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From The International Library of Masterpieces, Literature, Art, & Rare Manuscripts, Volume I, Editor-in-Chief: Harry Thurston Peck; The International Bibliophile Society, New York; 1901; pp. 260-262.



ALFONSO X. [1221-1284]

ALFONSO X., King of Leon and Castile, born in 1221, ascended the throne in 1252, was deposed by his son, Sancho, in 1282, and died in 1284. His acquaintance with geometry, astronomy, and the occult sciences of his time gained for him the appellation of el Subio, “the Learned.” The works in prose attributed to him range over a great variety of subjects, historical, scientific, and legal, although many of them were merely written or compiled by his order. He caused the Bible to be translated into Castilian, and thereby performed for the Spanish language a service very similar to that performed for the English by James I. Mariana says of him: “He was more fit for letters than fro the government of his subjects; he studied the heavens and watched the stars, but forgot the earth and lost his kingdom.”


“A TYRANT,” says this law, “doth signify a cruel lord, who, by force or by craft, or by treachery, hath obtained power over any realm or country; and such men be of such nature, that when once they have grown strong in the land, they love rather to work their own profit, though it be in harm of the land, than the common profit of all, for they always live in an ill fear of losing it. And that they may be able to fulfill this their purpose unincumbered, the wise of old have said that they use their power against the people in three manners. The first is, that they strive that those under their mastery be ever ignorant and timorous, because, when they be such, they may not be bold to rise against them, nor to resist their wills; and the second is, that they be not kindly and united among themselves, in such wise that they trust not one another, for while they live in disagreement, they shall not dare to make any discourse against their lord, for fear faith and secrecy should not be kept among themselves; and the third way is, that they strive to make them poor, and to put them 261 upon great undertakings, which they never can finish, whereby they may have so much harm that it may never come into their hearts to devise anything against their ruler. And above all this, have tyrants ever striven to make spoil of the strong and to destroy the wise; and have forbidden fellowship and assemblies of men in their land, and striven always to know what men said or did; and do trust their counsel and the guard of their person rather to foreigners, who will serve at their will, than to them of the land, who serve from oppression. And moreover, we say that though any man may have gained mastery of a kingdom by any of the lawful means whereof we have spoken in the laws going before this, yet, if he use his power ill, in the ways whereof we speak in this law, him may the people still call tyrant; for he turneth his mastery which was rightful into wrongful, as Aristotle hath said in the book which treateth of the rule and government of kingdoms.”



(From “La Gran Conquista de Ultramar,” Chapter XIII.)

THE ancient histories which describe the early inhabitants of the East and their various languages show the origin of each tribe or nation, or whence they came, and for what reason they waged war, and how they were enabled to conquer the former lords of the land. Now in these histories it is told that the Turks, and also the allied race called Turcomans, were all of one land originally, and that these names were taken from two rivers that flow through the territory whence these people came, which lies in the direction of the rising of the sun, a little toward the north; and that one of these rivers bore the name of Turco, and the other Mani; and finally that for this reason the two tribes which dwelt on the banks of these two rivers came to be commonly known as Turcomanos or Turcomans. On the other hand, there are those who assert that because a portion of the Turks lived among the Comanos (Comans) they accordingly, in course of time, received the name of Turcomanos; but the majority adhere to the reason already given. However this may be, the Turks and the Turcomans belong both to the same family, and follow no other life than that of wandering over the country, driving their herds from one good pasture to another, and taking with them their wives and their children and all their property, including money as well as flocks.


The Turks did not dwell then in houses, but in tents made of skins, as do in these days the Comanos and Tartars; and when they had to move from one place to another, they divided themselves into companies according to their different dialects, and chose a cabdillo (judge), who settled their disputes, and rendered justice to those who deserved it. And this nomadic race cultivated no fields, nor vineyards, nor orchards, nor arable lands of any kind; neither did they buy or sell for money: but traded their flocks among one another, and also their milk and cheese, and pitched their tents in the places where they found the best pasturage; and when the grass was exhausted, they sought fresh herbage elsewhere. And whenever they reached the border of a strange land, they sent before them special envoys, the most worthy and honorable of their men, to the kings or lords of such countries, to ask of them the privilege of pasturage on their lands for a space; for which they were willing to pay such rent or tax as might be agreed upon. After this manner they lived among each nation in whose territory they happened to be.



(From the “Cantigas.”)

WELCOME, O May, yet once again we greet thee!
So always we praise her, the Holy Mother,
Who prays to god that he shall aid us ever
Against our foes, and to us ever listen.
Welcome, O May! loyally art thou welcome!
So always we praise her, the Mother of kindness,
Mother who always on us taketh pity.
Mother who guardeth us from woes unnumbered.
So let us every pray and offer praises
To her who ceaseth not for us, for sinners,
To pray to God that we from woes be guarded.
Welcome, O May! O joyous month and stainless!
So will we every pray to her who gaineth
Grace from her Son for us, and gives each morning
Force that by us the Moors from Spain are driven.
Welcome, O May, of bread and wine the giver!
Pray then to her, for in her arms, an infant,
She bore the Lord! she points us on our journey,
The journey that to her will bear us quickly!

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