If it is true that friends must be kept tight, but enemies even more, it will not appear strange that the strongest expressions of esteem and honor to the Christian warrior model, by the praise of fundamental historical and fictional characters belonging to age medieval, were also songwriters, filmmakers and intellectuals by no means conservative political tendencies, let alone Catholic.
In a partial way, we could quickly look at three examples: Fabrizio De Andrè, Mario Monicelli and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
Charles came back from the war
Charles came back from the war,
welcomes him his land
surrounding it in allor
Al sol the hot spring,
Sire of the victor!
So begins Charles Martel returned from the battle of Poitiers , a famous song by Fabrizio De Andrè in 1963. A song with stately and solemn tones, which sounds in playful mockery when compared with the events narrated in the song. They see the “king of the Francs “(actually it was not that, but that matters little in this context) Charles Martel, returning from the victory over the Moors at Poitiers in 732, stopping and entertaining himself with a young commoner, who then asked him, unexpectedly, for payment. The horrible features, vulgar coarseness and little chivalrous ultimate getaway among wisteria and the elder shall conclude a framework certainly not very idyllic the Christian king who stopped the Arab and Islamic advance into France, fighting the armed Muslim over the Pyrenees.
The song was later loaded to excess with hidden meanings of anti-militarists and pacifists by interpreters who think they can never refrain dall’incasellare, outline and politically define art and culture, especially if it’s of great artists and poets, if it means going beyond the intention of auctoris .
Mind you, De Andrè was not totally alien to the world of pacifism and anti-militarism that would soon evolve, in the subculture of hippies and protests against the war in Vietnam. That said, you should avoid exaggerating the political accents of this song, arrovellandosi of the ” blood of the prince and the dark ” which reddens ” the same color crest ,” maybe seeing some kind of complaints of brutal violence of war or criticism.
It is, in fact, this one in particular, a song was born very light and carefree, as recounted by Paolo Villaggio. He had not yet become the infamous inventor of the grotesque character Fantozzi, starring in several films and books. They have become real milestones of Italian comedy to represent the profound identity of Italy through his vices, defects and infamy, Paolo Villaggio is, in fact, the author of the lyrics of this song, as well as de loafer , that flanked the disk in two tracks released in 1963.
With his always do somewhere between serious and humorous, which makes it difficult to understand how real and how much of it is invented in his story, Village claims that the song was born on a rainy day in Genoa in 1962 awaiting the birth of their wives, and his De Andrè. The music would be, of course, of De Andrè, but entirely his text, which does not bode well for some of the most earnest interpretations, austere and emptily profound of this song. This village is not because the person devoid of culture, wit and inventiveness; just think of her almost unique ability to be both an inventor, author, screenwriter and actor of the character that made his fortune. But the Village, as always linked to the world of the left, with his books and films he joked heavily on the contradictions and paradoxes of Italian society of the time, with little regard either for the upper middle class of the Galactic Mega Director, nor the severe militancy of those who forced himself to the experience of viewing battleship Potemkin in endless and boring film club.
The violence of war is a fact obvious to anyone, but the Village paternity certainly pushes to give an interpretation lighter and less committed to a song that does not mean that loses nothing of its value. Taking itself too seriously, in fact, may be one of the worst defects not only for artists and intellectuals, but also political and military leaders. Knowing how to joke, world, its ugliness, and, even more difficult, of themselves, do not necessarily detract from value, honor and courage to the person who is able to do so. After all, even in a song that mocks like no troubadour or mountebank would have dared in her presence, to Charles Martel is given act of courage, honor and merit of a victory that prevented the Arab invasion that – word of Paolo Villaggio – would forever change the history and European identity.
Certainly, Charles Martel has outlined a pathetic picture, making it closer to a crude peasant in sexual abstinence that a hero and savior of Europe. But what it is in the end a fling at the end of a long and exhausting war than the value of identity, culture and the very life of whole peoples and Arab city saved by the advance, until then never stop? Not to run the risk of take ourselves too seriously, you would almost think that, in the folds of mockery, hides also a praise and a certificate of recognition, belated, to a real father of Europe.
Armata Brancaleone: satire is biting, but courage is undeniable
Protagonist of two real cult film of the 60’s, the Cavalier Brancaleone da Norcia is a caricature of the Christian warrior in search of large companies that dedicate his name and honor for eternity. The Army Brancaleone (1966) and in Brancaleone at the Crusades (1970), Mario Monicelli, assisted by the historic couple Age & Scarpelli, sends a milestone in the scene of Italian comedy, through the narrative of the adventures of this reckless and unfortunate knight and his group, so ramshackle and ridiculous that it has become the universal definition of a bad team-matched and of poor quality, a ‘ Armata Brancaleone .
Simply count a short string of incidents that occurred in the first of the films mentioned above, to realize the anti-Catholic satire and commissioning level of ridicule in Christian chivalry that is present in this masterpiece, the work of an atheist director, anti-fascist and, even, landed in old age to the Communist PRC and walkways to No Berlusconi Day . From adventure that pits Brancaleone loving friend and rival Teofilatto to fool the poor attempt to defend his fortress of Puglia from the assault of the Moors, from the participation in the Crusade of the poor the attempt of looting of a deserted town and hit by the plague, there seems to be peace for Brancaleone, nor any respect for the ethical values of Christian chivalry, debased in haughty arrogance and looking for useful and personal glory.
However, if we look more closely at individual episodes that involve the controversial knighthood model that Monicelli’s films offer us, you can see how the reading exclusively satirical and dileggiatrice of Brancaleone adventures is very partial. There is no denying, in fact, to the unfortunate rider some of the fundamental qualities of Christian chivalry as it is characterized symbolically in the tradition: the courage in battle, the acceptance at every opportunity of individual battles against other riders, the need to respect their word are all features that Brancaleone owns and which never fails in any occasion.
A striking example is the ill-fated love affair with virgin Matilda, which is offered to Brancaleone night before going in marriage to Uguccione, but incurs the rejection of the knight, who, as attempted by the love he feels for the woman, does not give way and respects the oath he swore on the deathbed of the girl’s guardian, bringing the girl to the betrothed. He will, however, take advantage of the will of the girl to punish Brancaleone, who will be so charged in front of Uguccione of violating the purity of the woman and sentenced to the cage, from which the rider will be saved only by the intervention of his ramshackle army.
It is right in comparison with the Byzantine Teofilatto that emerges quite clearly the fundamentally genuine nature and valiant of Brancaleone. Both in the duel that sees them opposed to their meeting, both the ventures that the two live together on the way to the Aurocastro fortress in Apulia, Brancaleone gives courage and bravery, despite some good fortune did not smile on and his army (as well as his steed Aquilant) prove to be increasingly unable to meet their expectations; on the contrary, Theophylact, disgraced member of an old Byzantine dynasty rotten and corrupt in the spirit and in the body, is a degraded Middle Ages, Machiavellian and cowardly, always ready to look for easier ways and subterfuges to escape the events that Brancaleone, for better or worse, however it deals openly and never give in to fear.
Essentially, Brancaleone succeeds quietly objective of making people laugh, but not completely erase the valiant and heroic essence of the Christian knight who emerges and gets a certificate of existence even expressly rated films commissioning light of hypocrisy and meanness hidden in symbolic figure of Christianity warrior.
Don Quixote of La Mancha, heroism and windmills
Don Quixote of La Mancha (original Spanish edition, El Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha ) is the most important masterpiece of the entire history of Spanish literature, emblem of what is called the Golden Age of Spanish culture. By Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra dating back to 1605, the book chronicles the adventures of ‘hidalgo Alonso Quijano, who vanished back into a fantasy world borrowed from its many readings, he is convinced of being a knight errant, and starts to wander Spain, bringing with it, as his squire, Sancho Panza the farmer, promising to give him one day an entire island.
Having to dedicate to a lady its group companies, the delusional knight designates as his muse peasant Aldonza Lorenzo, which he renamed Dulcinea del Toboso.Unfortunately for the rider, the real adventures are scarce in a Spain that is no longer that of the mythical Reconquest against Muslim rule. Don Quixote, lost in his madness, he rushes against windmills in his mind thought to be giants from rotating and against flocks of sheep exchanged arms for the army of the Moors, which always emerge defeated and ridiculed.
From this point of view, it is very clear that Don Quixote is inscribed in a tradition that makes a mockery of the Christian warrior and the typical values of medieval chivalry. In this critique, there is no doubt that Cervantes also refers to his personal life. Fighter at Lepanto in the greatest naval victory obtained by the Christian armies against the Turks, Cervantes ended his life in poverty, abandoned, forgotten and totally devoid of that eternal glory and honors (including land) that medieval literature always reserved to the victorious knight .
Adding to that of Cervantes were drafted a large number of biographies that recent studies (1) define the author as “a erasmista, a jew Conversely, a racist Catholic, an adulterer, a libertine, and even a homosexual “, we have the perfect picture of an author who has put his own vein and literary skills to the service of criticism, satire, and the desecration of a real cornerstone of Christian ethics, as the figure of the knight.
In reality, however, this conclusion, in hindsight, can really prove to be very rushed. If these recent reconstructions of the author’s life were true, the fact remains that in the masterpiece of Cervantes the protagonist – as struck by madness and a delusion from which the ‘ hidalgo will wake up only now close to death – still has a heroic vocation, unparalleled courage and unwavering faith in the face of enormous challenges (imaginary) that lie ahead.
They may be some of the mills, those giants that Don Quixote faces without blinking, but we can deny the extreme zeal inherent in the fact that, if they were really true, he would attack them, for Dulcinea, for the honor and for God’s sake? And the fight against the windmills is only the best known of countless adventures, mostly imaginary, that the knight and his squire living along its path, during a literary plot that comic-satirical becomes more and more serious and brings staged the drama of existence of a man born and lived outside of time that it was his nature, inclination and aspiration. Don Quixote is the first modern novel, in which one feels the nostalgia for a bygone era, that of a medieval Spain glorious, risen from the ashes with iron and returned with his own blood in the arms of Christianity, after defeating an enemy that dominated for centuries.
Don Quixote, then, heroic, ridiculous, and courageous in his fight against enemies that no longer exist, because they belong to a bygone era, which was replaced by a narrow-minded Spain and the threshold of a decline from which it never rose again, eventually collapsing totally on the margins of European and world history. Beneath the satire, is, therefore, the drama of the impossibility of being true Christian knights in modern times and, at the same time, a feeling of lack and longing for an era that no longer exists, but it has existed and saw real warriors carry Legend, brave knights shine in their shining armor and banners of Christianity always victorious and dominant on the entire European continent.
Let us remember, therefore, at a time when it is fashionable to a post-modern model of Machiavellianism, which tends to desecrate and debase anything – with a focus on symbols of courage and heroism as the knights of the Christian Middle Ages – that even in literary works seemingly film and music explicitly addressed to the derision and mockery of such symbols, emerge, however, several awards of appreciation and value for what is the object of satire. Perhaps some fairytale stories aura of the value, courage, morality and purity of Christian warriors were also the result of a cultural construction sedimented over time, through the successive positive narratives for centuries; but if even Fabrizio De Andrè, Mario Monicelli and Miguel de Cervantes admit something and you do miss (not so) between the lines of some of their major works, a truth will exist.