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Medieval Empires and the Culture of CompetitionLiterary Duels at Islamic and Christian Courts$
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Samuel England

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474425223

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474425223.001.0001

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Alfonso X: Poetry of Miracles and Domination

Alfonso X: Poetry of Miracles and Domination

Chapter:
(p.105) 3 Alfonso X: Poetry of Miracles and Domination
Source:
Medieval Empires and the Culture of Competition
Author(s):

Samuel England

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474425223.003.0004

Chapter three shifts the Crusades analysis from the Middle East to Gibraltar, studying the contentious political and literary career of Alfonso X in Spain. His extraordinary academic projects and intricate relations with Islamic communities have led scholars to minimize his combative lyric persona. A severely tested leader, Alfonso constructed two main targets for his attacks in song, the Muslims of the Mediterranean and his own knights for their failures against the fierce “Moor.” I counter the conventional treatment of this lyric poetry as light verse. This chapter shows how Alfonso used the specter of the enemy to provoke his own chivalric subjects into responding at court. Critics have portrayed Alfonso mostly entertaining his audiences with profane lyric while he completed more substantive religious and legislative manuscripts, but I argue that his aggressive troubadour persona allowed him to rework the imperial narrative. His image as Iberia’s intellectual, pious, combative, and at times slanderous leader expanded the definition of court and king.

Keywords:   Alfonso X, Cantiga, Troubadour, Moors, Virgin Mary, Crusade, Galician Portuguese

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