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

The Land of the Moors


The Cid and his followers were now in the land of the Moors, and they halted on the mountain and fed their horses and remained there until evening; and in the darkness they set forward again that they might not be seen, and rode all night, and before dawn they came to Castrejon.

Then Alvar Fanez said to the Cid that he would take two hundred horsemen and scour the country and lay hands on whatever he could without fear of Alfonso or the Moors. And he advised the Cid to lie in ambush where he was and take the Castle of Castrejon by surprise, and this counsel seemed good to the Cid. Then Alvar Fanez rode off with his troop, and left the Cid in ambush.

When the morning came, the Moors of Castrejon, not knowing that an enemy was near, opened the castle gates and went to work in the fields as they were used to do. Then the Cid rose from ambush, and fell upon them and took their flocks, and pursued them to the gates. There arose a cry from within the castle, that the Christians were making an attack, and many ran to the gates to defend them; but the Cid came up with his sword in his hand, and slew eleven Moors with his own hand, and the others ran to hide themselves. So that the Cid quickly won the castle, and took gold and silver and whatever he could.

Meanwhile Alvar Fanez rode over the country, plundering whatever he could seize, and presently came back driving flocks and herds before him, and bringing much clothing and other spoils. When the Cid saw what had been done, he rejoiced greatly, and he ordered that all the spoil taken by both parties should be put in a heap, and that Alvar should take a fifth, as he well deserved. But Alvar said the Cid had need of it all for the support of his men; so the Cid divided his spoil among all his followers. And he allowed the Moors to come freely and give money for the stuff that they wished to buy back, so that all who were in the company of the Cid were made rich. Then he sent word to Don Alfonso that he and his companions would yet serve him against the Moors.

The Cid now told his followers that they could not stay in this castle, as it had no water, and that Alfonso had a treaty of peace with these Moors, and that if they remained there, the king would come against them, and as they had all received a share of the spoils, he thought best that they ride elsewhere. So on the next day they set forth again, restoring the castle to the Moors, who were grateful for this kindness.

They rode all that day and the next, taking some spoils on the way, and then came to Alcocer, which the Cid wished to capture. There they pitched their tents upon a great hill, near the river Salon. This was a strong place, with the mountain on one side and the river on the other, and he made his men dig a trench, so that they might not be surprised by day nor by night.

When the Moors knew that the Cid had come, they were in great fear, and offered to pay him tribute if he would leave them in peace; but he refused to do this and laid siege to the town. There he stayed for fifteen weeks, and when he saw that the town did not surrender, he ordered his men to break up camp, as if they were about to go away, and they left one tent behind, and went along the river with their banners flying. At this sight the Moors were greatly pleased, thinking that the Cid's bread and barley had failed, and that he had fled, leaving one of his tents. And the Moors said, "Let us follow them and take their spoil." So the Moors went out after the Cid, leaving the gates open, and shouting as they went.

When the Cid saw them coming, he ordered his men to go faster, as if they were afraid, and he would not let them turn upon the Moors till they were far from the town. Then the Cid ordered his men to turn, and riding fast toward them, he cried, "Lay on, knights, and the spoil will be ours!" Then his men laid on without mercy, and the Cid and Alvar got between them and the castle, and stood in the gateway, sword in hand, and in an hour many hundreds of Moors were slain, and the Cid won the town, and Pero Bermudez planted his banner on the highest point of the castle. Then the Cid cried to his men: "Hear me; we shall get nothing by killing more of these Moors. Let us capture them, and make them show us their treasures hid in their houses, and we will dwell here, and they shall serve us." Thus the Cid won Alcocer and took up his abode in it.

Then the Moors in other places sent word to the king of Valencia that the Cid had come, and had taken Alcocer, and that if he were not stopped he would take the whole country. When the king of Valencia, whose name was Alcamin, heard this, he was much troubled, and he sent word to two Moorish kings who were his vassals to take three thousand horsemen and all the men they could gather, and to take the Cid alive, that he might punish him for coming into his land.

These kings, named Fariz and Galve, then set out and came with a great host against Alcocer, and pitched their tents round about the castle. And the Moors cut off the water supply, so that the Castilians would have sallied out and given battle, but this the Cid would not let them do. Thus they were besieged for three weeks, and when the fourth week began, the Cid called for Alvar and his company, and said: "You see that the Moors have cut off our water, and we have little bread. They increase in numbers every day, and we grow weak, and they are in their own country. They will not let us go out if we would; we cannot depart by night, for they surround us on all sides, and we cannot pass through the air nor into the ground. Now let us go out and fight them, though they are so many, and either conquer them or die bravely."

Alvar answered: "We are banished from our own land, and if we do not conquer the Moors, they will not give us food. We are but few, but we are of a race of warriors, and are of one heart and one will. Let us therefore go out to-morrow early in the morning, and give them battle." And they all thought well of what Alvar said. Then the Cid ordered all the Moors who were in the town to be put outside the gates, that they might not know what was to be done, and the rest of that day and night they passed in getting ready for the battle.

On the next day at sunrise the Cid and his men went out of the town, leaving only two foot-soldiers to keep the gates. When the Moorish scouts saw them they ran to the camp with the alarm. Then there was a noise of tambourines in the camp, as if the earth had been broken, and the Moors hurried to get their arms. The Moors drew up their men in two great bodies, and they moved forward, thinking to take the Cid and his men alive; and the Cid commanded his followers to stand still till he should bid them move.

But Pero Bermudez, who bore the Cid's banner, could not endure to remain still, but holding the banner in his hand he cried, "Cid, I shall put your banner in the middle of that army, and you are bound to stand by it." Then he began to spur his horse, while the Cid cried for him to stop as he loved him, but Pero answered that he would stop for nothing; and away he went and carried his banner into the middle of the Moors. Then the Moors fell upon him to get his banner, and hit him many hard blows to overthrow him. But as his armor was of the strongest kind, they could not pierce it, nor could they overthrow him, nor take the banner, for he was a man of great strength and most brave.

When the Cid saw him in this plight, he cried to his followers to move on to his help, and they placed their shields before their breasts, and lowering their lances, they bent forward and rode on. Each of the three hundred lancers slew a Moor at the first charge. "Smite them, knights !" cried the Campeador; "I am the Cid of Bivar." Then began a terrific battle, in which many a shield was pierced, and many a corselet broken, and many a horse left without a rider. The Moors called on Mahomet, and the Christians on St. James, and the noise of the tambourines and the trumpets was so great that no man could hear his neighbor.

The Cid and his company rescued Pero Bermudez, and they rode through the host of the Moors, slaying as they went, and rode back in like manner, slaying thirteen hundred men. Wherever the Cid went on his gilt saddle, the Moors made a path for him, for he smote them without mercy. The Moors killed the horse of Alvar Fanez, and his lance was broken, and he fought with his sword on foot. When the Cid saw him, he singled out a Moor who rode a good horse, and cut him down, and gave the horse to Alvar, saying: "Mount, for you are my right hand."

They fell upon the Moors once again, and these having suffered great loss began to give way. The Cid, seeing King Fariz, rode toward him, cutting down all in his path; and when he had come up to him, he struck at him three times: two of these blows missed their aim, but the third went through his cuirass, so that the blood ran down his legs. Then Fariz, feeling himself sorely wounded, turned his horse and fled. Martin Antolinez gave King Galve a blow on the head, that scattered all the jewels from his helmet, and cut through it to the skin, and this king fled also. Seeing their kings retreating, the Moors began a general flight.

The Christians pursued them as far as Calatayud, and Alvar slew thirty-four men in this pursuit, and his arm was all red, and the blood dropped from his elbow. As Alvar was returning, he said, "I am now well pleased, for tidings will go to Castile how the Cid has won a battle against the Moors." The Cid also turned back, and the hood of his mail hung down upon his shoulders, but his sword was still in his hand, and he rejoiced when he found that of all his people only fifteen had been killed. Then they gathered up the spoil, and found weapons of all kinds in abundance, and much wealth, besides five hundred and ten horses. The Cid divided the spoil fairly among all his men, and took the Moors who had been put out of the castle before the battle again into Alcocer, and gave them also a part of the booty, so that they were well content. And all the vassals of the Cid rejoiced with him. The Cid offered to give Alvar whatever he would take of the Cid's fifth, for it was custom to allow the leader a fifth of all that was taken, but Alvar said he was content with his own portion.

The Cid said then to Alvar: "I will send King Alfonso a present from my part of the spoils. You shall go to Castile, and take with you thirty horses, the best of those captured from the Moors, all saddled and bridled, and each having a sword hanging from the saddle bow; and you shall give them to the king for me, and kiss his hand for me, and tell him that we know how to make our way among the Moors. Take also this bag of gold and silver, and give it to the Church of St. Mary at Burgos, and hang up there these banners of the Moorish kings whom we have conquered. Go then to St. Pedro's and salute my wife and my daughters, and tell them how I am, and that if I live I will make them all rich women. Salute for me the Abbot, and give him fifty marks of silver; and whatever money is left, give to my wife, and bid them all pray for me. We have now taken all the spoils in this region, and we will have to fight elsewhere. If when you come back we are not here, you will learn where we are."

Alvar and the King


Alvar went his way to Castile, and found the king in Valladolid, and made ready to present to him the gifts of the Cid. When the king saw them, before Alvar could do his errand, Alfonso said, "Who sends me this goodly present?" And Alvar replied, "The Cid, the Campeador, sends it, and kisses by me your hands." He then told him the wonderful story of their adventures, and added, "Of his fifth of the horses that were taken the Cid has sent you these, as to his king, whose favor he desires." Then Alfonso answered: "It is soon for a banished man to ask favor of his king; nor is it befitting for a king to be angry so short a time. Nevertheless, because the horses were won from the Moors, I will take them, and rejoice that the Cid is faring so well. And I give you your pardon, Alvar, and give again to you all lands which were yours, and you have my permission to go and come as you will. Of the Cid I shall say nothing now, except that all who wish to follow him may do so, and their persons and property will be safe." Then Alvar said: "May God grant you many happy years! Now I beg that you also grant that the property of those who are now in the company of the Cid may be safe." And the king gave orders that this should be as Alvar requested. Then Alvar kissed the king's hand and said, "You have done this much now, and you will do the rest hereafter:" meaning that later he would pardon the Cid.