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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Castilian nationalism and monastic influence in the "Poema de mio cid" Souza, Anthony George


This thesis is essentially a re-evaluation of two issues in the Poema de mio Cid that have largely "been ignored in the long-standing debate between the individualists and the traditionalists over the genesis of the poem. These are (i) the question of Castilian nationalism, and (ii) monastic influence on the epic. In the first issue, scholars and critics are generally in agreement that the PMC contains some very definite pro-Castilian and anti-Leonese sentiments, but the extent to which this political attitude is reflected in the work has yet to be determined. In the second issue, the theory that the epic in general had its origins in the monasteries situated along the pilgrim routes of Mediaeval Europe was first raised by the French scholar Joseph Bedier, but was refuted by the eminent Spanish academician Ramon Menendez Pidal. As such, to date, the only critic who has attempted to apply Bedier's theory to the PMC is P.E. Russell. In this thesis, these two issues are subjected to a close re-evaluation based upon the most recent findings "by the individualists who, since the death of Pidal and the publication of Colin Smith's edition of the poem, have revised many of the theories of the Spanish scholar. This study is divided into four chapters. In the first, the Spanish epic in general is examined briefly to determine its national^ istic and monastic content. Also included in this chapter is a relevant discussion of tomb-cults, relic-worship and pilgrimages during the Middle Ages. The second chapter focuses on the latest arguments presented by both the traditionalists and individualists on the problems of historicity, authorship and dating of the PMC. In the third chapter, the PMC is studied closely with a view to finding manifestations of Castilian nationalism in the poem's major characters, actions and themes. The final chapter deals with the issue of monastic influence on the PMC. Apart from the poem itself, the history of the monastery of San Pedro de Cardena and its relationship with the Cid in fact and fiction are examined. It will be seen from the last two chapters that the PMC contains more evidence of nationalistic fervour and monastic influence than is generally acknowledged. In other words, the poem exhibits some definite pro-Castilian and anti-Leonese sentiments. If we view the poem against the historical background of the period in which we believe it to have been written, the theory that the PMC was used for propaganda purposes becomes quite plausible. In the issue of monastic influence, again the possibility exists that the PMC was composed in San Pedro de Cardena. The evidence, not only in the poem itself, but also in the chronicles of Spain and the histories of the monastery all indicate that a strong Cid cult existed in the Cardena region after the death of the hero. It appears that the PMC was a part of this cult and may have been composed as the result of a crisis in the history of the monastery.

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