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The Lord of Bembibre

The Lord of Bembibre
The Lord of Bembibre can justly be claimed to be the greatest achievement in the historical novel popularised in the period of Spanish Romanticism. It was also the culminating moment in the writing career of its author, Enrique Gil y Carrasco, who was to die young just two years after its publication.

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Here we have the long-awaited first English version of Enrique Gil y Carrasco’s historical novel El Señor de Bembibre, generally regarded as the best of its genre in the Spanish Romantic period.

How will an English reader of the 21st Century react to this work written in 1844 but depicting the early years of the 14th? A time when the huge power of the Crusader Knights of the Temple, extending over France, Spain and elsewhere in Europe, was coming to its end.

Armoured knights, picturesque castles and ladies in distress have acquired a certain popularity in our modern TV series or films but they in no way convey the complexity of Medieval chivalry, the immense power and influence of the Church. Or, for example, the subjugation of noble women as pawns in great power games.

El Bierzo has long ceased to be the terrain of Knights Templar resplendent on their war horses. Nor is it quite the landscape that Enrique Gil may have recalled nostalgically on his untimely deathbed in far off Prussia, but today most of its topography remains. We hope that the readers of this book will feel inclined to visit or revisit the land he so vividly described.

Doireann Mac Dermott

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