UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Génesis y evolución de los temas épicos nacionales del romancero viejo Clavero, Dolores


Although controversial, the theory that the Romancero (ballad genre) resulted from the disintegration of cantares de gesta in the late Middle Ages is generally accepted in current Spanish literary scholarship. The romances (ballads) based on epic themes of Castilian history occupy a key position in this theory, since they are considered to be the oldest and the closest to the epics from which the Romancero originated. In an attempt to justify or to disprove this claim, the present study investigates the thematic contents of the romances viejos based on Castilian subjects. Utilising the edition of old romances gathered by Ferdinand Wolf and Conrad Hofmann in their Primavera y flor de romances, these romances are analysed, and compared on the one hand with the extant epic poems, and on the other with the chronicle texts in which poems no longer extant were prosified. The romances chosen for analysis are from the cycles of the following heroes: Bernardo del Carpio (Chapter I), Fernán González (Chapter II), Infantes de Lara (Chapter III) and El Cid (Chapters IV-VII). The cycle of El Cid is divided into the separate categories of Mocedades de Rodrigo (Chapter IV), the partition of the kingdoms and resulting fratricidal wars (Chapter V), the siege of Zamora (Chapter VI), and the conquest of Valencia and punishment of the Infantes de Carridn (Chapter VII). The evidence acquired by this reanalysis of the romances and their possible sources allows the following conclusions: 1. There is a diachronic continuity in the elaboration of epic texts, as seen in the romances of Fernán González, the Infantes de Lara and the Cid series. Some of these reelaborations were in all probability in prose while others were in verse. In the latter case, a tendency is demonstrated toward the restriction of the narrative to a few popular motifs, and in particular that of the confrontation between king and vassal. The authors of the romances took up this confrontation motif in creating some of the most popular ballads of the genre. 2. There is a diachronic continuity in the transmission of the original, unelaborated epic material, both in oral and in written form. This conservatism is seen in the romances of Bernardo del Carpio. and in those dealing with the partition of the kingdoms and the siege of Zamora. 3. There was clearly erudite participation of chroniclers and others in the reworking of epic material, as seen in the romances of the Infantes de Lara and the Cid series. Some of this reworking involved the favouring of certain epic poems which best reflected the chroniclers' historiographical points of view, but in other cases these unknown authors even created new episodes or reinterpreted ambiguous points to give a new turn to the old narratives. 4. In the process of transmission of epic narratives, some prose texts were written by adapting chronicle material to make it more appealing to a popular audience. The present investigation has found evidence of the creation of many old epic romances by resort to these popular adaptations. Thus, chronicle sources appear to be of greater importance in the origin and development of the romances viejos, and in the transmission of epic themes, than current theory allows.

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