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 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.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 8. Miscellaneous Ballads

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

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

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

SATIRICAL BALLADS

436, DURANDARTE. Class VIII. “Durandarte, buen amigo.”
Montesinos asks Durandarte what message to carry to Belerma. Durandarte answers that he will be quite content if she is sad for three days before starting to look for a new lover.

437, BELERMA. By Luis de Góngora. Class VIII. “Diez años vivió Belerma”.
Ten years after Roncesvalles, Belerma is still weeping over the heart of Durandarte. Lady Alda, by now the merry widow of Count Rodulfo, visits to cheer her up, and to suggest that they search for new husbands together, only stopping her praise of married life when Montesinos walks in.

DIDACTIC BALLAD

438, ROLDAN. Class VIII. “Señor conde Don Roldan.”
The old Don Beltran gives Roldan advice on how to have a happy married life with Alda.

MISCELLANEOUS BALLADS

289, THE SULTAN OF BABYLON AND THE COUNT OF NARBONNE. Class III. “Del Soldan de Babilonia”
The Sultan of Babylon and sixty thousand troops sail to Narbonne, and capture Count Benalmeniquí [Aymeri]. They exhibit him before the castle walls. The Countess offers to pay any price to ransom him. The Count bids her not pay one maravedi.
From La Mort Aymeri de Narbonne.

291, THE PALMER. Class III. “De Mérida sale el Palmero”
A palmer leaves Mérida, and comes to Paris. He asks for Charlemagne, and is told that he is hearing Mass at Saint John Lateran. In the church, the palmer bows to the bishop, and to the Emperor, but not to Roldan or Oliveros. Insulted, they draw their swords on him. Charles restrains them, but demands an explanation from the palmer. He tells how he loved the princess of Sansueña [here, Saragossa], but was captured and imprisoned in Mérida. Charles asks if Mérida is strong. The palmer says yea. Roldan and Oliveros say nay. The palmer then criticizes them and Charles for not coming to Mérida to rescue the Emperor’s son who was captive there, at which the queen recognizes him for her long-lost son, to much rejoicing.
Rodd
A palmer is a pilgrim who has been to the Holy Land, as distinct from a romero, who has been to Saint James of Compostella. Once again, the Spanish seem to think that the Lateran is in Paris. Duran didn’t list this with the Charlemagne ballads proper in order to link it with another ballad of a pilgrim, number 292, “En los tiempos que me vi” which, while interesting, has no similarities to this ballad, and nothing to do with Charlemagne.

323, COUNT GRIFOS LOMBARDO. Class V. “En aquella peñas pardas”
Count Grifos is captured by Charlemagne’s knights for raping a girl on pilgrimage to Saint James, who was daughter of a duke, and niece of the Pope. He is thrown in the dungeon, and is sentenced to marry his victim.
Grifone is a common name for Maganzans and other traitors. Probably this is one of them, and not Grifone the son of Oliver. According to some early traditions, Bernardo del Carpio was begotten  under similar circumstances. For a fuller discussion of this ballad in oral tradition, see this post.

DOUBTFUL AND SEMI-CAROLINGIAN BALLADS

299, THE ADULTERER CHASTISED. Class V. “Ay qué linda que eres, Alba”
Count Grifos and Alba have an assignation, when her husband Albertos returns early from hunting. He hides in the closet, and she tries to explain why she is blushing, why Grifos’ armor and horse are present, but fails and dies of terror.
Duran seems to think this is the same Grifos as in 323. I don’t see why. See Child’s Ballads No. 274 “Our Goodman” for everything you could ever want to know about this kind of ballad.

298, THE ADULTERER CHASTISED.  Class III. “Blanca sois, señora mia”
A knight and lady have an assignation, when her husband the Count returns early from hunting. The lady tries to explain why she is blushing, why someone’s armor and horse are present, but when he asks whose lance is in the hall, confesses.
Wright.
A version of 299. Again, see Child.

319, THE DISCONSOLATE AND JEALOUS LOVER. Class V. “Caballero, si á Francia ides”
A lament of a woman, asking a cavalier to go to France and tell her lord to come rescue her.
Either an imitation of Melisendra’s laments in Sansueña, or those same laments genericized.

5, PRINCESS SEVILLA AND PERANZULES. Class V. “Sevilla está en un torre”
Princess Sevilla climbs the highest tower of in Toledo, whence she beholds a knight riding towards the city, with seven chained Moors in tow. Another Muslim knight is chasing him, catches up with him, and announces that the captives are his father and brothers, and offers to pay a ransom, or failing that, to duel for them. Peranzules, the Christian knight, overthrows him, beheads him, and leads his prisoners into Toledo to present to Sevilla.
In oral versions, the religion of the two combatants and the victor are highly variable. The Jewish versions tend to make the Muslim win.
The late lamented Samuel Armistead, who probably knew more about the Sephardic Jews’ folklore than anyone else ever has or will, thinks it very possible that this ballad is descended from the scene in Aliscans where William of Orange, sole survivor of a rout of Christians and disguised in Muslim armor, seeks admittance to Orange from his wife Guiborc. She is suspicious, and notices a band of pagans leading Christian captives over the field. They have just ravaged Toledo. She bids William prove his identity by rescuing them, he does so, and sends the freed Christians back to Orange while he pursues those Muslims who have fled.

330, THE TRAITOR MARQILLOS, AND BLANCA-FLOR. Class III. “Cuán traidor eres, Marquillos!”
Marquillos kills his lord and comes to his lady Blanca-Flor’s bed. She begs only one favor: that he not sleep with her till dawn. He, being a gentleman, agrees. When he falls asleep, Blanca-Flor stabs him.
Part of the May Colvin/Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight family [Child 4]. It is only included here because the names, though not the plot, seem to be borrowed from some version of The Dog of Montargis.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads 5: The Battle of Roncesvalles

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

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

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

394, BATTLE AGAINST MARSIN. Class III. “Domingo era de Ramos”
On Palm Sunday, when the Passion is read, the French met with the Moors in battle. Roldan the Paladin rallied them when they were near to fleeing. Sixty thousand died in the first battle. King Marsin went wandering through the sierras of Altamira. He curses Mahoma, then repents and promises rich offerings if he wins.
No translation.
Apparently a condensation of some lost Spanish epic. A longer version was discovered after Duran’s day, which follows.

THE FLIGHT OF KING MARSÍN. “Ya comiençan los franceses”
The French fight the Moors. Baldovinos complains to Don Beltran about his hunger, thirst, and weariness, and says they must ask Don Roldan to blow his horn and summon the Emperor. Don Roldan refuses his cousins’ request, saying he will never be so shamed, but that they may ask Don Renaldos. Don Renaldos, for his part, says he will never sound his horn for so few Moors as these. The French are heartened, and mow the Moors down like wheat. But then a Moor, born in an evil hour, rallies his countrymen, pointing out that they outnumber the French a hundred to one, saying they will shame Marsin, his queen, and themselves if they flee. The Moors rally and drive back the French. Archbishop Turpin tells the French it is better to die with honor than live with shame, and the French return to the fight. King Marsin went wandering through the Roncesvalles, riding a zebra, not a hack. His blood stains the grass. He curses Mahoma, reminding him how many offerings he had given. An idol with a golden head and silver body and seventy thousand cavaliers. His wife Abrayma gave thirty thousand, his daughter Mataleona fifteen thousand. And now Mahoma has betrayed him and let the paladin Roldan cut his right arm off. Roldan must be enchanted, or he never could have done it. Marsin threatens to turn Christian, and be baptized at Rome by Turpin, with Roldan for godfather. He repents immediately, and asks Mahoma to heal him.
Wright.
Like 394, this is descended from the old Spanish Roncesvalles, the original version of which survives only in one fragment.

395, THE DEATH OF DON BELTRAN IN RONCESVALLES. Class III. “En los campos de Alventosa”
In the fields of Alventosa, they killed Don Beltran, who lay with seven wounds. They cast lots to go look for his body. Seven times a coward gives up the search. Only an old man [his father] continues, cursing Spain, the Moors, the war, and other things. He meets a Moor and asks if he has seen Don Beltran. The Moor directs him to where Beltran is lying dead under a bush.
Rodd.
A slightly different version, beginning “Por la matanza va el viejo” is translated by Wright.

396, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Un gallardo paladin”
Not a ballad, but a lyric. The dauphin of France, in Roncesvalles, laments that he and his men could not defeat Bernardo the Castillian, and that Don Beltrane is dead.
No translation.

397, ON THE SAME SUBJECT Class VIII. “Cuando de Francia partimos”
When we came from France, we lost Don Beltrane. We cast lots seven times who would go look for him, and all seven were cowards who returned having done nothing. His father curses them and laments.
No translation.

398, ROLDAN DIES, UPON SEEING THE WOUNDED AND FLEEING CHARLEMAGNE IN RONCESVALLES. Class VIII. “Por muchas partes herido”
The old Charlemagne, wounded sore, flees after the men of Spain have killed eleven of his Peers. Roldan, who cannot be wounded, is standing by a cross lamenting the defeat, when he sees Charlemagne, and dies of grief.
No translation.

399, THE DEATH OF ROLDAN. Lucas Rodriguez. Class VIII. “Apartado del camino”
Orlando [sic], riding alone and wounded after the battle, holds a crucifix, and beseeches God to take his soul, since the French are lost, and El Carpio has bested him and Durindana. He sees Charlemagne, alone, sad, crownless and bloody, and dies of grief.
No translation.
The ballads of Bernardo del Carpio will be given later, following Duran’s editorial decision.

400, LADY ALDA MOURNS THE DEATH OF ROLDAN. Class III. “En Paris está Doña Alda”
Lady Alda is in Paris with her maids. She has a dream that she is standing on a mountain when a falcon takes refuge in her arms from an eagle, only for the eagle to fly at her and kill it. One maid explains that the eagle is Roldan, and the falcon the Saracens. Alda promises her a rich reward if this be true. But the next day letters come, written in blood, telling of the death of Roldan in Roncesvalles.
Gibson, Lockhart.
This is easily the most famous of the Spanish ballads of Charlemagne, outside of Spain. In Spain it has been completely forgotten. In some of the oral versions, Alda dies upon receiving the news. Others replace the falcon with a black heron and the eagle with a sparrowhawk.

401, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Lucas Rodriguez. Class VIII. “Cuando  la triste Doña Alda”
Alda, hearing the news of Orlando’s death, throws herself on her bed, tears her clothes, and laments this at length, her brother Oliveros’ death more briefly, and then dies herself.
No translation.

402, ADMIRAL GUARINOS. Class III “Mala la visteis, franceses”
In an evil hour the French saw Roncesvalles. The twelve Peers were slain, and Admiral Guarinos taken captive. Seven Moorish kings throw lots for him, and seven times Prince Marlotes wins. He offers him much honor if he will turn Moor, besides one of his daughters as wife and the other as serving-maid. Guarinos refuses, and has a wife at him already. Marlotes, furious, throws him in the dungeon. On Saint John’s Day, which Christians and Moors alike celebrate, Marlotes holds a tournament. Guarinos asks his jailer what the noise is about. He answers. Guarinos begs him for a horse and armor to joust in the tourney. The jailer answers that Guarinos has been seven years in the dungeon that no one else has survived one year in, and that he will ask Marlotes about his request. Marlotes, thinking this will be excellent fun, agrees. Guarinos kills many Moors in the tournament, and flees to France, where he is greeted with rejoicing.
Rodd, Gibson, Lockhart.
Duran thinks the germ of the story was the youth of Ogier the Dane at Charlemagne’s court. In the Provencal Ronsavals, Garin of Anseune, who is usually one of the sons of Aymeri of Narbonne, is taken prisoner by the Saracens at Roncesvalles.
In some later versions of this ballad, from oral tradition, Guarismos is captured in an unspecified battle on Saint John’s Day [June 24]. He rejects all the Moors’ bribes to get him to convert, and is finally freed when the Pope sends criers through the city to see who can destroy the castle of San Juare. Guarismos knocks it down and thereby earns his freedom.
This ballad was translated into, of all things, Russian, in 1789 by Nikolai Michailovich Karamzin, where it passed into folklore, much to the puzzlement of nineteenth-century collectors.

NOT IN DURAN:

Roldan urges the French to return to battle. If the grand duke/great count hears they have fled, he will stop their pay and their wives will never love them again. They return and kill a multitude of Moors.
Doubtless akin to 394.

Roldan is killed in battle, and lies in the sand with seven wounds so big that the sun shines through them, and a sparrowhawk could fly through the smallest. Seven men cast lots who shall bury him, and seven times the lot falls on Roldan’s grieving father.
This has evidently been transfered to Roldan from Beltran. Usually Roldan’s father is dead long before Roncesvalles.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 3: Calaynos, Gayferos, and Melisendra

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.

The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.

Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.

Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

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

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

373, THE MOOR CALAYNOS. Class III. “Ya cabalga Calaynos”
Calaynos is in Sansueña [Saragossa], and woos the beautiful princess Sevilla, daughter of Almanzor. She will only give her love if he brings her the heads of Roldan, Reinaldos, and Oliveros. He sallies forth to Paris, and challenges the Paladins. Roldan will not deign to fight with him, so Valdovinos jousts, and is overthrown. Roldan, impressed, will joust now. He overthrows Calaynos, who explains why he has come. Roldan laughs, says his lady must not have loved him very much, and kills him.
Lockhart, Rodd, Gibson.

Duran mentions an Italian poem called La Gran Guerra e Rotta dello Scapigliato, which features a very similar story. In the Italian, the Moor is named Scapigliato, the lady is Princess Rosetta of Russia, and is daughter to Almanzor, cousin to Gradasso, and sister to Rovenza, so that it is revenge, and not a ploy to get rid of an unwanted suitor, which moves her to bid him kill Rinaldo and Orlando, out of vengeance. He defeats several Paladins before Rinaldo kills him.

BALLADS OF GAYFEROS AND MELISENDRA

374, GAYFEROS – I. Class III. “Estábase la Condesa”
The Countess combs her son Gayferos’ hair, and tells him that if he lives to be a knight he must avenge his father, who was slain by a traitor in order to marry her. The Count Galvan overhears, angrily denies it, and tells his men to take Gayferos into the woods, kill him, and bring back his heart and little finger. They cut the finger off, but let him go, and take back the heart of a deer. The lad escapes to his uncle.
Lockhart, Gibson.

375, GAYFEROS – II. Class III. “Vámonos, dijo, mi tio”
Gayferos tells his uncle [unnamed, but appears to be Beltran] what happened, they return to Paris, disguised as pilgrims, and come to the Countess’ house. Count Galvan has forbidden her to give food to pilgrims, but she does when they ask it for the love of Gayferos. Galvan arrives, rebukes the countess, and is slain by Gayferos, who reveals himself, to much rejoicing.
Gibson.

376, GAYFEROS –III. Class VIII. “No con los dados se gana”
Charlemagne rebukes Gayferos for playing dice with Oliveros instead of rescuing his wife from Sansueña.
No translation.

377, GAYFEROS – IV. Class III. “Asentado está Gayferos”
Gayferos and Guarinos are playing dice at court, when Charlemagne tells him that if he was as good a knight as he is a gambler, he might have rescued Melisendra, Gayferos’ wife and Charlemagne’s daughter, by now. Gayferos summons his uncle Roldan, his cousin Oliveros, Durandarte and the others to tell them that his wife has been captive for seven years, he searched three years and could find no trace. He has learned she is in Sansueña, but he’s loaned his horse and armor to Montesinos, who is at a tournament in Hungary. He borrows Roldan’s horse, armor and sword, takes his leave of his uncle Don Beltran, and sallies forth alone. At Sansueña, he learns that Melisendra has been adopted by King Almanzor, but refuses to marry any Moorish prince. He slips into the palace gardens, where Melisendra sees from a balcony that he is a knight-errant, and bids him take a message to Gayferos in France. He announces who he is, she races out of the palace to meet him. They are surprised by the Moors, but escape, much to Almanzor’s chagrin. Gayferos taunts him and gallops off with Melisendra. They ride all the way back to Paris, where there is much rejoicing.
Rodd, Gibson
In some of the oral ballads, Melisendra leaps out of the window into her lover’s arms.

378, GAYFEROS – V. By Miguel Sanchez, el Divino. Class VIII. “Oid, señor Don Gayferos”
The speaker addresses Gayferos, tells him that Melisendra, his wife and Charlemagne’s daughter, is in Sansueña. He advises him to stop playing at the tables [backgammon] and go rescue her, before she falls in love with a Moor.
No translation.

379, GAYFEROS – VI. Class VIII. “El cuerpo preso en Sansueña”
Melisendra is heartsick in Sansueña, sees a knight outside her window, bids him, if he ever goes to France, to tell Gayferos to come rescue her. It is Gayferos! He apologizes for his tardiness, and they flee to France.
Lockhart.

380, GAYFEROS – VII. Class VIII. “Cautiva, ausente y celosa”
Melisendra is in Sansueña, sighing, watching the road to France. She laments, wondering why Gayferos tarries.
No translation.

381, GAYFEROS – VIII. Class VIII. “Mil celosas fantasias”
Melisendra, in the tower of Sansueña, laments and weeps, wondering if Gayferos is faithful to her.
No translation.

Gayferos appears here and there in French chansons de geste as Gaifires, who seems to be based on Duke Waiofar [r. 745-768] of Aquitaine, who was the son of Hunaud I [r. 735-744, and may have been the inspiration for Rinaldo of Montalban], and possibly the father of Hunaud II. All of these dukes fought the Carolingian line to try and preserve the independence of Gascony and Aquitaine. There is much that is unknown about these dukes.  Some speculate that Hunaud II was the real leader of the Basque army at Roncesvalles, though there is no evidence for this.
The story of Melisendra is the one which Don Quixote’s nemesis Master Pedro performs as a puppet-play, and in which the Don is so caught up that he leaps to help Melisendra by attacking all the other puppets.

In some of the oral ballads, Melisendra becomes a very amorously inclined woman. She can’t sleep for love, and tells her nurse so, who bids her go to his bed. She goes through the streets, kills a watchman who sees her, slips into her lover’s bed, and makes him promise to marry her in the morning. He does so.

There is another ballad which is merely a description of Melisendra’s beauty as she walks home from the baths.

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