The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 8: Bernardo Learns His True Identity

Section I: Chronicles

Lucas: Says nothing.

Rodrigo: Ditto

PCG: In the 28th year of Alfonso’s reign, the 13th of Charlemagne’s, AD 808, [813] two of Bernardo’s kinsmen, Blasco Meléndez and Suero Velásquez, having sworn an oath to Alfonso not to tell Bernardo about Count Sancho, make a plan with two of their kinswomen, Maria Meléndez and Urraca Sánchez. The women play at tablas [prob. backgammon] with Bernardo, let him win, and then inform him how his father languishes in durance vile. Benardo asked Alfonso for his father’s liberty, which was refused, but Bernardo swore he would nonetheless stay faithful to his king.

Ocampo: Omits the game of tables, and makes the women tell Bernardo directly.

Section II: Ballads

Burguillos “En corte del casto Alfonso” Durán 626, Class I; Wolf 9, Class I; Pidal Eruditos 3a-3b. Found in the Cancionero sin año, Cancionero de 1550, Silva I.
3a is the printed version.
3b is from a MS.

Bernardo, living at Alfonso’s court, does not know his father is imprisoned, though everyone else does. Two courtiers, Vasco Melendez and Suero Velazquez, tell two noblewomen, Urraca Sanchez and Maria Melendez, to tell Bernardo the truth. Bernardo storms to the throne room, so angrily that Alfonso thinks he has come to kill him. But Bernardo merely asks humbly for the release of his father. Alfonso swears it will never be done while he [Alfonso] lives. Bernardo swears to serve the king loyally until he earns his father’s pardon. But King Alfonso had always loved Bernardo, who thought he was his son.

Pidal’s 3b omits the last few lines of exposition about Alfonso and Bernardo’s relationship.

Lorenzo de Sepúlveda Durán 6, Class IV; Pidal Eruditos 13. “En Luna está preso el Conde.”

The Count has long been imprisoned in Luna. Bernardo knows nothing of this. Two damsels break King Alfonso’s orders and tell Bernardo the truth. He laments, then goes before the king. Alfonso thinks Bernardo has come to kill him, but he merely asks for his father’s liberty. Alfonso swears it will never be done while he [Alfonso] lives. Bernardo swears to serve the king loyally until he earns his father’s pardon.

Gabriel Lobo Lasso de la Vega (perhaps) Durán 624, Class VIII. Pidal Artificiosos 21. “Contándole estaba un dia.” Printed in the Romancero general de 1600, in broadsides from 1638, 1677.

Elvira Sanchez, Bernardo’s nurse, tells him that he is not really King Alfonso’s bastard son. He is the son of the lawfully married Count Sancho Diaz of Saldaña and the king’s sister Jimena. The Count is imprisoned in the castle of Luna, and the princess in a nunnery. Bernardo is the rightful heir to the throne, though Alfonso wishes to leave it to the French. Bernardo rebukes her for not telling him sooner, and swears to set them free. Elvira says she was afraid of the tyrant Alfonso. Bernardo looks to heaven and weeps, and swears mighty oaths to free his father.

This ballad has no author given in the old copies, but it was printed alongside four other works of Gabriel Lobo. Whoever the author was, he was likely responsible for the unique details of this version.

Section III: Plays

De la Cueva.

Before the battle of Roncesvalles, Suero Velazquez and Velasco Melendez tell Bernardo that Alfonso is planning to give the kingdom to Charlemagne, and then Maria Melendez and Urraca Sanchez, (who are both nuns in this play) tell him of his father’s true identity, without a backgammon game. Bernardo is shocked, but swears to foil Charlemagne’s plans and free his parents. He enters Alfonso’s presence with a great retinue, enough to unnerve Alfonso. Bernardo explains that he intends to stop Charles. Alfonso is at last persuaded to retract his offer to Charles and promised to free Count Sancho. The play ends, however, without us ever learning if he keeps his promise

Lope de Vega’s Mocedades de Bernardo goes completely off the rails of the traditional story. Bernardo, having been raised by Don Rubio, is a holy terror, and exasperates his foster father to the point that he calls him a bastard. Bernardo is taken in by King Alfonso, who reveals that he is his nephew, but no more, and dubs him a knight. At the festivities, Bernardo chases away a Moorish ambassador and insults his cousin Don Ramiro, who claimed a higher seat at the table than him. Bernardo flees the court to El Carpio, currently held by the Moors, and offers them his sword. They, remembering his conduct to their ambassador, welcome him with a smile while plotting to kill him. Bernardo foils their plans and drags them captive back to Alfonso, who reveals that his father is alive, and then asks Bernardo to do him a favor and investigate the haunted castle of Luna, which Bernardo sets off to do.

Lope’s Casamiento opens with Bernardo already aware (before Roncesvalles) of his heritage.

Origins and Influence

Galien li Restore learns his true parentage under similar circumstances to Bernardo; his uncle calls Galien a bastard after losing to him at chess. In the Crónica de 1344, Mudarra, half-brother to the Seven Sons of Lara, learns his true parentage after beating the King of Segura at backgammon.1

Katherine P. Oswald, “The Formation and Transmission of the Legend of Bernardo del Carpio” (PhD diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015), p. 177.

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The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 7: Bernardo at Roncesvalles

Section 1: Chronicles

Lucas While Bernardo was making ready for war, Charles was besieging Tudela, which he would have captured if not for Galalon’s treason. Charles did, however, take Nájera and Monte Jardín, and then prepared to return to France.

The barbarian King Marsil of Saragossa rallied an army of Saracens and allied with Bernardo and his Navarrese, and fell on the Frankish rear as they passed through Rocidevallis, killing Prefect Rodlandus of Brittany, Count Anselm, Egiardus the Steward, and many more. King Charles later had his revenge on the Saracens, killing a great number of them, [it is not clear if this is the second battle in the Song of Roland or an entirely new expedition]. After his revenge Charles went on pilgrimage to Saint James, made peace with King Alfonso, rebuilt the city of Iria, and obtained from Pope Leo III for Compostela to be elevated to a metropolitan [archbishopric]. He then returned to Germany with Bernaldus and died soon after, at Aix, where he was buried. Bernaldus served in the imperial household even after Charlemagne’s death, under Louis the Pious (814-840) and Lothair I (840-855).

Emperor Charles III (the Fat, not the Simple, r. 881-888) invaded Spain, attacking Christians and Muslims alike [this never happened], but Bernaldus raised an army of Christians and allied with King Muza of Saragossa, and turned back Charles’ army before they had even crossed the Pyrenees. Charles made alliance with Alfonso, who restored the Mozarabic rite in the churches of Spain. Charles went on pilgrimage to Santiago and San Salvador, and obtained from Pope John Metropolitan [archepiscopal] privileges for those two sites. Bernaldus returned to his fatherland, laden with spoils. Lucas explains that there were three Emperors named Charles: Charles the Great, who lived in the days of Pope Leo and Alfonso the Chaste; another Charles who lived in the days of Pope John, and Charles the Hammer, who succeeded him. Continue reading

The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 6: Prelude to Roncesvalles

The Spanish version of how the Battle of Roncesvalles came about is to be found in chronicles, in a traditional ballad called By the River of Arlanza, in various literary ballads, and in plays.

Section 1: Chronicles

Lucas In those days Charles the Great, King of France and Emperor of Rome, expelled the Saracens from Burgundy, Poitou, and all Gaul, and then crossed the Pyrenees via Roscidevallis to continue the war. He brought under his yoke the Goths and Spaniards who lived in Catalonia, in the Basque mountains, and in Navarre, and ordered Alfonso to become his vassal. Bernaldus was indignant at the suggestion, and formed an alliance with the Saracens.

Later, in the days of Alfonso III, Emperor Charles III [the Fat, not the Simple, r. 881-888] invaded Spain, attacking Christians and Muslims alike [this never happened], but Bernaldus raised an army of Christians and allied with King Muza of Saragossa, and turned back Charles’ army before they had even crossed the Pyrenees. Charles made alliance with Alfonso, went on pilgrimage to Santiago and San Salvador, and obtained from Pope John many privileges for those two sites. Bernaldus returned to his fatherland, laden with spoils.

Rodrigo Alfonso, old and tired of reigning, secretly sends word to Charles, Emperor of Italy, Germany, and Gaul, to offer him the throne. Charles drives the Arabs out of France and then sends some men over the Pyrenees, subduing Catalonia. At this juncture, Alfonso’s men, led by Berinaldus, learn of his offer and force him to rescind it or they will depose him. They say they would rather die as free men than live as vassals of the Franks.

PCG In the 27th year of Alfonso’s reign [809], the 12th of Charlemagne’s [811], AD 806, Alfonso, being old and childless, sent to Charles offering him his throne, if he would help him fight the Moors. Charles expelled the Moors from Provence, Bordeaux, Piteos, and Aquitaine, and then crossed the Pyrenees to Spain, conquering Catalonia. Lucas of Tuy says he also conquered Gascony and Navarre. The men of Spain, however, led by Bernaldo, learned of Alfonso’s offer and forced him to rescind it, or else they would depose him. Bernaldo formed an alliance with the Saracen King Marsil of Saragossa.

Origins and Influence

Lucas seems to deserve the blame for the inane duplication of the Battle of Roncesvalles, for reasons unknown. Rodrigo and Alfonso’s men are obliged to mention his error, but are not deceived by it. Charles the Fat never invaded Spain. Muza of Saragossa, however, was a real figure: Musa ibn Musa ibn Qasi, descended from a Visigothic renegade, born around 790, half-brother to Íñigo Arista, first king of Pamplona, believed to have taken part in the Second Battle of Roncesvalles in 824, became ruler of Tudela and much territory round about. Musa, with the aid of his brother, repeatedly rebelled against the Umayyads from 840 to 850, and at last set up an independent kingdom, which he continued to expand until a crushing defeat by the Christians in 859, after which Muza’s influence waned rapidly until his death in 862.

The poem of Fernan Gonzalez will have it that King Charles sent Alfonso the Chaste 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.

Ocampo dates the battle to Alfonso’s 30th year [812]: Charles 12 [812], AD 809, but leaves this portion unchanged.

Section 2: Traditional Ballad: By the River of Arlanza

Pidal Romances Viejos de Bernardo 2a-2h. Continue reading

The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 5: The Birth of Bernardo del Carpio

The legend of the birth of Bernardo del Carpio is to be found in all three chronicles, in Siglo d’Oro plays, and in ballads both ancient and modern.

Section 1: The Three Chronicles

Lucas of Tuy Book IV, Section 14: The king’s sister Xemena is impregnated by Count Sanctius and brings forth Bernaldus. King Alfonso, furious, imprisons the Count in the Castle of Luna, swearing that he will never come out alive. He confines his sister to a nunnery and raises the boy as his own. The lad grows up to be a strong and daring knight.

Rodrigo of Toledo Book IV, Chapter 9: Alfonso II’s sister Semena secretly marries Count Sancius and bears him a son, Berinaldus. The king, learning of this, imprisons the Count in the Castle of Luna and his sister in a nunnery. As he is childless, he raises Berinaldus as his own son, and the boy grows up to be a fine knight.

PCG Chapter 617: In the 21st year of Alfonso’s reign [803], the 5th of Charlemagne’s [804], AD 800, his sister Ximena secretly married Count San Diaz of Saldaña, and bore him a son named Bernaldo. The king, on hearing the news, held a court, and sent Orios Godos and Count Tiobalte to bring the count to him. The count came, suspecting no ill, but Alfonso had him arrested. His men bound the count so tightly he bled, and Alfonso approved thereof. He imprisoned San Diaz in the Castle of Luna, and his sister in a nunnery. The only thing San Diaz asked was that Alfonso would treat Bernaldo well. Alfonso agreed, and raised the boy as his own, and he became a good knight. Some say in their cantares et fablas, however, that Bernaldo was son of Charlemagne’s sister Timbor, who was raped by San Diaz as she returned from a pilgrimage to Saint James. Alfonso adopted their son, since he had no heir of his own [The implication, though this is not stated until later, is that Alfonso was married to Charlemagne’s other sister Berta, as in Pelagius of Oviedo].

Origins and Influence of the Chronicles

No one knows the origins of either version of this story. It would seem that in the version where Timbor was raped by San Diaz, her sister Berta was married to King Alfonso, which would account for his desire to avenge her and the fact that he was willing (and permitted) to raise her son.

Rodrigo may have added the secret marriage not to justify the Count and Princess’ actions, but Alfonso’s; he took part at Lateran IV, when clandestine marriages were condemned. Alfonso’s oath is lacking in Rodrigo and the PCG, but later the PCG explains (in an attempt at rationalizing his conduct) that Alfonso the Great will not free Count Sancho because of the oath his Chaste predecessor had sworn. Later chronicles have no significant variations on the stories, except that the Tercera and Cuarta state outright that the second version is untrue. The Cuarta also claims that Crulor [Timbor] lay with Count Sandias willingly.

Section 2: Traditional Ballad: “En los Reinos de Leon.”

A from the Cancionero de 1550¸ “En los reinos de Leon” is Durán 619, Class I. Wolf 9, Class I. Pidal Romances Viejos de Bernardo 1a. 1500-1550.

B Tomás Perrenot de Chantonnay, in a coded letter of 1562 (he was the Spanish ambassador in France, and wrote this ballad out in secret code to troll the French king’s spies.) Pidal Romances Viejos de Bernardo 1b.

C A few verses sung by characters in Luis Vélez de Guevara’s play, “El conde don Pero Vélez.” 1615. Armistead IV, pp. 276-277.

In Leon (Castile and Leon C), Alfonso the Chaste reigned. His beautiful sister, Doña Jimena, and the Count of Saldaña (who was the most gallant knight in Castile C) fell in love. They came together often, unsuspected A, until the princess brought forth Bernardo del Carpio, upon which she entered a nunnery and the irritated King threw the count in jail A, Bernardo grew up to be a gentle knight, one of the best in Spain B. (C ends with a lyrical description of love that Vélez probably invented).

Section 3: Literary Ballads

Burguillos Pidal Eruditos 1a. “Reinando el rey Don Alfonso.”A mere versification of Ocampo.

Seventeen years into the reign of Alfonso the Chaste [800], Ximena weds Count Sancho Diaz of Saldaña in secrecy, producing Bernardo del Carpio. Alfonso holds court in Leon, and sends Arias Godo and Don Tibalto to summon Sancho to court, “bringing few companions.” When Sancho arrives, the king orders him seized. Sancho asks what he has done. The king tells him. Sancho asks only that the king be kind to Bernardo. Alfonso imprisons the Count in the castle of Luna. Jimena is sent to a nunnery. Alfonso then sends to Asturias for Bernardo, whom he raises as his own son, for he is childless. The lad has every knightly virtue.

Timoneda, copying Burguillos, divides his ballad into three: Durán 621, “Reinando el rey Don Alfonso”; Durán 622, “Sabiendo el Rey cómo el Conde”; and Durán 623, “A cabo de mucho tiempo.” (Pidal Eruditos 1b:I, II, III).

Timoneda trims his original slightly, omits the names of Arias and Tibalto, and says that Alfonso did not summon Bernardo to court and adopt him until “much time” had passed. (Bernardo is still ignorant of his parents’ fate, however. Timoneda simply needed to alter the lines that began and closed his newly-divided ballads).

Sepúlveda Durán 620, Pidal Eruditos 11, “El conde Don Sancho Diaz.” A slightly less slavish adaptation of Ocampo.

Count Don Sancho Diaz of Saldaña secretly marries King Alfonso the Chaste’s sister Doña Jimena, and begets Bernardo del Carpio, which irks the King to no end. He sends men (unnamed) to summon him to court, whereupon he arrests him. Sancho asks what he has done. The king tells him, and informs him that he will never leave the Castle of Luna alive. Sancho asks only that the king be kind to Bernardo.

Section 4: Siglo d’Oro Plays

Juan de la Cueva’s La libertad de España por Bernardo del Carpio, 1579. Acts I and II tell the story of Sancho and Jimena. In Cueva’s version, Alfonso first lures his sister to court, then Count Sancho. Tibalto, sent on both occasions, is a friend of the Count’s, but is too afraid of Alfonso to warn the lovers of their impending fate. It is not Count Sancho, but Jimena, who entreats the king to care for Bernardo. Sancho never mentions his wife or his child during his trial. The king has the count blinded onstage before imprisoning him.

Lope de Vega’s Las Mocedades de Bernardo del Carpio (unknown date). ACT I: Jimena and Sancho are secretly married, and the Princess is nine months pregnant (concealed, of course). The Count of Barcelona, Alfonso’s cousin, writes to Alfonso asking for her hand in marriage. Alfonso discusses the matter with his most trusted men, Count Sancho and Don Rubio. After they agree to the marriage, Don Rubio privately informs the king of Jimena’s condition, and takes the king to hide in the bushes that night as Alfonso climbs up a ladder to the Princess’ balcony to help her deliver her child, and down again with the baby boy in his arms. Alfonso steps out and confronts him, and Count Sancho confesses all. Alfonso pretends to forgive him, on condition that he entrust the child to his care temporarily, while he (Sancho) takes a reply letter to the Count of Barcelona informing him of the situation, and one to the Castellan of Luna, bidding him prepare the castle for Sancho and Jimena’s wedding. Count Sancho entrusts Alfonso with the boy and departs at once. Don Rubio comes out of the bushes and offers to drown the child, but Alfonso bids him raise him as his own, instead. They baptize the boy Bernardo, it being Saint Bernard’s feast day [August 20, though of course St. Bernard lived four centuries after Alfonso]. Count Sancho delivers the letter to Luna, but of course it actually says for him to be blinded and chained in the deepest dungeon, which is done. Bernardo, meanwhile, is raised by Don Rubio and grows up to be a proud, arrogant, impulsive brat, a far cry from his usual depiction as the flower of courtesy.

Alvaro Cubillo, El Conde de Saldaña, 1660. A reworking of Lope’s Mocedades, tightens the play up slightly, and omits such indelicate scenes as the lying-in of the Princess.

Section 5: Modern Literary Adaptations

Alfonso el Casto, 1841, is a play by Juan Eugenio Hartzenbusch, wherein King Alfonso, who is in love with his sister, among other moral failings, redeems himself by secretly arranging (when he is unable to persuade his tribunal to pardon the Count of Saldaña, or to overrule their verdict) for Sancho and Jimena to be married and sent away to a foreign country to live, incognito but happy, for the rest of their lives. He tells the court that Sancho has been imprisoned and Jimena cloistered.

Joaquín Francisco Pacheco’s play, Bernardo, 1848, is based on Cubillo, with arbitrary changes of his own, and makes Bernardo the hero of the entirely unrelated legend that the Christians were obliged to pay a hundred damsels a year in tribute to the Moors until a hero put a stop to it.

Section 6: Modern Ballads – Spanish

In modern tradition, the ballad died out recently in the hinterlands around Madrid. By the time of its decease, the song claimed that when Alfonso the Chaste reigned in Aragon, his beautiful sister Jimena had a child by Don Rodrigo de Vivarra [The Cid]. This child was Juan Prin [Juan Prim y Prats, 1814-1870, a Spanish general and politician who helped depose Queen Isabella II and replace her with Duke Amadeo of Aosta]. The father was sent to prison, the mother to a convent. When Juan was 20, he challenged his uncle to a duel if he would not free his parents. Juan fetches his father from the prison. His father says (in lines taken from Bañando están las prisiones, Durán 625) that when he entered prison he had no beard, but now it is long and grey. Juan says his mother will continue to live a holy life in the nunnery.

Section 7: Modern Ballad – Mañanita Era, Mañana

Is the title usually given to modern ballads about Bernardo’s birth, sung until recently by the Sephardic Jews of Morocco. Pidal Viejos 1c-1n. Armistead IV, Chapter 11, pp 280-293.

On Saint John’s Day, the Moors are holding a tournament in Granada, where knights and ladies look for lovers. The king has a beautiful sister, Ximena, who loves the Count of Saldaña, (because of his prowess in the tourney E) who impregnates her. The king, learning this, locks Ximena in a chamber and the Count of Saldaña in prison. Ximena gives birth in confinement, and weeps over her son. The Queen hears this, and asks Ximena why she weeps. Ximena answers it is because the father of her son is in prison. The Queen swears not to eat until he is free, and goes to the king. The king grants her request, and Ximena and the count are wed. (The queen goes straight to the prison and frees the count herself, without asking the king’s permission F).

Pidal 1k goes off on its own. Ximena gives her son to be nursed by a lioness, since lions respect royal blood. When the boy grows up, he takes arms and a horse and kills his father. He then goes to his mother, who offers him half the kingdom if he will spare her life.

The introductory verses about the tournament are known as the Sanjuanada. Originally from La Pérdida de Antequera, they have migrated to many ballads.

The ending of F is taken from Sancho and Urraca, (one of the ballads of the Cid cycle, having nothing to do with Charlemagne). That of K is from El Infante Parricida.

The Legend of Count Grifos Lombardo

The legend of Count Grifos Lombardo is preserved only in a single Spanish ballad, first printed 1562. It has been thought to have some connection to the legend of the birth of Bernardo del Carpio.

Durán 325, Class V; Wolf 137, Class I. “En aquellas peñas pardas.” First printed in the Cancionero llamado Flor de enamorados, 1562.
Charlemagne orders Count Grifos Lombardo, who lives in Moncaya, arrested, because he raped a girl on the Way of Saint James, who was daughter of a duke, and niece of the Pope. He is cast into prison strong, with seven counts to guard him, on penalty of death if he escapes. He is at last sentenced to marry his victim.

Where Moncaya may be I do not know, but Moncayo is a mountain in Aragon, close to the Way of Saint James, but not on it.

Some other Hispanic ballads also begin with the rape of a pilgrimess to Saint James, after which their plots diverge wildly. Collectively, they are known to scholars as El Conde Preso, or as Conde Grifos Lombardo, but one can actually distinguish four different plots that share this name and this opening:
1. The Kick at the Scaffold [El Puntapie a la Horca]
2. Dom Garfos
3. Bury Me Not in a Church [No Me Entierras en Sagrado]
4. The Judgment of God [Justiça de Deus]
This classification and these titles, like the letters referring to some of the ballads below are from my own system, an attempt to keep the forty-seven versions included in the PHBP straight. They are not used by anyone else.

1. The Kick at the Scaffold. The most common (Eighteen versions in the PHBP, and I know of at least two that they are missing1) and the closest to the legend of Bernardo. Known in Asturias, Leon, Lugo, Cantabria, and even Cuba.

1Menéndez y Pelayo, Antología De Poetas Líricos Castellanos, Volume X, p. 48. 10. Bernaldo del Carpio – I. “Íbase por un camino.” Also one in the Romancero judeo-español en el Archivo Menéndez Pidal.

Count Miguel del Prado is arrested, not for theft or murder, but for raping a noblewoman on the Way of Saint James. She was the king’s daughter, and the Pope’s niece. Since she is so highly-born, his penalty is harsh. He is guarded by a hundred during the day, and a hundred and four by night. He wishes for his cousin Don Bernardo to come.

Bernardo does indeed come, with one sword at his belt and one in his hand. He demands the count’s freedom from the king (sometimes Alfonso). The king assures him his cousin shall be pardoned, and invites him to eat, drink, and play cards. But as they play, a page comes and tells Bernardo that the count is about to be hanged anyway. Bernardo throws the cards in the king’s face. The king bids him respect the crown, but Bernardo refuses. He leaps down the palace stairs in a single bound, mounts his horse without stirrup, and rides to the scaffold. He arrives just in time. He destroys the scaffold with a kick, sends the hangman’s head flying with his sword, and gives a sword to his cousin, saying that no kinsman of his shall die on the scaffold.

In some versions, Bernardo is playing cards at his palace when a page tells him the news. Sometimes the king’s invitation to play comes before the falsely-promised pardon. Sometimes Bernardo meets the king in the street, sometimes in the palace. His mighty leaps either occur when leaving the palace, or when leaving his own house. Sometimes the hangman is spared. The princess’ family varies, as do other minor details.

In a unique version from Leon, 1916 (PHBP 0118:3), the cousins kill a hundred soldiers, and the king is obliged to give the infanta in marriage to the Count and a princesa to Bernardo.

2. Dom Garfos. A much less common version, ends tragically (three versions in PHBP, all from Portugal).

C: 1867, Covilhã, Castelo Branco, Beira-Baixa, Portugal. Braga, Romanceiro Geral, No. 25. (PHBP 0118:18)
R: 1919, Portugal. Thomas, Cantares do Povo, pp. 6-8. (PHBP 0118:11)
AA: 1958, Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Portugal. Leite de Vasconcellos, Romanceiro Português, I:49-50. (PHBP 0118:17).

The count (Dom Golpes, AA) was taken, not for thefts or murder, but for outraging a noblewoman who went to Saint James. She complains to the king, who gives the count a choice between marrying her and dying. He chooses neither, and calls for his nephew Dom Garfos C, Gaiferos R, Dom Golpes (again) AA, who arrives, and to whom he explains the situation C, R, AA. Garfos obtains his pardon from the king, who bids him go home and sleep soundly, for his uncle will be freed at midnight C, before dawn R, AA.

At midnight, however, he awakens from a nightmare that his uncle has been hanged in the palace yard. In C, his wife, the king’s daughter, informs him that it was no dream: she heard the whole thing. He runs to the gallows, where seven counts C, seven noblemen R, came to see the hanging. [As he leaves the palace, he meets seven counts who are coming thither to gloat AA]. He kills six, and the seventh barely escapes. He threatens the king, who is at a balcony window, and swears revenge C, R. [The survivor is sent to the king, whom Golpes meets shortly afterward, and threatens AA]. He returns home and stabs his wife four times, for her father, her mother, his health, and her treason C.

The Sephardic versions, not in the PHBP, are even bloodier. See the Romancero judeo-español en el Archivo Menéndez Pidal [Madrid, 1978]. In this one, the rapist is sentenced to be hanged at midnight. As he is being led out, he calls for his nephew. His nephew’s wife, however, is the king’s daughter, and tells her husband that it is merely the howling of a dog he hears, and so the nephew arrives too late to save the count. He swears vengeance, and kills his wife, cuts off her breasts, shows them to the king, and proceeds to kill the king, the queen, the princess, and all the courtiers he can find. He then embalms his uncle and sits him on the throne.

1-2. At least two versions are known which combine Puntapie and Dom Garfos:
I: 1893, Castelo de Frades, Cereixedo, Cervantes, Luga, Becerreá, Lugo, Spain. (PHBH 0118:8)
V: 1948, Villaselán, Sahagún, Riberas del Cea, León, Spain. Romancero general de León I, pp 140-141. (PHBP 0118:6)

I (PHBP 0118:8) begins like Puntapie, but after Count Aguilar del Pardo calls for his nephew Gaifer, we cut to the latter awakening from a nightmare that his uncle has been hanged. His wife informs him that it was no dream; she heard his laments. He curses his wife, arms, and rides out. He sees his uncle dead, destroys the scaffold with a kick, knocks the hangman’s teeth out, kills the king’s three sons, but still is not satisfied.

V (PHBP 0118:6) has the plot of Dom Garfos, but many of the lines and phrases are from Puntapie. Count Leonardo calls for his nephew Don Golfo. Don Golfo awakens from a nightmare, and his wife Doña Sancha tells him it was no dream. He leaps down fifteen stairs, and kills some counts who were celebrating his uncle’s execution. The king bids him cease, but he threatens to kill the king, too. He cuts his uncle’s body down, washes it, and has it buried honorably in a church.

3. Bury Me Not. The most common Portuguese form of the ballad (18 versions in PHBP) has been combined with another ballad, No me entierran en sagrado. “Bury me not in a church.”

The Count not only rapes the maiden, but gives her to his henchman. He is given a choice between marrying her and death, and chooses death. He asks that he not be buried in a church, nor in holy ground, nor in an open field, but that his body be placed on his horse, that all who see him may know he died for love.

4. The Judgement of God. Dead in oral tradition. Only recordings known are from the 1800s.

Almeida Garrett’s Justiça de Deus in his Romanceiro, Volume II, p. 295, No. XVI. He confessedly cobbled two versions together and likely made changes of his own.

Braga, Romanceiro Geral, p. 65, No. 26. Justiça de Deus. “Préso vae o conde, préso.” From Beira-Alta, would appear to be an attempt to restore Almeida Garrett’s version as he heard it.

In this version (and only this version) we are actually told how the poor pilgrimess escaped. The count and his henchman abandoned her in the woods, but she was rescued by an old soldier who was going on pilgrimage himself. He takes her to the king’s court, where the count is arrested, tried, and given a choice between death and marriage. He chooses death, but the soldier says this is not right. He must make an honorable woman out of his victim. He casts off his pilgrim’s garb and reveals himself to be a holy bishop. He marries the count and the pilgrimess, after which the count dies. [Almeida’s version ends with two lines explicitly stating that the soldier was Saint James, which Braga rejects.]

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.

The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 3B: Origins of the Legend

Scholars are agreed that the legend of Bernardo del Carpio, as we have it in the Three Earliest Chronicles, is a combination of three different stories.

I: Bernardo del Carpio proper, a Castilian-Leonese legend about a man who spent his life in a vain attempt to free his father from prison.

II: Bernardo the Carolingian, a Pyrenees legend about a nephew of Charlemagne’s who spent most of his life fighting against his kinsmen (Roncesvalles, Don Bueso) for his fatherland of Spain.

III: Bernardo the Catalonian, who founded Canal de Jaca, fought the Moors, and married into the local nobility.

Fusion of the Legends

OLD THEORY: The legend began with Bernardo the Catalonian. Later developments made the hero nephew of Charlemagne and created the legend of Bernardo son of Timbor, half-Spaniard, half-Frank, who had a very conflicted relationship with his mother’s country and family. Later still, probably after King Sancho united Navarre and Castile, Bernardo became nephew of Alfonso, and the story of Count Sancho was created. The new versions did not replace the old ones, however, but circulated simultaneously, and the PCG tried to reconcile them. This theory was held by such great scholars as Milá y Fontanals, Menéndez y Pelayo, and Menéndez Pidal.

NEW THEORY: The three legends arose independently. First the Catalonian and Carolingian Bernardos were fused, and later the legend of Bernardo del Carpio was combined with them, probably owing to the heroes having the same name. Jules Horrent was the first to propose this theory, which has won widespread acceptance. Scholars continue to dispute whether this final fusion was done by the people, or by one learned scholar, and whether the first fuser of all three Bernardos ascribed his deeds to the reign of one Alfonso, or whether the fuser was also the man who divided his exploits between the Chaste and the Great. The Alfonsine division, whether made by Lucas or by his source, was almost certainly made after the fusion of the Bernardo legends, in an attempt to explain how Bernardo could have both fought at Roncesvalles [778] and been the founder of Canal de Jaca [late 800s].

Direct Sources of the Chronicles

It is clear from Lucas, Rodrigo, and the PCG that they were drawing on pre-existing sources that are now lost, but it is unclear exactly what those were.

Cantar de Bernardo. Most scholars postulate an epic poem much like the Poema del Cid, whether written by minstrels or by the people. It may have given the story essentially as we know it from the PCG, or it may have only told the story of the Carolingian Bernardo as fused with the Catalonian.

Estoria de Bernardo. Some also postulate a prose work, either Latin or Spanish. They think it told the story of the Carpian Bernardo, though perhaps already with some contamination (Roncesvalles, Don Bueso) from the Carolingian and the Catalonian.

The origins of the Legends

Turning now to the origins of the three legends before they were combined, Bernardo the Catalonian’s history is easiest to trace. He is, all agree, Bernardo of Ribagorza, whose deeds were greatly expanded (the uncharitable would say “forged”) around the 1000s, when charters appear claiming he founded monasteries and repopulated cities after his victories over the Moors. Also from this time is the Memoria Alaonis (c. 1080-1090) which falsely claims that Bernardo was descended from Charlemagne. The real Bernardo of Ribagorza is shrouded in mystery, and the documents are contradictory. He was the son of Count Raymond I of Ribagorza, and probably married Teuda (Toda), daughter of Count Galindo Aznárez II of Aragon. According to unreliable legend, he expelled the Moors from Ribagorza and Sobrarbe in 835. Some sources say, however, that Toda Galíndez married Bernardo’s son, Bernardo II. Others say it was not Bernardo I, but his father, or even his great-grandfather, who repopulated Ribagorza.1

In Catalonia today (or at least, up until the 1950’s), local legend has it that Bernat, son of Charlemagne’s daughter Bellisent, was banished from France because of a family feud, and went to Spain to fight Saracens and giants with his magic instantly-killing sword. He won the hand of the Christian princess of Jaca, built the Castle of Sort, and lived happily ever after.1

1 Sholdod, Barton. Charlemagne in Spain. Geneva, Librarie Droz, 1966.

Bernardo the Carolingian may also be based on Bernardo of Ribagorza. Scholars debate whether the legend of the Ribagorzan grew to include such incidents as Roncesvalles and Don Bueso, or whether an independent Pyrenees legend eventually swallowed the legend of Ribagorza whole. Those who believe in an independent legend are uncertain whether it dates all the way back to the battle of Roncesvalles, or whether it grew up under the influence of French pilgrims to Compostela, as a Spanish rebuttal to the legend as told in the Song of Roland and the Pseudo-Turpin, which must have irked the Spaniards and excited their patriotism.

If Bernardo the Carolingian arose independently, he may be partly based on Bernardo of Septimania, son of William of Gellone [the inspiration for William of Orange]. He was given Barcelona by Charlemagne in 803, married one Dhuoda (a name very similar to Theuda or Toda, the Ribagorzan), and had a tendency to get involved in the wars of the Frankish kings and to plunder the countryside. He was, on one occasion, banished from the Frankish court for allegedly having an affair with Empress Judith, and fled to Spain. He was captured and executed by Charles the Bald in 844, for having sided with Pepin the Younger.

Bernardo del Carpio proper is a mystery. No trace of such a character, or anyone like him, is found in the history of Alfonso II or Alfonso III. His story most likely arose out of the same epic-legendary milieu as the Seven Sons of Lara, El Cid, Fernán González, and others, though it is very strange that, out of all the epics of old Spain, Bernardo alone should be devoid of historical foundation.

Scholars also disagree as to the kernel of the Carpian story. Mercedes Vaquero thinks the legend grew out of the dispute between Bernardo and Alfonso over the fief of El Carpio, and that the entire story of Count Sancho was a later addition.2 Most, however, hold that the story of Count Sancho is at the root of the legend.

Ms. Vaquero has suggested that the story was inspired by Pedro Fernández de Castro (c. 1160-1214). Pedro was the son of Fernando Rodríguez el Castellano (1125-1185) and Estafanía the Unfortunate (d. 1180), bastard daughter of Emperor Alfonso VII of Castile and Leon (r. 1126-1157). Fernando murdered his wife out of jealousy, and, according to (inaccurate) legend, fought alongside the Moors against the Christians on various occasions. Pedro fought both for and against Alfonso VIII of Castile (r. 1185-1214) and Alfonso IX of Leon (r. 1171-1230), always opposed peace between the two kingdoms, and fought on the side of the Moors at the Battle of Alarcos. He was, at various times, chief advisor to Caliph Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur (r. 1184-1199) and majordomo of Leon. He spent some time in exile in Catalonia with his kinsmen the Counts of Urgel, and at last died in Morocco. Furthermore, his father Fernando Rodríguez was (mistakenly) believed to have fought alongside the Moors as well. So Pedro, like Bernardo, was related to royalty, the rebel son of a (supposedly) rebel father, sometimes fighting for his king and sometime against him, fought on the side of the Moors, and after his final banishment spent some time in Catalonia.3

Other historical figures have been proposed as models for Bernardo, or at least as having some influence on his legend.

King Bernard of Italy (797-818), bastard son of King Pepin of Italy, son of Charlemagne. He married Cunigonde of Laon, and begot Pepin, Count of Vermandois. Bernard later got involved in a rebellion against Louis the Pious, who had him blinded, and the procedure killed him. This Bernard has nothing but his name in common and his bastardy in common with he of El Carpio. Some scholars point out that Lucas claims Bernardo del Carpio served in the imperial household under Louis the Pious (r. 814-840) and Lothair I (r. 840-855), but nowhere does Lucas even hint that the Carpian became a king.

King Fortunio of Sobrarbe (r. 802-815). This king, various chronicles tell us, married the daughter of Count Galindo Aznar, allied with Alfonso and Marsil to lead Asturians, Biscayans, Alaveses, Navarres, and the men of Sobrarbe against Charlemagne, and fought in the Battle of Roncesvalles in 809, when Roland and the Peers were slain. He had two daughters: Theuda, who married Bernardo of Ribagorza; and Galinda, who, some say, married Sancho Garces, who became king after Fortunio’s death. However, King Fortunio did not actually exist. The entire Kingdom of Sobrarbe is a fifteenth-century fabrication, made to glorify Aragon, and would not be worth mentioning here if serious scholars had not been deceived and attempted to link Fortunio to the Bernardo legend.

Sulayman b. Yaqzan al-Kalbi l-Arabi. The Moorish governor of Saragossa who invited Charlemagne into Spain in the first place. Late accounts tell us that Charles took him as hostage when he prepared to leave Spain, but that his sons attacked the camp and set him free. He may have been a participant at Roncesvalles, if the Moors were really part of that battle. The identification of him with Bernardo, however, seems to be first made by Pedro Chalemta, but as he presents neither evidence or explanation, one can hardly take him seriously.4

People and Places

Alfonso II is said in some sources to have married Bertinalda, a French princess, though the marriage was never consummated. This story is first found in Bishop Pelagius of Oviedo’s Chronicon (1132), and repeated in the PCG. Pelagius never mentions Bernardo, however. Lucas calls her Berta, Charlemagne’s sister. Perhaps she was invented to explain why Alfonso was willing (and permitted) to raise Timbor’s son as his own.5

Timbor herself is unknown outside of Spain, as is Don Bueso.

Sancho Diaz and Jimena first appear in Lucas. Sancho has been identified with Nepociano, who attempted to claim the throne after Alfonso II’s death and was defeated and blinded by Ramiro I, but this is extremely unlikely.

A tomb said to be Count Sancho’s is in S. Román de Entrepeñas. Unfortunately, that monastery was not founded until the 900’s.6 Also, Saldaña was not a County until that same century. Barrios del Luna, where the Count was imprisoned, is a real castle, now in ruins.

Doña Jimena’s alleged tomb is in the monastery of Saint Vincent and Saint Pelayo, in Oviedo, with “Castisima Scemena,” inscribed on it in ninth or tenth century letters. The only Jimenas known to have lived during this period are the queens of Alfonso III and Fruela II, who are buried elsewhere. Since few believe that Jimena the mother of Bernardo actually existed, most scholars attribute this tomb to the first abbess.7

There are many El Carpios in Spain, but the most likely candidate for our hero’s fief is a fortress in the debatable land between Castile and Leon, which changed hands frequently. Bernardo’s alleged tomb is not there, however, but in Aguilar de Campo. The tradition is at least as old as the 1500’s, when Charles V visited there.

In short, there is no evidence that Bernardo del Carpio or any of his family (Alfonso excepted) ever existed.

1 Katherine P. Oswald, “The Formation and Transmission of the Legend of Bernardo del Carpio” (PhD diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015), pp. 12-13.

2 Vaquero, Mercedes. “Relaciones feudo-vasalláticas y problemas territoriales en el Cantar de Bernardo del Carpio”, Charlemagne in the North: Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference of the Société Rencesvals, Edinburgh, 4th to 11th August 1991, eds. Philip E. Bennett, Anne Elizabeth Cobby and Graham A. Runnalls, Edinburgh, Société Rencesvals British Branch; London, Grant and Cutler, 1993, p. 475-484.

3 Oswald, pp. 17-19; and gen . ref. for dates.

4 Pedro Chalmeta, “Rozaballes & Bernardo,” Arabica 55, no. 1 (2008).

5 Jules Horrent, La chanson de Roland dans les littératures française et espagnole au Moyen Âge (Liège: Presses universitaires de Liège, Les Belles Lettres, 1951), , Book II, Part II, Chapter IV, Note 44.

6 Vicente José González García, Bernardo del Carpio y la Batalla de Roncesvalles (Oviedo, Spain: Fundación Gustavo Bueno, 2007) p. 59.

7 González García 2007, p. 50.

The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 3: The Three Chronicles

There are only three chronicles which seem to present independent accounts of Bernardo’s life. All later works, with the possible exception of a few ballads, derive from the chronicles of Lucas of Tuy, Rodigo of Rada, and Alfonso the Wise.

SECTION 1

LUCAS OF TUY

Lucas of Tuy was born in Leon and grew up to be well-learned and well-traveled, having been to Jerusalem, Constantinople, Rome, and Paris, among other places. In 1239 he was elected bishop of Tuy, which position he held until his death in 1249. Besides his Chronicon Mundi (1232-1237), he was also author of De miraculis sancti Isidori (1220-1235), and of De altera vita, in three books against the Albigensians (1230-1240). A Vita sancti Isidori and a Historia translationis sancti Isidori were once wrongly attributed to him, but in fact predate him.

The Chronicon, written for Alfonso VIII’s daughter Berenguela, is divided into four books, the first three of which are copied straight from Isidore, Ildefonso of Toledo and others. Not until the fourth book does Lucas present any original material, though still drawing largely on the Chronicle of Alfonso III and the Historia Silense, and others. He gives no source for his information about Bernardo.

Lucas’ chronicle was printed in Volume IV of Hispaniae illustratae seu rerum, urbiumque Hispaniae, Lusitaniae, Aethiopiae et Indiae scriptores varii, Frankfurt, 1608. Pages 1-116. A modern critical edition forms Volume 74 of the Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Medieavalis.

Book IV, Section 14: The king’s sister Xemena is impregnated by Count Sanctius and brings forth Bernaldus. King Alfonso, furious, imprisons the Count in the Castle of Luna, swearing that he will never come out alive. He confines his sister to a nunnery and raises the boy as his own. The lad grew up to be a strong and daring knight.

Section 15: In those days Charles the Great, King of France and Emperor of Rome, expelled the Saracens from Burgundy, Poitou, and all Gaul, and then crossed the Pyrenees via Roscidevallis to continue the war. He brought under his yoke the Goths and Spaniards who lived in Catalonia, in the Basque mountains, and in Navarre, and ordered Alfonso to become his vassal. Bernaldus was indignant at the suggestion, and formed an alliance with the Saracens. Charles at that time was besieging Tudela, which he would have captured if not for Galalon’s treason. Charles did, however, take Nájera and Monte Jardín, and then prepared to return to France.

The barbarian King Marsil of Saragossa rallied an army of Saracens and allied with Bernardo and his Navarrese, and fell on the Frankish rear as they passed through Rocidevallis, killing Prefect Rodlandus of Brittany, Count Anselm, Egiardus the Steward, and many more. King Charles later had his revenge on the Saracens, killing a great number of them, [it is not clear if this is the second battle in the Song of Roland or an entirely new expedition]. After his revenge Charles went on pilgrimage to Saint James, made peace with King Alfonso, rebuilt the city of Iria, and obtained from Pope Leo III for Compostela to be elevated to a metropolitan [archbishopric]. He then returned to Germany with Bernaldus and died soon after, at Aix, where he was buried. Bernaldus served in the imperial household even after Charlemagne’s death, under Louis the Pious (814-840) and Lothair I (840-855). [Bernardo now passes from the story until the reign of Alfonso III (866-910)].

Section 16. Alfonso, in the 47th year of his reign, made an alliance with a Moorish emir named Mahomet against the Moorish king Abd-er-Rahman, and returned to Oviedo with great spoils, after which he married Berta, sister of King Charles of France, but as he never saw her, he was called the Chaste. After 52 years of reigning, he died and was laid in Saint Mary’s church in Oviedo.

Section 20: Alfonso III fought a battle against the Saracens at Toledo, in which Bernaldus’ assistance was invaluable. After the battle, Bernaldus built the castle of Carpio near Salamanca, and rebelled against King Alfonso, on account of his father’s imprisonment in the Castle of Luna. The Saracens seized this opportunity to attack Astorga and Leon and lay them waste with fire and sword. King Alfonso promised Bernaldus his father’s liberty if he would make peace, which was done, and they fell upon the Saracens, who had split into two parties. Alfonso massacred them at Polvorosa, and Bernaldus chased them away from Valdemora. Afterwards, the Saracens laid siege to Zamora, so Alfonso and Bernaldus defeated them there, too. Bernardo at this battle killed Alchamam, a heathen prophet. King Alfonso married Xemena, who was first cousin to Charlemagne [she wasn’t; in reality, she was a princess from Pamplona].

Section 21: Emperor Charles III (the Fat, not the Simple, r. 881-888) invaded Spain, attacking Christians and Muslims alike [this never happened], but Bernaldus raised an army of Christians and allied with King Muza of Saragossa, and turned back Charles’ army before they had even crossed the Pyrenees. Charles made alliance with Alfonso, who restored the Mozarabic rite in the churches of Spain. Charles went on pilgrimage to Santiago and San Salvador, and obtained from Pope John Metropolitan [archepiscopal] privileges for those two sites. Bernaldus returned to his fatherland, laden with spoils. Lucas explains that there were three Emperors named Charles: Charles the Great, who lived in the days of Pope Leo and Alfonso the Chaste; another Charles who lived in the days of Pope John, and Charles the Hammer, who succeeded him.

Section 22: The Saracens laid siege to Leon, under two dukes named Ymundar and Alcatenetel, but Bernaldus captured them. Alfonso did many other works [related in detail] including building the church of San Salvador in Zamora, and around that time Bernaldus died. [We are never told if Count Sancho was actually freed or not]. Shortly after his death, Queen Xemena began her rebellion.

SECTION 2

RODERICUS XIMENIUS DE RADA1

Rodricus Ximenius de Rada, or Rodrigo Jiménez (1170-1247), born in Navarre, studied in Bologna and Paris, returned to Castile, where he was elected Archbishop of Toledo in 1207. He took part at the famous battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, attended Lateran IV in, and died on June 10, 1247.

He was the author of numerous histories, of the Romans; Ostrogoths; Huns, Vandals, Sueves, Alans and Silongorum; Arabs; the Catholic Church; and that with which we are concerned, Historia de Rebus Hispaniae, sive Historia Gothica. This last chronicle is mostly compiled from Jordanus, Isidore, the Mozarbic Chronicle, those of Alfonso III, Sampiro, Najera, Pelagius, and Lucas of Tuy.

For his history of Alfonso II, he draws on the Chronicles of Alfonso III, Najera, and Lucas. For Alfonso III, he draws from Sampiro and Lucas. He also adds many details of his own, some apparently drawn from popular tradition, others likely his own invention. In many ways his history is a rival to Lucas’. Lucas, Bishop of Tuy, was in the archdiocese of Compostela, and hence accepted the legend of Charlemagne’s pilgrimage to that shrine, and the myth that he had bestowed upon it the primacy over Spain. Rodrigo, archbishop of the much older see of Toledo, denies the whole legend and devotes an entire chapter to refuting Turpin’s account of Charles’ conquest of Spain. He generally portrays kings in a more favorable light than his sources do (such as attributing the victory at Roncesvalles to Alfonso), and plays up the Reconquista spirit (such as minimizing the Moors’ role at that battle).

There are several old printings, including Volume II Hispaniae illustratae, page 25 sq.. and Sanctorum Patrum Toletanorum Opera, Vol. III, pp. 1-208. A modern critical edition forms Volume 72 of the Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Medieavalis. Old Spanish translations were made by various hands, but none, to my knowledge have been printed.

Book IV, Chapter 9: Alfonso II’s sister Semena secretly marries Count Sancius and bears him a son, Berinaldus. The king, learning of this, imprisons the Count in the Castle of Luna and his sister in a nunnery. As he is childless, he raises Berinaldus as his own son, and the boy grows up to be a fine knight.

Chapter 10: Alfonso, old and tired of reigning, secretly sends word to Charles, Emperor of Italy, Germany, and Gaul, to offer him the throne. Charles drives the Arabs out of France and then sends some men over the Pyrenees, subduing Catalonia. At this juncture, Alfonso’s men, led by Berinaldus, learn of his offer and force him to rescind it or they will depose him. They say they would rather die as free men than live as vassals of the Franks. Charles is furious, and abandons his war against the Arabs to attack Alfonso. As the bulk of his army is crossing the Pyrenees into Spain, they are met with Alfonso’s army, gathered from Asturias, Alava, Biscay, Navarre, Ruchonia, and Aragon. The Spaniards meet Charles’ vanguard, [not rearguard] in Hospita Vallis, also called Val de Carlos, and destroy it, killing Rollandus, Anselmus, and Egiardus, among others. Charlemagne, coming upon the aftermath, blows his horn to rally the survivors. They return to Germany, where Charles plots his revenge, but dies before he can carry it out and is buried at Aachen in a magnificent tomb.

Some of the Franks thought, in their panic, that Bernardo was with an army of Muslims in the Spanish rearguard and led them through Aspae Pass [Somport] and Secolae Pass [Soule]. In reality, however, he was always with Alfonso in the van.

Chapter 11: Rodrigo devotes this chapter to refuting Turpin’s account of Charles’ adventures in Spain. He goes through Turpin’s list of conquests city by city and explains when each of them were really retaken. He also denies that Charles was the founder of the Way of Saint James, though he admits that Charles spent time at King Galafre’s court in his youth and married his daughter Galiana, and perhaps he hence had some influence on Spanish affairs.

Chapter 15: Alfonso III fought a battle against the Saracens at Toledo, in which Berinaldus’ assistance was invaluable. After the battle, however, Berinaldus, because his father was still imprisoned, built the castle of Carpio in the land of Salamanca, and allied with the Saracens to harry Alfonso’s borders. He attacked Astorga and Leon and laid them waste with fire and sword. King Alfonso made peace with Berinaldus by pardoning his father. Alfonso and Berinaldus then fell upon the Saracens, who had split into two parties. Alfonso massacred them at Polvoroso, and Berinaldus at Valdemora. Only ten survived Polvorosa, by pretending to be dead.

Chapter 16: Later, the Saracens were laying siege to Zamora, so Alfonso and Berinaldus defeated them there, too. Berinaldus at this battle killed Alchamam, a heathen prophet. The Saracens were obliged to make peace with Alfonso. In those days, some say, Alfonso fought the battle of Roscide Vallis against Charles the Hammer, but this is an error, and the truth is that that battle was fought against Charles the Great. This, at least, is what Rodrigo thinks most likely, but he says he is open to correction. Alfonso engaged in many other wars, the details of which are given. [Berinaldus does not feature, and disappears from the chronicle].

Chapter 17: Pope John grants the privileges to Alfonso without Charles III’s intercession.

SECTION 3

PRIMERA CRÓNICA GENERAL

The Estoria de España, also known as the Primera Crónica General, is a history of Spain commissioned by King Alfonso X the Wise of Castile, and written in the vernacular. This massive undertaking draws primarily on Lucas and Rodrigo, but also on other chronicles (both Latin and Arab), saints’ lives, cantares de gesta, and generally anything Alfonso’s men could get their hands on. The first edition was completed in 1271, but Alfonso ordered a revision in 1282. A further revision was made by his son Sancho IV in 1289. These versions all continued to circulate, and there are a bewildering number of further revisions, combinations, and additions, which mercifully need not concern us here, as the section about Bernardo remained unchanged. Alfonso’s men did their best to reconcile Lucas and Rodriguez, and added incidents and details from other versions they knew, which seem to have included both cantares de gesta and a now-lost prose history.

Chapter 617: In the 21st year of Alfonso’s reign [803], the 5th of Charlemagne’s [804], AD 800, his sister Ximena secretly married Count San Diaz of Saldaña, and bore him a son named Bernaldo. The king, on hearing the news, held a court, and sent Orios Godos and Count Tiobalte to bring the count to him. The count came, suspecting no ill, but Alfonso had him arrested. His men bound the count so tightly he bled, and Alfonso approved thereof. He imprisoned San Diaz in the Castle of Luna, and his sister in a nunnery. The only thing San Diaz asked was that Alfonso would treat Bernaldo well. Alfonso agreed, and raised the boy as his own, and he became a good knight. Some say in their cantares et fablas, however, that Bernaldo was son of Charlemagne’s sister Timbor, who was raped by San Diaz as she returned from a pilgrimage to Saint James. Alfonso adopted their son, since he had no heir of his own [The implication, though this is not stated until later, is that Alfonso was married to Charlemagne’s other sister Berta, as in Pelagius of Oviedo].

Chapter 618: Deals with Abderrahmen and Anbroz’ attack on Toledo.

Chapter 619: In the 27th year1 of Alfonso’s reign [809], the 12th of Charlemagne’s [811], AD 806, Alfonso, being old and childless, sent to Charles offering him his throne, if he would help him fight the Moors. Charles expelled the Moors from Provence, Bordeaux, Piteos, and Aquitaine, and then crossed the Pyrenees to Spain, conquering Catalonia. Lucas of Tuy says he also conquered Gascony and Navarre. The men of Spain, however, led by Bernaldo, learned of Alfonso’s offer and forced him to rescind it, or else they would depose him. Bernaldo formed an alliance with the Saracen King Marsil of Saragossa. Charles at that time was besieging Tudela, which he would have captured had it not been for Count Galaron’s treason. After taking Nájera, Charles and his army went into the mountains of Spain, where the Christians had fled to escape the sword of the Moors. They all declared, however, that they would rather die than submit to the Frankish yoke, and the men of Asturias, Alava, Biscay, Navarre, Ruconia (the Basques) and Aragon united under Alfonso’s banner against Charles, whose rearguard they encountered in Val Carlos in the Pyrenees. There Alfonso, Marsil, and Bernardo defeated the Franks, killing Don Roldan, Count Anselmo, Guiralte the Steward, and many more. Don Rodrigo says Bernaldo fought with Alfonso in the vanguard. Don Lucas says he fought in the rearguard with Marsil. Be that as it may, Charles hurried back to the valley, but when he saw his men dead, he blew his horn to gather the survivors, and they retreated to Germany to plot his revenge.

620: The Moors of Cordova rebel against Alhacan their lord, who puts them to the sword with the help of Abdelcarin.

621: In the 28th year of Alfonso’s reign [810], the 12th of Charlemagne’s [811], AD 807, two of Bernardo’s kinsmen, Blasco Meléndez and Suero Velásquez, having sworn an oath to Alfonso not to tell Bernardo about Count Sancho, make a plan with two of their kinswomen, Maria Meléndez and Urraca Sánchez. The women play chess with Bernardo, let him win, and then inform him how his father languishes in durance vile. Bernardo asked Alfonso for his father’s liberty, which was refused, but Bernardo swore he would nonetheless stay faithful to his king.

In the 29th year of Alfonso’s reign, nothing of interest happened.

622: In the 30th year, King Alhacan of Cordova died.

623: In the 31st year [813], the 15th of Charlemagne’s [814], AD 810, Charlemagne died [really 814]. His tomb was covered with lavish ornament, save for the side which looked towards Ronçasvalles, which was left blank. But Don Lucas says that after that loss King Charles laid siege to Saragossa, took Bernardo prisoner, and killed King Marsil. Then they returned into France together, and Charles eventually freed Bernardo and bestowed gifts on him. But at last he returned to Spain and fought many battles and died, as we shall relate. But some say in their cantares and fablas de gesta that Charles conquered many cities in Spain and founded the Way of Saint James, but this is a lie. [An account of the Reconquista follows, agreeing with Rodrigo’s IV:11]. It is certain, at any rate, that Charles and his host were defeated at Ronçasvalles, whether by Christians or Moors, and hence he cannot have opened the Way of Saint James, though he may have exerted his influence at King Galafre’s court. Don Lucas says that Charles made peace with Alfonso and then went on pilgrimage to Saint James and San Salvador, and obtained privileges for them from the Pope, and King Alfonso imposed the Hispanic rite on all Spain.

624: Year 31. King Abderrahmen of Cordova captures Barcelona.

Year 32 to 37, nothing interesting.

Chapter 625: Year 37, a Moor of Merida, named Mahomad, went to war against Abderrahmen of Cordova, and lost, and King Alfonso let him live in Galicia (?)

Years 38-39, nothing interesting.

Chapter 626: Year 40, the 9th of Louis the Pious’, AD 819, [822] Mahomad betrayed King Alfonso and rebelled against him, but Alfonso slew him.

King Alfonso was married, but never saw his wife. Don Lucas says his wife’s name was Berta, the sister of Charlemagne.

Chapter 627: Year 41 [823], the 10th of Louis the Pious [824], AD 820, Alfonso died and was buried in Saint Mary’s. [Really died 842. Don Ramiro succeeds to the throne, and Bernardo is not mentioned again until the reign of Alfonso III.]

Chapter 643: Alfonso III the Great becomes king, AD 837 [really 866], 1st year of Lothair’s reign [840].

Chapter 648: Year 4, AD 840 [869], 4th of Lothair [843]. A great army of Moors from Toledo raided the Christian lands. King Alfonso defeated them by the river Duero, with the help of Bernaldo.

Chapter 649: Year 5, AD 841 [870], 5th of Lothair [844]. King Ores of Merida invaded Christendom and laid siege to Benavento. King Alfonso rode to the rescue and personally killed Ores. Bernaldo was there, too, and fought well. King Alchaman laid siege to Zamora, but Bernaldo killed him.

Chapter 650: Year 6, AD 842 [871], 6th of Lothair [845]. Some Moors invaded again, and split into two parts. One went to Polvorosa, and the other to Valdemoro. Alfonso slaughtered one division by the River Orvego, and Bernaldo in Valdemoro. The king returned to Toro, laden with loot and glory.

Chapter 651: Year 7, AD 843 [872], 7th of Lothair [846]. Don Bueso of France invaded Spain. King Alfonso meets him in battle by Ordeion in Castile, near a castle called Amaya. Some say in their cantares segund cuenta la estoria that Buseo was Bernaldo’s cousin. Bernaldo killed Bueso in the fray. After the battle, Bernaldo kissed Alfonso’s hand and asked for the liberty of his father, and called to mind all the times he had helped him against the Moors. But Alfonso refused, and Bernaldo renounced his service, and did not go to war or court for a year

Chapter 652: Year 8, AD 844 [873], 8th of Lothair [847]. King Alfonso held court at Pentecost, to which came, among others, Orios Godos and Tiobalt. But Bernaldo did not come, until the Queen promised him that she would ask for his father’s liberty. He came, and she asked, but Alfonso refused, and Bernaldo denounced and insulted him in front of the whole court, reminding him of all his faithful service, prompting Alfonso to banish him. His kinsmen Blasco Meléndez, Suero Velásquez, and Nuño de Leon left with him. They retreated to Saldaña, whence they made war against Alfonso for two years.

Chapter 653. Year 9. King Mahomet of Cordova makes war against Toledo.

Chapter 654. Year 10, AD 846 [875], 10th of Lothair [849]. Bernaldo was joined by many men from Benavente, Toro, and Zamora, who swore not to leave him until his father was free. With his new army, Bernaldo marched on Salamanca. He advanced with a small division, and then retreated, luring Alfonso’s troops into an ambush, where Orios Godos and Count Tiobalte were captured. Bernaldo then founded El Carpio near Salamanca. He made alliance with the Muslims and raided Astorga and Leon, prompting Alfonso to lay siege to El Carpio. Bernaldo freed Orios Godos and Count Tiobalte, but Alfonso still refused to free his father. Bernaldo, in revenge, raided Salamanca, but cautioned his men not to go overboard plundering it, lest there be nothing left to take in the future.

Chapter 655: Year 11, AD 847 [876], 11th of Lothair [850]. Alfonso’s men at last prevailed upon him to release San Diaz. Bernaldo agreed to this, and handed over his castle of El Carpio. Alfonso sent Orios and Tiobalte to fetch Count San Diaz, but they arrived 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.

They say in cantares that Bernaldo went to France, where King Charles the Bald welcomed him, but Timbor’s son rejected him. Despairing, Bernaldo left the court. Charles gave him horses and arms, but Bernaldo still ravaged the land as he returned to Spain, where he founded Canal de Jaca, married Doña Galiana, daughter of Count Alardos de Latre, and begot on her Galín Galíndez, who grew up to be a fine knight in his own right. Bernardo fought three great battles against the Moors before his death. Some say that it was Alfonso III who fought at Ronçasvalles, but the best authors, French and Spanish, say it was Charlemagne and Alfonso II.

Chapter 656. Year 12. Irrelevant to us. Years 13-20. Nothing interesting. Year 21, AD 857 [886]. Bernardo del Carpio died, as Don Lucas says.

For the curious, Bernardo is seven at the battle of Roncesvalles [!], forty-three when he vanquishes Don Bueso, forty-seven when he frees his father, and fifty-seven at his death.

The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 2: Chronicles Which do not Mention Bernardo

Bernardo del Carpio goes unmentioned by any chronicler until 1236. However, the early chronicles do have some things to say about Alfonso the Chaste, his Great namesake, and Charlemagne and Roncesvalles. An incomplete summary of the historiography follows.

The real Alfonso II was born in 760, became king in 791, (probably) never married, and died in 842. Alfonso III was born 848, became king of Galicia, Leon, and Asturias in 866, married Princess Jimena of Pamplona, and died in 910.

Einhard: Einhard’s Life of Charles the Great was written sometime in the early 800s, after Charles’ death.

King Alfonso of Asturias and Galicia always called himself Charles’ man [vassal] in his letters.

Chronica Albeldense: Also called the Epitome Ovediense, written 881.

Alfonso the Chaste, also called the Great, founded Oviedo. He reigned for fifty-one years, though in his eleventh year he was deposed and locked in the monastery of Abelania. After escaping, he built many churches, adopted the Toledan [Mozarabic] Rite, and gave refuge in Asturias to a certain Muhammad who was fleeing the King of Cordova. Muhammad betrayed him, however, and Alfonso killed him in battle. He never married.

Alfonso son of Ordoño (the Great) conquered at Ebrellos. He took the throne at eighteen, fought civil and foreign wars, and built many churches. In 916, Almundar, son of King Mohamat, led an army from Cordova to Astorga and Leon. Part of his army was attacked at Polvorosa on the Órbigo by King Alfonso III, who killed almost 13,000 Moors. When the news reached Almundar, he retreated. Alfonso fought more wars and built many churches.

Roncesvalles and Charlemagne are nowhere mentioned.

Chronicle of Alfonso III: From the early 900s, written at the behest of Alfonso III. It exists in two major reactions, known as the Crónica Rotensis and the later and longer Crónica ad Sebastianum. There are also two minor redactions, simply called the Third and the Fourth. All versions printed 1918 by Zacarías García Villada.

Fourth Redaction only: In Era 815 [AD 777] Ibn al-Arabi, who held Saragossa under Abd-er-Rahman, rebelled and asked King Charles of the Franks for aid, who had been fighting the Saxons for thirty years. Charles was welcomed at Pamplona, and came to Saragossa, but did not take it, corrupted by gold. He destroyed “a certain city” on his way back, whose inhabitants ambushed him in Ruscidis Vallibus, where Egiardus, Anselmus, and Rotolanus died. The next year Charles became Emperor, AD 778. He reigned 47 years. (Copied, but not exactly, from Silense)

Chronicle of Alfonso III, MS Emilianse 39: [The Nota Emilianese, c. 1070] In Era 816 [AD 778] King Charles came to Saragossa. He had twelve nephews, each with three thousand  knights in armor: Rodlane, Bertlane, Oggero Spatacurta [Shortsword] Ghigelmo Alcorbanitas [Hooknose], Olibero, and the bishop Don Toripini. Each spent a month in the king’s service. Charles’ vassals advised him to return home, which he did, leaving Roldan in the rearguard, where, in the Puerto de Sicera, in Rozaballes, the Saracens killed him.

Sampiro (1098) A continuation of the Chronicle of Alfonso III, covering 866 to 982. Incorporated into the Historia Silense.

The Historia Silense (c. 1100-1130) does not mention Bernardo. However, this chronicle is only interested in the deeds of kings, and ignores the Counts of Castile entirely. It can be most conveniently found in the appendices  to volume XVII of España Sagrada.

After fighting the Saxons for 33 years, Charles entered Spain between the reigns of Roderick (d. 712) and Pelagius (r. 718-737), invited by a Moor named Hibinnaxalabi, king of Saragossa. He laid siege to Saragossa, but the Franks were corrupted by bribes and abandoned the war. They razed the walls of Pampelona, and their rearguard was attacked by the Navarrese, and Anselm, Egginhard, and Roland died.

The Chronicon of Bishop Pelagius of Oviedo (finished 1132), is the earliest (known) source to claim that Alfonso II the Chaste had a wife. According to Pelagius, her name was Bertinalda and she was related to the Royal House of France. Hence it has been suggested that Pelagius knew some version of the legend of Bernardo del Carpio, though makes no other allusions to that hero.

The Crónica Najerense, written by a Castilian around 1160 and championing Castilian independence, does not mention Bernardo del Carpio. However, it also ignores the Seven Sons of Lara and the Cid Campeador, whose stories are known to have been circulating at this date.

Roncesvalles was in the third year of King Silo [777], and is described in an account copied from the Silense. Charles was made Emperor the year after, and reigned for 47 years.

The Anales Toledanos Primeros (1219) (España Sagrada XXIII) assert that Alfonso the Chaste died in 850, Charlemagne entered Spain in 862 [most likely referring to Mainet, not to the beginning of the Spanish War], Roncesvalles “where the Twelve Peers died” was fought in 882, and Charlemagne died in 911.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 13: Bernardo Meets his Father

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.
Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

654, THE KING DESIRES TO TAKE BERNARDO BY SURPRISE, BUT IS PREVENTED, AND FLEES IN FEAR. Class I. “Con cartas sus mensajeros”
The King sends letters to Bernardo. Bernardo suspects treason, and tells the messenger to say as much to the King. Bernardo has four hundred men. He leaves a hundred to guard the castle of Carpio, one hundred to guard the frontiers of his fief, and takes two hundred to see the King. The King tries to reclaim Carpio. Bernardo says it is his own by right. The King calls him a traitor, and bids his men seize him, whereupon Bernardo calls on his two hundred. The King pretends it was a mere joke. Bernardo says it wasn’t a very funny one, and says that the King can have Carpio; it will be easy for him to recapture it.
Wright.

655, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Con solos diez de los suyos”
Bernardo comes with ten men before the King. The King accuses him of treason. Bernardo denies it. The King orders his men to seize Bernardo. No one moves, for they see Bernardo put hand on his sword hilt. Bernardo tells the King that his men are right to be afraid of him. His men shout “Viva Bernardo!” and all take up the cry. The King pretends it was a joke, and Bernardo says he knew it was a joke all along, and leaves with his men. The King fumes and plots vengeance.
Lockhart.

656, BERNARDO OBTAINS HIS FATHER’S FREEDOM, ONCE HE IS ALREADY DEAD. Class VIII. “Antes que barbas tuviese”
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 and kills him.

657, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Hincado está de rodillas”
Bernardo kneels before his father to kiss his hand, but feels it icy cold. Realizing what has happened, he laments, and runs off to seek Alfonso.

658, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. By Lorenzo de Sepúlveda. Class IV. “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 Carpio. He agrees, and Alfonso sends Don Tibalte and Don Arias to Luna to kill the Count and bring his body from prison. They dress him up, and invite Bernardo to the palace to see him. Bernardo kisses his father’s hand, discovers the trick, and laments.
Versification of a chronicle.

659, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Mal mis servicios pagaste”
Bernardo laments, and storms out of the palace to raise a revolt.

660, BERNARDO SWEARS TO AVENGE HIS FATHER’S DEATH. Class VIII. “Retraido en su aposento”
Bernardo, safe in his own castle, weeps and laments, and swears to avenge his father.

661, BERNARDO REPROACHS THE KING FOR HIS INGRATITUDE. Class VIII. “¡Inhumano rey Alfonso!”
Bernardo rebukes his uncle King Alfonso of Leon, saying his is ill-repaid for all the times he has saved him, including from Charlemagne at Roncesvalles.
Combines with #655 by Lockhart.

662, BERNARDO SALLIES FORTH TO AVENGE HIS FATHER’S DEATH. By Gabriel Lobo Laso de la Vega. Class VIII. “Aspero llanto hacia”
Bernardo, safe at Carpio, laments, swears vengeance, and sallies forth, upon a light-brown steed with black caparison. His shield is black with a red heart on it. Three hundred noblemen follow him from Carpio.

663, BERNARDO WEEPS FOR HIS FATHER AND CELEBRATES HIS FUNERAL. Class VIII. “Las obsequias funerales”
Bernardo, at the funeral, weeps by his father’s side, and laments.

664, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. 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, in ottava rima.
Lockhart, though much abridged.

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