The Spanish language

During the centuries of the Middle Ages, Latin disintegrated and gave rise to the Romance languages.

The first written evidence of this can be found in the late 9th century on papers, documents and parchments from Valpuesta, the first diocese of Old Castile, and from the large San Pedro de Cardeña Monastery, which is closely linked to the legendary Rodrigo Díaz, better known as El Cid Campeador, and which housed one of the leading scriptoria in Hispania.

The documents from Valpuesta and San Pedro de Cardeña contain much more than the isolated words and mere ritual formulae that can be found in the Glosas (“glosses”) from the monasteries of Santo Domingo de Silos and San Millán de la Cogolla (11th century). They include expressions and phrases that reflect the daily vernacular of those remote times.

This phenomenon of replacing deformed Latin with unequivocally Romance word forms reflects the language that was spoken more than 1,000 years ago, precisely, 11 centuries ago. Furthermore, as far as the birth of Spanish literature is concerned, the two major works of the mediaeval period Cantar de Mio Cid (“The Poem of the Cid”) and Poema de Fernán González (“The Poem of Fernán González”) both hail from Burgos. These epic poems entrenched in the soul of the people were spread and popularised by minstrels who travelled from town to town and castle to castle, transporting oral tales of heroic lives and transcendental events.

In short, Burgos is the land of the origins of Spanish, a language currently spoken by more than 500 million people, and of its epic poetry. Additionally, the typesetters of Burgos were at the heart of the first splendours of Spanish printing.

Their workshops issued forth publications including the Tragedia de Calixto y Melibea (1499) (The Comedy of Calisto and Melibea), better known as La Celestina, and Vida de Lázarillo de Tormes y de Sus Fortunas y Adversidades (1554) (The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of His Fortunes and Adversities), universally known as El Lazarillo, two works that form part of humanity’s literary heritage.

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