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 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 Fall of Constantinople

My own work, inspired by Greek ballads on the Fall of Constantinople, May 29, 1453. Emperor Constantine XI died in communion with the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and is therefore venerated as a martyr by the Greek Catholics, though he has never been officially canonized.

In Holy Sofia the bells are all ringing,
The candles are lit and the censers are swinging,
The icons are carried, the folk tell their beads,
The Patriarch sings, and the Emperor reads,
The priests they are twelve and the deacons are seven,
But Our Lady Saint Mary is weeping in Heaven.
The cannonades pound on the Emperor’s wall,
And God has decreed that the city must fall.

The cannons are roaring, the walls have been shattered,
The Turks are inpouring, the Christians are battered.
Constantine casts off his mantle and crown,
Dressed as a soldier he cuts the Turks down.
In Holy Sofia is one priest remaining.
He lifts up the Host and the Chalice for saining.

His sword was in pieces, the Turks all around,
Constantine fell, all alone, to the ground.
The priest held Our Lord up and bowed to adore Him.
A niche in the wall he saw open before him.

Unknown is the cavern where Constantine sleeps,
Where John the Undying his lone vigil keeps.
Unseen by the Turks who pour in without number,
That priest in the walls of Sofia shall slumber.

Our Lady is weeping in Heaven so high,
“How long, O my Son, till my griefs be laid by?
When, O my Son, shall my joys have returning?
How long, O my Son, will Thine anger be burning?”
“It is but a while, O dear Mother Mine,
Until the great City again shall be thine.”

The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 1: Introduction

Overview of the Legend of Bernardo del Carpio

Chronicles The legend of Bernardo del Carpio is first known in three chronicles: Bishop Lucas of Tuy’s Chronicon Mundi¸ 1236; Archbishop Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada of Toledo’s Historia Gothica, 1243; and the Primera Crónica General (PCG), compiled at the behest of King Alfonso X the Wise of Castile, the first version of which was completed 1274. These three chronicles are believed to have drawn on now-lost sources, but those remain a matter for speculation.

After the PCG, the legend of Bernardo is found in subsequent chronicles, but there are no essential reworkings until the Crónica General de Ocampo (1541), an adaptation of the Tercera Crónica General by Florián de Ocampo, who also extended the history down to his own day. He eliminates the most improbable epic details, and transfers some events from the reign of Alfonso III to that of Alfonso II.

Ocampo’s history had an impact on Siglo d’Oro writers comparable to that of Holinshed on the Elizabethans, and was the source, direct or indirect, for almost all the Siglo d’Oro ballads, plays, and epics about Bernardo.

Traditional Ballads A handful of ballads first printed in the Siglo d’Oro appear to be from oral tradition, independent of Ocampo’s Chronicle: Con Cartas y mensajeros, The Birth of Bernardo, By the Rivers of Arlanza, and Bernardo and Urgel.

Literary Ballads

There are many literary ballads about Bernardo, most of them anonymous, but a few with known authors, including:

Burguillos adapted much of Ocampo into verse, often word for word. His account of Bernardo del Carpio furnished him with material for ten ballads, (one of which is now mostly lost), some of which were reworked by Juan de Timoneda in his Rosa española (1573).

In 1551, Ocampo’s chronicle also furnished Lorenzo de Sepúlveda with material for five ballads about Bernardo in his Romances nuevamente sacados de historias antiguas de la Crónica de España.

Gabriel Lobo Lasso de la Vega wrote eight ballads about Bernardo, (c. 1578).

Lucas Rodriguez

Plays Plays about Bernardo were written by Juan de la Cueva, Lope de Vega, Cervantes, and others. Among the most significant are Juan de la Cueva: La Libertad de España por Bernardo del Carpio. Lope de Vega: Las Mocedades de Bernardo, and El Casamiento en la Muerte. Cervantes: La Casa del los Celos y Selvas de Ardenia.

Epics No fewer than five Siglo d’Oro epics about Bernardo exist, mostly about Roncesvalles.

1: Segunda parte de Orlando, con el verdadero suceso de la famose batalla de Roncesvalles, fin y muerte de los doce Pares de Francia, by Nicolás de Espinosa, 1555.

2: El verdadero suceso de la famosa batalla de Roncesvalles, con la muerte de los doze Pares de Francia, by Francisco Garrido de Villena, 1583.

3: Historia de las hazañas y hechos del invincible caballero Bernardo del Carpio, by Agustín Alonso, 1585.

4: España defendida, poema heroyco, by Cristóbal Suárez de Figueroa.

5: El Bernardo o la victoria de Roncesvalles, by Bernardo de Valbuena. 1624.

4 is modeled after Tasso, the rest after Ariosto. Only 5 is of any merit at all, but it has been called the best imitation of Ariosto in any language. 2 and 3 are the most likely candidates for the “Bernardo del Carpio” and “Roncesvalles” that Don Quixote’s barber and curate wished to condemn to the flames.

Chapbooks continued to circulate for centuries. Historia fiel y verdadera de Bernardo del Carpio was published as late as the 1700s by Manuel José Martín.

Modern Ballads. The Hispanic ballad tradition is still flourishing in Iberia and Latin America, and clings tenuously to life among the Sephardic Jewry. Our notes on modern tradition are not, and cannot be, exhaustive, thought we will attempt to include as much as we can.

A Note on Spanish Ballads

Spanish ballads are called romances. A collection is called a romancero, a word which also can refer to the corpus of Hispanic balladry. Spanish ballads have no official numbering system, nothing comparable to the Child Ballads or the Roud Folk Song Index. Hence all ballads must be identified by their numbers in the major collections.

Durán: Agustín Durán’s Romancero General, (first volume 1832, final volume of expanded edition 1851) an indiscriminate collection of most of the ballads printed before 1800, whether traditional or literary.

Class I ballads are pure folksongs.

Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.

Class IV are versifications of chronicles, mostly made by educated men with little poetic talent.

Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.

Class VIII are Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

(No Carolingian Ballads fall into Durán’s Classes II, VI, or VII.)

Wolf: Primavera y Flor de Varios Romances. Edited by Ferdinand Wolf and Konrad Hoffman 1856. A collection of romances believed to be traditional and printed by the sixteenth century (essentially a trimming of Durán, with some variants he did not include, and new notes).

Class I: Primitive Romances (=Durán I, II)

Class II: Primitive Romances reworked by learned or artistic poets (=Durán IV, V)

Class III: Minstrel Romances (=Durán III)

Romancero Tradicional: Menéndez Pidal’s multi-volume collection of the old printed romances with some of their modern recorded variants, and many from manuscript collections unknown to Durán. Volume 1 (1957) is dedicated to Roderick, Last of the Goths, and to Bernardo del Carpio. His classes are:

Primitivos: “With roots in the Middle Ages.”

Viejos: Of a purely Minstrel style, or already traditional by 1550.

Eruditos: The “Romancero Medio,” made by versifiers of chronicles.

Artificiosos: The “Romancero Nuevo,” = Durán VIII.

Samuel Armistead’s collections of Sephardic ballads, while not quite on the scale of the above, are nonetheless extremely valuable, and will be cited when appropriate.

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 6: The Grand Prose, and Modern Adaptations

The Rhymed Remainement of the Quatre Fils was turned into prose for Jean V of Créquy (1395-1474), chamberlain of Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy, and finished November 12, 1462. It was begun well beforehand, since David Aubert’s abridged version of volumes 2 and 3 was finished in 1458.  Perhaps David Aubert wrote this version, too. The Grand Prose consists of the following versions.

Lf: BN fr. 19,173-19,177. (Jean le Faron) Five volumes.

Pm: Bib. Du Comte de Schönbron in Pommersfelden, 311-312. Two volumes, incomplete.

Am: Arsenal 5,072 – 5,075 and Munich, Gall. 7. Five volumes in two different libraries.

David Aubert’s Chroniques et Conquestes de Charlemagne. Includes an abridged version, stopping short before the martyrdom.

The version in the Bibliotheque Universelle des Romans, by Antoine-René de Voyer d’Argenson, Marquis de Paulmy.

The story begins with a mise en prose of Maugis d’Aigremont, down to the baptism of Vivien and Esclarmonde, after which Bueves and his men return home. Volume 2 (in the 5 volume sets) opens with the death of Espiet, after which Maugis gives Baiard to Renaud. Bueves’ death is treated very briefly, with a comment that it will not be treated in full. It then covers Renaud’s wars as in the Rhymed Remainement down to his vow to go to Jerusalem. Volume 3 covers the crusade. Volume 4 deals with the death of Renaud and the wars which followed it. At one point in these wars, Marsile is besieging Angorie, and Roland cuts off his nose. Volume 5 tells how Maugis and Renaud’s brothers were killed, and how they were avenged, as in the RR, concluding with the story of Mabrien, who is the son of King Yon of Jerusalem and his wife Aiglentine, but is kidnapped one night and sold to the Admiral Barré, who raises him as a valiant knight. Mabrien learns his true identity and goes ot France to seek his father Yon of Montalban. There he learns that his father is King of Jerusalem, and travels thither, winning the kingdom by his strength. Among his many adventures, he is shipwrecked on the Isle of Adamant [in adventures copied from those of Huon and Ogier], and meets King Arthur, Cain, and various fairies. Mabrien eventually begets a son named Regnaudin, who has a son named Aimon.

The text focuses more on emotional states than the RR does, and there is a hint of the Renaissance pedantry which will shortly arrive to ruin European prose for centuries.

MODERN RETELLINGS

The following list does not pretend to be exhaustive.

Bibliotheque Universelle des Romans

The July 1778 issue of the BUR was devoted to an abridgment of the story of Renaud and his family as found in Am, by the Marquis of Paulmy and the Count of Tressan. Paulmy, the main writer, also drew on Ar, A, and various chapbooks. He greatly trimmed the adventures of Renaud in the Holy Land and expanded the Ardennes War and the Martyrdom. The story of Bueves is gone, as are the treason of Vaucoleurs, and most of the sieges of Montauban and the entirety of Tremoigne. The horse race stays; the four sons of Ripeus are reduced to two. Since the siege of Tremoigne is gone, Renaud hands over Baiard to the Emperor at Montauban. Charles then takes the horse all the way to Tremoigne to throw him into the Meuse. Maugis only has the power to work his magic for Renaud thrice: stealing the swords of the Peers, enchanting them into the castle, and kidnapping Charles.

Others

Bulfinch’s Mythology: Legends of Charlemagne. 1863. The many faults of Thomas Bulfinch must be a subject for another post, but he is unfortunately still one of the two best introductions to Carolingian legend, as a whole, in English. His section on “Rinaldo” in “The Peers, or Paladins” starts with the story of how Rinaldo won Baiard, which is from Torquato Tasso’s Rinaldo. A brief summary of his service with King Ivo and the building of Montalban follows, which ignores Clarice. Bulfinch places the Innamorato and Furioso next in his book, and resumes Rinaldo’s story proper after Roncesvalles. Rinaldo commits “a slight offense” against Charlemagne’s son Charlot, and is obliged to take refuge in Montalban [Charlot cannot die here, because Bulfinch will later have him be killed by Huon of Bordeuax]. The story of the capture of all three of his brothers, his loss of Baiard and his succor by Malagigi disguised as a pilgrim follows, all according to the Germano-Dutch version, only that Charlot is still alive, and takes Roland’s place in the recovery of Baiard. The next chapter, “Death of Rinaldo,” picks up at the starvation of the brothers in Montalban, continuing to follow the Germano-Dutch. Rinaldo’s mother Aya intercedes for him with Charlemagne. Charlot, not Charles, tries to drown Baiard, and actually succeeds! Rinaldo’s pilgrimage and martyrdom follow the Germano-Dutch. It is a mystery for the ages where Bulfinch learned this story. He lived in the days before writers cited their sources routinely, and he only says in his introduction that he used “[Pulci, Boiardo and Ariosto], the “Romans de Chevalerie” of the Comte de Tressan; lastly, certain German collections of popular tales.”

Histoire des Quatre Fils Aymon, Tres nobles et tres valiants chevaliers. 1883, illustrated by Eugene Grasset, in full color. Can be found on Gallica here. I am not sure where the text is from.

Maugis Ye Sorcerer, by Frederick Henri Seymour, 1898. Despite its name, this is actually a retelling of the Quatre Fils, only the author has switched the names of Renaud and Maugis. The title and introduction suggest that the story will be a burlesque, but there is little trace thereof in the actual text. Evidently from a chapbook, as the Saxon King at the beginning is called “Guesdelin le Fene [the Sluggard]” instead of “le Saisne [the Saxon];” Clarice is renamed Yolande; Renaud and Maugis drown in a duel with Pinabel, instead of being martyred, etc.

Histoire des Quatre Fils Aymon, Tres nobles et tres valiants chevaliers. 1908, illustrated by Robida. A fancy edition printed for the Librairie Moderne. A modernized version of the printed editions of 1480 and 1493, with delightful Romantic woodcuts. Sadly does not seem to be on the internet.

 

There are a multitude of locations in the Low Countries which are named after the Four Sons, Baiard, and Maugis, and many statues and paintings of them are to be seen there.

Statues of Baiard and the Four Sons were carried in parades in the Low Countries as early as the 1400’s.

To this day, puppeteers in the north of France and the Low Countries perform, among others, the play of the Four Son of Aymon, with various modernizations. For example, the Four Sons were used as symbols of the Resistance during World War II, and after the War it was popular to play Charlemagne as a caricature of Charles de Gaulle.

The notices given of Saint Reinold in collections of lives of the saints are often very inadequate. The Oxford Book of Saints, for example, hardly has a true statement in its summary. Thurston and Attwater’s revision of Butler is not much better.

APPENDIX: ROLDAN AL PIE DE LA TORRE

(ROLAND AT THE FOOT OF THE TOWER)

A Hispanic ballad, surviving only in a few very short, corrupt versions of what was doubtless once a much longer story.

Rondale paces in a light rain, with a gold falcon on his wrist, crying “Who will aid me?” He intends to kill the King of France and his men, and marry his daughter. He comes to the castle of Count Argile [Ogier], a lord of great strength.

I mention this ballad here because in some manuscripts of La Quatre Filz Aymon, when Charlemagne refuses to make peace with Renaud to save the life of Richard of Normandy, a disgusted Roland threatens to leave him, saying “Ogier, what will you do? Will you come with me? Let us leave this foolish old dotard.” I suspect (though I haven’t found it in any professional scholars) that there may be some connection between these two passages, but I cannot prove it.

The Legend of Count Claros

Count Claros of Montalban, allegedly the son of Rinaldo, features in a very complicated tradition of Hispanic ballads. There are, according to the late lamented Samuel Armistead, the foremost expert on Sephardic balladry, seven essential themes, which were combined in a variety of ways.

1: Conde Claros y el emperador [Count Claros and the Emperor]. Claros asks the Emperor for money, who offers him as much as he needs. Claros asks for the hand of the princess, Claraniña. The Emperor will not grant it, as he has promised her to Don Beltrán.

2: Conde Claros insomne [Sleepless Count Claros]. Claros cannot sleep for thinking of Claraniña. He has his servant dress him, and he goes to the palace to see her.

3: Conde Claros y la infanta [Count Claros and the Princess]. Claraniña compliments Claros on his strong body, good for fighting Moors. He answers that it’s also good for pleasing dames. The two make love. A hunter finds them under a rose boush and tells the king. The king kills the hunter and orders Claros arrested.

4: Conde Claros preso [Count Claros Arrested]. Claros is thrown in jail for seducing the princess. She runs to the scaffold just as he is about to lose his head, stops the execution, and asks the king to spare his life. He does so and they are wed.

5: Conde Claros degollado [Count Claros Beheaded]. The king finds Claros and the princess together and throws him in jail. The court sentences him to death, and is is done. The king cuts his heart out and serves it to his daughter on a plate. She dies of grief, and the lovers are buried in one tomb.

6: Conde Claros y la infanta huyen a Montalbán [Count Claros and the Princess Flee to Montalbán]. Claros sends the princess to Montalbán, and then tells the king that his daughter is pregnant but that he is going to marry her. The king calls for his arrest, but he rides for his life through Paris. Roldán and Oliveros pursue him, but let him get away. They then persuade the king to pardon Claros, who weds the princess.

7: Conde Claros fraile [Count Claros in Friar’s Garb]. Claros tells the king that his daughter is pregnant but that he intends to marry her. The king throws her in a dungeon with water up to her waist, and plans to burn her at the stake. She sends a letter by her page to Claros, who disguises himself as a friar to hear her confession at the stake. She confesses that Claros is the only man she has ever been with, and so Claros carries her off on his horse.

Four ballads of Count Claros were printed in the Siglo d’Oro, and they follow.

“Media noche era por filo,” Duran 362, Primavera 190. = Insomne + Infanta + Preso
Count Claros of Montalvan, Renaldo’s son, cannot sleep for love of the princess Claraniña. He finally tells her that he’s loved her seven years. They arrange a meeting in the garden, where they act as man and wife, but are surprised by a gardener, who refuses Claros’ offer of land and his sister’s hand in marriage if he keeps silent. The gardener tells Charlemagne, who kills him in a fit of rage, then arrests Claros. He summons his barons, and sentences Claros to death. Claros’ uncle the archbishop [unnamed] visits him in prison, to bring the sad news. Claros sends a message by the bishop’s page to Claraniña, who meets him at the scaffold. Claraniña falls down before her father and beseeches pardon, for the sake of Renaldo his father, who died in battle. She obtains it and marries Claros.

“A caza va el Emperador,” Primavera 191, Duran 364. = Emperador + Fraile
Charlemagne rides out hunting with Count Claros. Claros asks for Claraniña’s hand in marriage, since he has had her these six months. Charlemagne rides back to the city in a fury, throws his daughter in prison, and sentences her to be burnt. She writes a letter to Claros, who rides to the court like mad. He presents himself to Charlemagne disguised as a friar, and asks to hear her confession. Instead of so doing, however, he tries to kiss her, and the truth comes out. Claros tells Charles she is innocent, but a knight who loves her and is jealous of Claros accuses the supposed friar of lying. They duel. Charlemagne recognized Claros by the way he tighten his saddle straps. Claros kills the knight and then rides off with Claraniña.

“A misa va el Emperador,” Primavera 192. = Emperador + Insomne + Montalbán
The Emperor [unnamed] goes to Mass on St. John’s Day with Count Claros. Claros complains that the Moors have taken his castle of Montalban, which the king gave him. He threatens to turn Moor himself if the king does not succor him. The king promises him arms, and summons Oliveros, Montesinos, Roldan, Urgel [Ogier], and Merian to help him. Claros now asks for the king’s daughter in marriage, but he says she is promised to Don Beltran. Claros returns to his home, but cannot sleep that night for love of the princess. He calls his servants to dress him in fancy clothes, and he goes to the princess, and bids her flee to Montalban. He then goes to the king and explains that the princess is with child and that he is going to marry her. The king calls for his blood, but Claros flees through the streets of Paris. Oliveros and Roldan follow him, but he persuades them to let him go free. They return to the court and stall Don Beltran and the king. They persuade the king to pardon Claros, and the lovers are married.

“Durmiendo está el conde Claros,” by Antonio Pansac. Duran 363. = Insomne + Degollado
Count Claros cannot sleep for love of the princess, so he dresses in finery and goes to woo the princess [unnamed], and wins her favors without blessing from the altar. The king [unnamed] finds them, and has the count executed, and presents his heart to the princess on a golden plate. She dies of grief, and the king lays them both in one tomb.

 

Segment 1, Emperador, is still sung by the Sephardic Jews in Morocco as a prologue to Insomne. In Aragon, it is a prelude to Fraile. In different versions, the hero (Claros, Niño, Flores, Vélez) laments that his uncle the emperor’s gift to him of Montalvan has not made him rich, or simply that he has lost his money. Once he is confident that the emperor approves of him, he asks for Claraniña. Occasionally, among the Eastern Sephardim, Emperador stands alone. An uncle and nephew race their horses, then the nephew asks his uncle for Claraniña/Blancaniña as his wife. The uncle reminds him that he didn’t want her when he first offered her, and says she is now betrothed to the Count of Livorno. But, since the nephew is a strong knight, he could, hypothetically, win her back. The nephew says that his weapons are in pawn, so the uncle gives him money and fine cloths. He rides through the city streets, slowly when there are people, quickly when there are none. The women ask him why is trying to destroy their city, but he answers he is only looking for Claraniña. Most versions end here, but some make him rescue her from a tall tower where she is dining with her husband the Count.

Segment 2, Insomne, is sung in Morocco with Emperador, as we have said. In Castille, it is a prologue to Infanta + Fraile. In Portugal and Catalonia, it introduces Infanta + Preso. Armistead mentions that it is sung in Asturias, but does not say with what. Different versions expand or contract the description of the Count’s lavish and expensive clothing. In Morocco, at the end of Emperador, the emperor announces that Claros and Claraniña’s betrothed, the Count of Montalban, will duel for her hand the next day. After a sleepless night, Claros is armed (in a very long, elaborate description of his clothing) and rides through the streets, making sparks fly. The denouements vary widely. Claros wins the duel, or he stops outside Claraniña’s window to ask whom she loves best. She says “Count Albar,” and he faints. Luckily, she was only jesting, and she weds Claros the next day. Or, she really does love Count Albar better, and marries him. Or, after she makes her jest, Claros drops dead or rides away in madness. Claraniña, repentant too late, jumps from the window.

Segment 3, Infanta¸is sung with Fraile in Morocco and Castille, with Insomne and Preso in Catalonia, and with Insomne, Preso, and/or Fraile in Portugal. It also survives in fragments among the Gypsies of Andalusia. When it stands on its own or begins the ballad, it usually begins with a description of the princess leaving the palace, or coming home from the baths, though sometimes they simply meet in the garden. Various versions tone up or down how explicit the love-making is, and how willing the princess is. Usually the lovers try to bribe the hunter (sometimes a page, or squire, etc.) to keep silent, offering money, or the princess’ cousin in marriage. In Portugal, the hunter’s rejection of the bribes is because he was in love with Claraniña. The hunter’s execution is sometimes explained as being because he has brought dishonor on the king by telling his story in public.

Segment 4, Preso, is sung alone in León, and as a sequel to (Insomne +) Infanta in Asturias, Portugal, Brazil, Catalonia, and Argentina. Generally shorter than “Media noche era por filo”, but as far as I know changing the plot only by dropping such incidents as the prison visit, if at all. Two sections of Preso, from “Media noche era por filo” were extracted, expanded, and became popular songs in their own right. One, Pésame de vos, el conde, attributed Juan del Encina, expands the dialogue between Count Claros and the archbishop in prison. Another, Más envidia he de vos, conde, expands the dialogue between Claros and the bishop’s page. Both dwell on the idea that love does not deserve to be punished by death.

Segments 5 and 6 have not survived in oral tradition, if they were ever a part of it.

Segment 7, Fraile, is by far the most popular, sung in Morocco, Castile, Portugal, Catalonia, the Canaries, the Azores, Madeira and Brazil. Very rarely, it stands alone, and begins with the king asking his three daughters which one of them is pregnant, before sentencing the guilty one to burn. She then sends for a page to take the message, etc. Slightly less rarely, it is preceeded by Insomne + Infanta. Most commonly, however, it begins with verses taken from other ballads known as Aliarda y el alabancioso (also called Alabanza) and Infanta parida. This version is known as Lisarda, (the name generally given to the Princess). The hero has his way with the heroine, despite her protests (Alabanza). The next day, he boasts that he has slept with the most beautiful woman in the world. The king says that woman is his daughter (Parida). Then he has her imprisoned, she sends a message, etc. Still other versions run Insomne + Infanta + Alabanza + Parida + Fraile.

In “A caza va el Emperador”, the king throws his daughter in the waist-deep cold water to cause an abortion. This horrid detail was surpressed in all popular traditions, most of which tone down her imprisonment even further. The page (pajecito) who takes the message sometimes becomes a bird (pajarito), and from this, probably, an angel. Sometimes the hero’s mother suggests the friar disguise. His ride to the rescue covers a fortnight’s journey in a week. He usually speaks to his horse to encourage it, and sometimes the horse replies with advce to get him stronger shoes. In traditional versions, there is no duel, only the attempt to kiss her and the confession. They mount and ride away immediately from the scaffold, without waiting for the king’s pardon.

Some add ringing conclusions: the hero slays seven guards; the princess says that she will never hear the bells of her city again; the hero shouts that the king will never see them again. In others, the princess returns after seven years to rebuke her family for trying to burn her, or she sends her son or her twin children to do the same. In still other versions, the princess does not realize that the friar is her lover. Once they are safely away, he asks her why she weeps, and she tells him she would rather burn than be a friar’s mistress, whereupon he reveals himself.

Claraniña sometimes becomes Claralinda, or has her name changed completely, often to Galanzuca or Lizarda, but there are many other names for her. Sometimes she is given a brother named Rondale, i.e. Roland. Claros is sometimes replaced with Oliveros del Mar, or with Carlos Magnos. Other times he is simply known as Count of Montalban, or as Count Alvar. Due to the frequent changes of names, there are some localities where, for example, Infanta + Fraile and Emperador + Insomne are both sung, without any realization that they used to be connected.

Compare Fraile with Lady Maisry (Child 65), the German The King of Mailand, and the Hungarian The Dishonored Maiden.

Bevis of Hampton 7: The Third and Fourth Italian Redactions.

For a summary of the Italian version of Bevis of Hampton, see this post.

THE THIRD ITALIAN REDACTION

After Buovo’s banishment due to the horse race, the story follows the Third French redaction for his family’s separation and adventures in the East.

BUOVO RICCARDIANO

Ottava rima. Survives in one fragmentary manuscript in the Riccardian library in Florence, 2820.

Runs from the beginning to Buovo’s capture by Sultan Baldragi. Chiaragia, Buovo’s maid, helps him escape, and is executed for it. Buovo is sent to Baldragi under the pretense that he will be trying to convert him.

BUOVO DI GHERARDO

Ottava rima. Surviving in only one fragmentary manuscript. The poem was in three books. We have Book 2 complete, and no trace of the others, except Buovo Riccardiano. MS: BNCF Magl. VII, 1202.

The story picks up with the recovery of Antona. Terigi is not at the recovery of Antona. Buovo pretends to be Merlino, a herald of Brandoia’s father, to gain admittance to the city. His assistant is instead the brother of Chiaragia, the maid who helped him escape and was executed for it. After the banishment of Buovo for the death of the Prince of England, all follows the Third French redaction, until the MS breaks off, just before the reunion of Buovo and Drusiana in Asinella [Seville].

A very learned version, filled with quotes from the Church Fathers and the classics, and much given to expanding the roles of middle-class characters, particularly merchants and innkeepers. Sometimes, I am told, too prolix, but filled with many excellent scenes.

THE FOURTH ITALIAN REDACTION

BOVO D’ANTONA – the version of 1497

Adds an episode, probably based on Il Morgante Maggiore, in which Pulicane despoils a monastery to find food and clothing for Drusiana’s infants. After strong competition with the version of 1480, this became the standard Italian version in verse.

BOVO-BUCH

Arminio is ruler of Armenia, a city in Flanders[!] Bovo’s sword is Pomele. Pelukan’s robbing of the monastery is included. Bovo, disguised as a doctor, does not bother expelling Dodon, but reveals himself and cuts him to pieces. After Bovo gives Margarete to Teyrets and returns to Antona with Druzeyne, the author announces that he will not tell in full about his many other battles, such as how he saved his father-in-law from the invading Markabrun. Markabrun was killed, and Arminio died soon after. Thus Bovo had three kingdoms, one for him and one for each of his sons.

Elia Levita had many talents, but fiction was not one of them. His version is poorly written, poorly paced, and hopelessly vulgarized [Brandonia’s messenger fouls himself for fear of her anger; Druzhvena strips to try to seduce Bovo, etc.]. Its latest translator frankly admits that the only reason the poem is interesting is because it is in Yiddish. The characters are all made into good Jews. Druzhvena’s first act upon returning to safety is to have her sons circumcised instead of baptized; Bovo locks his mother up until the next Jubilee year, etc. The poem was very popular among the Ashkenazi Jews. Rabbis warned that it was a frivolous pack of lies, and were ignored. “Bovo-Bukh” for several centuries was the Yiddish word for “Ottava Rima”, and any poem so written, even popular explanations of theology, were advertised as being in “Bovo-Bukh style”. Prose versions of Levita’s story continued to be sold as chapbooks up until the 1900’s, though they toned down the anti-Christian passages.

UNKNOWN REDACTION 

CELINOS AND THE ADULTERESS

A Spanish ballad, now found only among the Sephardic Jews.

The Queen combs her hair before a mirror, praises God for making her so beautiful, and curses her parents for making her marry an old man. As she looks out the window, she sees Carleto, her lover. They plan to kill the king. He tells her to pretend to be pregnant and to have a craving for a stag/pig/ram/goat that lives in a certain part of the woods. She does so, and the king orders his men to prepare for the hunt. She tries to convince him to go alone, but he will have none of it. He meets Carleto, and one of them kills the other. In a few versions, the king dies, but usually he wins and sticks Carleto’s head on a lance, which he presents to the queen. She confesses that most of her children are Carleto’s, and/or threatens that his relatives will avenge him. The king cuts her head off, and sticks it beside her lover’s.

St. George for England – Added Verses

Le Sieur de Bayard held a bridge and never once did shirk.
Don John of Austria, he thumped and thrashed the Turk.
St. Michael and St. Catherine appeared to Joan of Arc.
Scanderbeg and Sobieski always hit their mark.
Ferdinand and Isabella took Alhambra Hall,
But Saint George, Saint George, he made the dragon fall!
Saint George he was for England; Saint Denis was for France,
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

There is a ballad in Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, first printed in 1612, which lists great knights and heroes of old and compares them to Saint George. You can read it here. I wrote this extra verse myself, and am posting it here in honor of Saint George’s Day.
As for the heroes listed, le Sieur de Bayard was a French knight in the 1500’s, who was known as the “Good Knight without Fear and without Reproach”. (He has no connection to Bayard, the steed of Rinaldo). You can read some of his adventures in The Red True Story Book by Andrew Lang. Don Juan of Austria led the Christian fleets against the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1591, which saved Christendom from Islam (temporarily, at least). You can read a magnificent ballad about the fight (better by far than anything I’ll ever write) by G. K. Chesterton, here. Joan of Arc is universally known, but many people have misconceptions about her. A good and accurate summary of her life can be found in Lang’s Red True Story Book. Skanderbeg, born George Castriot, heroically defended Albania and Christendom against the encroaching Turks from 1443 to his death in 1468. Longfellow’s poem Scanderbeg is about that hero’s defection from the Turks (he had been born Christian but raised as a Janissary) to rejoin the true Faith. King John III Sobieski of Poland rescued Vienna from the Turks who were besieging it in 1683, thereby breaking the power of the Ottoman Empire and putting Islam on the defensive for the next three hundred years. He arrived to save the day on September 11th, (probably not a coincidence), and actually raised the siege on the 12th, a feat commemorated in the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Ferdinand and Isabella, king and queen of Spain, completed the reconquest of that country from the Moors in 1492, when they conquered Granada from King Boabdil, a feat which gave Spain the unity and security she needed to bring the Catholic Faith to the New World. Lord Byron’s “Ballad on the Siege and Conquest of Alhama” is not about the final loss, but about an earlier one. Some ballads on Boabdil have been Englished, however, by John Lockhart and by James Gibson, and may be found in their Ancient Spanish Ballads, and The Cid Ballads and other Poems, respectively.
As for Saint George himself, he was martyred under Emperor Diocletian in Diospolis, in Palestine [now called Lod in Israel]. The legend of the dragon was not attached to him until the time of the First Crusade, when his popularity in the west exploded – but that is a story for another post. For now, I refer you to the summary in the Catholic Encyclopedia.