A Portuguese Folk Tale – Cardil, the Bull



Today’s folktale is a simple tale of Temptation versus Loyalty swirling around a prized bull named Cardil. Curiously, we were unable to discover the meaning of the name in Portuguese, but we discovered the name in Ireland having its origins in an old Gaelic word, “ardghal”, which means “high valor”.  Very fitting for the esteemed pet of a king!
This story, with deep roots in Portuguese tradition is usually told in the island of Madeira, in the region of Algarve and the city of Coimbra. In the Sicilian tales we discovered a similar tale but instead of a bull, it is a goat that will test the hero’s faithfulness.

Now without further ado, let’s begin our retelling of this tale!

Cardil, The Bull

There was once a King who trusted fully on a young servant of his, since the young man had never lied once in his whole life. The King received a beautiful bull as a present called Cardil and he was so fond of him that he sent the beast to one of his estates under the care of this loyal servant.

On one occasion, the King was having a conversation with an aristocrat and spoke of his great reliance on his servant’s allegiance. The nobleman laughed to which the King enquired: “Why do you laugh?” The nobleman replied that certainly the servant was like all other servants that cheated and fooled their masters.

“Well, not mine!” the king protested.

“Then I’ll bet my own head on how he is capable of lying, even to his king.”

The bet was on and the noble went back home. However, he didn’t know how to trick the servant and was very depressed about it. His daughter, young and beautiful, found the reason for her father’s woes and deciding to help, told him:

“Worry not, father dearest, for I’ll make him lie to the King.”

Her father agreed to her endeavour and she dressed herself in crimson velvet, with short sleeves, a shorter skirt and her bosom in a cleavage of coquettish display. Completing the picture, she let her hair flow freely and off she went for a stroll around the King’s estate until she found the servant that kept watch on Cardil, the bull. And right there and then, she went for it with these words:

“For the longest of times I have been smitten by you and alas, never dared to say anything…”
The boy became extremely flustered and didn’t believe what he was listening to but the lass was cunning and kept parroting and acting so sweetly that he soon was under her spell. With the boy bewitched by her charms, she demanded, in exchange for her love, that he kill Cardil, the bull. He did so and in return, got her love during the whole, full day.

The noble’s daughter left and told her father that Cardil the bull was dead by the servant’s hand and he rushed to tell this to the King, fully confident that the boy would explain the bull’s death with some other lie. As soon as the King heard of his beloved bull’s death, he became furious and called for his supposedly loyal servant. The young man came and the King feigned ignorance and candidly asked:

“So, how fares the bull?”

The servant felt the end of his days coming and replied:

My King! Pearly legs
And gentle body
Made me kill
Our bull, Cardil.

The King (understandably), asked for a better explanation and the boy confessed everything. The King was pleased for he had won the bet: his servant, though following his heart to satisfy a lover’s request, in the end would rather be punished than lie to his master. Taking pride in the boy’s answer, the King forgave him and offered the estate as a dowry so he could get married with the nobleman’s daughter, who had since then been madly in love with the young man. And finally, turning to the nobleman himself, he said:

“I won’t punish him because his loyalty is greater than my grief, and as for your head, you may keep it because today you lost not only your bet but your daughter as well.”


A very risky “stay true to yourself” stunt that actually paid off, well… Obviously not to Cardil, but we’re trying to focus on the tale’s brighter side!

★Have a great weekend and stay inspired!★

24 thoughts on “A Portuguese Folk Tale – Cardil, the Bull

    • It’s a great legacy and despite not being the author, he did a great job compiling the stories that were traditionally told orally through generations.
      This one is an adaptation spanning at least three different versions of this folktale that we weaved together.
      Thank you for the visit and you’re welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, thank you for sharing your work as well!
      We often first sketch ideas on paper, scan them and do the inking and colouring on the computer. We’re happy to know you enjoyed the folktale and the art. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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