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


PCG Chapter 655: Year 11 of Alfonso III’s reign (876). They say in cantares that Bernaldo went to France, where King Charles [presumably the Bald] welcomed him, but Timbor’s son rejected him. Despairing, Bernaldo left the court. Charles gave him horses and arms, but Bernaldo still ravaged the land as he returned to Spain, where he founds Canal de Jaca, marries Doña Galiana, daughter of Count Alardos de Latre, and begets on her Galín Galíndez, who grew up to be a fine knight in his own right. Bernardo fought three great battles against the Moors before his death. Some say that it was Alfonso III who fought at Ronçasvalles, but this is an error.

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

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

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


Bernardo del Carpio 9: Battles of Bernardo



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







Benevento and Zamora

Bernardo’s Rebellion

Bernardo’s Rebellion

Saracens raid Asturias and Leon

Bernardo and Saracens raid Ast. and L.

Polvorosa and Valdemoro

Polvorosa and Valdemoro

Polvorosa and Valdemoro



Ymundar and Alcatenel

Bernardo’s Rebellion

Bernardo and Saracens raid Ast. and L.



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

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



Subsection 1: Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Oswald, pp.104-106.

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

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

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

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

Subsection 2: Ballads

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

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



Subsection 1: Chronicles

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

Historia Silense: Copied directly from Sampiro.

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

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

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

3 Oswald, pp. 108 seq.

Subsection 2: Ballads

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

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



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

4 Oswald, p. 113.



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

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

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

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