King Saint Ferdinand Rides to the Conquest of Córdoba

July 10, 2014

King Ferdinand III of Castile

A page who entered quickly took him from his thoughts…. “Lord, Ordoño Alvarez de Asturias has come in great haste and says he has happy and marvelous news to give you.”

“Ordoño Alvarez, who is stationed at the frontier? Tell him to enter immediately as my door is always open for my knights.”

The young man left and, a few seconds later, the messenger from Córdoba entered, his armor broken and damaged, spattered with the mud of the road, his hair straight and wet, but with more light and enthusiasm in his eyes than the sun of a clear day. He approached the King, and taking his hand to kiss it with the familiarity of the campaigns, said in a voice quivering with emotion, “Lord, know that you are the master of the Ajarquía* of Córdoba!”

“What are you saying, Ordoño? Córdoba you say?” exclaimed Ferdinand.

“Córdoba, my Lord, Córdoba! We scaled the walls in the darkness of night! Take, my Lord, and read,” he added giving him a report of the skirmish.

St Ferdinand

Ferdinand took the report; as he read, the sentiments of admiration and noble enthusiasm that were inflaming his soul shone on his face. Upon reaching the end of the message, he stood up, saying resolutely to Ordoño, “Wait a few minutes.” And to a page, “Go to my knights and tell them to gather their arms and saddle their horses. You,” he continued, giving orders to an esquire, “prepare my arms, and summon the chancellor and Gonzalo my secretary, for I am going to need them.” And saying this, he began to leave the room.

“Lord King, are you not having dinner?”

“I tell you that I will not eat bread on a tablecloth until I do so on my own in Córdoba!”

“But consider, Lord King,” said a prudent, elderly nobleman, “that it is raining hard, and the roads are in a bad state. You are risking your health, Lord, and what would become of these kingdoms without you?”

Aguilar de la Frontera, is a town in the province of Córdoba, and it was Dom Alonso de Aguilar's Córdoba, ancestral town in Andalucia. Photo by Bert Kaufmann

Aguilar de la Frontera, is a town in the province of Córdoba, and it was Dom Alonso de Aguilar’s Córdoba, ancestral town in Andalucia. Photo by Bert Kaufmann

“What will become of them and me is always the will of God. And do you believe that if is His pleasure that, while the vassals suffer from battle and wounds, the King who should give them the example is at home relaxing?”

And taking a piece of bread from the table, he said to the amazed members of the court, “This is my first dinner of the campaign.” And he left for the room where he worked before the chancellor and the secretary he had urgently called could arrive.

This statue of King St. Ferdinand stands outside the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando in the City of San Fernando, in the Philippines. Photo by Ramon FVelasquez.

This statue of King St. Ferdinand stands outside the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando in the City of San Fernando, in the Philippines. Photo by Ramon FVelasquez.

The courtiers also left hurriedly, each one to prepare himself, and in a corner where they had witnessed the scene, a serious Cistercian said to an austere Dominican, “Friar Peter, Irruit Domini spiritus in Rege.” (“The spirit of the Lord runs with the King.”)

And the other answered, “Let us go with him also, Friar Lope; as we were sent to console him, the obedience is clear.”

One hour later, King Saint Ferdinand appeared in his armor and covered with a large rain cape provided with a hood. On the patio one hundred knights awaited him in the same attire. For the first time since the death of Doña Beatrice he smiled joyfully as he watched his companions preparing for the enterprise. Mounting his horse, he shouted, “Follow me, my friends!”

“Santiago and Castile!” all answered, starting to gallop behind him.

 

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* [Editor: the eastern suburbs of a city.]

Sr. Maria del Carmen Fernández de Castro Cabeza, The Life of the Very Noble King of Castile and León, Saint Ferdinand III (Mount Kisco, NY: The Foundation for a Christian Civilization, 1987), pp. 158-9.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 401

KSF

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