The Captive of Doña Mencia

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ISBN paperback: 9788498163193

SKU: 9788498979435 Category: Tags: ,

The story The Captive of Doña Mencia (El cautivo de doña Mencía) narrates the love affair between a lady, Doña Mencía, and the young Nuño, several years younger than her. Doña Mencia renounces her love for the young man, despite being passionately in love, and enters a convent so that he can be free and follow his path in search of his heroic destiny.
The story seems to be a sentimental recreation of what actually happened in the author’s life in his youth.
Juan Valera met Lucia Padalli in Naples and they both fell in love, but Lucia, as in the character of Doña Mencia, renounced her beloved so as not to divert or hinder Valera’s purpose and objective in life: writing.

A few days ago I received the prospectus of a very curious book that is going to be published in Cordoba. It will contain the history of the cities, towns and fortresses of that ancient kingdom. This reminded me of certain events told to me by my friend Don Juan Fresco, which occurred four hundred and thirty years ago in the castle of the town where he lives. I do not know if these events are all fiction, or if they have any historical basis. Those who will write the aforementioned book will be in charge of elucidating it, either by consulting other old books that must be in print, or in view of Memoirs and other manuscript documents that there must be in abundance. I don’t want to get into such depths. I am inclined, however, to believe that in my story, if there is some fiction, there is also much of truth on which the fiction is based; the grave testimony of my dear and erudite friend Don Aureliano Fernández-Guerra, whom I heard relate no small part of the events whose narration I am pleased to dedicate now to his unforgettable spirit.
Don Aureliano had olive groves and vineyards in the nearby town of Zuheros; he often went there, and he prided himself on knowing, and had investigated and surely knew, everything that had happened in that region since many centuries ago. In spite of everything, I desist from finding out, so as not to commit myself, what is true and what is false in the story, and I will tell you here how my namesake told it to me.
The strong walls and the eight high towers are today as they were on the day they were built. Not a single battlement is missing. Within that enclosure, two hundred laborers and more than eighty horses can be accommodated. There is no trace left of the comfortable manor house. It has been replaced by an oil mill with a millstones, millstones and presses, which also serve as a wine press during the grape harvest; a large still with running water, and extensive cellars for oil, brandy, vinegar and wine.
Back in the 1470s it was all very different. The fortress had an extraordinary strategic importance, as it was built on a height, on huge rocks, which served as a foundation. In the center there was a comfortable room, almost like a palace, which housed the warden or lord who commanded the host. Twenty years ago, the aforementioned alcaide, full of youthful ardor, had set out on a reckless expedition against the Moors of Granada. Passing through Alcalá la Real, it had entered the Vega through Pinos de la Puente, causing a lot of damage, cutting down some crops and sown fields, and taking a lot of booty in farmhouses and farms. But when he returned rich and triumphant to his castle, in the bitter hills and in the thick oak forest between Pinos and Alcalá, he fell into a trap that the Moors, more than a thousand in number, had prepared for him, and there he died fighting heroically against them.
The widow of Don Jaime, which was the name of the dead adalid, was left as the only lady and governor of the castle.
Her name was Dona Mencia. A niece of the Count of Cabra, she had grown up in the house of that illustrious hero. Passionately in love with the gentle knight Don Jaime, who had come from Aragon to put himself at the Count’s service, and who was already well known for his skill and his verve in all chivalrous exercises, for his notable prowess and even for his talent and mastery in gay learning, the Count did not have to oppose the marriage for any reason, and consented that Don Jaime and Doña Mencía should marry, giving the dowry to the maiden, the domain and the governorship of the castle of which I am speaking.

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