The plot of Grisel y Mirabella is relatively simple. A Scottish king has but one child, a daughter, Mirabella. Although she has many noble suitors, her father refuses to allow her to marry. Because her beauty causes conflicts between knights and nobles, the king imprisons her in a tower to prevent her suitors from killing each other.
Some New Christians managed to escape abroad, founding Jewish communities in Bordeaux, London, Amsterdam, and other cities (Azevedo 359-430). With the union of the Portuguese and Spanish crowns (1580-1640), the number of those who moved to Spain and its American colonies was so great that the word “Portuguese” became practically synonymous with “Jew.”
The story told in Alfonso’s cantiga 103 is not original to his court writers. In fact, as has been made abundantly clear in several studies to date (Hans-Jörg [Aarne-Thomson] 471A (“The Monk and the Bird”),4 Wagner, and Röhrich 124-45), the cantiga story is a variation of a legend that had already existed for at least one hundred years before its inclusion in the Cantigas collection (the compilation of which took place during the years spanning from 1257 to 1283).