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Alfonso X (1221–1284) reigned as king of Castile and León from 1252 until his death. Known to history as El Sabio, the Wise, or the Learned, his appreciation for science and the arts led him to sponsor a number of books on the history of Spain since its Roman settlement. Among them were the Cantigas de Santa Maria, a collection of over four hundred poems exalting his favorite patron saint, Mary, and chronicles of all the kings of Castile and León, Navarre, Aragón, and Portugal.

Alfonso X died before his own life could be written. His was a reign fraught with political intrigue and double crosses, almost constant war and equally constant diplomacy, royal largesse and economic instability—all of which led to open revolt and efforts by Alfonso’s own son to depose the king. It would be another sixty-some years before King Alfonso XI would commission Fernán Sánchez de Valladolid to write Cronica de Alfonso X to memorialize his great-grandfather. As Alfonso XI’s trusted counselor, ambassador, diplomat, and legist, Fernán was an understandable choice, but in the centuries since, his convoluted prose has proven extremely difficult extremely difficult for scholars.

Chronicle of Alfonso X is the first and only translation of the king’s history. The original “clumsy Castilian” of Fernán Sánchez has now been transformed into literate and engaging English.

"It is good to have O'Callaghan's valuable introductory essay as well as a readable English text, from which scholars can learn much about Alfonso X, his family, and his people."—Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

"The chronicle is of unequal quality and value. . . . Thacker and Escobar have done a decent job, conveying the often turgid and clumsy prose of the original Castilian into clear idiomatic English."—History

"Thacker and Escobar have opened the door for the English-reading audience to appreciate the dynamic personal and historical background of the life of Alfonso X, who changed the intellectual, social, and political landscape of thirteenth-century Spain and justly earned the sobriquet Stupor mundi."—Speculum

"I do not believe that there will ever be another translation or the need for one. The extreme difficulty of the original Spanish will preclude other attempts."—John E. Keller

"Literate and agile. The book is an important contribution, not only because the original looms large in medieval Hispanic scholarship but because fairly good Hispanists can use the help of a translation with this clumsy Castilian."—Robert I. Burns

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Alfonso X, Castile, Spanish history, Medieval history


European History


Translated by Shelby Thacker and José Escobar.

With an introduction by Joseph F. O'Callaghan.

Original text often attributed to Fernán Sánchez de Valladolid.

Chronicle of Alfonso X
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