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The oath of Santa Gadea

Berges Institute • May 16, 2023 • 2 minutes
Updated Jul 31, 2023
The oath of Santa Gadea
The Graf Method for Spanish Language

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In this volume, we discuss the alphabet, definite and indefinite articles, and verbs ser and estar, among other topics.

Here is a 13th-century “cantar”, an oral poem that Castilian troubadours would recite in towns’ main squares and the like. It features El Cid, a Castilian nobleman who lived in the 11th century and went on to become the protagonist of the Cantar de Mio Cid (1140-1207), the oldest preserved epic poem in Spanish.

In this poem, El Cid is acting as a “prosecutor” in an oath that Alfonso VI, the king of Castile, is supposed to take to prove that he didn’t kill (or order to kill) his brother, the previous king. El Cid basically wishes Alfonso a non-honorable death (he wishes him to be killed by villains riding donkeys instead of noblemen riding horses, using a cheap knife instead of a golden dagger, in the middle of the countryside instead of in a village, etc.) if he had anything to do or consented to the magnicide.

Here is some vocabulary you may want to learn before reading the poem. Feel free to use a dictionary to look up other words you may not know.

Do (archaic) - where
Jurar - to swear (an oath)
Hijosdalgo (arch.) - noblemen
Cerrojo - bolt/lock
Ballesta - crossbow
Espanto - fright
Abarca (arch.) - sandal
Capas aguaderas, capuces, tabardos, camisones - different medieval garments
Cabalgar - to ride (a horse or similar)
Burro/a - donkey
Riendas - reins
Cuerda - rope
Cuero - leather
Arada (arch.) - The fields/the countryside
Cuchillo cachicuerno - presumably a cheap kind of knife
Puñal dorado - Golden dagger

La jura de Santa Gadea

En Santa Gadea de Burgos

do juran los hijosdalgo,

allí toma juramento

el Cid al rey castellano,

sobre un cerrojo de hierro

y una ballesta de palo.

Las juras eran tan recias

que al buen rey ponen espanto.

—Villanos te maten, rey,

villanos, que no hidalgos;

abarcas traigan calzadas,

que no zapatos con lazo;

traigan capas aguaderas,

no capuces ni tabardos;

con camisones de estopa,

no de holanda ni labrados;

cabalguen en sendas burras,

que no en mulas ni en caballos,

las riendas traigan de cuerda,

no de cueros fogueados;

mátente por las aradas,

no en camino ni en poblado;

con cuchillos cachicuernos,

no con puñales dorados;

sáquente el corazón vivo,

por el derecho costado,

si no dices la verdad

de lo que te es preguntado:

si tú fuiste o consentiste

en la muerte de tu hermano.

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