The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 15: Siglo d’Oro Plays

SIGLO D’ORO PLAYS

There are four Siglo d’Oro plays about Bernardo del Carpio, full summaries of which follow.

Juan de la Cueva: Comedia de la Libertad de España por Bernardo del Carpio (1579-1581, printed 1583).

First edition: Comedias y tragedias 1583.

Reprinted 1917 by Icaza for the Sociedad de Bibliófilos Españoles.

Printed alone 1974, edited by Anthony Watson, Exeter Hispanic Texts, No. 8.

ACT I: King Alfonso broods on his wrongs and sends Count Tibalte to summon Doña Ximena. He has misgivings, but goes. Ximena is lamenting to her confidante, Doña Oliva, when Tibalte arrives. King Alfonso, meanwhile, is brooding on the weight of the crown when Ximena arrives. He accuses her of disgracing herself and her family, and tells her she will be sent to a nunnery. She asks him to take care of Bernardo, who is just a babe in Asturias. He agrees, and sends her away. The king next sends Count Tibalte to summon the Count of Saldaña.

ACT II: Count Tibalte is a friend of Saldaña’s, and wavers between the king and his friend, before deciding to follow the king’s orders. He and Doña Oliva love each other, and he does not tell her where he is going. Count Tibalte is greeted warmly by Saldaña, and they go to Alfonso’s court. Saldaña denies the king’s accusations of treason, but he never mentions Ximena or Bernardo during this entire scene. The king has him blinded and sent to the Castle of Luna. He then sends Count Tibalte to Asturias to fetch Bernardo, who will be reared at the king’s court as his bastard son. Continue reading

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The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 14: Wanderings and Death of Bernardo

WANDERINGS OF BERNARDO

PCG Chapter 655: Year 11 of Alfonso III’s reign (876). They say in cantares that Bernaldo went to France, where King Charles [presumably 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 founds Canal de Jaca, marries Doña Galiana, daughter of Count Alardos de Latre, and begets 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 this is an error.

Chapter 656. Year 21 (887). Bernardo del Carpio died in France, as Don Lucas says [he says no such thing]. Perhaps he returned there after his time in Spain which we have already recorded.

The legend of the Carolingian Bernardo has been awkwardly made into a tacked-on sequel to the Carpian story. This account makes no sense where it is placed in the PCG. In the original Carolingian legend, these adventures likely took place immediately after Roncesvalles, as in Lucas; the king was likely Charlemagne; and the story of Count Sancho did not feature.

Estevan de Garibay (1628) in his Compendio historial de España claims that Bernardo wandered errant throughout France and Navarre until his death, after which his body was taken to Spain and buried in Aguilar de Campo.

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

BERNARDO FREES HIS FATHER

Section 1: Chronicles

Lucas never tells us what became of Count Sancho.

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

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

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

Section 2: Ballads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lockhart has translated Durán 625.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Pidal, Rom. Trad. I, 261.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Combined with Durán 655 by Lockhart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Section 3: Siglo d’Oro Plays

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

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

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

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

Section 4: Modern Adaptations

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

The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 12: Bernardo’s War Against Alfonso

CHAPTER XII

BERNARDO’S WAR AGAINST ALFONSO

Section 1: Chronicles

Lucas: After the battle of Toledo, 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 Asturias and Leon and lay them waste with fire and sword. King Alfonso promised Bernaldus his father’s liberty if he would make peace, which he did, and they fought the battle of Polvoroso together [we are not told if the Count was actually freed.]

Rodrigo After the battle of Toledo, Berinaldus built the castle of Carpio in the land of Salamanca, and allied with the Saracens to harry Alfonso’s borders. [Some other?] Saracens seized this opportunity to attack Asturias and Leon and lay them waste with fire and sword. King Alfonso promised Berinaldus his father’s liberty if he would make peace. So it was done, and the Count was freed. Alfonso and Berinaldus fought the battle of Polvoroso.

PCG For two years after the Pentecost Court, Bernardo strengthens his position, joined by men from Benavente, Toro, and Zamora. In the 10th year of Alfonso III’s reign [875], Bernaldo marches on Salamanca. He advances with a small division, and then retreats, luring Alfonso’s troops into an ambush, where Orios Godos and Count Tiobalte are captured. Bernaldo then founds El Carpio near Salamanca. He makes alliance with the Muslims and raids Asturias and Leon, prompting Alfonso to lay siege to El Carpio. Bernaldo proposes to trade Orios Godos and Count Tiobalte for his father, but Alfonso refuses. Bernaldo, in revenge, raids Salamanca, but cautions his men not to go overboard plundering it, lest there be nothing left to take in the future.

Section 2: Ballads

Burguillos Pidal Eruditos 9. “De Salamanca partía” Only the first four lines survive.

Bernardo del Carpio leaves Salamanca, cursing King Alfonso the Great.

Burguillos was the only Siglo d’Oro writer to think this part of the story worth adapting, unless Pidal’s theory that By the Rivers of Arlanza is a very free retelling thereof is correct.

The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 11: The Pentecost Court and Bernardo’s Banishment

CHAPTER XI

THE PENTECOST COURT AND BERNARDO’S BANISHMENT

Section 1: Chronicles

Lucas and Rodrigo: Give no details, only saying that Bernardo rebelled after the Battle of Toledo, and that he made peace before the battle of Polvorosa.

PCG: Year 8 of Alfonso the Great’s reign [873]. 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 leave with him. They retreat to Saldaña, where they make war against Alfonso for two years.

Ocampo: Year 36 of Alfonso the Chaste’s reign, the fifth of Louis the Pious, AD 815 [really 818]. Continue reading

Bernardo del Carpio 9: Battles of Bernardo

CHAPTER IX

THE BATTLES OF BERNARDO

Lucas, Rodrigo, and the PCG insert Bernardo del Carpio into various historical battles fought by King Alfonso III, though it is impossible to reconcile their chronologies.

LUCAS

RODRIGO

PCG

Toledo

Toledo

Toledo

Benevento and Zamora

Bernardo’s Rebellion

Bernardo’s Rebellion

Saracens raid Asturias and Leon

Bernardo and Saracens raid Ast. and L.

Polvorosa and Valdemoro

Polvorosa and Valdemoro

Polvorosa and Valdemoro

Zamora

Zamora

Ymundar and Alcatenel

Bernardo’s Rebellion

Bernardo and Saracens raid Ast. and L.

SECTION I

BATTLE OF TOLEDO

Lucas and Rodrigo copy their accounts of this battle from their sources, and only add a sentence about Bernardo at the end. Quite possibly that sentence is not meant to refer to Toledo specifically, but to all Alfonso’s previously related battles.1 The PCG adds no information. The Tercera, while attributing many of the Great’s battles to the Chaste, keeps this one in its proper place, dating it to Alfonso III’s 4th year, AD 840, (869).

Katherine P. Oswald, “The Formation and Transmission of the Legend of Bernardo del Carpio” (PhD diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015), pp. 100-101.

SECTION II

BATTLES OF POLVOROSA AND VALDEMORA

Subsection 1: Chronicles

Chronica Albeldense: Also called the Epitome Ovediense, written 881. Almundar, son of King Mohamat, leads an army from Cordova to Astorga and Leon. Part of his army is attacked at Polvorosa on the Órbigo by King Alfonso III, who killed almost 13,000 Moors. When the news reached Almundar, he retreated.

Chronicon de Sampiro: (c. 1000). One army leaves Cordova, followed shortly by another from other cities. Alfonso, after praying, kills 12,000 men of this second army, at Polvorosa on the Órbigo. The first army, hearing the news, flees toward Valdemora, but Alfonso kills all save ten of them. No Muslim names are given.

Historia Silense: Copied directly from Sampiro, only making the Muslims flee from Valdemora instead of towards it.

Lucas: Based on Silense. One army divides itself. Alfonso slaughters one division of 12,000 Moors at Polvorosa, killing all but ten, while Bernardo makes the others flee from Valdemora.

Rodrigo: One army divides itself. Bernardo slaughters the Moors at Valdemora, while Alfonso meets 12,000 at Polvorosa, by the banks of the Órbigo, and kills all but ten.

PCG: Bernardo defeats the Moors at Valdemoro in Polvorosa, while Alfonso slaughters 12,000 by the Órbigo.2

2 Oswald, pp.104-106.

Alfonso’s men appear to have garbled their sources. The Tercera moves this battle from the reign of Alfonso the Great to that of the Chaste, his 34th year, AD 813 (815). The Cuarta duplicates it, faithfully copying the Tercera’s account for King Alfonso the Chaste, and then following Rodrigo’s account (Bernardo kills them in Valdemora, while Alfonso kills them in Polvorosa) in the reign of Alfonso the Great.

In Lucas, these battles come about because of the Saracen raid into Asturias and Leon which they do to take advantage of the chaos caused by Bernardo’s rebellion.

In Rodrigo (and hence the Cuarta), Bernardo allies with the Saracens and invites them in, after which Alfonso frees his father. Bernardo then turns on his former allies, leading to these two battles.

In the PCG and the TCG, these battles just happen, as part of the endless back-and-forth between the Christians and the Infidels.

Subsection 2: Ballads

Burguillos Durán 631, Class V; Pidal Eruditos 5. “No cesando el Casto Alfonso”

Alfonso continues fighting against the Moors, and a great host of them enters his kingdom. One goes to Polvoreda, the other to King Alfonso. Alfonso splits his army in two, and sends one under Bernardo to Polvoreda, where they slaughter them all in Val de Moro, on the border with Portugal. King Alfonso slaughters 12,000 of the other band by the river Duero, then returns to Oviedo.

SECTION III

BATTLE OF ZAMORA

Subsection 1: Chronicles

Chronicon de Sampiro: (c.1000). A Muslim army besieges Zamora. Alfonso gathers his army, but they quarrel among themselves. Nonetheless, by God’s mercy, Alfonso kills Alchaman, and the Christians are reunited. No treaty is mentioned.

Historia Silense: Copied directly from Sampiro.

Lucas: A Muslim army besieges Zamora. Alfonso gathers his troops, attacks, and wins, in large part due to Bernardo. Alchaman the prophet dies. Alfonso signs a treaty with the Muslims afterwards.

Rodrigo: A Muslim army besieges Zamora. Alfonso sends word to his vassals, who join him for the battle, including Bernardo. Alchaman the prophet dies. Alfonso signs a treaty with the Muslims afterwards.

PCG: Alchaman’s army besieges Zamora. Alfonso sends to his vassals for aid, but can only bring a few soldiers himself, as the rest were gone home after Benavente. Bernardo comes with a great army, and personally kills Alchaman the prophet. Alfonso signs a treaty with the Muslims afterwards.3

3 Oswald, pp. 108 seq.

Subsection 2: Ballads

Burguillos Durán 629; Class IV; Pidal Eruditos 4 (part 2) “Ya pasados pocos dias” King Almaza of Badajoz lays siege to Zamora. Alfonso rides to raise the siege, is nearly captured, but is saved by Bernardo, who asks for his father’s liberty. Alfonso refuses.

Burguillos’ ballad tells of both the battle of Benavente and the battle of Zamora. Timoneda divided it in two for his Rosa Española.

SECTION IV

BATTLE AGAINST YMUNDAR AND ALCATENETEL

In Lucas, this battle follows that of Zamora. In Silense and Rodrigo, it precedes that of Toledo, Bernardo does not appear, and the Muslim leaders escape the battle.4 As it is not in the PCG, no ballads were ever made about it (to my knowledge. At least Durán includes none, even in his section on non-Bernardine ballads of Alfonso II).

4 Oswald, p. 113.

SECTION V

THE BATTLE OF BENAVENTE

Is found only in the PCG. Lucas and Rodrigo know nothing of it.

Burguillos Durán 628, Class IV; Pidal Eruditos 4 (part 1). “Hueste saca el rey Ores”

King Ores of Mérida besieges Benavente. Alfonso rides to raise the siege, but is surrounded, until Bernardo arrives and rescues him. Bernardo kills King Ores and routes the Moors, but Alfonso will not free his father.

Burguillos’ ballad tells of both the battle of Benavente and the battle of Zamora. Timoneda divided it in two for his Rosa Española.

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.

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.