Crónica de Flores y Blancaflor

Crónica de Flores y Blancaflor

Edited by David Arbesú
2011 | 978-0-86698-422-5 | Hardcover 6 x 9 in
MRTS 374 | $55 | £40 |

The tale of Flores y Blancaflor has always beeen one of medieval Europe’s most-loved stories. The reasons for its popularity are many. On one hand, it is a fascinating account of two children that are brought up together under very different circumstances. One is a Muslim prince of Spain –heir to his father’s throne–, while the other is his captive, the daughter of a French duchess captured in one of the northern territories. The story describes the upbringing of the two teenagers, their secret love-affair, and their eventual separation due to their religious and racial differences. Thus, Flores needs to embark on a journey throughout the Muslim world and endure many hardships in order to recover his loved one, making the story a perfect illustration of the amor omnia vincit motto. Indeed, “love conquers all,” and in our tale it also brings about the conversion of a whole country to Christianity for the love of a woman.

That is, precisely, the second reason for its popularity. In all the accounts of the legend, but especially in the medieval Spanish version edited here, Flores y Blancaflor is not only an entertaining story about the perils of two lovers, but also a tale that speaks of the advantages of embracing Christianity, and that links directly to the popular Carolingian cycles of the Middle Ages. In the 14th-century chronicle in which the narrative of Flores y Blancaflor is found, the story is followed by those of Berta of the Big Feet and, later, that of Mainete (young Charlemagne). According to the story, Flores and Blancaflor are the parents of a child named Berta, who will eventually become queen of France upon her marriage to king Pepin the Short. Their son is no other than Charlemagne, thus connecting the Spanish monarchy with the greatest emperor of the Middle Ages.

The text of this edition is that of the oldest Spanish version. Until a few decades ago, the only Spanish narrative of Flores y Blancaflor known to critics was the 16th-century adaptation of the Italian versions. The 14th-century chronicle account was unearthed in the 1960’s, but the discovery went unnoticed until very recently. It is only now, at the beginning of the 21st century, that the remarkable love story of Flores y Blancaflor is getting the attention it deserves, and with this annotated edition we hope to make it available to an even wider audience of critics and students alike.