Tirant lo Blanch

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Part of the dedication, and part of the last page of the 1490 edition.

Tirant lo Blanch (Valencian pronunciation: [tiˈɾand lo ˈβlaŋk], modern spelling: Tirant lo Blanc) is a romance written by the Valencian knight Joanot Martorell, finished posthumously by his friend Martí Joan de Galba and published in the city of Valencia in 1490. The title means "Tirant the White" and is the name of the main character in the romance. It is one of the best known medieval works of literature in Valencian, and played an important role in the evolution of the Western novel through its influence on the author Miguel de Cervantes.

Its original spelling was Tirant lo Blanch, although it is now frequently referred by Tirant lo Blanc, according to the modern Valencian orthography (which differs from the orthography used in the original work).


Title page of the first Castilian-language translation of Tirant lo Blanc, printed in Valladolid by Diego de Gumiel

Tirant lo Blanch is one of the most important books of Valencian literature. Written by Joanot Martorell in the 15th century, the Tirant is a chivalric novel that also appears to have a strong autobiographic component. It tells the feats and adventures of Knight Tirant lo Blanch from Brittany. At times, it parallels the life and adventures of admiral Roger de Flor, a Templar Knight and participant in the last crusade, leader of the Almogavar (Valencian, Catalan and Aragonese). This historical resemblance is also evident in the description of events occurring around Constantinople and the defeat of Sultan Mehmed II "the conqueror," and ultimately leading to the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Compared to books of the same time period, it lacks the bucolic, platonic, and contemplative love commonly portrayed in the chivalric heroes. Instead the main character is full of life and sensuous love, sarcasm, and human feelings. The work is filled with down to earth descriptions of daily life, prosaic and even bitter in nature.

It is considered a major influence for Miguel de Cervantes' book, Don Quixote, which was published in 1605 (Part I) and 1615 (Part II); comparisons between the two show many similarities.[citation needed] Influence is indirectly acknowledged by Miguel de Cervantes (The Trials of Persiles and Sigismunda, III-12) when referring to Catalan as the sweetest language (after Portuguese):

"They drew near Valencia (…) Above all they praised the beauty of its women and its fresh cleanliness and charming language, which only Portuguese can compete with in being sweet and pleasant."

The similarities in both works[dubious ] can also be appreciated in their critical and skeptical view of the unlikely and exaggerated and fantastic chivalric novels in use at the time. At the time Don Quijote was written, there was probably a Catalan, a Portuguese and a Spanish edition of the Tirant.

In the following passage from Don Quixote, the famous "scrutiny of the library" the priest and the barber throw Don Alonso Quijano's (Don Quixote) books onto the bonfire:

"God help me!" said the priest in a loud voice, "That we have here the 'Tirant lo Blanch' ! Hand it over to me, my friend, for I am telling you that I found on it a treasure of enjoyment and a gold mine of recreation. Here it is Don Kyrieleison of Montalvan, valiant knight, and his brother Thomas of Montalvan, and the knight Fonseca, and the battle the brave Tirante fought with the mastiff, and the witt of damsel Placerdemivida (Pleasureofmylife - ed. note), and the loves and lies of the widow Reposada (Rested -ed note), and lady Emperatriz (Empress - ed note) in love with the squire Hipolito--in all truth, my friend, by right of its style this is the best book in the world: here Knights eat, sleep, and they die even doing a will, things that all the rest of books of this genre lack. Having said all this, I am telling you that he deserved to have this book written because he did not do as many silly things as to deserve to be thrown to the galleys for the rest of his life. Take the book home and read it, and then you will realize that all I told you about it is true."

Other Influences and Genre[edit]

Recent scholarship has called into question some understandings of this work. In a recently published thesis, Macias states that his “initial approach was to see the work as a conventional work of medieval literature.” [1] Yet as he worked through the intricacies of the work and resolved the questions that surfaced, he came to understand that “the work is undoubtedly a satire; and it should be analyzed as one. Martorell’s narrators are quite astute; they guide us into the labyrinth that is the Tirant with hints of satirical discourse that is hidden in plain sight: satire is hidden in the blatantly obvious narrative where the reader does not question; rather, he surrenders and allows the narrator(s) to (mis)lead him into a totally different reality. Subtleties that were not obvious from the outset become clear in retrospect.”[2] He also clarifies that “perhaps the totalizing approaches and the heft of some of the scholars, with respect to contentions concerning genre and studies of the Tirant at large, resulted in a thought-terminating cliché of sorts that stopped new scholars from feeling the need to look further for other possibilities.” He admits that he “too halted.”[3] He provides some thought-provoking analysis by highlighting some connections between Tirant, Edward II, Piers Gaveston and Edward III of England. In fact, the parallels he establishes between Tirant and Edward III bring back into question the etymology of the name of Tirant, the Tyrant.


Tirant lo Blanch tells the story of a medieval knight Tirant from Brittany who has a series of adventures across Europe in his quest. He joins in knightly competitions in England and France until the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire asks him to help in the war against the Ottoman Turks, an Islamic tribe of invaders threatening Constantinople, the capital and seat of the Empire. Tirant accepts and is made Megaduke of the Byzantine Empire and the captain of an army. He defeats the Turkish invaders and saves the Empire from destruction. Afterwards, he fights the Turks in many regions of the eastern Mediterranean and north Africa, but he dies just before he can marry the pretty heiress of the Byzantine Empire.

The loss of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 was considered at the time to be a major blow to Christian Europe. In writing his novel, Martorell perhaps rewrote history to fit what he wanted it to be - which in a way makes it a precursor of the present-day genre of alternate history.

Film adaptation[edit]

Tirant lo Blanc, a film based on the book, was released in early 2006. Its plot is based on the later part of the Tirant, and events leading to his involvement in Constantinople and afterwards.


The book has been translated into several European languages (Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Swedish...) as well as Chinese.

Modern translations of the book into English include:

External links[edit]

Further Reading & New Anaslysis[edit]

Macias, Francisco. Tirant lo Blanc(h): Masculinities, phallosocial desire, and triangular constellations. Thesis. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses. 2011. Document URL.


  1. ^ Macias, Francisco. Tirant lo Blanc(h): Masculinities, phallosocial desire, and triangular constellations. Thesis. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses. 2011.
  2. ^ Macias, Francisco. Tirant lo Blanc(h): Masculinities, phallosocial desire, and triangular constellations. Thesis. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses. 2011.
  3. ^ Macias, Francisco. Tirant lo Blanc(h): Masculinities, phallosocial desire, and triangular constellations. Thesis. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses. 2011.