Just a Flesh Wound

Isaiah 30:18 and 21

Finally found the inspiration for Monty Python and Cervantes here in Hospital del Orbigo. The magnificent Gothic era bridge is the best preserved of its sort in Spain. We reached it around 11 after having walked around 15 Kms from Vilar de Mazarife. Crossing over the bridge via the Passage of Honor or Paso Honroso. It was easier for us than many who tried to cross back in 1434.

A noble knight from Leon, Don Suero de Quinones, had been rejected by his target of amor. This is not surprising since the rules of courtly love required a knight to seek an impossible lover, either already married or well above his station. The rejection caused him to put on an iron collar of enslavement to his impossible love. He then threw down a gauntlet to any knight who would dare pass over the bridge. He would prevent passage across the bridge and his honor against all comers. The king authorized that this challenge should be promoted. Knights from all over Europe arrived to take up Don Sueno’s challenge.

The jousting began in lists and viewing stands created for the event in the middle of July. Each day the knights would bang away and at night party on the riverbanks with their presumably attainable women. Don Suero smacked down all challengers. One knight from Catalonia fearing Don Sueno presented himself in double thick armor. Don Sueno responded by putting on light armor and a woman’s dress. The Catalan knight landed a lucky blow and knocked Don Sueno off his horse. The crowd gasped. Don Sueno announced that it was nothing but a flesh wound. Thus the inspiration for the Black Knight.

After breaking 300 lances during the tournament, Don Sueno announced that his honor had been restored. He removed the iron collar and announced his pilgrimage to Santiago. This is the story of the bridge we walked over and under and around today. The lists and viewing stands were empty for we are too early for the reenactment. You still get the feeling given the setting. Nice place for a beer. There was a bell tower with a plethora of storks.

Last night we enjoyed Paella and a meal served with far more style and presentation than we are used to in Spain. Quite nice for a change. This was in a private Albergue run by a former Pilgrim. We left by eight the next morning and had an easy hike over flat and straight Meseta. We can see the mountains of Leon in the distance and Galicia is beyond that. We are at around 280 Kms to go.

We walked around Hospital del Orbigo so named because of its location next to the Orbigo river and its famous bridge. The Hospital part comes from the hospital run by the Order of St. John to the Hospitalarios de San Juan who provided shelter for pilgrims who made it across the bridge. The town was peaceful and we treated ourselves to a semi-rest day with only 15kms. Tomorrow we start to see the terrain change as we reach the foot hills. We picked up rocks from the river to deposit at the Iron Cross in a few days. The rocks aren’t too big.

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3 thoughts on “Just a Flesh Wound

  1. When I read the title, “Just a Flesh Wound”, I was worried thinking one of you fell off a cliff, got stabbed by a bull horn….good to hear you were only telling us the history of the bridge.

  2. You do love to bring suspence into you writing!. Hard to believe so many buildings and bridges have remained in tact, along with stories about them. Wish I could have shared some of you dessert with you. Happy Fathers DAY!! Glad you are doing something you have all ways wanted to do. Baking a apple pie (bought) to take to church for Father’s Day. You two have wonderful kids!! I am trying to get things in good order, a little bit at a time but it will not be as perfect as you left it! All who have been here I have enjoyed very much.

  3. Good to know the origin of the Black Knight, who is one of my favorite film characters. Amazing bridge! Don’t think I’ve ever seen one quite that long. The river must really flood, sometimes. Nice and cool, here.

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