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 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, 4: Montesinos, Durandarte, and Belerma

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.

382, THE BIRTH OF MONTESINOS –I. Class III. “Muchas veces oi decir”
Count Grimaltos is raised at the courts of France, serving first as a page, then as a courtier, finally as chancellor. He marries the king’s daughter, and retires to his fiefs in Leon. Don Tomillas, still at court, accuses Grimaltos of treason. Grimaltos comes to Paris to defend himself, but is banished. The Countess arrives, but her intercession and that of the Peers [Roldan, Oliveros, Estolfo, Valdovinos, old Beltran, Reinaldos, Malgesi, Fincan the Roman, Meridan, etc.] are in vain. The count and countess leave, while all the people weep. Wandering in the wilderness, they find a hermit to stay with. Here the countess gives birth to Montesinos. The family live with the hermit, and the boy is raised and taught all knightly arts, until one day his father takes him for a ride, and they come to Paris.
Duran notes that this is very similar to the birth of Roland. Other authorities note the similarities to a chanson de geste called Aiol.
There is a ballad from oral tradition, which seems to be a distorted version of this one. Count Grismale, a wild man, comes to the court of the [unnamed] king, who gives him a horse and armor, and his daughter in marriage. But envious men slander him, and he is banished with his wife. As they wander in the woods, she dies in childbirth, or of sorrow, or he kills himself so that she can go home. Either way, their child is left orphaned, but two white doves raise him. He grows with prodigious speed, and returns to court, where everyone exclaims that he looks like Don Rondale. The child beheads the king and reigns in his place.
Rodd

383, MONTESINOS IS AVENGED ON TOMILLAS – II. Class III “Cata Francia, Montesinos”
Grimaltos explains that this is Paris, and that the tallest tower is that of Tomillas, his mortal foe. Montesinos gallops off to avenge him at once, though his father shouts after him to wait. The lad storms into court, and denounces Tomillas in front of all the barons and the king. Tomillas tries to strike the youth, who strikes back and kills him. He is seized, but explains who he is, the grandson of the king. All is forgiven, and Grimaltos is restored to his lands and favor.
Rodd

384, MONTESINOS AND ROSAFLORIDA – III. Class I. “En Castilla está un castello”
In Castille is a castle called Rocafrida., where lives Rosaflorida, who rejects all her suitors, because she is in love [by report?] with Montesinos. One night her chambermaid hears her weeping, and Rosaflorida bids her send letters to Montesinos, offering her person and her fiefs.
Gibson, Wright.
The oral tradition preserves this ballad, and gives it a conclusion. Rosaflorida, who lives in a golden castle, sends her message by a watchman, not her chambermaid, offering jewels, mills, slaves, and other gifts, and concluding by begging him, if he won’t marry her, to marry her still more beautiful sister, so that she can at least be near him. Montesinos arrives and introduces himself. Rosaflorida asks about his family, and he answers he is the son of a charcoal burner. She swoons, but when she recovers he explains he was only joking, and that his father is the king of France and his grandfather the king of Seville, or of Turkey. They are soon wed.

385, DURANDARTE OFFENDED AT HIS LADY – IV. Class III. “Durandarte, Durandarte”
Durandarte’s lady asks why he no longer loves her. He answers that it is because she loved Gaiferos while he was away in exile.
Bowring.
Durandarte, as far as anyone can tell, is Durindana, transformed from the name of a sword into the name of a knight.

386, MONTESINOS SEEKS FOR DURANDARTE IN THE BATTLE – I. By Lucas Rodriguez. Class VIII. “Por la parte donde vido”
Montesinos is always in the thick of battle [at Roncesvalles], he slays the Moor Albernzayde, but shatters his lance in the process. Looking around for a new one, he sees the battle over, Oliveros and the lord of Braña [Roland] dead. He looks for Durandarte.
Rodd.
Though Montesinos’ birth may be based on that of Roland or Aiol, his adventures at Roncesvalles seem to be purely the invention of the Spanish muse.

387, DURANDARTE, DYING, BIDS MONTESINOS CARRY HIS HEART TO BELERMA. – II. Class III. “Oh Belerma! Oh Belerma!”
Durandarte laments. He has served Belerma seven years, but could not win her favor. He bids his cousin Montesinos keep his old promise, to cut out his heart and carry it to Belerma. He dies, and Montesinos weeps. He cuts the heart out and laments over the body.
Gibson.

388, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. – III. By Lucas Rodriguez. Class VIII. “Por el rastro de la sangre”
Montesinos follows the trail of blood, and finds Durandarte under a hedge. Durandarte laments the death of Roldan, and the captivity of Guarinos. He bids Montesinos carry his heart to Belerma, and dies.
Rodd.

389, MONTESINOS, AFTER CUTTING OUT THE HEART, BURIES DURANDARTE. –IV. Class V “Muerto yace Durandarte debajo una verde haya”
Durandarte lies dead, and Montesinos cuts out his heart. He cleans and preserves it, buries his cousin, and rides, sad and pensive, to Paris, to Belerma’s palace.
Rodd.

390, ON THE SAME SUBJECT – V. Class V. “Muerto yace Durandarte al pié de una verde haya”
Durandarte lies dead, and Montesinos cuts out his heart. He cleans and preserves it, buries his cousin, and rides, sad and pensive, to Paris, to Belerma’s palace. He presents the heart. Belerma begs God to pardon Durandarte’s soul.
No translation.
According to Duran, this is a mere modernization of the preceding.

391, ON THE SAME SUBJECT – VI. By Lucas Rodriguez. Class VIII. “Echado está Montesinos”
Montesinos weeps for his cousin Durandarte, forgetful of all the disaster of Roncesvalles. He cuts the heart out, and rides to take it to Belerma, as he promised.
No translation.

392, BELERMA RECEIVES THE NEWS OF THE DEATH OF DURANDARTE. – VII. Class VIII. “En Francia estaba Belerma”
Belerma, talking with her damsels in Paris, mentions that Durandarte is a fine warrior, then anxiously explains that she isn’t in love with him or anything. She swoons, and when she revives, thinks it an ill omen. Montesinos arrives, tells the news, and presents the heart.
Rodd.

393, BELERMA LAMENTS THE DEATH OF DURANDARTE – VIII. By Lucas Rodriguez. Class VIII. “Sobre el corazon defunto”
Belerma weeps tears of blood over the heart, and laments.
Rodd.

1893, DURANDARTE DEAD, MONTESINOS CUTS OUT HIS HEART AND SENDS IT TO HIS BETROTHED BELERMA. Class V. “Muerto yace Durandarte”
Montesinos cuts the armor off Durandarte, cuts his heart out, and addresses it in a lament. He goes to Belerma, who laments and dies.
No translation.
Included in the appendix to Duran’s Romancero, through not being noticed earlier.

Read more about Roncesvalles here.

Or here.