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

Famine in Valencia


Now the Cid began to conspire with a leading Moor of Valencia, named Abenmoxis, that he should kill Abeniaf or deliver him into his hands, and that he would make him lord of Valencia. So Abenmoxis talked with some of his friends about this matter; but Abeniaf heard of it and put the men in prison. Abenmoxis then talked with his keepers, and told them what he planned to do, and promised them if they could release him to give them great rewards when he succeeded; so they were persuaded and joined him. When night came, Abenmoxis and his friends and the keepers agreed to seize the Alcazar, the place where they were imprisoned, and to beat the alarm, and raise a cry for the king of Zaragoza. So they beat a drum, and sent a crier upon the top of the Mosque to bid the people to assemble at the Alcazar. The people were terrified at the sounds and knew not what to do.

When Abeniaf heard it he was dismayed, and asked what the uproar was about. When he heard what the trouble was, he ordered his soldiers to go to the Alcazar and capture Abenmoxis and his friends. Abenmoxis was at this time at the gate of the Alcazar thinking that the whole town would join him; but Abeniaf's company came up and charged him. Then he thought to defend himself with those he had, but most of them fled, and he with four others was taken and led with great shame into the presence of Abeniaf, who sent him to prison, and gave orders to cut off the heads of all the others. Then he sent messengers to the king of Zaragoza telling him what had happened.

Men were now seen to drop and die in the streets from the famine, and the Place about the Alcazar was full of graves, and each grave had no fewer than ten bodies in it. As many as could, fled from the town and gave themselves up as prisoners to the Christians. The Cid thought that the leading men of the city were putting out the poor people that they might have more food for themselves, and it troubled him, for he feared the coming of the Almoravides. At another time, some of the chief men of the city came out and advised the Cid to make an attack, as the men at arms were so few and weak that he could easily take the city.

The Cid thought well of this advice, and he gathered his army and advanced against the gate called the Gate of the Snake. All the people of the town assembled upon the wall and threw down stones from the gate and the wall, and shot their arrows so that they did great harm. And the Cid and his men who had come close to the wall went into a bath which was near to be under cover from the arrows.

Now Abeniaf's men opened the gate and came out, seeing that they had hurt so many; and the Cid and his men who had gone into the bath were shut up there and had to break through the wall of this house and go out the other way to escape, thus being defeated. He now thought he had received bad advice in having attacked the town and in putting himself into a place from which he had escaped with such great danger, and he decided to let the people of Valencia die of hunger. So he ordered a proclamation to be made that all the Moors on the walls could hear, bidding all who had come out from the town to return into it, and that no others should come out, or he would burn all that he found. Nevertheless, in order to escape hunger, they continued to let themselves down from the walls, and the Christians took them as slaves without the Cid's knowledge. But as many as he found, he burned alive before the walls, so that the Moors could see them.

The followers of Abeniaf were now in despair of help from the king of Zaragoza or the Almoravides, or of holding out themselves, and they went to a prominent man of the city and asked him to go to Abeniaf and find out what hope of rescue he had, or why he let them all thus perish. This man said if they would all hold together and show great anger at having been brought to this misery, he would do all that he could to relieve them. He therefore went to Abeniaf, and they agreed to give up all hope of help, and that this man, who was an Alfaqui, should go to the Cid and make the best terms that he could.

Martin Pelaez


At this time Martin Pelaez came with a caravan of laden animals, bringing provisions to the army of the Cid; and as he passed near the town, the Moors came out in great numbers and attacked him to get the food he carried. But though Martin had few men with him, he drove them back into the town. Of this man Martin, who was naturally a coward, the Cid had made a good knight in the following manner. When the Cid first besieged Valencia, Martin, who was a knight of Asturia and large of body and limb, came to him; and the Cid was sorry, for he knew that he had proved himself a coward many times. However, he determined that since he had come he would make him brave whether he wished or not. One day when a party was attacking the town, as they did daily, the Cid and his friends were engaged in a great encounter, and this Martin was well armed; but when he saw the Christians and Moors fighting furiously, he fled and hid himself in his lodging. The Cid saw what he had done, and when he had beaten the Moors he returned to his own lodging for dinner. Now it was the custom of the Cid to eat at a high table, seated on his bench, at the head. And other great knights ate in another part, also at high tables, and no other knights dared take their seats with them unless they were such as deserved to be there. The others who were not so distinguished in arms ate at tables with cushions.

This was the order in the house of the Cid, and every one knew the place where he was to sit, and every one strove to do such great deeds that he would be allowed to sit at table with Alvar Fanez and other famous knights. This Martin, thinking that no one had seen his cowardice, washed his hands in turn with the other knights and would have taken his place among them. But the Cid took him by the hand, and said, "You are not such an one as deserves to sit with these, for they are worth more than you or I, but I will have you with me." The Cid seated him at the table with himself; and Martin was so stupid that he thought the Cid did this to honor him above all others.

On the next day, the Cid and his company rode toward Valencia, and the Moors came out to fight; and Martin went out well armed, and was among the foremost who charged the enemy; but when he was in among them, he turned his reins and went back to his lodging, and the Cid saw what he had done, but thought that though he had done badly he had done better than the first day. When the Cid had driven the Moors into the town, he went back to his lodging, and as he sat down at the table he took Martin by the hand and seated him by his side and bade him eat of the same dish with himself, saying that Martin had deserved more that day than he had at first. Martin understood now that the Cid had observed him, and he was ashamed; however, he did as the Cid commanded him.

After he had eaten and gone to his, lodging, he began to think of what had been done, and he saw that the Cid would not let him sit with the bravest knights, but had seated him with himself more to affront him than to do him honor. Then he resolved to do better than he had done before.

On another day the Cid and his company and Martin rode toward Valencia, and the Moors came out furiously, and Martin charged them boldly; and he smote down and slew a good knight, and he lost all fear, and on that day was one of the best knights there. He remained while the fight lasted, smiting and slaying until the rest of the enemy were driven into the gate, in such manner that the Moors wondered at him, asking where that demon had come from, for they had never seen him before. The Cid was in a place where he could see all that was going on, and he had great pleasure in seeing how he had forgotten his fear. When the Moors were all shut up in the town, the Cid and all his people returned to their lodging, and Martin went along leisurely like a good knight.

When it was time to eat, the Cid waited for Martin, and took him by the hand, saying, "My friend, the deeds you have done this day have made you a companion of Alvar Fanez and these other good knights, and from henceforth you shall sit with them." From that day forward, Martin sat with the best knights; and he was always afterward a good knight and valiant, and he lived always with the Cid, and served him well. Later, when Valencia was taken, Martin fought better than any man there except the Cid himself, and he returned from the battle with the sleeves of his mail clotted with blood up to his elbows; and the Cid honored him more on that day than he did any other knight, and took him into all his secrets.

El Cid


But we must now return to the Alfaqui of Valencia, who sent his messengers to a governor of the Cid whose name was Abdalla Adiz, who was a good man, and one whom the Cid loved. When Abdalla heard that the Valencians wished to make terms of peace, he told the Cid, who ordered him to go into the town and ask the people what they would have. So he went into the town and then reported to the Cid, until he had made terms between them. The agreement was that the Valencians should send messengers to the king of Zaragoza and to Ali Abenaxa, who was the lord of the Almoravides, beseeching them to succor them in fifteen days; and that if, within that time, they did not come to their relief, they should give up the city to the Cid, with the conditions that Abeniaf should remain a great man in the town, and that he should be overseer of the rents together with the officer of the Cid, and that a Moor named Musa should be Guazil of the town, that is, keep the keys and the guard. It was arranged that the Cid should dwell in Juballa, and that he should not change any of their customs, or the rents, or their money.