Book of the Alphonsine Tables


A reflection of the knowledge of astronomy of the time, these tables were produced in Spain between 1263 and 1272 under the direction of Isaac ben Sid and Judah ben Moses Cohen. The Ptolemaic belief that the planets orbited the Earth was then the predominant cosmological system, and the heliocentric model of the solar system formulated by Copernicus, who personally studied and copied the tables, was still two centuries away. Known as Alfonsine tables after King Alfonso X of Castile (reigned 1252–84), the tables are a compilation of data about the positions and movements of the planets. Alfonso was a patron of learning who employed Christian, Jewish, and Muslim scholars to translate works of Arabic science into Latin and Castilian Spanish. He assembled a team of astronomers who compiled the Alfonsine tables, based on the calculations of the Arab astronomer al-Zarqali (also known as Arzachel, 1029–87). The work was edited and printed in Venice in 1483, the only Alphonsine astrological work to make it to the printing press during the Renaissance. The manuscript is from the Cathedral of Toledo and is now in the National Library of Spain. It was the property of Cardinal Francisco Javier de Zelada in Italy, and brought to Spain by Cardinal Lorenzana in the late 18th century.

Last updated: May 24, 2017