The Cantigas de Santa Maria (CSM), composed at the Court of King Alfonso X of Castile in the second half of the 13th century, are a vast repertory of poetry in medieval Galician. The 420 compositions include 353 narratives of miracles of the Blessed Virgin Mary - one of the largest such collections - as well as a large number of devotional and liturgical poems, almost all set to music, and many illustrated by miniatures divided into smaller panels. The CSM are thus more than a body of literature or a miracle collection, they are a cultural project of great importance for medieval literature, music, and art, and for the history of patronage. Alfonso X’s ‘Cantigas Project’ occupied most of his reign (1252-1284) and was seen by him as an important part of both his political survival and his personal salvation.
Four contemporary manuscripts survive: To (the Toledo MS, now in the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid), T (the códice rico, in the Escorial Library, E (the códice de los músicos, also in the Escorial) and F (the Florence MS, in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Florence). They represent at least three different compilations or stages in the elaboration of the Cantigas Project: an early collection of 100 poems to which appendices were added (To); followed by a much expanded and highly ornamental collection of 400 (T+F) of which the second volume (F) was left in an incomplete and possibly disordered state; and a reference collection of 400 (E) with many imperfections and signs of hasty completion.
The Cantigas de Santa Maria database is designed to give access to a vast range of information relevant to the processes of collection, composition and compilation of the Cantigas de Santa Maria, including searchable databases. The database incorporates a fully searchable electronic version of Poncelet’s 'Index miraculorum B.V. Mariae quae saec. VI-XV latine conscripta sunt', and exhaustive listings of the contents of Latin and vernacular collections of Marian miracles.
A new critical edition of the entire corpus is now in preparation. The first block of 50 Individual texts are available via the website and database.