Don Juan Manuel (1285 - 1348)
I just read a short story by Don Juan Manuel entitled El Brujo Postergado. It is a fascinating story of an ambitious dean of Santiago who wanted to learn the art of magic to progress in his ecclesiastical career. He hears Don Illan of Toledo was unsurpassed in the art of Necromancy and promptly travels to Toledo to learn it.
Does it talk about time ?
Yes, in fact I see this story as one of the earliest example of the Sci-fi genre. It talks of magic as a science and of time travel and was written in the early 14th Century.
For those who are interested the story goes more or less as follows:
The day the dean arrived at Don Illan's house he is received with kindness, and was asked to give the reason of his visit only after sitting for a nice lunch. After the lunch the dean asked to learn the science of magic. Don Illan said he could guess in the dean a man of good position and good future and that he feared he'd forget him one day. The dean promised him that his favours would never be forgotten and that he would always be at his service.
That matter settled, Don Illan explained that the magical arts could be learned in a secluded place, taking him by the hand he lead the dean to an adjoining room on the floor of which was a large iron ring. He told his maid to prepare some partridges for dinner but not to start roasting them before he'd give the order. They raised the ring and went down a well carved stone staircase, so deep it felt they were below the bed of river Tagus. They reached a large cell with a library and just as they started reviewing the books, two men entered the room with a letter from the dean’s uncle the Bishop of Santiago, which informed him that he was very ill and wished to see him.
The dean was upset about his uncle’s health but mostly for having to interrupt his studies and therefore opted to send an apology letter to the Bishop. Three days later some men came in mourning announcing the death of the Bishop. They told the dean they were in the process of electing a successor and that they hoped, by the grace of God, it would be him. They also told him the election could very well take place in his absence.
Ten days later came two well dressed squires who threw themselves at his feet, kissed his hand and greeted him Bishop. Don Illan thanked the lord for such good news delivered to his house and promptly asked the Bishop for the vacant seat of dean for his son, but the Bishop informed him that he had reserved that seat for his own brother but asked him to travel with him to Santiago. Upon their arrival they were greeted with honours. Six months later the Bishop received a messenger from the Pope offering him the post of Archbishop of Toulouse, leaving him the choice of a successor. Don Illan reminded him of his ancient promise and asked for his son to succeed him but the Archbishop said he had reserved it for his uncle, brother of his father, but asked him to leave with him to Toulouse. Don Illan had to agree.
Upon their arrival they were greeted with honours and masses. Two years later, messengers from the Pope offered him the Cardinal’s hat, leaving him the choice for a successor. Don Illan reminded him of his ancient promise but the Cardinal informed him the post of Archbishop was reserved for his own uncle, brother of his mother, but decided to take him to Rome. Don Illan had to agree.
Upon their arrival they were greeted with honours, masses and processions. Four years later the Pope died and the Cardinal was elected to the papacy. When don Illan heard this he kissed the feet of His Holiness and reminded him of his ancient promise asking the Cardinal’s hat for his son. The Pope threatened to imprison him, for he knew well that he was a sorcerer and that in Toledo he practiced magic arts. The poor Don Illan said he would return to Spain and asked the Pope for some food for the return journey but the Pope offered him none. At this point Don Illan spoke, in a voice without trembling:
“ Well, I’ll have to eat the partridges I ordered for tonight”. The maid appeared and don Illan told her she could go ahead and roast them now. Upon these words the Pope found himself in the underground cell , simple dean of Santiago, so ashamed of his ingratitude he could not even apologise. Don Illan told him the lesson was over, denied him his share of the partridges and accompanied him outside where he wished him a happy journey and dismissed him with much courtesy.
Don Juan Manuel (c.1330)