Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A twelfth-century description of a judicial duel on horseback

A new site dedicated to the "Song of My Cid" -- the famous Spanish epic -- includes this interesting account of the judicial duel between three of the Carrion clan whose "enfantes" mistreated the Cid's daughters and three of the Cid's chief vassals. Note that the bad guys are unwilling to face the famously sharp swords wielded by the good guys, and bail out by running out of the boundaries. I can't help thinking that structurally this combat may have been like a tournament. Get up and go out to the field, infantes of Carrión,

it is time for you to fight like men,

the Campeador's men will not fail in anything.

If you come off he field well, you will have great honor,

if you are defeated, don't blame us,

for everyone knows that you went looking for it.-

Now the infantes of Carrión are repenting,

for what they did they are filled with regret,

they wouldn't have done it for all there is in Carrión.

All three of the Campeador's men are armed,

King don Alfonso went over to see them,

the Campeador's men said,

-We kiss your hands as king and lord,

that you be field judge for them and for us,

help us fairly, allow no wrongs.

Here the infantes of Carrión have their band,

we know not what they will plan or what they won't,

in your hand our lord placed us,

protect our rights, for the love of the Creator.-

At that moment the king said, -With all my heart and soul.-

They bring them their horses, good ones and swift,

they blessed the saddles and mount confidently,

the shields that are well reinforced at their necks,

in their hands they take the shafts of the sharp lances,

these three lances have their own pennons,

and around them many fine men.

They now went out to the field where the markers were.

All three of the Campeador's men are in agreement

that each one of them should strike his adversary hard.

Behold at the other end the infantes of Carrión,

very well accompanied, for there are many relatives.

The king gave them judges to tell them what's right and what isn't,

that they not dispute with them about who is or isn't right.

When they were in the field King don Alfonso spoke,

-Hear what I say to you, infantes of Carrión,

this combat you might have had in Toledo, but you refused.

These three knights of my Cid the Campeador

I brought them safely to the lands of Carrión,

be in the right, don't commit any wrongs,

for whoever wishes to commit a wrong, I will severely prohibit it,

in all my kingdom he will not be welcome.-

Now it begins to grieve the infantes of Carrión.

The judges and the king point out the markers,

all those around them left the field,

they showed clearly to all six of them how they are laid out,

that there whoever went outside the marker would be defeated.

All the people cleared out around there,

that they not approach the markers by any more than six lance lengths.

They drew lots for field position, now they divided the sun equally,

the judges got out from between them, they are face to face,

then the Cid's men came at the infantes of Carrión

and the infantes of Carrión at the Campeador's men,

each one of them concentrates on his target.

They clasp their shields before their hearts,

they lower their lances along with the pennons,

they lower their faces over the saddlebows,

they struck their horses with their spurs,

the ground shook where they were riding.

Each one of them has his mind on his target,

all three on three have now come together,

those that are nearby think that at that moment they will fall dead.

Pedro Bermúdez, he who challenged first,

met with Fernán González face to face,

they strike each other's shield fearlessly.

Fernán González pierced the shield of Pedro Bermúdez,

he hit only air, he did not strike flesh,

in two places his lance shaft broke cleanly apart.

Pedro Bermúdez remained steady, he did lose his balance from it,

he received one blow, but he dealt another,

he broke the boss of the shield, he split it in two,

he went through it entirely, it didn't protect him at all,

he stuck his lance into his chest, it didn't protect him at all.

Fernando wore three layers of mail, this helped him,

two of them broke on him and the third held up,

the padded tunic with the shirt and with the mail

out from his mouth the blood came, his saddle-girths broke,

not one of them was of any use to him,

over the croup of the horse he was thrown to the ground.

In this way the people thought he is fatally wounded.

The other dropped the lance and the sword he took in hand,

when Fernán González saw it, he recognized Tizón,

rather than wait for the blow he said, -I am defeated.-

The judges granted it, Pedro Bermúdez let him be.

Martín Antolínez and Diego González struck each other with their lances,

the blows were such that both lances broke.

Martín Antolínez took his sword in hand,

it lights up all the field, it is so clean and bright,

he gave him a blow, he hit him a glancing blow,

it broke away the top of the helmet,

it cut away all the helmet straps,

it tore off the mailed hood, and reached the coif,

the coif and the hood all were ripped away,

it cut the hairs on his head, and it reached well into the flesh,

one part fell to the ground and the other remained.

When precious Colada has struck this blow,

Diego González saw that he would not escape with his soul,

he turned his horse to face his opponent.

At that moment Martín Antolínez hit him with his sword,

he struck him broadside, with the cutting edge he did not hit him.

Diego González has sword in hand, but he does not

use it,at that moment the infante began to shout,

-Help me, God, glorious Lord, and protect me from this sword!-

He reined in his horse and, dodging the sword,

rode it outside the marker, Martín Antolínez remained on the field

. Then said the king, -Come join my company,

by all you have done, you have won this battle.-

The judges grant it, that he says the truth.

Both men have won, I'll tell you of Muño Gustioz,

how he fared against Asur González.

They strike each other on their shields with such great blows,

Asur González, rugged and valiant,

struck the shield of don Muño Gustioz,

through the shield he broke his armor,

the lance hit only air, for it did not strike flesh.

This blow struck, Muño Gustioz struck another one,

through the shield he broke his armor,

he broke through the shield's boss,

it could not protect him, he broke through his armor,

he hit him on one side, not near the heart,

he thrust his lance and the pennon right through his flesh,

pushing it through the other side an arm's length,

he gave it a twist, he tipped him from the saddle,

when he pulled back on the lance he threw him to the ground,

the shaft came out red as did the lance-tip and the pennon.

Everyone thinks that he is mortally wounded.

He repositioned his lance and halted over him, said Gonzalo Ansúrez,

-Don't strike him, for God's sake!

He is defeated since this is finished.-

Said the judges, -This we hear.-

The good king don Alfonso ordered the field cleared,

the arms that remained there he took them.

The Campeador's men left fully honored,

they won this combat, thanks to the Creator.

Great is the grief through the lands of Carrión.

The king sent my Cid's men at night,

so that they not be attacked or have fear.

Like prudent men they ride day and night,

behold them in Valencia with my Cid the Campeador,

they left the infantes of Carrión in disgrace,

they have fulfilled their duty that their lord demanded of them,

my Cid the Campeador was pleased by this.

Great is the shame of the infantes of Carrión,

whoever scorns a good lady and then abandons her

may such befall him or even worse.

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