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The Jew's Body in Medieval Iberian Literary Portraits THE JEW'S BODY IN MEDIEVAL IBERIAN LITERARY PORTRAITS AND MINIATURES: Examples from the Cantigas de Santa Maria and the Cantar de mio Cid by louise Mirrer louise Mirrer is Professor of Spanish and Comparative literature and Chair of the Division of Humanities at Fordham University. She is the author of The Language of Evaluation: The Story of Pedro el Cruel in Ballad and Cbronicle and editor of Upon My Husband's Deatb: Widows in tbe Literature and Histories of Medieval Europe. She is currently researching a book on the JudeoSpanish oral tradition in london and los Angeles. 17 One of the most striking images in medieval Iberian literary portraits and miniatures is that of the Jewish baby born with his head on backwards. The deformed child, who is described by Alfonso X, the learned (1252-84), in the Cantigas de Santa Maria-a collection of some four hundred hymns and miracles of the Virgin Mary written in GalicianPortuguese during the mid-thirteenth centuryl-allegedly demonstrates Jews' error in refusing to accept Christianity; Alfonso's text reports that the baby's head is back to front as a consequence of his father's sworn ITh~ edition I have used here is Alfonso X, 0 Sabio, Cantigas de Santa Maria, ed. Walter Mettmann (Coimbra: University ofCoimbra, 1959-72). I have also relied on the miniatures in John Esten Keller and Richard P. Kinkade's Iconography in Medieval Spanish Literature (LeXington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1984). There is a long bibliography on the Cantigas which goes beyond the scope of this paper. One much-discussed question concerning the work is Alfonso's authorship-i.e., whether he actually wrote the cantigas (or at least some of them) or simply approved them. Another question regards the extent of Alfonso's involvement in the production of the miniatures that accompany the te."'


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