Cantigas de Santa Maria

manuscript illumination

manuscript illumination


The Cantigas de Santa Maria (“Canticles of Holy Mary”) are manuscripts written in Galician-Portuguese with musical notation during the reign of Alfonso X El Sabio (1221-1284). Many have beautiful illustrations. These songs from the Middle Ages are beautiful haunting music, akin to that written by Hildegard von Bingen.

manuscript illumination

manuscript illumination


It is an absolute must to hear the music performed by early music groups performed on instruments of the period. The illustrations provide a unique insight into the world of the performers and the instruments they used.

The Cantigas are often categorised as “Moorish-Andalusian”, due to the Arabic influence.

Three of the manuscripts are in Spain (two at the Monastery of Escorial and one in Madrid) and one in Florence in Italy.

Galicia is where Santiago de Compostela is located. The destination of the Way of St James, El Camino de Santiago, one of the most important of the medieval pilgrimages.

Special thanks to my good friend Roman who has a habit of drawing my attention to excellent music.

also see

The History of the Pilgrimage to Compostela

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3 Responses to “Cantigas de Santa Maria”

  1. danceswithcrayons Says:

    Beautiful work Keith!!!! Enjoyed so much! Thankyou

    I was reading exerpts from her book Scivias today, now at this moment, enjoying Canticles of Ecstasy!

    While in Paris, took a ‘wrong’ turn while meandering back to the apartment and discovered the Cluny museum (it is in the Latin Quarter). Inside were beautiful tapestries, attracted to The Lady and the Unicorn series (and the senses), along with illuminated manuscripts and fabrics of coptic Egypt. Cannot even describe the emotions, but like reading your post. Goosebumps (that’s a good sign!)

    Love and Blessings,
    Jane xo

  2. danceswithcrayons Says:

    Dear Keith!!
    I purchased a book at Cluny to enjoy the pictures. Unfortunately could not read the text as there was only one copy available and in French version only (can understand many words, not well enough to read fluently). But a friend’s father could read French so he enjoyed very much.
    Tonight, took the book off the shelf and guess what?
    My copy is now the English version of the same book!

    How and when did an angel do this little act of kindness? So thankful to read the words now. There are many beautiful Madonnas in it too.
    And just read that one of the fabrics that I really loved, the Peacock Silk, contained the relics of St Exuperius ! On page 23, there is mention of architectural influences from the dynasts of Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt (and other places) !

    Beautiful music Keith. Hope your day ahead is wonderful.

    The book is:

    The Musee national du Moyen Age
    Thermes de Cluny, Paris
    ISBN: 2-7118-3415-8

  3. keithpp Says:

    Thanks for your kind comments Jane.

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