The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 13: Bernardo Frees His Father

BERNARDO FREES HIS FATHER

Section 1: Chronicles

Lucas never tells us what became of Count Sancho.

Rodrigo. Bernardo rebels against King Alfonso III after the battle of Toledo. To make peace, Alfonso releases the Count, alive and well, and Bernardo is reconciled with the king.

PCG: Year 11 of Alfonso the Great’s reign [876]. Alfonso’s men at last prevail upon him to release San Diaz. Bernaldo agrees to this, and hands over Orios Godos, Count Tiobalte, and his castle of El Carpio. Alfonso sends Orios and Tiobalte to fetch Count San Diaz, but they arrive three days after his death. They say in their songs that Alfonso ordered the corpse to be cleaned, mounted on a horse, and paraded before Saldaña. Bernardo surrendered the city and went forth to meet his father. When he realized he had been deceived, he rounded on the king with fury, and the king banished him again.

The Cuarta follows Rodrigo in sparing the Count’s life.

Section 2: Ballads

Burguillos Pidal Eruditos 10. “Los altos hombres del reino.”

Alfonso the Great’s men, seeing the damage done to their country, prevail upon him to make peace with Bernardo. Alfonso agrees, if Bernardo will render up El Carpio. He agrees, and Alfonso sends Don Tibalte and Arias Godos to Luna, where they find that the Count is dead. They wash his body, dress it up, and return to El Carpio with the body mounted on horseback. Bernardo kisses his father’s hand, discovers the trick, and laments. Alfonso banishes Bernardo from Spain, but gives him rich gifts and recommends that he go to his [Bernardo’s] kinsman King Charles of France, which he does.

The absurdity of Alfonso banishing Bernardo in one breath and showering him with good advice and gifts in the next is considered to be evidence that two stories have been combined here, one about Bernardo del Carpio, and one about Bernardo the Carolingian.

Lorenzo de Sepúlveda Durán 658, Class IV; Pidal Eruditos 15. “En Leon y las Asturias”

Alfonso III the Great reigns in Leon and Asturias. Bernardo asks for his father’s liberty. Alfonso refuses, and Bernardo revolts. The barons persuade Alfonso to release Count Sancho Diaz. Alfonso agrees, if Bernardo will render up El Carpio. He agrees, and Alfonso sends Don Tibalte and Don Arias to Luna, where they find that the Count is dead. They wash his body, dress it up, and invite Bernardo to the palace to see him. Bernardo kisses his father’s hand, discovers the trick, and laments.

Durán 656, Class VIII; Pidal Artificiosos 28a-b. “Antes que barbas tuviese”

28a=Durán 656, printed in the Romancero General de 1600.

28b is from Colombia, 1907. A fragment that only contains part of Bernardo’s rebuke.

Bernardo rebukes Alfonso for not releasing his father. Alfonso swears to release him before Mass is sung tomorrow in the Lateran. He does so, but first he blinds him.

Count Sancho is also blinded in the theater of Cueva, Lope, and Cubillo. Durán changes the ending to make Alfonso blind and kill the Count.1

1 Pidal, Rom. Trad. I, 258-259.

Durán 625, Class VIII; Pidal Artificiosos 20a-c. “Bañando están las prisiones”

Count Sancho Diaz, in prison, laments. “When I entered this castle, I had no beard; now it is long and white. My son, why do you not come save me? Are you a bad son, or am I a bad father? Have I done something to offend you? Oh, forgive me!”

Lockhart has translated Durán 625.

Pidal 20b and c are from oral tradition, where this ballad is combined with Con cartas y mensajeros (Pidal Primitivos 1i, 1j).

B, from Seville, 1916 [=Cartas I].

After Bernardo tells the king that he knew he was only joking, he departs for the castle of Luna. Inside the castle, the prisoner sings a version of Mes de mayo, mes de mayo. “In May, all are happy and joyful, save for myself, who lie here in prison, and know not whether it is night or day save by a bird that sings outside my window. But for three days I have not heard him. Tell me, what happened to him? The guards tell me I have a son called Bernardo, who has done mighty feats. My son, why do you not come free me?”

The singer had forgotten the rest of the verses, but Bernardo arrived at the castle, heard his father’s laments, and set him free.

C, from Seville, 1916 [=Cartas J].

When I came into this castle, I had no beard, but now it is long and white. I have a son, Bernardo, who has done great deeds, and conquered Alto Silverio, but why does he not come save me?” [The story then transitions to Con Cartas, in a version which ends ambiguously].

Lope de Vega adapts the ballad for his Mocedades de Bernardo. Alvaro Cubillo de Aragon, whose Conde de Saldaña is a reworking of Lope, transforms it almost beyond recognition. Lope returns to the theme, though this time without quoting the ballad, in his Casamiento en la Muerte.

Lope’s Mocedades has passed into Spanish folklore, with the tragic ending restored. In an oral prose version from Seville, 1920, Bernardo enters the Count of Saldaña’s prison cell to free him. The Count embraces his son, but dies of the emotion.

Gabriel Lasso de la Vega Durán 657, Class VIII; Pidal Artificiosos 29a-b. “Hincado está de rodillas”

Bernardo kneels before his father to kiss his hand, since Alfonso has mercifully freed him, but the hand is icy cold A, B. He laments A; he calls himself a bad son, and swears to avenge his father’s death, and leaves, trembling with anger, to seek Alfonso B.

Durán prints only B, which seems to be an expanded version of Gabriel Lasso’s original A.

Durán 659, Class VIII; Pidal Artifciosos 30. “Mal mis servicios pagaste” Printed in a broadsheet from 1595, and in the Romancero de 1600.

Bernardo laments, and storms out of the palace to raise a revolt, calling to his aid all his friends, both Christians and Moors.

Durán again alters the text, which is not quite clear in the original whether the Count is dead, or merely blinded.3

3 Pidal, Rom. Trad. I, 261.

Gabriel Lobo Laso de la Vega Durán 662, Class VIII; Pidal Artificiosos 32. “Aspero llanto hacia” The version in Gabriel’s MS of 1578 is longer than that which was published. We italicize the omitted parts.

Bernardo, safe at Carpio, plots vengeance on King Alfonso the Chaste. He wanders into a room where he finds an old and dusty harness that once was his father’s, and laments, in quatrains. This finished, he sallies forth with a fine helmet and sword, upon a light-brown steed with black caparison and all dressed in black armor. His lance is black, and his shield is black with a red heart on it. Three hundred noblemen follow him from El Carpio.

Durán 660, Class VIII; Pidal Artificiosos 33a-c. “Retraido en su aposento” Manuscripts only, earliest 1578.

Bernardo, in his own castle, arms himself, sighs, weeps, and laments. He begs his father’s pardon, says that if he had been a good son the Count would be avenged already, and swears vengeance on the king. He then puts mourning garb over his white armor. (He leaps to the saddle without need of stirrup C)

Durán 661, Class VIII; Pidal Artificiosos 36. “¡Inhumano rey Alfonso!” First printed in the Romancero General de 1605.

Bernardo rebukes his uncle King Alfonso of Leon and announces his intent to go to France and seek to serve King Charles, though they have been enemies before. He says that killing his father was an ill reward for all the times he had saved Alfonso, including giving him his horse at the Romeral, and killing the Paladins at Roncesvalles.

This ballad is interesting both for an allusion to Con cartas y mensajeros, and for being one of the few [only?] Siglo d’Oro retellings to acknowledge the Bernardo in France episodes in the PCG.

Combined with Durán 655 by Lockhart.

Durán 663, Class VIII; Pidal Artificiosos 35. “Las obsequias funerales” First printed in the Romancero General de 1600.

Bernardo, at the funeral, weeps by his father’s side, and laments, cursing King Alfonso.

This romance is very artificial and full of playing with conceits.

Durán 664, Class VIII; Pidal Artificiosos 34. “Al pie de un túmulo negro.” First printed in the Romancero General de 1600.

Bernardo, his kin and friends kneel by a black tomb in a church. It is that of Count Sancho. Bernardo laments. At last he rises, turns around, and, heedless of the holy place, rebukes King Alfonso the Chaste, in ottava rima. He says that he is the same Bernardo who single-handedly broke the power of Charlemagne (by killing the Peers) and he will avenge his father.

This seems to be the ballad translated by Lockhart, but he takes even more liberties than usual.

Section 3: Siglo d’Oro Plays

Vega Mocedades: After Bernardo returns in triumph from capturing El Carpio from the Moors, Alfonso tells him that his father is still alive, and that he will be freed if Bernardo does him one last favor: investigate the haunted castle of Luna. Bernardo is unable to persuade his superstitious squire to accompany him, and sets off alone. He hears Count Sancho lamenting and at first thinks he is a ghost. The prisoner explains that he is no ghost, however, but the Count of Saldaña, and tells his story. Bernardo realizes this must be his father, and offers to break him out, but the Count insists on obedience to the king, so Bernardo promises to get the king’s permission.

The king and his court are celebrating Saint John’s Day when Bernardo arrives with an army to demand his father’s freedom. Alfonso grants it, and Bernardo announces that this is a fitting end to THE YOUTH OF BERNARDO.

Vega Casamiento: At the castle, the jailer draws back a curtain to reveal the Count seated on a chair. Bernardo kneels and kisses his hand, only to find that he is dead. Bernardo, after he has lamented and somewhat recovered, asks where his mother is. She is immured in a nunnery that is attached to the castle. Bernardo forces the nuns to open the door and let him in, and he brings his mother, still unprofessed, out. He brings her to where the count is seated and joins their hands together. He asks his mother if she weds this man, and she says yes. He then asks his father if he weds this woman, and moves the corpse’s head up and down, “yes.” He announces that he is no longer a bastard, now that there has been A MARRIAGE IN DEATH.

According to Menéndez y Pelayo, this scene is as great as anything in Shakespeare, and deserves to be known to everyone by heart.

Section 4: Modern Adaptations

Felicia Hemans’ poem Bernardo Del Carpio is not a translation of any Spanish ballad.

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