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UBC Theses and Dissertations

La Historia de la Frontera y el Romancero Fronterizo Reventlow, Dolores


The object of this thesis is to examine the circumstances in which the 'rorriancero fronterizo' made its appearance and to attempt to determine when and where these romances were composed, and their relation to history. In order to understand the peculiar climate in which these 'romances' were probably written, an outline is given of the history of Castilla in the XV century and of the history of the kingdom of Granada during the same period. From this study emerges a picture of life in the frontier, which sets the scene for the 'romances fronterizos'. The word 'romance' itself alludes, at first, to the vernacular, and later to narrative verse written in octosyllables. The 'romances antiguos' in general are fragments of older epics. The peculiarity about the 'romances fronterizos' is that they do not refer back to epic poems. According to some critics they sprang from the immediate impact of the episodes they narrate. This was R. Menendez Pidal's position. Deyermond combines composition by a single poet with collaborative authorship. A. Rodriguez-Monino appears to accept Nucio's statement that the romances he printed were obtained by word of mouth. Others situate the composition at the royal court or at a later date. In order to arrive at a conclusion regarding these points, we have studied 19 'romances'. While it has been possible to situate each of them in a given historical situation, they do not all adhere strictly to historic reality. Some, starting from a real happening, dramatize the moment with romanesque details. Others, of which the outstanding exponent is ''Abenamar, Abenamar...", starting from a true historical moment (here the incursion of Juan II in Granada in 1431) present an entirely fictitious episode. And yet others present history as it happened. Comparing the 'romances' with the presentation of the historical moment by the Chronicles, we try to determine the relationship between them. We find that the 'romances fronterizos' that we have analyzed form a distinctive group with characteristics peculiar to them but not necessarily found all in each of them. Their common denominator is their theme: they are all narrations of border episodes that focus on a moment of particular dramatic impact. The most important link that unites the 'romances fronterizos' and separates them from the other 'romances' is the spirit of the frontier, a projection of the history of the frontier that finds expression in the attitude of the poet towards life in that frontier which he shares with the Muslims. This co-existence has created an understanding of the problems of the enemy and an attitude towards him that is reflected in the poems. This group of 'romances' were, we believe, written in the small courts of the nobles along the frontier by professional poets. They were the product of the historical moment and of literary tradition and are a perfect expression of a unique atmosphere in a given historical setting.

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