Epic and Chronicle: The Poema de Mio Cid and the Craonica de Veinte Reyes

By Brian Powell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2

THE POEMA DE MIO CID AND THE
ALPHONSINE CHRONICLES OF SPAIN

I. THE LATIN PRECURSORS OF THE
ALPHONSINE CHRONICLES

After the composition of the PMC in the opening years of the thirteenth century, it is several decades before Rodrigo Díaz makes an appearance in any surviving text. He is then referred to in two major histories of Spain, both in Latin and both by leading clerics, the Chronicon Mundi of Lucas, Bishop of Tuy, and the De Rebus Hispaniae of Archbishop Rodrigo of Toledo. These two important chronicles bridge the gap between the earlier tradition of Latin histories by ecclesiastical authors, and the new tradition of vernacular chronicles established by Alfonso X, who used both the above works, and especially the De Rebus Hispaniae, as the structural basis for his Estoria de España (see below). Both Lucas and Rodrigo seem to have known and used fictional, probably poetic, sources, although sparingly. Pidal suggests that together they used up to eleven epic tales, but, as will be seen, it is unlikely that they knew the PMC in a form like that in which it has survived.


A. The 'Chronicon Mundi' of Lucas of Tuy

Lucas of Tuy, known as el Tudense, took his Chronicon up to the year 1236, and it was therefore completed in that year or shortly afterwards. The prime mover behind the work seems to have been Queen Berenguela, mother of Fernando III; this is made clear in the prologue: 'Astrictis praeceptis gloriosissimae ac prudentissimae Hispaniarum Reginae dominae Berengariae ...' (p. 1). 1 The work begins with a eulogy of Spain, listing at length the country's features and its qualities, and this is followed by an account of the creation (pp. 2-6). 2 It is not until the fourth of the four 'libri', into which the history is divided, that we reach the beginnings of contemporary Spain, with the battle of Covadonga and the reign of King Pelayo. The work ends with the conquest of the old Moorish capital, Córdoba, by San Fernando, and the restoration of the bells of the cathedral of Santiago removed from there centuries earlier by Moslem raiders. Compared to previous historical works, such as the Crónica Najerense, the Chronicon is a big step forward. It is much longer and more

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