Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lockhart's "March of Bernardo del Carpio"

With three thousand men of Leon, from the city Bernard goes
To protect the soil Hispanian from the spear of Frankish foes
From the city that is planted in the midst between the seas
To preserve the name and glory of Pelayo's victories

Bernardo del Carpio, Spanish culture hero

In the earliest chronicles, Roland is said to have died at the hands of Basques. In later versions, the mythologized battle of Roncesvalles is between him as commander of Charlemagne's rearguard and the Saracens. But in Spain, the story is told slightly differently; the battle is the climax of a legendarium focused around a different character entirely. That story asserts the primacy of an independent Spain, and gained prominence as the notion of a united Spanish realm with its own national identity was coming to the fore. Naturally, therefore, it figures strongly in the romancero viejo.