The Poem of Fernan Gonzalez

BookThe Poem of Fernan Gonzalez

The Poem of Fernan Gonzalez

Aris & Phillips Hispanic Classics


April 30th, 2015

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Fernan Gonzalez lived from about AD 910 to 970. The popular image of him is of a fearsome warrior who gave his people protection from their enemies (both Muslim and Christian), and a wise and respected lord who enabled them to live in security and harmony. He was generally accepted to have played a strategic role in achieving independence for Castile and freeing it from dominance by the kingdom of Leon. The Poema de Fernan Gonzalez was composed (by an unknown author) in the mid-thirteenth century as an enduring celebration of his triumphs and account of his life and deeds. Fact and legend have become intertwined and there is much within its stanzas that is certainly not closely based on historic facts! This new translation is set against a detailed study of the historic context of the Castillian conflicts and a factual account of the life and achievements of Fernan Gonzalez. The political situation of the time in which the poem was composed is also considered, as is the manner in which the‘history' it espouses came to be handed down over three centuries, the possibility of a pre-existing rich oral tradition surrounding this iconic figure, and the possible sources employed by the poet in constructing the poem.

Author Information

Peter Such was Head of Modern Languages and Director of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at Sherborne School. He is the author (with John Hodgkinson) of The Poem of My Cid and (with Richard Rabone) of Book of Alexander. He retired from teaching in 2011 and he now lives in the province of Córdoba, working as an educational consultant and translator. He continues to carry out research on the literature of thirteenth-century Castile and its political and intellectual background. Richard Rabone is a member of Merton College, Oxford, where his principal research interests are in the literature of Golden-Age Spain, with a particular focus on the reception of works from earlier periods.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page2
Copyright Page3
Map of the county of Castile after 932 as depicted in the Poema de Fernán González9
Map of the Iberian Peninsula in 125210
From the Islamic invasion to the reign of Alfonso X: a chronology11
The dynasty of the counts of Castile in the early tenth century16
The rulers of Castile (House of Burgundy): 1126–128417
1. The tale of Fernán González18
2. Inventing the past: a tenth-century hero in a thirteenth-century context31
3. Men of learning and juglares: the art of the mester de clerecía and the use of stylistic features associated with oral poetry60
4. Kingship and the social order, conquest and crusade: the themes of the Poema de Fernán González84
5. Note on the Spanish text105
6. The translation108
Select Bibliography112
The Poema de Fernán González122