Isabel is wedded to Pedro Azagra, the man her father chose for her
by Jack Wright
Photos from “Bodas de Isabel de Segura” street festival held in different years, unless stated otherwise
“Bodas de Isabel Segura (Weddings of Isabel Segura),” 16-19 February 2023.
Festival declared Fiesta of National Touristic Interest (Fiesta de Interes Turistico Nacional). A festival in which “The Lovers of Teruel” is reenacted with an eye to authenticity. People relive the story out on the streets and the city becomes a stage.
Reenactment of Isabel’s wedding, 16-19 February 2023, La Fundación Bodas de Isabel https://www.heraldo.es/noticias/aragon/teruel/2022/11/25/comienzan-en-teruel-los-preparativos-para-una-edicion-especial-de-las-bodas-de-isabel-1614640.html
Las Bodas de Isabel de Segura en 2023,
In the telling and retelling of the story, quite a few versions of Los Amantes de Teruel (The Lovers of Teruel) have inevitably sprouted down the road. One such version is as follows (see also “St. Valentine: Love & Death”):
There occurred in 1217 a dramatic event of a great love story in the Aragonese city of Teruel involving young lovers Isabel Segura and Diego Garces de Marcilla, scions of the city’s prominent families, with Isabel’s family being the richest in the whole province. Isabel and Diego had been in love since childhood. But when they were old enough to marry, Diego’s family fell on hard times and Isabel’s father forbade the marriage.
It did seem, though, that all wasn’t lost. Diego was able to strike a deal with Isabel’s father in which he would leave Teruel for five years and make his fortune in order to be a worthy bridegroom for his beloved daughter. Not that the father was entirely sold on the deal; instead of sticking faithfully to the agreement, he urged Isabel to forget Diego and marry someone else.
Isabel stalled for time and her father loved her enough to wait out the deal’s five years. When it lapsed and they hadn’t heard from Diego, the father married her off to the wealthy Don Pedro de Azagra of Albarracín, a southeastern town in the Teruel province.
As (ill) fate would have it, Diego, now a rich man, appeared at the gate of the city while Isabel was being wedded to Pedro de Azagra. Diego was doomed. All his sacrifices had come to naught.
On her wedding night, Isabel’s old lover sneaked into the bedroom where the newlyweds slept. In whispers, Diego and Isabel exchanged impassioned reproaches. But in the end, Diego would have settled for just a kiss from Isabel. Despite loving him still, Isabel refused, saying that their love hadn’t been blessed by God; she wouldn’t go against God’s wishes by kissing Diego.
Diego, who had felt betrayed, continued to beg. He said he was dying and would Isabel please give him a final kiss.
Isabel would not unbend.
Diego died in Isabel and her new husband’s bedroom. Lest Pedro de Azagra should be blamed for his death, they buried Diego secretly at her parents’ place.
Remorse kept Isabel awake. The next day, wearing her wedding dress, she attended Diego’s funeral where she finally gave him the kiss he had craved.
Overtaken by grief, Isabel died prostrate beside the man she had loved all her life.
Down the centuries, this love story has so touched not only the hearts of the sentimental turolenses but the people across Spain too. They petitioned the authorities that the ill-starred Lovers of Teruel be buried side by side so that at least in death they could be together. The Church acceded. In 1560 their remains were exhumed and placed in tombs at St. Peter’s Church, Teruel.
Who pirated who?
The medieval legend of The Lovers of Teruel and Italian Renaissance humanist, poet and writer Giovanni Boccaccio (1313 – 1375)’s “Girolamo e Salvestra” in Decameron are similar enough to each other to make some people think someone had copied someone’s story. It really depends on which side you’re on to decide which of the parties is guilty of copying.
On the other hand, there are documents attesting to some truths in the story of the Lovers of Teruel so it could be said that this is one story that, being partly true, mimics fictitious melodrama.
Featured image/Turol Jones (Las Bodas de Isabel Segura), CC BY-SA4.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped.
Street scene (Las Bodas de Isabel Segura)/Turol Jones, CC BY-SA4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Diego at Isabel’s feet, 19th-century lithograph. Author: Contreras dibº y litº. Scan:: Biblioteca Rector Machado y Nuñez, PD per Wikipedia. Cropped.
Party at the wedding (Las Bodas de Isabel Segura)/Turol Jones, CC BY-SA4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Isabel prostrate at Diego’s funeral (Las Bodas de Isabel Segura)/Turol Jones, CC BY-SA4.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped.
The Lovers’ tombs/Diego Delso, CC BY-SA4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
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