In order to describe the miracles of the Virgin Mary, Alfonso X el Sabio’s Cantigas de Santa Maria show life at its worst, and this often includes violence, which may disconcert a modern audience even more than its original medieval one. This essay examines the lyrics and the miniatures of these songs in order to show how they illustrate the balance of power in thirteenth-century Spain. The role of Mary herself illustrates the role of gender and the divine in giving social meaning to acts of physical violence. Illustrated with twelve color plates.
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About the Author
Jessica Knauss is also the author of Law and Order in Medieval Spain: Alfonsine Legislation and the Cantigas de Santa Maria. She is writing a novel based on a medieval Spanish epic poem and blogs at jessicaknauss.blogspot.com.
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