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CSM Number : 165
Short name: The Celestial Knights who Protected the City of Tartus Alternative: Celestial knights protect city (Tartus, Syria)
Incipit: Niun poder deste mundo
Refrain: Niun poder deste mundo/ de gente nada non val/ contra o poder da Virgen/ ca x’ é tod’ espirital.
Summary of narrative
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Setting: Tartus, Syria Protagonist(s): Sultan Bondoudar, [Bayburs I, Bunduqdari, Sultan of Egypt, 1233?-1277].

Sultan Bondoudar, who held Egypt, Aleppo, Damascus and La Chamelle, was constantly at war with the Christians and trying to harm them. He sent his spies to mingle with the Christians.

They informed him that if he were to win Tartus, he would gain a great prize. They said that the city was poorly defended. The Sultan approached Tartus with a great army. He confirmed that there were few men in the city.

The people of Tartus, seeing the Sultan’s army mustered against them, were certain that they would die. They went to the church and prayed to the Virgin to save them from the infidel. The next day, the Sultan ordered his troops to take the city.

However, when they went to attack, they found every gate, barbican, and wall crowded with armed men.rnThe Sultan summoned his Moorish spy and berated him for saying that the city was unprepared for attack.

The Moor was very afraid and told the Sultan that the white knights defending the city were sent from heaven.rnThe Sultan asked him how they had got there, and the man replied that they came at the Virgin’s behest. He said that she had a church in the city, near the walls, by the beach.

The Sultan reminded him that in the Koran it states that Mary was always a virgin. The Sultan vowed that he would not wage war on her. After making a generous donation to the Virgin, the Sultan departed from the city.

Metrical data
Stanza: 15 15 15 15 Refrain: 15 15
No. of Stanzas: 14
Rhyme scheme: AA | bbba Zejel: Yes
MS locations:
T165, E165, E395
Poncelet reference
knights (celestial), Quran, siege, spy, sultan, warfare
Click HERE for a list of recordings of this poem
Inside the virelai: a survey of musical structures in the Cantigas de Santa Maria
Campbell, Alison
Los poetas del Guadiana a Alfonso el Sabio
Gonzalez Lara, José, director de publicación
Muebles hispanoárabes en las Cantigas de Alfonso el Sabio
Guerrero Lovillo, José
Cantigas de Santa Maria de Alfonso X el Sabio, rey de Castilla
López Serrano, Matilde
Los manuscritos de las Cantigas: Cómo se elaboró la miniatura alfonsí
Menéndez Pidal, Gonzalo
La caballería blanca o caballería ’celeste’ en la literatura hispánica
Montoya Martínez, Jesús
La literatura caballeresca en la obra de Alfonso X
Montoya Martínez, Jesús
Catálogo de los manuscritos catalanes, valencianos, gallegos y portugueses de la Biblioteca de El Escorial
Zarco Cuevas, Julián