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A new book by Professor of Spanish Irene Zaderenko, El monasterio de Cardeña y el inicio de la épica cidiana (The Monastery of Cardeña and the Beginning of the Cidian Epic), attempts to resolve the mystery of the authorship of Spain’s greatest epic poem, the Poema de mio Cid. Her book brings together many years of research and reflection on one of the perennial problems of medieval Spanish literature.
Research over the past few decades has brought to light the legal knowledge possessed by the poem’s author, the influence of the French epic on the Castilian poem, the utilization of the Historica Roderici as a source of historical data, the presence of loan words and other terms inspired by legal Latin, and the knowledge of Latin ecclesiasical sources. The one place where we might have found someone with such wide knowledge at the end of the twelfth century was the Church. The author must have been a cleric, but of what type? From where? Prof. Zaderenko argues that the Poema de mio Cid’s most probable birthplace is the Benedictine Monastery of Cardeña (a little to the north of Burgos), where Rodrigo Diaz and his wife Jimena were buried and where there was a true cult around the figure of the Cid.
The author of a previous book on the Cid and numerous articles in Spanish, American and Argentine journals, Zaderenko has been working recently on an edition of a unique manuscript in the Hispanic Society of America: the Monastery’s of Cardeña’s Libro de memorias y aniversarios.