The Chivalric Vision of Alfonso de Cartagena: Study and Edition of the Doctrinal de los Caualleros

The Chivalric Vision of Alfonso de Cartagena: Study and Edition of the Doctrinal de los Caualleros

The Chivalric Vision of Alfonso de Cartagena: Study and Edition of the Doctrinal de los Caualleros

The Chivalric Vision of Alfonso de Cartagena: Study and Edition of the Doctrinal de los Caualleros

Excerpt

In the final chapters of Cánovas, the novelist Benito Pérez Galdós is given a tour of that politician's vast personal library. Among the many works that catch the visitor's eye is a rare printed edition of a book byAlfonso de Cartagena, Bishop of Burgos. As he leafs through the text, Galdós remarks: "Después admiré el Doctrinal de caballeros, del obispo de Burgos don Alonso de Cartagena, impreso en 1487, fijándome en las anotaciones que el propio don Antonio puso en las guardas de tan interesante y arcaico libro." These cryptic words do indeed arouse the reader's curiosity, yet Galdós neither explains why the book nor Cánovas' notes might be of interest to the curious reader.

Other critics of the Doctrinal de los caualleros, perhaps more qualified than Galdós to discuss the text, have been equally cryptic in their observations. While the work has been variously described as "obra. . .esencialy curiosa," "compilación curiosísima," and "libro muy curioso y de grande apreciación," it has just as often been dismissed as a relatively uninteresting compilation of ordenances and statutes. In recent years, however, attention has been drawn to the fact that the Doctrinal de los caualleros has been unduly neglected by scholars--as have Spanish chivalric manuals in general--, and is indeed worthy of serious study. I would add that Cartagena's text is in fact fundamental reading in order to understand the institution of chivalry in medieval Castile. Yet to date there are no accessible editions of the Doctrinal de los caualleros, annotated or otherwise.

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