The Chronicle of Alfonso the Emperor

Glenn Edward Lipskey

The Editions

[16] Fray Prudencio Sandoval, the famed Benedictine historian of Charles I, utilized the Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris as an historical guide for his own Chrónica del ínclito emperador de Eapaña, Don Alonso VII deste nombre which he published in 1600. (1) Sandoval did not actually reproduce an edition of the chronicle, but rather freely adapted the Latin text as a basis for his own more lengthy history written in the vernacular. Throughout his work he refers to the original chronicle simply as the "Historia de Toledo." He included an abundance of interpolations in his history of Alfonso VII. Many of these are of doubtful historical veracity, deriving from the religious and folkloric traditions of his time. It is noteworthy that the Poem of Almería is conserved in its original form at the end of Sandoval's chronicle.

This Benedictine Bishop's lack of historical scruples provoked a mild polemic some years later when Juan de Mendoza undertook the task of editing and translating the Chronica Alefonsi Imperatoris. His endeavors have already been mentioned in the previous chapter.

Mendoza was scandalized at the minimal amount of accuracy which he felt Sandoval employed in utilizing the ancient Latin text as his historical guide. It was in order to prove this [17] point that Mendoza prepared his edition of the original chronicle and his literal translation of the same some years after Sandoval's history was written. The exact date of Mendoza's endeavors is not known.

Neither the original manuscript nor Mendoza's own work were ever published formally by him. As has been indicated in the discussion of the manuscripts, the first six pages of this personal edition comprise the translator's notes in the form of a prologue to the reader. The Spanish translation is found between folios nine and forty. The Latin text of the chronicle occupies folios forty-two to sixty-eight.

The author's comments are of special interest for the history of the editions. His principal objective is to attack Sandoval's supposed mendacity in his history of the Emperor. Mendoza commences his prologue by quoting the scriptural passage between Pontius Pilate and Christ regarding the "Truth." He then pointedly refers to "a certain author" who wrote the history of Alfonso VII "very contrary to what is contained in the original." He never designates Sandoval by name. Within this critical context he proposes to bring to light the original chronicle "in its unpolished and rough style of that century without removing or adding a single word." He promises to undertake a literal translation of the work, and because he is resolute in his desire to translate in strict accordance with the original, he indicates that he will forgo the opportunity of "adorning [his translation] in a high or elegant Spanish."

[18] Benito Sanchez Alonso has attempted to identify this Juan de Mendoza as the chronicler of Charles II, the same author who published. Blasón de la Casa de Pineda in Madrid in 1675. (2) This identification appears legitimate, for the date of publication of the above mentioned volume would place Mendoza some years after Sandoval. It is also known that Prudencio Sandoval was an eminent genealogist in his day. It seems that Juan de Mendoza also cultivated the same avocation. Of the six notes which he inserts in his version of the chronicle, four deal specifically with genealogy. It is on this point that he most vehemently reproaches Sandoval. The latter manifests an excessive zeal for linking the lineage of certain noble families of his day with that of the noble houses mentioned in the twelfth-century chronicle. This is significantly true in the case of the Dukes of Osuna.

Sandoval readily admits "ingiriéndola," in reference to his liberal manipulation of the original chronicle. Apart from this work, he had recourse to the Historia compostelaria to which he often alludes in his account of this Emperor's reign. The ancient royal documents, both religious and civil, were also an exploitable source of information for him, especially within the genealogical context. Because of his affiliation with the Benedictine order and. his own personal interest in the monastic history of Spain, Sandoval provides much data derived from the archives of Peninsular monasteries.

An example of his use of civil documents appears in the [19] narration of the enmities between Alfonso VII and his stepfather, Alfonso I of Aragón. In this instance Sandoval relates how the Aragonese ruler has retained control of the towns of Burgos and Castrojeriz in Castile. His example of documentary evidence is based on a donation of some lands which a certain Teresa González made to the Benedictine monastery at Oña in the year 1127. The property was consigned the same year in which Alfonso VII and his stepfather negotiated the Treaty of Tamara, the subject of which was the concession of territories and towns previously held by Alfonso I of Aragón (see paragraphs nine through eleven in the Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris). Sandoval alludes to the specific donation in order to quote verbatim the document which accompanies it. Therein it is verified that Alfonso of Aragón did in effect claim dominion of Castilian lands. The donation reads accordingly:

Adefonsus Rex Aragoniensis, regnante in Naxara,
et in Castro Xeriz, et in Burgis: dominante in
Poza Sancio Joannis, et in Petralada Petro Ennenooz. (3)
Such legal certification is derived from Benedictine archives at the monastery of Oña. Sandoval had ample recourse to these records and to many others.

His stylistic amplifications are also numerous, and at times they provide the reader with a more informative dimension of the material. For example, in the original Latin one often reads "Ecolesiam Sanctae Mariae," which Sandoval renders in the Spanish "Iglesia Sancta María de Regla." We thus know that the reference is made specifically to the celebrated [20] church in León. When the author of the Latin chronicle had chosen the same condensed style of denomination in referring to "Episcopus Didacus," Sandoval completes the prelate's title and name as "Su gran servidor, Don Diego Gelmírez, Obispo de Santiago."

In these instances where the sentence remains incomplete or the connotation of the passage is problematic, Sandoval customarily integrates the verbal elements and arrives at the essential meaning of the phrase. In spite of the fact that he does not always rigorously adhere to the best historical criteria in the representation of his source, he surpasses his critic Mendoza in erudition and expressiveness. Certainly he is the more entertaining of the two.

Mendoza is not above reproach in regard to his own Spanish translation. In the Latin manuscript which he used there are several passages which present problems of interpretation. These may have been due either to the damaged condition of the manuscript which he used or to the ambiguousness of the copyist's orthography. Nevertheless, Mendoza either proved to be over zealous in his endeavor to divine the original or simply lacked the insight which would have enabled him to render these passages in a more comprehensible manner.

The Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris remained unpublished until Francisco de Berganza placed it in his first edition of the Antigüedades de España. (4) It appeared at the end of the second part of this work in the form of an appendix.[21] Berganza did not include the Poem of Almería in his edition, since it had already been published by Sandoval.

Although Berganza had access to MS III, Sánchez Belda maintains that he did not avail himself of that text. (5) Instead he used two other copies for his edition. One of these was from the library of Luis de Salazar y Castro, who was then the chronicler of Castile. The other manuscript was a copy of one which bad been in the possession of Cardinal Loaysa. By means of analytical comparison Sánchez Belda established that the copy to which Berganza had recourse was directly related to the family of manuscripts headed by MS III. In his España sagrada (6) Enrique Flórez published the second complete edition or the Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris. He faithfully copied Berganza's edition of the Latin prose text of the chronicle, except for minor alterations in the punctuation and in the orthography. Flórez based these textual modifications on certain fragments of the chronicle which pertained to the respective libraries of Antonio Suárez de Alarcón, Francisco Sota and José Pellicer. These fragments are insignificant in that they comprise only a very few pages of the chronicle. For example, Pellicer's portion includes only the prologue and the first paragraph. Alarcón's relates specifically to the genealogy of the Marquis of Trocifal. Lineal descent is established for this noble from the house of Count Rodrigo González de Lara. Therefore, Alarcón's fragment deals exclusively with those paragraphs where this noble is mentioned. (7)

[22] In his rendition of the Poem of Almería, Flórez made use of Sandoval's edition. The author of España sagrada comments in his introduction that Sandoval's text contained numerous errors. These were attributed either to the Bishop himself or to the copyist of the poem.

The publication history was resumed during the present century by Ambrosio Huici. In 1913 he included an edition of the Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris in his lengthy collection of Latin chronicles of the Reconquest. (8) This author added a revised version and a Spanish translation. Huici did not avail himself of any new manuscript for his edition, but followed the text contained in volume XXI of the España sagrada. While he endeavored to improve the punctuation, he invariably remained in accordance with the rendition of Flórez.

As has been mentioned in the previous chapter, Cipriano Rodríguez Aniceto published a critical edition of the Poem of Almería in 1931. (9) In his accompanying study the author includes significant commentary on the Latin hexameter verse of the poem. He also published the Spanish prose version of Juan de Mendoza included in his rendition of the chronicle in the seventeenth century.

The editions of Berganza and Huici responded to the necessity of detaching this chronicle from its primitive, unprinted. state. Nevertheless, these editions did not address themselves to the exigencies of modern criticism.

In 1950, Luis Sánchez Belda published a comprehensive [23]critical edition of the Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris. His work fulfills these critical demands. It surpasses all other editions in its complete review of textual problems. With consistent regard for detail, Sánchez Belda has subjected the manuscripts to a scrupulous comparative analysis. All lexical variants are offered with systematic documentation. A considerable portion of his scholarship concerns itself with the historical merit of the work. His method of corroboration entails a strict contrastive assessment of the data in the chronicle with twelfth-century documents. Moreover, he proves to be a careful translator of the Poem of Almería, for he offers a very readable and intact Spanish rendition. (10)

Notes or Chapter 2

1. Prudencio de Sandoval, Historia de Los Reyes de Castilla y de León: Doña Urraca, hija de Don Alonso Sexto y Don Alonso Séptimo, Emperador de Las Españas (2 vol.; Madrid: Benito Cano, 1792), II, 185-297.

2. Benito Sánchez Alonso, "Una traducción inédita de la Crónica de Alfonso VII," Revista de Filología España, XIII (October - December, 1926), 360.

3. "Alfonso, the Aragonese King, ruling in Nájera and Castrojeriz and in Burgos: Sancho Juanes governing in Poza and Pedro Íñiguez in Petralada." Sandoval, p. 211.

4. Berganza, Antigüedades, II, 590-624.

5. Sánchez Belda, p. xciii.

6. Enrique Flórez, España sagrada: Teatro geográfico-histórico de la Iglesia de España (52 vols.; Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia, 1747-1879), XXI, 320-399.

7. Antonio Suárez de Alacón, Relaciones genealógicas de la casa de los Marqueses de Trocifal, Condes de Torresvedras (Madrid, 1656), pp. 133-135.

8. Ambrosio Huici, Las crónicas latinas de la Reconquista (Valencia, 1913), II, 171-430.

9. Rodríguez Aniceto, pp. 140-175.

10. There is only one other indication of an attempted edition. In 1916, Paulino Ortega de La Madrid wrote a doctoral dissertation for the University of Madrid concerning the chronicle of Alfonso VII. This dissertation remains unpublished.