Alfonso X the Learned. III.
Alfonso also won fame for his support for astrology and Ptolemaic cosmology
(the ancient belief that the earth was the centre of the universe with the
sun and stars all whirling around it) known to him from the Moors. The Alphonsus
Crater on the moon is named after him for this reason. Upon hearing of Ptolemy’s
theory on astronomy and the extreme complexity of the math required to prove it,
he is said to have commented, “If the Almighty had consulted me prior to commencing
on His Creation, I should have suggested something simpler.” This may, of course, be apocryphal.
His reign saw the publication of the Liber Picatrix, a text on talismanic magic,
in Latin and in Castilian, written some two hundred years earlier in Arabic, which was
disseminated throughout Spain and Europe. He was also responsible for the Alfonsine tables,
revised astronomical tables dividing the year into 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, 16 seconds.
Compiled by some 50 astronomers assembled for that purpose by the King they were originally written
in Castilian and translated into Latin. Even Copernicus learned to use them at the University of Krakow c.1493, and they remained influential in Europe until late in the 16th century.