The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 4: Later Chronicles

There are a few later retellings of Bernardo del Carpio’s life that are worthy of mention.

The Poema de Fernán González briefly recounts the history of Bernardo at Roncesvalles.

The Segunda Crónica General is also known as the Crónica de 1344. It is a redaction of the Primera, which adds prosifications of many new ballads, but leaves the story of Bernardo essentially unchanged.1

The Tercera Crónica General, also called the Crónica General Vulgata was redacted towards 1390, and adds some skeptical comments about Bernardo. It also moves many of his adventures under Alfonso III to the reign of the II, but with few further changes. It was printed by Florián d’Ocampo in 1541, in a volume which became the standard history utilized by Siglo d’Oro authors, comparable to Holinshed in Elizabethan England. 2

The Cuarta Crónica General was redacted around 1460. An edition can be found in the Colección de documentos inéditos para la historia de España, volumes 105 and 106. Bernardo’s story begins in Volume 105, page 264.

POEMA DE FERNÁN GONZÁLEZ

Alfonso the Chaste built the church of San Salvador. King Charles sent him a message that he was coming to Spain to receive homage and tribute. King Alfonso replied that he would not pay him anything, and that though the French fought five years, they could not conquer Spain. Charles’ men gave him bad advice, telling him to invade. Charles, with an immeasurable army, headed for Castile. Bernardo del Carpio gathered an army and attacked them at Fuenterrabía, where he slew seven kings and great lords. Charles retreated to Marseilles, where he regrouped and tried again to enter Spain through Cize and Aspe. Bernardo crossed the Ebro and came to Saragossa, where he kissed the hands of King Marsil, and agreed that the troops of Castile would be in the vanguard against the Twelve Peers. Bernardo fought in the front lines, and dealt the French an even more crushing defeat than that of Fuenterrabía. The poet now digresses for a long praise of Spain and Castile in particular, and returns to history with the death of King Alfonso, after which he moves into his story proper, of Fernán González. Bernardo is not mentioned again.

SECUNDA CRÓNICA GENERAL

According to Pidal, one MS, (which he infuriatingly does not identify) changes the numbers of Bernardo’s knights during his raid on Salamanca (the first one, with the ambush) to agree with the ballad of By the Rivers of Arlanza. Instead of two hundred lying in ambush and one hundred going with Bernardo, as in the PCG, it is two hundred in each group. Otherwise, I know of no differences.

TERCERA CRÓNICA GENERAL, AS PRINTED BY OCAMPO

Third Part, Chapter 10:

Both versions of Bernardo’s birth are given, and are dated to the seventeenth year of Alfonso the Chaste’s reign, [803], the 7th of Constantine’s Imperium [786], AD 796. The story of Doña Timbor, however, is stated to be untrue.

Year 30 [812]: Charles 12 [812], AD 809 Roncesvalles. To the battle came Roldan, Reynalte de Montalvan, Don Giralte, Count Terria Dardeña, Count Iarluyn, Argelero the Gascon, Archbishop Torpin, Oger de las Marchas, Salamano of Brittany, and many others. Some say that after the battle, Charlemagne took his revenge on King Marsil, with the help of Bernaldo and Alfonso. They also say that Charles took Bernaldo home with him and made him king of Italy, but we do not find this in old books, and so we do not assert that it was so.

At any rate, after Roncesvalles Bernardo learns his true parentage directly from the women, without a game involved.

Year 31 [812]: Charles 13 [813], AD 810. Charlemagne died [really 814]. Rodrigo’s dissection of Turpin is included.

Year 32 [813]: Louis 1 [814], AD 811. Bernardo saves Alfonso from King Ores of Merida.

Year 33 [814]: Louis 2 [815], AD 812. Alfonso saves Zamora from King Alzama of Badajoz.

Year 34 [815]: Louis 3 [816], AD 813. Alfonso and Bernardo defeat the Moors at Polvorega and Val de Moro, respectively. Alfonso also smites them by the Duero River. Pope Leo [III] dies and Stefan III [IV] is elected [816].

Year 35 [816]: Louis 4 [817], AD 814. The Don Bueso incident. Bueso’s kinship to Bernardo is denied. Pope Stephan dies and Paschal is elected [817].

Year 36 [817]: Louis 5 [818], AD 815. Alfonso holds court at Pentecost, and the Queen fails to obtain Count Sancho’s freedom. Bernardo is banished, and his kinsmen go with him. He made war against the king for a long time.

Year 37 [818]: Louis 6 [819], AD 816. Mahomad of Merida and Abderrahmen of Cordova.

Year 38 [819]: Louis 7 [820], AD 817. Bernardo helps the Emir Alihatan [Al-Hakim] crush the Cordovan rebellion.

Year 39 [820]: Louis 8 [821], AD 818. Mahomad.

Year 40 [821]: Louis 9 [822], AD 819. More Muslim civil wars.

Year 41 [822]: Louis 10 [823], AD 820. Alfonso dies. King Alfonso had a wife he never saw, and some say she waas Berta, sister of Charlemagne.

Alfonso III the Great Year 4 [869]: Lothair 14 [853], AD 840. Alfonso repels a horde of Moors from Toledo in a battle along the Duero. Bernardo has helped him in his battles hitherto, lured on by promises of his father’s freedom, but Alfonso’s latest reneging is the last straw, and now he rebels, joined by men from Benavente, Toro, and Zamora [the dramatic scene at court is not repeated].

Year 5 [870]: Lothair 15 [854], AD 841. Bernardo builds El Carpio and raids Salamanca.

Year 6 [871]: Lothair 16 [855], AD 842. Alfonso posthumously frees Count Sancho, then sends Bernardo to France. Bernardo’s adventures in France and Catalonia follow, as in the PCG, but with a note that they are not found in the authentic books of wise men, but only in juglares en sus cantares, so that “we do not know for certain” if they are true. The discussion about the different Charleses and Alfonsos, and the date of Roncesvalles is copied, too.

CUARTA CRÓNICA GENERAL

Bernardo’s birth is dated to Alfonso’s fifteenth year [797], AD 792, Constantine’s seventh [786]. Crulor [Timbor] lay with Count Sandias willingly, though her story is still said to be a fiction.3 The other dates agree with the Tercera. The dead at Roncesvalles include Anselino, Reynalte of Monte Alban, Giralde or Guiralde the Steward, Count Oliver, Terrin, Count Albuey, “and many more.” When Bernardo begins his rebellion, the chronicle announces that it will speak no more of him until the reign of Alfonso III. Bernardo’s foundation of El Carpio in Salamanca, and his subsequent alliance with the Moors to raid Leon and Asturias are related under King Alfonso’s fourth year, and the story henceforth follows Rodrigo. In consequence of these events, however, King Alfonso really did set Count San Diaz free (though he has gone blind in prison), “and lived in love with him and with Bernardo his son.” The Arabs, however, are still in Christendom, and split their forces in two, sending one to Polvorosa and the other to King Alfonso, Bernardo marches to meet this latter and slaughters them in Valdemoro. Meanwhile, Alfonso has given them the slip and gone to Polvorosa, where he kills them. Bernardo and Alfonso next save Zamora, and Bernardo kills Alchaman the false prophet. The Moors make peace with Alfonso, the date of Roncesvalles and the different Charleses are discussed, and Bernardo vanishes from the history.

1 Horent, Jules, Book II, Part I, Paragraph 37.

2 Horent, Jules, Book II, Part I, Paragraph 38.

3 Entwhistle 1928, 449.

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