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

Don Ferrando Divides his Kingdom


In those days even kings were usually subject to a still higher power, as all kings and emperors were held to be subject to the Pope, who could put on them their crowns or refuse to do so. Then the Frankish emperor, who asserted that he was the heir of the Empire of Charlemagne, which included a great part of Europe, claimed many kings as his subjects, and that they should pay him tribute; but Don Ferrando held that his kingdoms of Castile and Leon were free from the emperor.

In those days Pope Victor II held a council at Florence, and the Emperor Henry there complained that King Don Ferrando did not acknowledge his rule and pay him tribute like other kings, and he asked the Pope to command him to do so. Now this Pope was a German, as was also the Emperor Henry, and he sent Ferrando word that unless he paid tribute to Henry he would proclaim a crusade against him; that is, he would call together all other Christian kings and make war on him. Also the Emperor Henry and the king of France and the other kings sent him word to obey, and threatened him with war if he should refuse.

Don Ferrando was very much disturbed by these messages, for he knew that if he yielded to the demand of the emperor it would cause great trouble in his kingdoms. He therefore called together his counsellors, and presented the case before his wisest men. They realized also the trouble that would be brought on the kingdoms; but they feared the great power of the Pope, and they advised that Don Ferrando should obey the command of the pontiff. While this council was being held, the Cid had been absent on a visit to his wife; but when he returned, the king told him the situation and urged that he give his advice.

When the Cid heard what had been done, he was grieved chiefly on account of the advice that had been given the king, and not through fear of the Pope, and he turned to the king and said:—

"In an evil day, sir, were you born in Spain, if in your time it is to be made to pay tribute, which it has never done before. If you do this, your honor is lost. And whoever gives you this advice is not a true man, and does not regard your honor nor your power. I counsel you to send a defiance to the emperor and all who would have you pay tribute, and we will carry the war home to them. You shall take with you five thousand knights, and the Moorish kings who are your vassals will give you two thousand knights; and thus, sir, your honor shall be preserved." This brave advice seemed good to the king, for he was a man of noble and daring spirit.

Then Don Ferrando sent letters to the Pope, to the emperor, and to the other kings, urging that Spain was an independent kingdom, and that the claim for tribute was unjust, and begging that the claim be done away; but if they would not yield, he sent his defiance to them. He did not wait for a reply, but gathered an army of nine thousand knights and set forward. Of this host the Cid led the advance guard. When they had passed beyond Aspa, they found the people would not sell them food; so the Cid proceeded to burn the country and to plunder all who would not sell to them. Thus he provided all things in readiness when the king's army came up. The news of these events was carried everywhere, and the people were terrified.

The king of France sent Count Remon, Lord of Savoy, with twenty thousand knights, to Tobosa to stop the army of Don Ferrando; but the Cid with his advance guard met this army, and after a hard battle defeated it and made the count prisoner, as well as many others, and slew many. Shortly after the Cid fought another battle with all the powers of France, and defeated them, while at neither of these battles did the king, Don Ferrando, with his army arrive.

The report of these fierce battles in which the Cid was victorious went to the kings and to their council, and they urged that the Pope should send word to Ferrando to turn his armies back into his own country, and to say that he need not pay the tribute. When King Don Ferrando heard that this was being considered, he asked the Cid and his other great men what to do, and they advised that two messengers be sent to the Pope, who should send a cardinal to make agreement that tribute should never be asked again from Spain, and that the emperor and the other kings should also send men to agree to this. He said he would at present stay where he was, and if they would not agree, he would lead on his armies and force them to do as he asked.

When the Pope received the messengers of Don Ferrando, he was much dismayed, and he assembled his council and asked what to do. They replied that he should do as the king asked, as none would be so rash as to fight against the Cid. Then the Pope sent a cardinal and representatives of the emperor and other kings, and they signed a covenant that the king of Spain should never again be asked to pay tribute; and these writings were confirmed by the Pope and the emperor and the other kings. Then Don Ferrando turned about with his army and went into his own country, having gained great honor; and from that time he was called Don Ferrando the Great, and no emperor ever afterward asked him to pay tribute.

When Don Ferrando grew old, he desired to dispose of his kingdoms so that there should be no strife among his children, and to this end he thought it best to divide his dominions among them; but this plan brought about much evil. He had three sons, Don Sancho, Don Alfonso, and Don Garcia, and two daughters, Doņa Urraca and Doņa Elvira. He divided his lands in this way: He gave to Don Sancho, the eldest, the greater part of the kingdom of Castile, and to Don Alfonso the kingdom of Leon, and to Don Garcia the kingdom of Galicia. To his daughter Urraca he gave the city of Zamora, with its dependencies, and to Elvira the city of Toro, with its dependencies.

When the eldest son, Don Sancho, knew what the king had done, he was displeased, for he had expected to inherit all his father's dominions, and he said to his father that the division was not lawful, for the Gothic kings in old times had made a law that Spain should never be divided. But Don Ferrando said he had won the kingdom in war and would do as he thought best. Don Sancho replied that he would not consent to this plan. Nevertheless, Don Ferrando made the division. Shortly after this Don Ferrando died, having reigned thirty-one years in Castile, and his kingdoms were divided according to his will.