Astromagia of Alfonso X of Castile

Ms. Reg. lat. 1283a - Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Alternate Titles:

Tratado de astrología y magia

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Tratado de astrología y magia

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King Alfonso X of Castile, León, and Galicia (1221-84) is commonly known as “Alfonso the Wise”, but he also has a second epithet: el Astrólogo – “the Astrologer”. He was a famous patron of the arts and sciences, with particular interest in astronomy and astrology, supporting such projects as the Alfonsine Tables, which is named after the King, as is the Moon’s Alphonsus Crater. Alfonso ruled over a rich and diverse kingdom from his de facto capital in Toledo and took advantage of this by surrounding himself with mostly Jewish (and some Arab) intellectuals capable of translating Arab texts into Castilian. This hybrid Christian-Jewish-Arab culture lead directly to the establishment of the Toledo School of Translators, which had the specific purpose of translating Arabic works on every subject imaginable, first into Latin but later into Castilian under the direction of Alfonso X. This manuscript is part of a group of texts on the stars that were created between 1276 and 1279. Unfortunately, precious few of these manuscripts have survived, but this rare specimen has been lovingly preserved. It attests to the advanced state of Arabian astronomy ca. 1000, which was based on the Theory of Phases by Ptolemy (ca. 100 – ca. 170) and other Alexandrians, as well as contributions from Babylonian, Indian, and Sassanid sources. It is an essential source for understanding the general theory of the zodiac and an incomparable source for historical researchers due to the diversity of its sources. The cosmological, medical, intellectual, and religious basis of ancient cultures is thus elucidated.

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