royal Galician Academy shows its “enormous satisfaction” for what it assumes of universal accessibility “to one of the jewels of the poetic cultivation of the Galician language”.


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