Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 10 July 2015

The Poem of The Cid

I have been diverting myself this week by reading for the first time the text of  The Poem of The Cid
 ( Cantar / Poema de Mio Cid ) in the edition published by Penguin books. This has a prose translation of the Poem by Rita Hamilton and Janet Perry, and there is an introduction and notes by Prof. Ian Michael. There are a number of other translations also available. There is an online introduction to the text at Cantar de Mio Cid

Apparently written in the years 1201-07 the Poem deals with the second banishment from Castile of El Cid, his campaigns as an exile, the conquest of Valencia and his relations with the Castilian King Alfonso VI, ending with the death of the Cid in 1099.

The author of the Poem blends known historical fact, local knowledge of the borderlands of eastern Castile and pure fiction. It appears to have been written to entertain pilgrims to the burial place of the Cid at the abbey of San Pedro de Cardeña near Burgos.

If the mixture of fact and fiction might seem odd to a contemporary audience it clearly did not over eight centuries ago, and it is a lively and vivid portrait of twelfth century courtly life, with a great emphasis on loyalty and gift-giving.

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