Story of the Cid for Young People - C. D. Wilson

The Cid is Reconciled with Don Alfonso


Thus the Cid returned from the land of the Moors and from his exile to Castile. The king received him with many honors, and gave him seven castles with their lands. He also signed a promise that the Cid should keep forever for himself and his descendants whatever castles, towns, and places he might win from the Moors or from others. Thus the Cid was again high in the favor of the king.

Now King Yahia, who was the grandson of Alimaymon, reigned in Toledo. It is to be remembered that Alimaymon was the friend of Don Alfonso, who received him when he fled from Don Sancho, and that Don Alfonso had sworn to do no evil to Alimaymon nor to his sons, but the grandson Yahia was not mentioned in the oath. At this time Alimaymon was dead, and his son Hocem also, and Yahia, the grandson, was on the throne.

This Yahia was a bad king, insolent, cruel, and he oppressed his people so that they could bear his yoke no longer. Neither did he make any effort to protect his subjects from their enemies, who came and spoiled the land as they pleased, and his people went to him and said, "Stand up for your people and your country, or we must find a king who will do so;" but he paid no attention to what they said.

When his people found that they could hope nothing from Yahia, certain of them went to the king of Badajoz, saying that if he would come and be their protector, they would deliver the city of Toledo into his hands. But others who dwelt in the city sent to Don Alfonso urging him to win Toledo, as he could do so, as he was no longer bound by his oath. Then both kings came, but the king of Badajoz arrived first, and the gates were opened to him.

But soon after Don Alfonso came, and the king of Badajoz, knowing he could not withstand Alfonso, fled, and Don Alfonso followed him into his own kingdom and compelled him to submit. King Alfonso then overran the country about Toledo, despoiling it; and he did this for four years, so that he was master of the land.

In all these battles the Cid helped his king. The son of the Cid was slain,—a young man who was well beloved, and who promised to be much like his father.

King Don Alfonso had for several years cut down the vines and trees and destroyed the harvests in the country around Toledo, so that the people were not able to store up provisions in that city; and now Alfonso made ready to lay siege to that place. When this news was known, men came from all parts of his kingdom to take part, and King Sancho Ramirez of Aragon came also with the best of his knights; there came also Germans, Italians, Frenchmen, and men from other countries, for this war against one of the chief strongholds of the Moors interested all the Christians of Europe. This was the greatest force of Christians ever gathered till that time in Spain, and it was the greatest effort ever made against the Moors.

Of this whole mighty army the Cid was leader. In the spring the host began to march, and when they came to the ford of the Tagus, the bravest feared to pass through the swollen river, for it was a great torrent. But there was a Benedictine monk in the camp named Lesines, who, being mounted on a mule, led the way and passed safely.

Though Toledo was the chief stronghold of the Moors, and they defended it as long as they could, knowing it was the very heart of their empire, and though the flower of the soldiery of Spain and all Christendom took part in that great siege, unfortunately the details of this conflict have been forgotten, and the chroniclers omitted to tell them. But we know that there was a long siege, and that many struggles took place, and that the army of Alfonso was at last almost in despair of accomplishing their purpose. Then it is told that when Don Cabrian, the Bishop of Leon, was engaged in prayer for the success of the Christian army, St. Isidro appeared to him, saying that in fifteen days the city should be surrendered. So it came to pass, for the gates were opened on May 25th, 1085. The first Christian banner that entered the city was that of the Cid, and the Cid was made the first Christian governor of Toledo.

About this time a race of people called Almoravides, being part of the Moors still living in Barbary in North Africa, arose and began to pass over into Spain and make war. They came with such force that they threatened to overturn the throne of Don Alfonso, who, having enough to do to defend himself, sent for Alvar to come to his assistance with his men, and to leave the city of Valencia and its king, Yahia, to take care of themselves.

The Cid afterward made war on the king of Denia and laid a great part of the country waste. Having done this, he pitched his camp near Tortosa and cut down everything before him, orchards and vines and corn. When Abenalfange saw this, he sent for Don Ramon to come to his help. Don Ramon, desiring to take revenge for his former defeat, gathered a great army of Christians and Moors, so vast that they thought the Cid would not dare to fight them.

The Cid realized that it would not be wise for him to meet this great host, so he considered how he might scatter them. And he got among the mountain valleys, where the entrances were narrow, and he fortified these points so that the Frenchmen might not be able to come into the country. On the next day Don Ramon came in sight and camped three miles away, and at night sent spies to view the Cid's camp. The next day he sent word that the Cid should come out and fight; but he received the answer that he did not wish to have any quarrel with him, but that he and those with him should pass on to their homes. Then Don Ramon's army came nearer and defied the Cid, saying that he was afraid to come out and fight. But the Cid cared nothing for this; they thought he refused because of his weakness, but he did it to wear out their patience.

On the next day, the Cid sent some of his men away to pretend that they were fleeing, and so arranged this that the French would see them, and he instructed them what they should say when they should be captured. The French pursued these men and took them, and asked of them what the Cid intended to do. They answered that he intended to flee that night by way of the mountain. They also said that the Cid did not think Don Ramon intended to give him battle, or he would not have awaited his coming; and they advised Don Ramon to take possession of the passes by which the Cid intended to escape, and thus he might easily capture him and his men.

The Frenchmen, upon this, divided their force into four parts and sent them to guard the mountain passes, and Don Ramon remained with one part at the entrance of the valley. Now the Cid had sent his Moors forward to the passes, where they had hidden in ambush; and when the Frenchmen began to ascend the mountain, the Moors rose from their hiding places and slew many, and took many prisoners. And the Cid went out and attacked Don Ramon, who was thrown from his horse, but his men put him on another. The battle lasted a long time, and was bravely fought, but in the end the unconquerable Cid won the day.

The Cid took a thousand prisoners, and many chiefs, and he put them all in irons. He reproached them also for coming against him, saying that he was engaged in good service, taking vengeance upon the Moors, and that he had done the Frenchmen no wrong, but they had come against him through envy. He took their tents, and horses, and arms, much gold and silver, and fine linen, so that the spoils made him and all his men rich.

When Don Ramon, who had fled, heard that the Cid had taken his captains, and nearly all his force was taken or slain, he thought it best to come to the Cid and give himself up to his mercy. The Cid received him well and honorably, and then set him free; but he took the swords of the chiefs and made them pay a great ransom. When he had done this, he restored a good part of the ransom to them again, and showed them great courtesy, and they promised never to come against him again.

When Abenalfange, king of Denia, knew that the Cid had overcome this great army, he was so grieved that he fell sick and died. He left one little son, placing him under the guardianship of two men who were the children of a man named Buxar. One of these guardians was to hold Torosa for the little king, and the other to hold Xativa; and a third, who was their cousin, was to hold Denia. These men, knowing that they could not live in peace, and that they had not strength for war unless they could have the protection of the Cid, sent him word that if he would protect their lands they would pay him a yearly tribute of whatever sum he might demand. So the whole country that had belonged to Abenalfange was placed under his protection, and he fixed the tribute that each castle should pay. Valencia was also at this time under the command of the Cid, and as the king, Yahia, was sick, the Cid appointed a governor for the place, called Abenalfarax. The Cid also appointed trusty men in the city to collect the rents; and he put a knight in every village to protect it, so that none dared do wrong to another nor take anything from him.