The Cantigas de Santa Maria, compiled at the end of the 13th century by King Alfonso X of Castile, are one of the most extensive collections of medieval Hispanic verse and music, comprising 420 narrative and lyric poems in praise of the Virgin Mary, almost all accompanied by music. The poems are contained in four closely related manuscripts, all from the late 13th or early fourteenth centuries, two of which contain large numbers of pages of vignettes illustrating the poems, themselves major works of medieval art. Despite the importance of this work in three separate fields of medieval studies - literature, art and music - and the existence of facsimile editions of three of the four manuscripts, a great deal of information about the texts and the manuscripts remains inaccessible. There is no complete metrical guide comparable to the Repertorio metrico compiled for the secular lyric by Tavani. There is no complete published description of any of the manuscripts, no authoritative index of themes, places, topics etc., and no recent discography, though much relevant information resides in scholars' private databases and in individual articles. Much attention has been given to identifying historical events mentioned in the Cantigas, and thus more accurately dating their composition, but this information remains dispersed. The complexities of manuscript layout are not yet properly documented.
The Cantigas Database project, under the direction of Dr Stephen Parkinson, will assemble information on the potential sources of the texts, classified chronologically and according to standard catalogues of Marian miracles, and analysed for their narrative and thematic content, alongside a parallel analysis of the content of the verbal and visual narratives of the texts and their illustrations, and the peripheral textual elements (epigraphs and titles of illustrations). It will incorporate indices of first lines and refrains, and basic reference materials on metrics and layout previously compiled in a different format with the aid of grants from the Leverhulme Trust (1993-5) and the Hulme University Fund. The present database will allow the close comparison of texts and their sources, and the investigation of possible groupings of texts according to their location in the source or in the MSS of the cantigas, or their thematic or metrical features, as well as permitting the recovery of all the information relevant to a particular poem or group of poems. The Database is funded by the Leverhulme Trust (2003-05) and will be freely available on the WWW when completed in 2005. It is hoped to link it to other online data sources such as the Lírica Galego-Portuguesa database of the Centro de Investigación Ramón Piñeiro (Santiago de Compostela), and the BITAGAP database of the University of California at Berkeley.
The database is the first stage of the Oxford Cantigas Edition Project, which will produce a new critical and annotated edition of the complete corpus of poems.
Index of First Lines
Index of Refrains
This page last modified 22.7.2004