Apparent Religious Symbolism in “The Siege of Castle Urena”

On February 10, 2014 by Harper

!manzana3We have thoroughly discussed the nature of Dons thus far and have found that they share many qualities like chivalry, honor, nobility, as well as religious awareness and reverence.

“The Siege of Castle Urena” is a novelesque piece which highlights the conflict between Moors and Christian Spain during medieval Spain.  However, the piece also includes some fascinating symbolism regarding the Christian belief of the transubstantiation of Christ in the form of communion.

In the ballad, the Christian king is immediately portrayed as noble (and Don-like) due to the number of his subjects (100 maidens paired with 100 Cavaliers).  Also, another gift bestowed upon Don Garcia were the bread and wine given by his father.  Bread and wine are obvious symbols of the transubstantiation of Christ, as they are meant to symbolize the lasting presence of Jesus on Earth.  The fact that these items are specifically mentioned in the ballad most likely point to the notion that Don Garcia’s kingdom is a holy, honorable and Christian one.

The final and arguably most important piece of symbolism in this ballad occurs in the final stanza when Don Garcia chooses to throw his remaining bread over the walls since he could not possibly divide it evenly amongst his subjects within the walls.  The division of the bread into four pieces is significant.  The number “4” was seen as the “perfect number” during this time in terms of symbolism of ballads.  The act of giving bread could be seen as granting someone communion in the eyes of  a Christian god.  This gift of “perfect” communion to the Moors, who retreat after seeing how seemingly well fed their Christian enemies are, is overtly symbolic of the Christian’s triumph over the Moors as well as the Don-like nature of Garcia.