Recounts what happened to Count Fernan Gonzalez, and the Reply which he gave to his Vassals

January 12, 2017

Count Lucanor returned one day from a campaign, much wearied and quite overcome with fatigue, his treasury being also literally empty; and in this state, before he could enjoy any repose, he received intelligence that another attack was about to be made upon him. Now, the greater number of his vassals, hearing this, strongly advised him to rest and recruit his exhausted strength, and then act as circumstances might dictate.

Now the Count begged of Patronio to advise him, and this latter replied that, in his opinion, the best way to do this would be by relating to him the answer Count Fernán González once gave to his vassals.

“The Count Fernán González conquered Almarzon in Hacinas, and lost there very many of his troops, he himself and the survivors being badly wounded. Now, before they had recovered from their fatigues and wounds, the Count was informed that the King of Navarre had entered his dominions, and he immediately summoned his vassals to prepare themselves to attack those of Navarre. To this they replied, that both themselves and their horses were too fatigued, and, although desirous to do their duty as usual, yet being wounded as well as the Count himself, they hoped they should be allowed to rest until they were recovered.

“When the Count saw they were all of the same mind, being himself more influenced by his honor than his sufferings, replied, ‘Friends, for the wounds which we have, let us not desert our duty; remember, those we may receive will serve but to make us forget the old ones.’

“His people, seeing that he was devoid of all personal considerations, and influenced only by a sense of honor and love of his country, went with him and gained the battle, after which they had a long continuance of peace.

Painting of Count Fernán González by Juan Rizi.

“And you, Count Lucanor, if you are really desirous of doing that which you ought to do, seeing how much is required for the defense of your country, of your people, and of your honor, do not remain inactive because of your unhappy position, or your fatigue, or from a sense of danger, for the new enterprise will serve but to make you forget the troubles which are passed.”

And the Count, considering this to be a good example and very good advice, followed it, and found the result favorable.

And Don Juan, understanding that this tale was worthy of a place in this book, had it written therein, and composed the following verses: —

Hold this for sure, for ’tis a truth well proved,

Honor and slothful ease are wide removed.


Prince Don Juan Manuel, Count Lucanor: of the Fifty Pleasant Stories of Patronio, trans. James York Pg. 119-121 (London: Gibbings & Company, Limited, 1899).

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 559



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