Large 4to. (1) pp. title in red and black with colored woodcut coat-of-arms, (43) pp. including dedications and table of contents, 317 pp., (1) p. Varesio blocked colophon. Bound in modern vellum with title inked on spine. Toned, with some foxing and fingersoiling to most leaves. Early calligraphic border and authorial attribution [De fr. Joan de Velorado] in manuscript on title-page.
Scarce edition, most likely third (see below), of an epic narrative romance of El Cid, i.e. Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (c. 1040-1099), the legendary Castilian general who captured the Moorish stronghold of Zarazoga, was exiled from Castile in 1080, and later returned to conquer Valencia with a loyal army of Moors and Christians. The 293-chapter history begins in the reign of Ferdinand I (el Magno), recounting the Cid’s military success under Sancho II and Alfonso VI, and his exile from Castile and service under the Muslim kings of Andalusia, within the larger context of the Iberian Muslim/Christian wars. It concludes with a genealogy and an account of the Cid’s burial and tomb at Cardeña. “Much of it is fabulous, as could be expected from a chronicle of the romantic events of the eleventh century; but from its ‘atmosphere’ and descriptions, it is considered one of the very best books in the world for studying the real character and manners of the age of chivalry” (Maggs).
In addition to the title-page vignette and the Varesio colophon on the verso of the final leaf, the present volume contains two full-page woodcuts: the first, directly preceding a table of “most of the personages contained in this Chronicle,” is an enlarged variation of the coat-of-arms found on the title-page; the second, immediately following the text, depicts the Cid on horseback with the dismembered bodies of Moors strewn about his feet, with various heraldic charges—key, dagger, chain and crowns—in decorative niches above him.
According to its prologue, the present volume was redacted by Juan de Valorado, Abbot of San Pedro de Cardeña, from a medieval manuscript, at the request of the future HRE Ferdinand I (1503-1564, r. 1558-1564), who had toured the Cid’s tomb in the Cardeña monastery and seen the manuscript in the library. 20th C scholarship confirms the first half of this assertion: the text is a revised extract of the Crónica de Castilla or Crónica de los reyes de Castilla, an early 14th C compilation of apocryphal and occasionally fabulist historical narratives, itself derived from the Estoria de España (c. 1272), a general history commissioned by Alfonso X of Castile (1221-1284).
A complete bibliography of the hundreds of medieval manuscripts, ballads, folk tales and oral histories of the Cid would be difficult if not impossible to compile. Nevertheless, the present volume stands as a principal source of the Cid legend, derived from the earliest extant chronicles of medieval Castilian history. Palau records Burgos editions of 1512 and 1552, as does Smith; though Palau also suggests the possibility of an additional 1516 edition (which would make this edition the fourth), its existence cannot be confirmed.
OCLC: Huntington (incomplete), Stanford, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, LOC, Newberry, Florida, Chicago, Illinois, Harvard, UT Austin, Penn.
* Palau III.54497; Penney & Hispanic Society, p. 134; Salvá 2891; Maggs, Spanish Books; Gerli & Armistead, Medieval Iberia, pp. 390-1; Smith, Poema del mio Cid, pp. lxxvi-lxxix.