Law II.9.2 of the Siete Partidas contains a fleeting representation of the poor as a covetous and dangerously intelligent class. Other early Castilian works also warn the powerful of the potential wiles of the poor, encouraging prudence when dealing with them. The idea that poverty often leads to a state of self-serving depravity was not a Castilian invention, but rather was present in the literature that Arabic speakers had amassed and brought to the Iberian Peninsula. Both the scholars of Alfonso X’s scriptorium and Don Juan Manuel made use of the trope of the conniving poor as they sought to pass on “wisdom” to their powerful audiences. The entrance of the motif into early Castilian literature owes its existence to the pluralistic nature of Iberian intellectual culture in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.


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