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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roncesvalles and Charlemagne are nowhere mentioned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 13: Bernardo Meets his Father

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

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

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

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

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

656, BERNARDO OBTAINS HIS FATHER’S FREEDOM, ONCE HE IS ALREADY DEAD. Class VIII. “Antes que barbas tuviese”
Bernardo rebukes Alfonso for not releasing his father. Alfonso swears to release him before Mass is sung tomorrow in the Lateran. He does so, but first he blinds and kills him.

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

658, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. By Lorenzo de Sepúlveda. Class IV. “En Leon y las Asturias”
Alfonso III the Great reigns in Leon and Asturias. Bernardo asks for his father’s liberty. Alfonso refuses, and Bernardo revolts. The barons persuade Alfonso to release Count Sancho Diaz. Alfonso agrees, if Bernardo will render up Carpio. He agrees, and Alfonso sends Don Tibalte and Don Arias to Luna to kill the Count and bring his body from prison. They dress him up, and invite Bernardo to the palace to see him. Bernardo kisses his father’s hand, discovers the trick, and laments.
Versification of a chronicle.

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

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

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

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

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

664, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. Bernardo, his kin and friends kneel by a black tomb in a church. It is that of Count Sancho. Bernardo laments. At last he rises, turns around, and, heedless of the holy place, rebukes King Alfonso, in ottava rima.
Lockhart, though much abridged.

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

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads 12: Bernardo at Roncesvalles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 11: Bernardo Prepares for Roncesvalles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads 10: The Adventures of Bernardo del Carpio

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.

628, BERNARDO CONQUERS KING ORES OF MÉRIDA, AND SAVES ALFONSO THE CHASTE FROM BEING DISINHERITED AND IMPRISONED. Class IV. “Hueste saca el rey Ores”
King Ores of Mérida besieges Benavente. Alfonso rides to raise the siege, but is surrounded, until Bernardo arrives and rescues him. Bernardo kills King Ores and routes the Moors, but Alfonso will not free his father.

629, BERNARDO CONQUERS KING ALMAZA OF BADAJOZ, AND SAVES ALFONSO THE CHASTE FROM BEING CAPTURED. Class IV. “Ya pasados pocos dias”
King Almaza of Badajoz lays siege to Zamora. Alfonso rides to raise the siege, is nearly captured, but is saved by Bernardo, who asks for his father’s liberty. Alfonso refuses.
A copy of #628. Duran suspects this is by Timoneda.

630, BERNARDO, CONQUEROR OF THE FRANK DON BUESO, ASKS THE KING FOR HIS FATHER’S FREEDOM. Class IV. “Estando en paz y sosiego”
Don Bueso of France invades Alfonso’s lands. Bernardo defeates Bueso in single combat, and the French go home. Alfonso, in gratitude, promises to free Bernardo’s father, but when he is back in safety, changes his mind.

631, BERNARDO CAPTURES KING VENCEDOR IN HIS FORTRESS OF POLVOREDA. Class V. “No cesando el Casto Alfonso”
Alfonso is annoyed that two Moorish fortresses are on the borders of his kingdom. He sends Bernardo to capture Polvoreda while he takes the other, on the banks of the Duero. Both are successful.

632, BERNARDO RESCUES EL CARPIO AND HIS BELOVED ESTELA FROM THE MOORS WHO BESIEGED IT. By Lucas Rodirguez. Class VIII. “Con ansia extrema y lloroso”
The Moors lays siege to Bernardo’s castle of El Carpio, where his beloved Estela is. He arrives, and learns the current situation from his friend Ascanio. He proceeds to save the day.
This is an invention of Rodriguez’ from beginning to end. Estela and Ascanio are completely unknown outside of this ballad.

633, BERNARDO AGAIN ASKS THE KING FOR HIS FATHER’S FREEDOM. Class VIII. “Al casto rey Don Alfonso”
Bernardo asks Alfonso for his father’s freedom, invoking his father’s great age, and that he has suffered enough. He recalls his services when Charlemagne invaded, and reminds him that, after, all, there was a legitimate marriage, and he [Bernardo] is no bastard, but a loyal and dutiful knight.

634, THE QUEEN PROMISES BERNARDO THE LIBERTY OF HIS FATHER, IF HE WINS A TOURNAMENT, BUT THE KING REFUSES TO HONOR HIS WIFE’S WORD. Class I. “Andados treinta y seis años”
In the year 853 [!], the thirty-sixth year of Don Alfonso’s reign, he is at Leon, and holds a feast. Don Arias and Don Tibalte are saddened to see that Bernardo is absent, and ask the Queen to ask him to come to the feast. She promises his father’s liberty to Bernardo if he comes. He fulfills his end of the bargain, but the King flatly refuses to grant the Queen’s request.
This Queen must be the Queen Mother, since Alfonso never married. His mother was a Basque noblewoman named Munia.

635, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. By Lorenzo de Sepúlveda. Class IV. “El casto Alfonso hizo cortes”
Alfonso the Chaste holds court in Leon. Bernardo does not come. The nobles go before the Queen, and ask her to ask him to come to the feast. She promises his father’s liberty to Bernardo if he comes. He fulfills his end of the bargain. Bernardo then reminds the king of his services, such as killing King Ores, and rescuing the King at the Oruega River. Alfonso refuses to release the Count, and so Bernardo defies him and starts a rebellion.
According to Duran, this is based on an older, more popular ballad, perhaps a combination of 634 and 637.

636, BERNARDO ASKS AGAIN IN VAIN FOR THE LIBERTY OF HIS FATHER. Class VIII. “A los piés arrodillado”
Bernardo throws himself at Alfonso’s feet, and beseeches mercy for his old, grey-haired father.

637, THE KING BANISHES BERNARDO. Class I. “En gran pesar y tristeza”
Bernardo is sorrowful, after Alfonso threatens to throw him in jail, too, if he ever asks for his father’s freedom again. He reminds the king of his many services, such as killing King Ores and King Alzaman, and rescuing Alfonso at the battle of the Orbi River. He then defies the king, and renounces his vassalship. Alfonso gives Bernardo nine days to leave the kingdom, on pain of death. Bernardo retreats to Saldaña, gathers his loyal men, and wars against Alfonso until the latter’s death.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads 9: The Youth of Bernardo del Carpio

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.

619, THE BIRTH OF BERNARDO DEL CARPIO. Class I. “En los reinos de Leon”
In Leon, Alfonso the Chaste reigned. His beautiful sister, Doña Jimena, and the Count of Saldaña fell in love, and produced Bernardo del Carpio, at which the irritated King threw the count in jail.
Wright.
The real Alfonso II the Chaste of Asturias was born in 760, became king in 791, and died in 842. Bernardo del Carpio is a figment of some patriotic minstrel’s imagination. Despite what some sources claim, the story is not based on King Nepociano, the brother-in-law of Alfonso who attempted to usurp the throne at his death. The real Nepociano, while a usurper, was only a distant kinsman of the Chaste, who had no known sisters.

620, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. By Lorenzo de Sepúlveda. “El conde Don Sancho Diaz”
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 arrests the Count, who begs the king to be merciful to Bernardo.

621, HOW KING ALFONSO SUMMONED THE COUNT OF SALDAÑA UNDER SAFE-CONDUCT, AND IMPRISONED HIM TO PUNISH HIS SECRET MARRIAGE WITH HIS SISTER DOÑA JIMENA. Class IV. Perhaps by Timoneda. “Reinando el rey Don Alfonso”
Seventeen years into Alfonso’s reign, Jimena weds Count Sancho Diaz in secrecy, producing Bernardo del Carpio. Alfonso invites Sancho to court under safe-conduct, but seizes him and throws him in prison.

622, HOW THE COUNT OF SALDAÑA WAS IMPRISONED IN THE CASTLE OF LUNA, AND DOÑA JIMENA SENT TO A NUNNERY. Class V. “Sabiendo el Rey cómo el Conde”
While Count Sancho is at court, Alfonso and his men capture him. Sancho asks only that the king be merciful to young Bernardo. Jimena is sent to a nunnery
Duran thinks this is Timoneda’s reworking of 620.

Some later versions of these ballads, from the oral tradition, give the story a happy ending, by having the queen overhear the Count’s laments and obtain his freedom. Others make Jimena the sister not of King Alfonso, but of the Cid. Still others combine these two corruptions.

623, DESCRIPTION OF BERNARDO DEL CARPIO. Class V. “A cabo de mucho tiempo”
When Bernardo is of age, Alfonso summons him to court, and his very pleased with him. He has every knightly virtue.

624, BERNARDO LEARNS THE SECRET OF HIS BIRTH. Class VIII. “Contándole estaba un dia”
Elvira Sanchez, Bernardo’s nurse, tells him that, despite what Alfonso said, he is not a bastard. He is the son of the lawfully married Sancho Diaz and Jimena. The Count is imprisoned in the castle of Luna. Bernardo is the rightful heir to the throne, though Alfonso wishes to leave it to the French.

625, THE LAMENT OF THA COUNT OF SALDAÑA, THAT HIS SON BERNARDO HAS NOT FREED HIM. Class VIII. “Bañado está las prisiones”
Count Sancho Diaz, in prison, laments.
Lockhart

626, BERNARDO ASKS THE KING FOR THE LIBERTY OF HIS FATHER, WHICH IS DENIED. Class I. “En corte del casto Alfonso”
Bernardo, living at Alfonso’s court, does not know his father is imprisoned, though everyone else does. Two courties, 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.
Wright.

627, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. By Lorenzo de Sepúlveda. Class IV. “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.