This peaceful gothic bridge across the River Orbigo that I crossed the other day belies a turbulent and bloody past. Battles fought by the Visigoths, the Romans, The Christians and Moors, a British General, John Moore even blew part of it up when having a run in with Napaoleons army during the Peninsular War, but it is best known because of a fellow by the name of Suero de Quinones.
Suero was a Leon Knight in the fourteenth century, the chivalrous type of knight, the love of his life back then was a lady by the name of Doña Leonor de Tobar, well as often happens with affairs of the heart things didn’t work out, Dona Leonor found her man elsewhere and Suero was scorned. He had such difficulty getting over his broken heart that he decided he would take part in the jousting tournament held on the bridge. Perhaps he thought that this might impress Dona Leonor and she would change her mind, perhaps it was just a self destructive action, who knows, but in July 1434 Suero entered the jousting tournament, back in those days Jousting Knights were celebrities, like modern day Rockstars or Footballers, they had followers & supporters and would travel from tournament to tournament across Europe. Suero vowed to take on any knight who wished to face him at Orbigo and to fight until he had defeated every foe, then and only then he would he make a pilgrimage to Santiago, with a free heart.
Knights from across Europe entered the competition, Suero defeated them one after another, his reputation grew quickly, so much so that one Catalan Knight determined to put an end to Suero decided that he would wear two sets of armour to protect himself from Sueros deadly lance.
To mock his Catalan opponent Suero came out to joust without armour and wearing womens clothes, he dispatched the Catalan just like all those before.
At the end of a month of competition he remained undefeated, he continued on to Santiago as he had vowed. Cervantes makes reference to Suero in Don Quixote, and it is thought that in some form or another the mad old knight of Cervantes book, his chivalric ideas of love and honour so out of touch with reality was based on Suero.
I like to think that he grew old and happy, that he found love, he is recorded as having had two children, so perhaps that was what happened, the only mention I could find is that he was eventually killed some years later by a disgruntled knight who he had bettered on the bridge over the Orbigo……………………..