The Seven Noble Knights of Lara is based on two prose texts from the thirteenth century, thought to be adapted from an oral tradition epic poem.
The following is my summary of the events in the primary sources.
Blásquez, a valiant knight of Castile, marries Lambra, the noble cousin of the
Count of Castile and invites all of Spain to attend, including his sister,
Sancha, her husband, Gonzalo, and their seven sons, the seven noble knights of
Lara. As a part of the celebrations, Ruy Blásquez sets up a lancing contest.
Lambra's cousin Álvar Sánchez performs better than any other knight present,
and she isn't afraid to let her feelings on this be known. Gonzalo, the
youngest of the seven noble knights, decides to outdo him, and does, easily.
Young Gonzalo and Álvar exchange angry words until Gonzalo becomes enraged and
hits him, killing him instantly.
Lambra tells her new husband to take revenge for the outrage, so he hits his
young nephew, and young Gonzalo repays him by throwing his goshawk in Ruy
Blásquez's face, breaking his nose. At that point, the Count of Castile steps
in to calm the passions and prevent more deaths. The men agree to abide by his
arbitration and leave the wedding festivities more or less satisfied.
Lambra is not satisfied. Taking advantage of their husbands leaving on
maneuvers, she invites Doña Sancha and her seven sons and their tutor to a
hunting party. When the time is right, Lambra has her page soak a cucumber in
blood. He obediently throws it at young Gonzalo and it hits him square in the
chest. Gonzalo's brothers laugh at such a bizarre occurrence, but Gonzalo takes
offense, saying that Lambra was proving she could fatally harm him. The law
firmly on his side, he murders the page under Doña Lambra's protective skirts.
González family leaves Doña Lambra on the estate and when the husbands return
to their respective homes, each regroups. Ruy Blásquez proposes that his
brother-in-law Don Gonzalo carry a letter to Córdoba, supposedly to collect a
rich debt from Almanzor. Ruy Blásquez then takes his seven nephews to Almenar
against the protestations of their tutor, who has read the auguries in the
flights of birds and forecasts doom.
An enormous army of Moorish mercenaries
are waiting to ambush them in Almenar. Despite their valiant fighting and the
aid of some of Ruy Blásquez’s troops, in the end, all seven brothers and the
tutor are beheaded. The heads are sent to Almanzor in Córdoba. Meanwhile, Don
Gonzalo, the father of the seven knights, has arrived in Córdoba only to find
that the letter he carries is his death warrant. Almanzor does not behead him,
but imprisons him in order to set up an investigation of the situation.
Gonzalo is still in prison when they bring the heads to him for identification.
His speech over his sons' remains are the most moving part of the poem.
sends his sister to "comfort" Don Gonzalo, and by the time he returns
to his home in Salas, the princess is pregnant with his last son. Don Gonzalo
gives her half a ring by which to identify himself when he's ready to meet his
years later, Salas is in utter ruin, Don Gonzalo has cried so much that he's
gone blind, and even the Count of Castile is having trouble with Ruy Blásquez,
who marauds all over the land, taking Castilian castles for his own. In
Córdoba, the princess's son, Mudarra is coming of age. He's been trained and
shows extraordinary talent in every aspect a knight should. When a visiting
potentate questions his legitimacy, he asks his mother who his father was. She
tells him the story of the betrayal of the seven noble knights, and how his purpose
in life is to find his father and set things right in Castile through bloody
Mudarra arrives in Salas, Don Gonzalo realizes he can't recognize him as his
son without incriminating himself with his wife, Doña Sancha, so he resists. Doña
Sancha sees Mudarra as the opportunity they've been waiting for and demands
that he recognize Mudarra. When he finally does, his sight is magically
recovered and the broken ring fuses back together, never again to come apart.
is adopted by Sancha, baptized as a Christian, and knighted by the Count of
Castile in Burgos. Ruy Blásquez arrives to protest, and the count declares a
temporary truce during which each party can put together his legal case. Ruy
Blásquez instead flees with his soldiers and Mudarra and his father Don Gonzalo
follow him. Each time they arrive where Ruy Blásquez was last sighted, he's
already long gone. Finally, the enemies face off. After many formalities,
Mudarra cuts Ruy Blásquez's arm so severely that he has to surrender. They
bring him to his sister, Doña Sancha, who prepares to drink his blood to
fulfill the dream she's had, but Don Gonzalo stops her. She decides her brother
should be executed in a symbolic manner, so they tie him to a scaffold and
throw stones and lances at him, in imitation of the sport the knights were
taking part in during the ill-fated wedding.
Lambra begs her cousin the Count of Castile for help, but is refused.
Nevertheless, her blood ties with him make Mudarra unable to take an active revenge
against her. She lives out her days on the run, with only one maid as a
companion. She dies in the sierra, and when travelers pass her resting place,
instead of saying a prayer for her soul, they say, "May she be