From XII to XV centuries

Capital of the
"Cantigas de Santa
María" with
Afonso X.

This was the "golden age" of Galician literature. Galician became the language par excellence for lyrical poetry throughout the Iberian Peninsula, except Catalonia (troubador poetry). It would be more precise to speak of Galician-Portuguese lyrical poetry.

At this time, Galician was something of an international language, being used not only by writers (from Galicia, Portugal, Castile, Occitaine, Sicily, etc.) but also in royal and feudal courts (Santiago, Toledo, Coimbra, Lisboa)...

The Cantigas de Santa María, composed in praise of the Virgin, are a sample of the religious facet of this Galician-Portuguese lyrical poetry and constitute the most important collection of Marian poetry in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. They were composed in the court of Afonso X the Wise, who not only directed their writing but even wrote parts himself. They give witness to the prestige obtained by the Galician language for literary uses at the end of the thirteenth century.

In comparison with lyrical poetry, there is little medieval literary prose in Galician and it appeared later. It must be remembered that the cultural centres at the time were the monasteries and religious schools where the use of ecclesiastical Latin predominated. But, from the end of the thirteenth century, and especially in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the subjects with the widest interest in medieval Europe were written in the Galician language. An example are the Breton cycle of stories about King Arthur, the texts relating the story and destruction of Troy, such as the Historia Troiana and the Crónica Troiana; and the Miragres de Santiago, a collection of short stories recounting the destruction of Jerusalem until the miraculous intervention by the Apostle in various situations. Some texts taken as prose are really translations from other languages or versions: Crónica Xeral Galega, General Estoria, Crónica Galega de 1404 and Crónica de Santa María de Iria.