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.

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The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads 12: Bernardo at Roncesvalles

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.

648, BERNARDO AND HIS MEN SALLY TO THE FIELD AGAINST THE FRENCH. Class VIII. “Aguardando que amanezca”
Bernardo surveys the field from a mountain top, and bids his three hundred men fear not, for ten Spaniards are a match for a thousand foreigners. They join with the Saracens, and ride to battle.

649, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Con los mejores de Astúrias”
Benardo leaves Leon with the best men of Asturias, to stop Charlemagne from usurping the crown Alfonso the Chaste has offered him. He gives a rousing speech to his men, then spurs his horse, shouting, “Follow me, all you who are sons of the brave!”

650, THE FRENCH PREPARE CONFIDENTLY FOR THE BATTLE OF RONCESVALLES. Class VIII. “Blasonando está el frances”
The French are encamped at Roncesvalles. Roldan, the twelve Peers, and Charlemagne are confident that soon they will quarter the fleur-de-lis with a castle and a lion [the arms of Spain], and that no one on earth can stand against them.

651, BERNARDO, THE CHAMPION OF RONCESVALLES, WITH THE DEATH OF ROLDAN AND THE TWELVE PEERS OF FRANCE. By Gabriel Lobo Laso de la Vega. Class VIII. “Con crespa y dorada crin”
Charles the Frank leads his massive army into Roncesvalles at dawn, to conquer Spain, with his twelve Peers behind him. Alfonso of Castile and Marsilio of Aragon, are waiting for him, with their respective champions, Bernardo and Bravonel. After a long and bloody fight, the Spaniards are victorious. Roldan and Oliveros are dead, with the flower of France. Charlemagne flees, with the greatest losses ever known.
Number 652 is a reworking of this one, with many unaltered lines, but much less detail.

652, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Con crespa y dorada crin.”
The Gauls lead a massive army into Roncesvalles at dawn. Bernardo and Marsilio are waiting for them. After a long and bloody fight, Bernardo and Bravonel are victorious. The French flee, leaving their banner behind.

653, BERNARDO DEFEATS AND KILLS ROLDAN. Class VIII. “El invencible frances”
The invincible Frenchman, the senator of Rome, who converted Agrican, defeated Almonte, held off an army at Abraca by himself, is dead. Brava’s lord could not defeat El Carpio’s. After slaying Dudon, Oliveros, Aquilante and Grifone, and spilling a lake of French blood, Alfonso’s nephew attacked Charles’, and slew him.
No mention is made of Roland’s invincibility requiring Bernardo to strangle him.

For the other Spanish ballads of Roncesvalles, see this page.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 11: Bernardo Prepares for Roncesvalles

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.

638, ALFONSO THE CHASTE OFFERS CHARLEMAGNE THE CROWN OF SPAIN, IF HE WILL HELP HIM EXPEL THE MOORS. Class IV. “Andados los años treinta”
In the thirtieth year of Alfonso’s reign, the year 841 [!], Alfonso sends messengers to Emperor Charlemagne, offering him the crown of Spain if he will drive the Moors out, since he (Alfonso) has no son of his own. The nobles do not like this, and Bernardo likes it still less.
Duran thinks this is Timoneda’s rewriting of a traditional ballad. More likely it is his versification of a chronicle.

639, BERNARDO REBUKES THOSE WHO WOULD CALL HIM A BASTARD. Class I. “Por las riberas de Arlanza”
Bernardo rides along the banks of the Arlanza. The folk of Burgos see him, and marvel. So does Alfonso, saying this knight must be either Bernardo del Carpio, or Muza de Granada. It is Bernardo. He rebukes the king for calling him a bastard, and for offering the kingdom to the French. He announces that he is gathering the men of every Spanish kingdom to repel the Frankish invaders.
Wright.

640, BERNARDO RESISTS THE CONCESSIONS THE KING HAS MADE TO CHARLEMAGNE OF HIS COUNTRY, AND DEPARTS TO OPPOSE THE FRENCH ARMY. By Gabriel Lobo Laso de la Vega. Class VIII. “El valeroso Bernardo”
Bernardo takes the road to Leon, gathering followers on the way. He enters Alfonso’s hall, and rebukes him. He then departs for Saragossa. Alfonso and his courtiers repent their decision, and send word to Charlemagne revoking their offer of the crown of Castile. Charlemagne is furious, and decides to take it anyway.

641, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. By Lorenzo de Sepúlveda. Class IV. “No tiene heredero alguno”
Alfonso the Chaste has no heir, so he offers Charlemagne the crown of Castile, if he will help him fight the Moors. Charles, Roldan, and the Peers rejoice at the message, but the nobles of Spain are displeased. Most of all, Bernardo del Carpio is angry. He persuades Alfonso to revoke his offer, at which Charlemagne, furious, invades. Bernardo and Alfonso defeat him at Roncesvalles, and Bernardo kills Roldan, and many other Frenchmen.
A versification of the old chronicles, like most of Lorenzo’s work on Bernardo.

642, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Retirado en su palacio”
The barons of Castile debate whether to support Alfonso’s offering of the crown to Charlemagne. The nays carry the day, and Bernardo, their leader, begins rallying the army to fend off Charles.

643, BERNARDO, BANISHED FOR OPPOSING THE SURRENDER OF THE CROWN TO CHARLEMAGNE, GOES TO GRANADA, AND BECOMES FRIENDS WITH MUZA. Class VIII. “Desterró el rey Alfonso”
Alfonso banishes Bernardo for opposing his plan to leave the kingdom to Charlemagne. Bernardo sends a messanger to Alfonso saying he will not return until he has fought Orlando, despite his magic helmet [sic]. He comes to Granada, where a tournament is being held. He overthrows Muza, the Moorish champion, and wins the tournament, along with Muza’s friendship.
A purely literary invention. Muza is unknown to the old chronicles.

644, BERNARDO, TO AVENGE DAMSELS, KILLS LEPOLEMO IN A DUEL. By Lucas Rodriguez. Class VIII. “Cuando el padre Faeton”
Three damsels ride, weeping, through the forest at evening, with four squires before them. They meet Bernardo, and tell him their woe: Lepolemo has killed their brother and occupied their castle. Bernardo kills him and restores their castle.
There is no traditional basis for this. It is merely the sort of adventure that happens to Amadis or Lancelot every day.

645, BERNARDO MAKES ALLIANCE WITH THE MOORS OF ARAGON, AGAINST THE FRENCH OF CHARLEMAGNE. By Gabriel Lobo Laso de la Vega. Class VIII. “Las varias flores despoja”
Bernardo, dressed like a Moor, rides to Saragossa, where he makes alliance with King Marsilio and meets the mighty Bravonel, who is in love with the Mooress Acoyza. They dine, and make plans, and sally forth for Roncesvalles.

646, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Con tres mil y mas leoneses”
Bernardo leaves the city with 3,000 men of Leon, followed and cheered by all the folk, the laborers, the shepherds, the peasants, the children, who all cheer their deliver and shout for liberty and independence. They arrive at Saragossa, where the Holy Pillar is, and join Alfonso, Marsilio, and Bravonel to fight the French.
Lockhart.

647, BERNARDO REBUKES AND SHAMES THOSE WHO WOULD GIVE THE KINGDOM TO THE FRENCH. Class VIII. “No os llamo canalla vil”
Bernardo gives a rousing speech before the battle of Roncesvalles.