Alfonso's History

One of the great figures of the Middle Ages is King Alfonso X of Castile and Leon (1221 – 1284), known as el Sabio, the Wise, who sponsored science, wrote poetry, treated the church with disdain and commissioned a massive history of the world to be written in Spanish, not Latin. This six-part work, the General Estoria, was never finished, stopping at the start of the current era.

Some sections only exist in manuscripts in Spain, some are lost, and the Vatican Library preserves the sole surviving copy from Alfonso's lifetime of Part Four, Urb. lat. 539, which begins at about 600 BCE and covers the great empires of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar), Carthage, Alexander of Macedon and Rome. It has just arrived online, a gift to Spanish medievalists and linguists. See Dominguez on Google Books.

It's to be assumed that the portrait of Alfonso in it is painted from life:

On March 1, Digita Vaticana released 32 manuscripts to establish a new posted total of 3,916 digitized works. A large number are from the old papal library at Avignon, France and deal with the controversies of the papacy of John XXII (who was accused of heresy by his opponents).

Here is my strictly unofficial list (the Vatican Library makes no announcements and issues no lists, so you have to trust me on this):
  1. Chig.L.VIII.305, in Italian
  2. Urb.lat.539, part four of the General Estoria compiled at the direction of King Alfonso X in Castilian Spanish (above). Here is a scribe (left) writing and a clergyman and two courtiers listening as the king speaks:
  3. Vat.lat.133, 12th-century Gospel of Luke, glossed
  4. Vat.lat.269, Ambrose of Milan, Hexaemeron and sermons
  5. Vat.lat.348, Letters of Jerome, also items of Augustine and others
  6. Vat.lat.413, 15th-century John Chrysostom
  7. Vat.lat.418, 15th-century Augustine, mainly De Trinitate
  8. Vat.lat.425, 11th/12th century Augustine, City of God
  9. Vat.lat.444, extracts, City of God
  10. Vat.lat.446, Augustine, miscellaneous
  11. Vat.lat.450, ditto
  12. Vat.lat.452, Augustine, on Psalms 51-88
  13. Vat.lat.461, Augustine, Retractions, etc.
  14. Vat.lat.465, Augustine, On Christian Doctrine
  15. Vat.lat.467, Augustine, misc.
  16. Vat.lat.468, Augustine and Bernard of Clairvaux
  17. Vat.lat.480, Augustine, misc.
  18. Vat.lat.561, Boethius, De Trinitate, Two Natures, etc.
  19. Vat.lat.738, one of at least 16 codices from the so-called "Littera grossa" collection of the works of Thomas Aquinas (Vat. lat. 731; Vat. lat. 732; Vat. lat. 738; Vat. lat. 745; Vat. lat. 747; Vat. lat. 757; Vat. lat. 784; Vat. lat. 785; Vat. lat. 787; Vat. lat. 807); commissioned by Pope John XXII, completed in Avignon in 1323, and later owned by the papal library at Avignon (Bibliotheca Avenionensis) during the time of Urban V, where they are attested in a list dated 1369. Thus noted with the St Louis microfilm.
  20. Vat.lat.745, see above
  21. Vat.lat.747,  see above
  22. Vat.lat.787.pt.1, see above
  23. Vat.lat.787.pt.2, see above
  24. Vat.lat.3359, 14th-century
  25. Vat.lat.3740, about 60 texts on apostolic poverty made to advise Pope John XXII at the time of a controversy with the Franciscans 1322-23 on the issue
  26. Vat.lat.3793, canzoni
  27. Vat.lat.3846,
  28. Vat.lat.3978, handbook for the Inquisition
  29. Vat.lat.4007, Annibal de Ceccano, cardinal bishop of Frascati, 1333
  30. Vat.lat.4857, Francis de Marchia, attack on Pope John XXII
  31. Vat.lat.5760, Ambrose of Milan, contents listed on Mirabile, made at Monastery of Bobbio, Italy. The first two folios are said to be palimpsests with masses for the dead and benedictions underneath (though I can see nothing in the digitizations) from Lowe's reconstructed CLA 1 38, TM 66133.
  32. Vat.lat.7568, Comedy of Dante, copied by one Bartolomeo
Two days later on March 3, Digita Vaticana uploaded another ten manuscripts, which I append here. Numbers 3-6 are part of the Thomas Aquinas Summa series mentioned above:
  1. Borgh.348, collection of opinions written in 1320 for Pope John XXII before 14th-century decision to extend inquisition to practitioners of "black magic" in southern France. Notes
  2. Ross.304, Augustine, To Aurelius of Carthage, etc.
  3. Vat.lat.731.pt.1
  4. Vat.lat.731.pt.2
  5. Vat.lat.732
  6. Vat.lat.785.pt.1
  7. Vat.lat.1130, anonymous (John of Paris?) on papal authority
  8. Vat.lat.2106, Peter of Auvergne (Petrus Alverniensis), see Logic Museum. With this fine initial (the devil's in the detail?) at fol 1v.
  9. Vat.lat.3986, Beltrominus, Bishop of Bologna, statutes for his court
  10. Vat.lat.4008, Chronicle of Nicholas Minorita, relating to the apostolic poverty controversy and the papacy of John XXII. See an edition here
If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to Digita Vaticana. [This is Piggin's Unofficial List 41.]

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