Canticles of Holy Mary
The Canticles of Holy Mary (Cantigas de Santa María in spanish) is a mid-late XIII century medieval religious songbook. It is written in Galician-Portuguese language. It is a collection of 418 compositions in honor to the Holy Mary. Although there are doubts about if all the songs were composed by Alfonso X the Wise, it is known that he was involved.
They are divided into two kinds: of miracles or narrative, and praise to the Holy Mary. The work is of great importance, for literature, for music, and for the images. The melodies are taken from the Gregorian monody of popular poetry and songs of the troubadours.
Canticle or Cantiga is the name of the troubadour song in Spain in the XII century. The troubadour movement was born in the late XI century in the south of France, in Provence, as the result of chivalry and devotion to women, factors that favored the Crusades. Generally poets were composers belonging to the feudal nobility and later the bourgeoisie. They used to have to who they paid to play their songs. Its flowering period is from the XI century to the XIII century. The language used was the Provencal.
So we are in the Romanesque period. The music of the Church in the Middle Ages represent the wise and fine art. But also at its side is too the popular song that always existed. The popular song will be developed soon taken orally from one place to another by the minstrels. And parallel to the learned song of the troubadours and minstrels.
Romanesque art flourishes in the Christian West between the XI and XIII centuries, by country, as a result of the sum of the Roman traditions and oriental influences by the Byzantines or Arabs.
In conclusion, the Canticles of Holy Mary are one of the most important artworks of ancient music. As said before, both for music, for literature and pictures, it make this an unique artwork.
They are in the Library of El Escorial in Madrid, Spain.