People have been fascinated with board games for a very long time. One of the oldest books written about board games is a book called Libro de los Juegos, or Libro de Axedrez, Dados e Tablas, The Book of Games, or The Book of Chess, Dice and Tables, commissioned by King Alfonso X of Castile, Galicia and León in Toledo, Spain, in 1283.
Detail of Libro de los Juegos, folio 1 recto, Escorial Manuscript.
The original manuscript of the book from 1283 is kept in the Real Biblioteca del Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial (Escorial Monastery Library) in Madrid, Spain. It is an illuminated manuscript with beautiful paintings of games and players. Another manuscript copy, made in 1334, is kept at the Real Academia de la Historia (Royal Academy of History Library) in Madrid, Spain.
An English translation of the book has been published on the internet in 2003 by a doctorate student from University of Arizona, Sonja Musser Golladay, called Alfonso X’s Book of Games – Translated by Sonja Musser Golladay, 2003. Additionally, Sonja Musser Golladay published her PhD Dissertation on the Book of Games in 2007, called Los libros de acedrex dados e tablas – Historical, Artistic and Metaphysical Dimensions of Alfonso X’s Book of Games.
Detail of Libro de los Juegos, folio 17 verso, Escorial Manuscript.
Another article in Spanish that contains many high resolution images from Escorial manuscript is Fernández Fernández, Laura, Libro de axedrez, dados e tablas: Ms. T-I-6, Real Biblioteca del Monasterio de El Escorial: estudio codicológico. In Libro de los Juegos de Ajedrez, Dados y Tablas de Alfonso X el Sabio. Scriptorium, 2010. pp. 69-116.