13th Century

Book of Games

Alfonso X’s Book of Games: Libros del ajedrez, dados y tables. [Madrid] : Patrimonio Nacional : Coeditan Vicent García Editores, Valencia [y] Ediciones Poniente, Madrid, 1987.  2 v.
ND3399.A52 C76 1987 Special Collections oversized

The Libro de los Juegos, ("Book of games"), or Libro de ajedrez, dados y tablas, ("Book of chess, dice and tables") was commissioned by Alfonso X, king of León and Castile, during the 13th century between 1251 and 1283 AD. It consists of 98 pages, with 150 color illustrations. The games covered include chess (including the earliest known European chess problems), dice, and tables (the family of games that includes backgammon). It contains the earliest known description of some of these games, including many games imported from the Arab kingdoms.

It is one of the most important documents for researching the history of board games. The only known original is held in the library of the monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial near Madrid in Spain. It is bound in sheepskin and is 16.5 inches high and 11.7 inches wide (42 × 30 cm).

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