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Mal que os pese la he de ver

The battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (Jaén, 1212) was a decisive moment in the Christian advance towards the south as they overcame the Moslems. The participation of the city of Ávila in said battle was very significant. As they returned from the battle victorious, the soldiers entered into Ávila with great pomp and ceremony.

One of the battalions was commanded by Alvar Dávila, whose house stood in the area of Sotalvo, a village not far away from the city. He was good-looking and rode proud on his horse. And of course, when he passed by the Palace of Don Diego de Zúñiga, the nobleman's daughter, Doña Guiomar, was deeply struck. But she wasn't alone: Alvar fell deeply in love with the young maiden and he spent the rest of the march into the city thinking about her.

However, as was common at the time, Guiomar's future was not in her hands and her father, Don Diego, had already decided that she was to go into a convent and devote her life to God.

After a few days, Alvar decided to ask permission to marry the girl for, since he had seen her, he had neither eaten nor drunk and found nourishment only in her memory. So, he went to see Don Diego with this idea in mind. But the maiden's father was stubborn and took no liking at all to the suitor, kicking him out of his palace and making it clear that he would never see his daughter again.

Alvar was hurt, but he did not accept the idea of never being able to see his beloved again and replied:

“Doña Guiomar and I will continue to love each other; and what's more, we will continue to see each other whether you like it or not."

And he retired to his house in Sotalvo, for the palace guards had been ordered to take him prisoner if he dared to return to Ávila. There, on top of a crag, he built a castle that looked towards the city so that he could see, or rather think that he could see, his beloved. She leaned out of her bedroom window, which was slightly higher than the walls, and he made all kinds of signals so that she could know that he was there, thinking about her in the distance.

Perhaps from a broken heart, Guiomar died shortly afterwards and Alvar heard the news as he was preparing to set off for battle that very day. And no one knows if the pain was too great or if he wanted to be killed, but he never returned from battle.

Today, the castle known as Mal que os pese (Whether you like it or not) still stands defiant in Sotalvo and there is a verse that remembers the story of Ávila’s own Romeo and Juliet:

Guiomar is sad, how they look at each other!  
Her love is distant, how they love each other!  
Both are dying, and those are their sighs  
Both are prisoners, the only lovers  
That come and go.

 

Castle of Mal que os Pese (Whether you like it or not, Sotalvo)

Castle of Mal que os Pese (Whether you like it or not, Sotalvo)