James Fitzmaurice-Kelly.

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Fellow of the British Academy
Corresponding Member of the Spanish Academy
Medallist of the Hispanic Society of America, etc.

London Archibald Constable and Company Ltd.








Last summer the Trustees of the Hispanic Society of America did me the
honour to invite me to give a course of lectures on Spanish literature
in the United States, and almost at the same time an invitation to
lecture on the same subject reached me from the Provost of University
College, London. The chapters contained in the present volume are the
result. The lectures on the Cid, Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Calderón, and
Modern Spanish Novelists were delivered during the autumn and winter
of 1907 at the University of Columbia; some of these were repeated at
Cornell, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Pennsylvania, and Yale Universities;
some at Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, and Smith’s College (Northampton,
Massachusetts); and the whole series was given this spring at
University College, London.

Owing to the limited amount of time available for each lecture, it
became necessary to omit a few paragraphs here and there in delivery.
These are now restored. With the exception of the chapter on the
Archpriest of Hita (part of which has been recast), all the lectures
are printed substantially as they were written. Occasional references
have been added in the form of notes.

In addresses of this kind some repetition of ‘you’ and ‘I’ is almost
unavoidable. It has, however, been thought better to retain the
conversational character of the lectures, and it is hoped that the use
of the objectionable first personal pronoun does not degenerate into

Lastly, it is a duty and pleasure to thank my friendly audiences in
America and England for the indulgence with which they listened to
these discourses.


_May 1, 1908_.

















Just as a portrait discloses the artist’s opinion of his sitter, so the
choice of a hero is an involuntary piece of self-revelation. As man
fashions his idols in his own image, we are in a fair way to understand
him, if we know what he admires: and, as it is with individual units,
so is it with races. National heroes symbolise the ambitions, the
foibles, the general temper and radical qualities of those who have set
them up as exemplars. But there are two sides to every character, and
Spain has two national heroes known all the world over: the practical
Cid and the idealistic Don Quixote, one of them an historical figure,
and the other the child of a great man’s fancy. Perhaps to the majority
of mankind the offspring of Cervantes’s poetic imagination is more
vividly present than the authentic warrior who headed many a desperate
charge. It is the singular privilege of genius to substitute its own
intense conceptions for the unromantic facts, and to create out of
nothing beings that seem more vital than men of flesh and blood. Don
Quixote has become a part of the visible universe, while most of us
behold the Cid, not as he really was, but as Corneille portrayed him
more than five centuries after his death. It may not be amiss to bring
him back to earth by recalling the ascertainable incidents in his
adventurous career.

So marked are the differences between the Cid of history and the Cid of
legend that, early in the nineteenth century his very existence was
called in question by the sceptical Jesuit Masdeu, an historian who
delighted in paradox. Masdeu’s doubts were reiterated by Samuel Dunham
in his _History of Spain and Portugal_, and by Dunham’s translator,
Antonio María de Alcalá Galiano, a writer of repute in his own day.
Alcalá Galiano’s incredulity caused him some personal inconvenience,
for—as his kinsman, the celebrated novelist Juan Valera, records—he
was threatened with an action at law by a Spanish gentleman who piqued
himself on his descent from the Cid, and was not disposed to see his
alleged ancestor put aside as a fabulous creature like the Phœnix.
These negations, more or less sophistical, are the follies of the
learned, and they have their match in the assertions of another school
that sought to reconcile divergent views by assuming the existence of
two Cids, each with a wife called Jimena, and each with a war-horse
called Babieca. This generous process of duplicating everybody and
everything has not found favour. Cervantes expresses his view through
the canon in _Don Quixote_:—‘That there was a Cid, as well as a
Bernardo del Carpio, is beyond doubt; but that they did the deeds which
they are said to have done, I take to be very doubtful.’ Few of us
would care to be so affirmative as the canon with respect to Bernardo
del Carpio, but he is perfectly right as regards the Cid.

It is certain that the Cid existed in the flesh. He was the son of
Diego Lainez, a soldier who fought in the Navarrese campaign. Pérez de
Guzmán, in the _Loores de los claros varones de España_, says that the
Cid was born at Río de Ovierna:—

Este varón tan notable
en Río de Ovierna[1] nasció.

But the usual version is that the Cid was born at Bivar near Burgos,
about the year 1040, and thence took his territorial designation.
To contemporaries he was first of all known simply as Rodrigo (or
Ruy) Díaz de Bivar—Roderick, son of James, of Bivar; and later, from
his prowess in single combat, as the _Campeador_ (the Champion or
Challenger). What was probably his earliest feat of this kind, the
overthrow of a Navarrese knight, is recorded in a copy of rudely rhymed
Latin verses, apparently the most ancient of the poems which were to
commemorate the Cid’s exploits:—

Eia! laetando, populi catervae,
Campi-doctoris hoc carmen audite!
Magis qui eius freti estis ope,
Cuncti venite!

Nobiliori de genere ortus,
Quod in Castella non est illo maius:
Hispalis novit et Iberum litus
Quis Rodericus.

Hoc fuit primum singulare bellum,
Cum adolescens devicit Navarrum:
Hinc Campi-doctor dictus est maiorum
Ore virorum.

The epithet gained at this early period clung to him through life: it
is applied to him even by his enemies. It is curious to find that the
Arab chroniclers constantly speak of him as Al-kambeyator, but never
as the Cid—a word which is usually said to derive from the Arabic
_Sidi_ (= My Lord). This circumstance makes it doubtful whether he was
widely known as the Cid during his own lifetime. There is, indeed, a
pleasing legend to the effect that the King of Castile, on hearing Ruy
Díaz de Bivar addressed as _Sidi_ by Arab prisoners of war, decreed
that the successful soldier should henceforth be known by that name.
But there is no evidence to support this story, and it is rather too
picturesque to be plausible. It seems more likely that Ruy Díaz de
Bivar was first addressed as _Sidi_ by Arabs who served under him or by
the Arab population of Valencia which he conquered towards the end of
his career, that the phrase was taken up by his Christian troops, and
that it was not generally current among Spaniards till after his death.
That he soon afterwards became widely known as ‘the Cid’ or ‘my Cid’
is apparent from a line in the rhymed Latin chronicle of the siege of
Almería, written some fifty years later:—

Ipse Rodericus, mio Cid semper vocatus.

But we need not discuss these minutiæ further. Let us record the fact
that Ruy Díaz de Bivar is known as the Cid Campeador, and pass on to
his historical achievements. At the age of twenty-five he was appointed
_alférez_ (standard-bearer) to Sancho II. of Castile, a predatory
monarch who drove his brother Alfonso from León and his brother García
from Galicia, and annexed their kingdoms. Both campaigns gave the
Cid opportunities of distinction, and he became the most conspicuous
personage in Castile after the murder of Sancho II. by Bellido Dolfos
at Zamora in 1072:—

¡Rey don Sancho, rey don Sancho, no digas que no te aviso
que de dentro de Zamora un alevoso ha salido!
llámase Vellido Dolfos, hijo de Dolfos Vellido,
cuatro traiciones ha hecho, y con esta serán cinco.
Si gran traidor fue el padre, mayor traidor es el hijo.—
Gritos dan en el real: ¡A don Sancho han mal herido:
muerto le ha Vellido Dolfos, gran traición ha cometido!

The Castilians were in a difficult position: the assassination of
Sancho II. left them without a candidate for the vacant thrones
of Castile and León. The Cid was not eligible; for, though of good
family, he was not of royal—nor even of illustrious—descent. The sole
legitimate claimant was the dethroned Alfonso, and there was nothing
for it but to offer him both crowns. It is alleged that the exasperated
Castilians found a salve for their wounded pride by inflicting a signal
humiliation on the Leonese prince whom they invited to rule over them.
According to tradition, Alfonso was compelled to swear that he had no
complicity in Sancho’s death, and this oath was publicly administered
to him by the Cid and eleven other Castilian representatives in the
church of Santa Gadea at Burgos. This story reaches us in ancient
_romances_, and Hartzenbusch has given it a further lease of life by
dramatising it in _La Jura en Santa Gadea_. There may be some basis for
it, and any one may believe it who can. There is, however, no positive
proof that any such incident took place, and the tale reads rather
like a later invention, fabricated to account for the bad blood made
subsequently between the king and his formidable subject. Picturesque
stories concerning historical personages are always ‘suspect,’ and are
generally untrue. As there was no pretender in the field, why should
Alfonso submit to insulting conditions? Is it not simpler to suppose
that he regarded the Cid with natural suspicion as the man mainly
responsible for his expulsion from León, and that the Leonese nobles
were careful to keep this resentful memory alive? Now, as in the time
of Fernán González:—

Castellanos y leoneses tienen malas intenciones.

Is it not intrinsically probable that the Cid, like a true Castilian,
smarted under the Leonese supremacy; that his allegiance was from
the outset reluctant and half-hearted; and that he scarcely troubled
to conceal his ultimate design of carving out for himself a
semi-independent principality with the help of his famous sword Colada?
However this may be, king and subject were, for the moment, mutually
indispensable. Neither could afford an absolute breach at this stage;
both were deep dissemblers; and on July 19, 1074, Alfonso VI. gave
his cousin Jimena in marriage to the Cid. The wedding contract has
been preserved—a prosaic document providing for the due disposition of
property on the death of one of the contracting parties.

After this diplomatic marriage the Cid vanishes for some time into the
dense obscurity of domestic bliss, emerging again into the light of
history as defeating the Emir of Granada, and then as being charged
with malversation. The details are by no means clear. What is clear
is that the Cid was exiled about 1081, that he entered the service of
Al-muktadir, Emir of Saragossa, and that he continued in the pay of
the Emir’s successors—his son Al-mutamen, and his grandson Al-mustain.
Henceforward we have a relatively full account of the Cid’s exploits.
He defeated the combined forces of the King of Aragón, the Count of
Barcelona and their Mohammedan allies at Almenara near Lérida; he
routed the King of Aragón once more, this second battle being fought on
the banks of the Ebro; he played fast-and-loose with Alfonso VI., was
reconciled to his former master, quarrelled, and was again banished.
His possessions were confiscated. But confiscation is a game at which
subjects can play as well as kings, and the Cid was in a position to
recoup his losses. By this time he had gathered round him a motley host
of raiders, men of diverse creeds eager for any enterprise that offered
chances of plunder. Fortune was now about to furnish him with a great
opportunity. On the surrender of Toledo to Alfonso VI. in 1085 it was
agreed that Yahya Al-kadir, the defeated Emir, should receive Valencia
by way of compensation; and he was imposed on the restive inhabitants
by a force under the Cid’s nephew, Alvar Fáñez Minaya. In ordinary
circumstances the intruder might have held his own; but the incursion
of the African Almoravides, the Jansenists of Mohammedanism, abruptly
changed the political aspect. It soon became clear that the gains of
the Reconquest were in jeopardy, and that Alfonso VI. must concentrate
his army for a momentous struggle.

He might fairly plead that he had kept his bargain by installing the
ex-Emir of Toledo at Valencia, and that his own kingdom was now at
stake. He had no sooner recalled Alvar Fáñez and his troops than the
Valencians revolted, and Al-kadir besought Al-mustain to come over and
help him. The inducements offered were considerable. But Al-mustain
was a mere figurehead at Saragossa; effective aid could come only from
his lieutenant, the Cid: the two feigned acceptance of Al-kadir’s
proposals, but secretly agreed to oust him and to divide the spoil.
The relief expedition was commanded by the Cid in Al-mustain’s name.
It was a post after his own heart. Valencia was then, as it is now,
‘the orchard of Spain,’ and the Cid was in no hurry to reach the
capital. He ravaged the outlying districts of the fertile province,
levied forced contributions, or induced the inhabitants to pay
blackmail to escape his forays. He advanced cautiously, fortifying
his position, and scattering delusive promises as he went along. He
assured Alfonso VI. that he was working in the interest of Castile,
and he assured Al-mustain that he was working in the interest of
Saragossa; he encouraged Al-kadir to put down the Valencian rebels, and
he encouraged the rebels to throw off Al-kadir’s authority. A master
of dissimulation, resolved to make Valencia his own, he successfully
deceived all parties till the murder of Al-kadir by Ibn-Jehaf, and the
threatened advance of the Almoravides, forced him to drop the mask.
Failing to carry the city of Valencia by storm, the Cid reduced it by
starvation, and in June 1094 the Valencians surrendered on generous
conditions. These conditions were flagrantly violated. Ibn-Jehaf was
tortured till he revealed where his treasure was hidden; he was finally
burned alive, his chief supporters shared his fate, and the Mohammedan
population was given its choice between banishment and something like

In all but name the Cid was now a king, and he was careful to
strengthen his hold on his prize. By taking a census of Christians,
and by forbidding them to leave the city, he kept his most trustworthy
troops together; and he promoted military efficiency as well as
religion by founding a bishopric to which he nominated Jerónimo, the
French prelate mentioned in the _Poema del Cid_, and as valiant a
fighter as Archbishop Turpin in the _Chanson de Roland_:—

Tels curunez ne cantat unkes messe,
Ki de sus cors feïst tantes proeces.

The Cid came out of his trenches to rout the Almoravides at Quarte
and in the valley of Alcoy; he extended his conquests to Murviedro,
and formed an independent alliance with the King of Aragón. And,
if the report of Ibn-Bassam, the Arab chronicler, be true, he had
more vaulting ambitions: in a gust of exaltation, the Cid—so we are
told—was heard to say that, as the first Roderick had lost Spain, a
second Roderick might be destined to win it back. Ibn-Bassam writes
in good faith, but he is a rhetorician, and moreover, in this case,
he gives the story at second-hand. It is difficult to believe that
a clear-headed, practical man like the Cid, who had recently found
it hard enough to seize a single province, can have talked in this
wild way about winning back all Spain. If he did, his judgment was
greatly at fault: the Reconquest was not completed till four centuries
later, and little more was done towards furthering it during the Cid’s
last days. His lieutenant, Alvar Fáñez, was beaten at Cuenca: the
Almoravides, flushed with victory, again defeated the Cid’s picked
troops at Alcira. The Cid was not present on the field, but the
mortification was too much for him: he died—‘of grief and fury,’ so the
Arab historians state—in July 1099. Supported by Alvar Fáñez and Bishop
Jerónimo, Jimena held out for another two years: then she retreated
northwards, after setting fire to the city. Valencia—the real ‘Valencia
del Cid’—ceased to exist. The Christians marched out by the light of
the flaming walls; the Cid’s embalmed body was mounted for the last
time on Babieca (a horse as famous as Roland’s Veillantif), and was
taken to San Pedro de Cardeña. There you may still see what was his
tomb, with this inscription on it:—

Belliger, invictus, famosus marte triumphis,
Clauditur hoc tumulo magnus Didaci Rodericus.

But his body, after many vicissitudes, now rests in the unimposing town
hall of Burgos.

This is the Cid Campeador as he appears in Ibn-Bassam’s _Dhakira_,
written ten years after the Cid’s death, and in the anonymous _Gesta
Ruderici Campidocti_ which dates from between 1140 and 1170. The
authors write from opposite points of view, and are not critical, but
they are trustworthy in essentials, and a statement made by both may
usually be taken as a fact, or as a close approximation to fact. The
Cid, as you perceive, is far from being irreproachable. He has all the
qualities, and therefore all the defects, of a mediæval soldier of
fortune: he was brave, mercenary, perfidious and cruel. How, then, are
we to account for his position as a national hero? In the first place,
we must avoid the error of judging him by modern standards, and in the
second place, we must bear in mind that almost all we learn of his
later years—the best known period of his life—comes to us from enemies
whose prejudices may have led them unconsciously to darken the shadows
in the portrait. It is a shock to discover that the man who symbolises
the spirit of Spanish patriotism was a border chief in the pay of the
highest bidder; it is a greater shock to find that the man who figures
as the type of knightly orthodoxy fought for the Mohammedans against
the Christians. We must part with our simple-minded illusions, and
admit that Pius V. was right in turning a deaf ear when Philip II.
suggested (so it is said) the canonisation of the Cid. All heroes are
apt to lose their glamour when dragged from the twilight of tradition
and poetry into the fierce blaze of fact and history. The Cid is no
exception. Renan sums up against him with gay severity. ‘Tout ce qu’il
fut, il le dut aux ennemis de sa patrie, même le nom sous lequel il
est resté dans l’histoire. Le représentant idéal de l’honneur espagnol
était un _condottiere_, combattant tantôt pour le Christ, tantôt pour
Mahomet. Le représentant idéal de l’amour n’a peut-être jamais aimé.
Encore une idole qui tombe sous les coups de l’impitoyable critique!’

Yet, if it were worth while, a case might be made for the Cid without
recourse to sophistry. It is enough to say that he acted as all other
leaders acted in his age and for long afterwards. He was anything but
a saint: if he had been a saint, he would never have become the idol
of a nation. It has been thought that he had some consciousness of a
providential mission, but this is perhaps a hasty generalisation based
upon Ibn-Bassam’s story of his having said that a second Roderick
might reconquer Spain. This theory ascribes to him more elevation of
character and more political foresight than we can suppose him to have
possessed. The supremacy of Castile was not an accepted political
ideal till it was on the point of establishment, and this takes us
forward, nearly a century and a half, to the reign of St. Ferdinand.
The Cid was no idealist: he lived wholly in the present. The land
of visions was never thrown open to him; he had no touch of Jeanne
d’Arc’s mystical temperament; his aims were immediate, concrete,
personal. His popularity was due, first of all, to his conspicuous and
inspiring valour; due to the fact that the last and most celebrated
of his expeditions, though undertaken primarily for his own profit,
incidentally helped the cause of national unity by wresting a
province from the Mohammedans; due to the instinctive feeling that he
represented more or less faithfully the interests of Castile as against
those of León—a feeling which found frank expression five centuries
later in the _Romancero general_:—

Soy Rodrigo de Vivar,
castellano á las derechas.

And, no doubt, the man bore a stamp of self-confident greatness which
awed his foes and fired the imagination of his countrymen. As posterity
is apt to condone the crimes by which it gains, it is not surprising
that later generations should minimise the Cid’s misdeeds, and should
end by transforming his story almost out of recognition. But these
capricious and often grotesque travesties are relatively modern.

They are not found to any excess in the work of the earliest poets who
sang the Cid’s feats-of-arms. They do not occur in the Latin poem,
already quoted, which speaks enthusiastically of his exploits as being
numerous enough to tax the resources of Homer’s genius:—

Tanti victoris nam si retexere,
Coeperim cuncta, non haec libri mille
Capere possent, Homero canente,
Summo labore.

This cannot have been written much later than 1120, about a score of
years after the Cid’s death. The theme, like many another theme of the
same kind, was too alluring to be left to monks who wrote in a learned
language for a small circle, and it was soon treated in the speech
of the people by _juglares_—not necessarily laymen—who recited their
compositions in palaces, castles, monasteries, public squares, markets,
or any other place where an audience could be got together. In this
way a body of epical poems came into existence. You may say that this
is late, and so it is if you are thinking of _Beowulf_ and _Waldhere_
which, in their actual shapes, certainly existed before the reign of
Alfred, and have even been assigned to the sixth century. But we must
make a radical distinction. _Beowulf_ and _Waldhere_ are, we may say,
sagas in verse, and have no immediate relation to England, so far as
subject goes: the French and Spanish epics are conspicuously national
in theme and sentiment. We know that Spain possessed many epics which
have not survived: epics on Roderick, on Bernardo del Carpio, on Fernán
González, on Garci-Fernández, on Sancho García, perhaps on Alvar Fáñez
Minaya, the Cid’s lieutenant. Only three of these ancient _cantares de
gesta_ have been saved, and among them is the epic known as the _Poema
del Cid_, Possibly it was not the first vernacular poem on the subject,
though it was composed about the middle of the twelfth century, some
fifty years after the Cid’s time; but, as we shall see presently, there
is a long interval between the date of composition and the date of
transcription. As to the author of the _Poema_ nothing is known. On
the ground that some two hundred lines relate to events occurring at
the monastery of Cardeña near Burgos, it has been conjectured that the

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