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

Don Sancho Makes War on his Brothers


While King Don Sancho was engaged in wars, his brother, King Don Garcia of Galicia, took by force a great part of the lands which their father had given their sister, Doņa Elvira. Don Sancho, who in his own mind desired to have all that his father had possessed, and not to divide with his brothers and sisters, was pleased that his brother had broken the oath they had made to their father, as he thought he would now be free to take what he wished. He therefore gathered his great men about him and said that since his father had unjustly given to his brothers and sisters what should have been his, and since his brother Don Garcia had broken the oath and disinherited his sister, he asked their advice as to the manner in which he should proceed, as he intended to take the kingdom from Don Garcia. The Count Don Ordonez arose and said, "There is not a man in the world that would counsel you to break the command of your father and the vow you made to him." The king was very angry at this, and said, "Go from before me, for I shall never receive good counsel from you."

Then Don Sancho took the Cid by the hand and led him to one side, saying: "My Cid, my father charged me upon pain of his curse that I should take you for my adviser, and that whatever I did I should do it with your counsel; and I have done so even to this day. Now tell me how I may best recover these kingdoms." The Cid was greatly troubled at this, and said: "It would ill become me to advise you against the will of your father. You well know that he made me swear that I would always counsel his sons as best I could; and while I can, I will do this." But the king answering, said: "My Cid, I do not hold that in this I am breaking any oath to my father, for I always said the kingdoms should not be divided, and the oath which I made was forced from me. Now my brother Don Garcia has broken the oath, and all these kingdoms are of right mine. I ask you to counsel me how to unite these kingdoms, for nothing in this world shall stop me from doing this." When the Cid saw that he could not change him, he advised him to ask his brother Don Alfonso to give him the right to march his army through his kingdom to go against Don Garcia, and that if he could not get this permission, not to attempt it.

The king was pleased with this advice, and sent letters to Don Alfonso, asking him to meet him at Sahagum. When they met at that place, Don Sancho said to his brother: "Brother, you well know that Don Garcia has broken his oath and disinherited our sister. For this I will take his kingdom from him, and I wish you to join me." But Don Alfonso said he would not go against his oath to his father. Then Don Sancho said if he would allow him to pass through his kingdom, he would give him part of what he would gain, and to this Don Alfonso agreed.

Then King Don Sancho gathered a great host and sent a messenger to Don Garcia that he should yield his kingdom to him. When Don Garcia received this message, he cried out, lamenting that he had been the first to break the oath to his father; and he told the messenger to say to his brother that he should keep his promise to his father, but if he would not, then he must defend himself. Then Don Garcia sent a messenger to Don Alfonso, asking that he would not allow his brother to pass through his dominions; but he received the answer that he would neither help nor hinder him.

Shortly afterward, the army of Don Sancho invaded Galicia, and for a time met little resistance, and gained many lands.

After that, many were the heavy blows given on both sides, and many were the horses slain, and many the men.

In one of the battles that followed, Don Garcia Ordonez was made prisoner, while the banner of Don Sancho was thrown down, as was the king himself.

King Don Garcia being anxious to join in the battle again, left his brother, Don Sancho, prisoner in the hands of six knights. These Don Sancho tried to bribe to give him his liberty, but they would not do this. Just then there came up Alvar Fanez, the cousin of the Cid, and he, seeing his king a prisoner, cried out with a loud voice, "Let loose my lord, the king!" Then he spurred his horse and rode at them, overthrew two of the knights, and put the others to flight. He and the king mounted their horses and went toward a little hill where they saw a small body of their friends, and to these Alvar cried: "Ye see here the king, our lord, who is free again. Now remember the name of Castilians, and let us not lose it this day." Then about four hundred knights gathered around him.

While they stood there they saw a green pennon approaching, and the king rejoiced, for he knew it was the banner of the Cid, who was coming with three hundred knights. Then they all went down the hill, and the king welcomed the Cid joyfully, saying, "In good time are you come, my fortunate Cid!" And the Cid answered, "Sir, you shall recover the day, or I will die; for wherever you go you shall conquer, or I will meet my death."

Now Don Garcia returned from the pursuit, singing joyfully, for he thought his brother was a prisoner; but a messenger came at that time, saying his brother had been rescued, and was ready to give him battle again. Then the battle was joined a second time, and it was bravely fought on both sides; and it was only the valor of the Cid that enabled Don Sancho to overcome. And now Don Garcia was taken prisoner in his turn, and Don Sancho took care that he should not escape, but put him in chains and sent him to the castle of Luna.

Now Don Sancho took as his own the kingdom of Galicia and Portugal that had belonged to Don Garcia, and he sent word to his brother, Don Alfonso, commanding him to yield to him the kingdom of Leon. To this demand Don Alfonso replied that he would defend his kingdom to the last. Then Don Sancho entered Leon, plundering and slaying wherever he went. Upon this Don Alfonso sent him word to cease this work of murdering the innocent, and challenging him to a pitched battle. This defiance was accepted, and a place appointed for the contest on a certain day at Lantada.

The army of Don Alfonso was commanded by Don Pero Ansures, a very valiant knight; and that of Don Sancho by the Cid. Great was the battle on that day, and it was fought with as much hatred as if it had been against the Moors, instead of between Christians who were brethren. But in the end the valor of the Cid was victorious, and King Don Alfonso was compelled to put his horse to its speed to save himself.

Yet Don Alfonso was not ready to yield up his kingdom, but sent a challenge to his brother for a second battle, agreeing that whoever conquered that day should be king of Leon. Again the two armies met, and a great battle was fought at Vulpegera, and the victory was on the side of Don Alfonso, and Don Sancho fled; and the Cid was not in this battle.

But as the king fled, he once more saw the green pennon of the Cid coming up; and when the Cid saw that the king had been defeated he was sorry; but he encouraged him, saying: "This is nothing, sir; gather your people together and bid them take heart. Your brother's followers are now, no doubt, feeling secure, and taking no thought of you. They will spend the night in boasting, and at daybreak we shall find them sleeping and fall upon them." The Cid had judged rightly, for the followers of Don Alfonso took no thought of their enemies, and did not set a watch. So early in the morning the Cid fell upon them, and overcame them before they could get their arms to fight. Then King Don Alfonso fled to the town of Carrion, but he was quickly taken at that place.

When the followers of Don Alfonso had gathered together after their flight, and found that their king was a prisoner, they were so ashamed of their conduct that they turned back and once more gave battle to the Castilians. It happened also that they found King Don Sancho with only a few knights around him, and they took him prisoner once more, and gave him for safe keeping in the charge of thirteen knights. But the Cid saw these knights leading away the king, and he set spurs to his horse and went after them, alone and without a lance. When the Cid came up to these men, he said, "Knights, give me my king, and I will give you yours." They knew him by his arms, and said, "Go back in peace, and do not seek a quarrel with us, or we will carry you off as a prisoner also." At this the Cid was angry, and said, "Give me a lance, and I will alone rescue my king from all of you!" They thought he could do nothing against so many, and they gave him a lance; but he attacked them all so fiercely that he slew eleven of the knights, leaving only two alive, and rescued his king.