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

The Combat at Carrion


Now King Alfonso doubted if the Infantes of Carrion would appear at the time appointed for the combat with the Cid's knights, and therefore he said that he would go to Carrion and have the battle fought there. He took with him the counts whom he had appointed as judges, and Pero Bermudez and Martin Antolinez and Muno Gustioz went with the Count Don Remond. On the third day after the Cid had left Toledo the king set forth for Carrion; but it happened that he became sick on the way and could not arrive within the three weeks, so that the time was extended to five weeks. When the king was strong again he went on to Carrion and gave order that the combat should take place on a certain day in the plain of Carrion. The Infantes came with a great company of their friends and kindred, for their kinsmen were many and powerful; and they all came with one accord, that if before the battle they could find any cause they would kill the knights of the Cid. Yet though they had determined to do this, they dared not for fear of the king.

On the night before the combat each party kept vigil in one or another church. At daybreak, a great multitude assembled in the field, and the king sent and commanded the champions to make ready. He made the two counts his sons-in-law and the other counts and their people arm themselves and keep the field, that the kinsmen of the Infantes might not make a tumult there.

The father of the Infantes was in great distress because they had to do battle that day, and he cursed the day he was born, for his heart foresaw the fate of his children. Vast was the multitude that was gathered from all Spain to behold this battle. There in the field near the lists the champions of the Cid armed themselves on one side, and the Infantes on the other. Count Don Remond armed the knights of the Cid, and gave them their instructions, and Count Garcia Ordonez helped arm the Infantes and their uncle; and the Infantes sent to ask the king that the swords Colada and Tizona should not be used in that combat. But the king answered that each must take the best arms and sword that he could. They were greatly troubled at this reply, and feared those swords and were sorry that they had taken them to the Cortes at Toledo. From that hour the Infantes and their uncle showed in their faces that they knew they had done ill and would have thought themselves happy men if they had not committed that great villany, and gladly would they have given all that they had in Carrion if it could now have been undone.

The king went to the place where the Infantes were arming, and said: "If you feared those swords you should have said so in the Cortes, for that was the place and not this. There is nothing now to be done but to defend yourselves stoutly, as you have need to do against those you will meet." Then he went to the knights of the Cid, whom he found armed; and they kissed his hand and said, "Sir, the Cid has left us in your hand, and we beseech you to see that no wrong is done us here, where the Infantes have their party." The king bade them have no fear for that.

Then their horses were brought, and they mounted, with their shields hanging from the neck; and they took their spears, each of which had a streamer, and they went with their company to the lists. On the other side the Infantes and their uncle came with a great company of their friends. And the king said with a loud voice: "Hear what I say, Infantes of Carrion, this combat I would have waged in Toledo, but you said you were not ready to perform it there, and therefore I have come to this your native place and have brought the knights of the Cid with me. They are come here under my safeguard. Let not you nor your kinsmen attempt to overpower them by tumult or in any other way but by fair combat, for I have given my people orders to cut to pieces any one who shall begin a tumult."

Very sorrowful were the Infantes for this command of the king. And the king appointed twelve knights to place the combatants in the lists and show them the bounds, at what point they were to win or be conquered, and to divide the sun between them. He went with a wand in his hand and saw them placed on both sides; then he went out of the lists and gave command that the people should fall back and not approach within seven spears' lengths of the lines of the lists.

Now the six combatants were left alone in the lists, and each of them knew his opponent. They laced their helmets, put their shields on their arms, and laid their lances in the rest. And the knights of both parties advanced against each other. Each bent down with his face to the saddle bow and gave his horse the spur. And they all six met with such a shock that they who looked on expected to see them all fall dead. Pero Bermudez and Ferrando Gonzales encountered, and the shield of Pero was pierced, but the spear passed through on one side and did not hurt him, and broke in two places; but he kept his seat firm. He received one blow, but he gave another; he drove his lance through Ferrando's shield at his breast, and though his breastplate was three-fold, the spear went through two plates and drove in the third before it with the shirt into the breast near his heart; and the girth of his saddle broke and he and the saddle went together over the horse's heels, and the spear in him, and all thought him dead. However, he rose up and the blood began to run out of his mouth, and Pero drew his sword and went against him; but when he saw the sword Tizona over him, he cried out that he confessed himself conquered and that what Pero had said against him was true. When Pero heard this, he stood still, and the twelve men heard the confession and pronounced him conquered. This Ferrando did, thinking to save his life, but his wound proved mortal.

Martin Antolinez and Diego Gonzales broke their lances on each other, and laid hands upon their swords. Martin drew forth Colada, the brightness of which flashed over the whole field, for it was a marvellous sword; and in their strife he dealt him a back-handed blow which sheared off the top of his helmet, and cut away hood and coif and the hair of his head and the skin. Diego was dismayed at this, and though he had his own sword in his hand, he could not use it for fear; but he turned his horse and fled, and Martin went after him and dealt him another blow with the flat part of the sword, for he missed him with the edge; and the Infante began to cry out, "God help me and save me from that sword." And he rode away as fast as he could, and Martin called after him, "Get out, Don Traitor," and drove him from the lists, and remained conqueror.

Muno and Suero dealt each other some marvellous strokes with their spears; and Suero, being a powerful knight and brave, struck the shield of Muno and pierced it through; but the spear passed on and touched him not. Muno lost his stirrups with that stroke, but he presently recovered them and gave him such a stroke in return that it went clear through the middle of the shield and through all his armor and came out between the ribs, missing the heart; then laying his hand on him he wrenched him out of the saddle, and threw him down as he drew the spear out of his body, and the point of the spear and the haft and the streamer came out all red. Then all thought he was stricken to death. And Muno turned to strike him again; but when Gonzalo Ansures his father saw this, he cried aloud, "Do not strike him again, for he is conquered." And Muno asked the judges whether he were to be held conquered for what his father said; and they said no, unless he confirmed it with his own mouth. And Muno turned again to Suero as he lay on the ground, and lifted his spear against him; but Suero cried out, "Strike me not, for I am vanquished." Then the judges said it was enough, and that the combat was ended.

El Cid


Then the king entered the lists and many knights with him, and he called the twelve judges and asked them if the knights of the Cid had anything more to do to prove their accusation. And they answered that the knights of the Cid had won the field, and all the knights who were there said this was true. Then King Alfonso cried aloud: "Hear me, all ye who are here present. Inasmuch as the knights of the Cid have conquered, they have won their cause," and the judges said that what the king said was true, and all the people said the same. The king then gave commandment to break up the lists, and gave sentence that the Infantes of Carrion and their uncle, Suero, were notorious traitors, and ordered that their horses and coats of arms be taken from them. And from that day forth their family was dishonored, and they and their uncle fled away, having been put to shame. Great was their shame, and may the like or worse come to him who abuses a fair lady and then leaves her.

Then the king went to dinner and took the knights of the Cid with him; and great crowds followed them, praising their courage and skill. The king gave them great gifts and sent them away by night and with a good guard to protect them till they should be in safety, for fear the friends of the Infantes of Carrion might pursue them. When the Cid knew that they were coming near Valencia, he went out to meet them and received them with great joy and honor. Then they told him all that had happened, and how the king had declared the Infantes and their uncle to be notorious traitors. At this the Cid lifted up his hands to heaven and blessed God because of the revenge which he had for the great dishonor that had been put upon him. He took with him Martin and Pero and Muno and went to his wife and daughters, and said, "Blessed be God, now are you and your daughters avenged;" and he made the knights tell them the whole story. Doņa Elvira and Doņa Sol embraced the knights many times and would have kissed their hands and their feet. And the Cid said, "Now may you marry our daughters to the Infantes of Aragon and Navarre, and I trust in God that they may be well married, better than they were at first." Eight days the rejoicings lasted in Valencia for the vengeance which had been taken on those who had dishonored the Cid's daughters.