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Los Amantes de Teruel - Drama Refundido en Cuatro Actos en Verso y Prosa

Martínez Garcés de Marsilla andIsabel de Segura. They had loved each other from childhood, but when
itbecame a question of marriage, Isabel's father opposed the unionbecause of the young man's lack of
material resources and because awealthy suitor, Rodrigo de Azagra, had presented himself for the hand
ofhis daughter. All that the entreaties of the lovers could gain from himwas the promise that if Marsilla
went to the wars, gained fame andriches, and returned before a certain day, he would receive Isabel
inmarriage. This Marsilla did; but unfortunately he was unable to returnuntil just after the expiration of the
time set. When he reached Teruel,he found Isabel married to the wealthy rival. Disappointed in theirhopes
after so many years of constant love and continual struggleagainst adversity, Marsilla died of grief, and
Isabel soon followed him;separated in life by cruel fate, they were united in death. Buried inthe same tomb,
they were later disinterred, and their mummified remainsmay now be seen in the old church of San Pedro in
Teruel.
#II. Authenticity of the Legend#. The earliest references that haveyet been found to the legend belong to
the middle of the sixteenthcentury, that is, more than three centuries after the supposed death ofthe lovers.
In 1555, when the church of San Pedro in Teruel wasundergoing some repairs, two bodies, supposedly
those of Marsilla andIsabel, were discovered in one tomb in a remarkably good state ofpreservation. They
were reburied at the foot of the altar in the chapelof Saints Cosme and Damian, and the story of the
unfortunate loversbegan to spread far and wide. By the end of the century it wasapparently widely known
and attracted considerable attention to the oldcity of Teruel. When Philip III of Spain was journeying to
Valencia in1599 he was induced to turn aside to visit the church of San Pedro. Inthe official account of his
journey, "Jornada de Su Majestad Felipe IIIy Alteza la Infanta Doña Isabel, desde Madrid, a casarse el Rey
con laReyna Doña Margarita, y su Alteza con el Archiduque Alberto," the storyof the legend as then
generally accepted is related so succinctly thatit may well be quoted here: "En la iglesia de San Pedro, en la
capillade San Cosme y San Damián, de la dicha ciudad, está la sepultura de losAmantes que llaman de
Teruel; y dicen eran un mancebo y una doncella quese querían mucho, ella rica y él al contrario; y como él
pidiese pormujer la doncella y por ser pobre no se la diesen, se determinó a ir porel mundo a adquerir
hacienda y ella aguardarle ciertos años, al cabo delos cuales y dos o tres días más, volvió rico y halló que
aquella nochese casaba la doncella. Tuvo trazas de meterse debajo de su cama y amedia noche le pidió un
abrazo, dándose a conocer; ella le dijo que nopodía por no ser ya suya, y él murió luego al punto.
Lleváronle aenterrar, y ella fué al entierro, y cuando le querían echar en lasepultura, se arrimó a la ataúd y
quedó allí muerta; y así losenterraron juntos en una sepultura, sabido el caso."
Seventeen years later a long epic poem by the secretary of the citycouncil of Teruel, Juan Yagüe de
Salas, aroused much discussion as tothe authenticity of the legend. In 1619 the bodies were again
exhumedand in the coffin of one of them were found written the words "Éste esDon Diego Juan
Martínez de Marsilla"; also a document, "papel de letramuy antigua," giving the story in detail. This
document disappeared, butthe copy that Juan Yagüe claimed to have made may be seen in thearchives
of the church of San Pedro or in the transcription published inthe
Semanario Pintoresco
for the week ending Feb. 5, 1837 (Vol. II,pages 45-47). The genuineness of the document and its copy
is verydoubtful. The first paragraph shows some linguistic peculiarities of oldAragonese; but these
gradually disappear, until there is little left inthe language to differentiate it from that of the good
notary public andpoet, Juan Yagüe, who was so anxious to prove authenticity for thelegend treated in
his poem. Although there is no reliable evidence thatthe bodies exhumed in 1555 and again in 1619
were those of Marsilla andIsabel, the church of San Pedro has held them in special reverence.They
attract many admirers to the old city on the Guadalaviar and thetourist who expresses incredulity when
shown the remains of the loversbecomes thereby
persona non grata
in Teruel.
For three centuries the controversy has continued and has resulted inthe spilling of much ink. The most
complete and authoritative study ofthe sources and growth of the legend is that of the eminent
scholarCotarelo y Mori
(Sobre el origen y desarrollo de la leyenda de LosAmantes de Teruel
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