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

The Great Sultan of Persia Offers Friendship to the Cid


Some time after this, the great Sultan of Persia, who had heard of the greatness of the Cid and of his wonderful feats at arms, and how he had never been vanquished by any man, and how he had conquered many kings, Moors and Christians, and had won the great city of Valencia, and had defeated King Bucar of Morocco and twenty-nine kings with him, was anxious to gain his friendship. Holding him to be one of the noble men of the world, he sent messengers to him with great gifts, and with them one of his own kinsmen, an honorable man, with letters of love.

This kinsman reached the port of Valencia and sent word to the Cid of his arrival with a message from the great Sultan of Persia, who had sent him a present. The Cid was well pleased, and in the morning he took his horse and went out with all his company, and his knights rode before with lances erect. When they had gone about three miles, they met the messenger of the Sultan coming to Valencia; and when he saw the manner of his coming, he understood what a great man the Cid was.

As he drew near the Cid stopped his horse Bavieca and waited to receive him; and when the messenger came before the Cid and looked on him, his flesh began to tremble, and he wondered at his own fear; and his voice failed him, and he could not speak a word. The Cid said he was welcome and went forward to embrace him; but the Moor made no reply, being amazed. After he had somewhat recovered and could speak, he would have kissed the Cid's hand, but the Cid would not give it to him, and he thought this was done from pride; but they made him understand that it was done to honor him. He was greatly rejoiced, and said: "I humble myself before you, O Cid, who are the fortunate one, the best Christian and the most honorable who has girded on a sword or bestrode a horse for a thousand years. The great Sultan of Persia, hearing of your great fame and renown, has sent me to salute you and receive you as his best friend. He has sent a present by me who am his kinsman, and beseeches you to receive it as from a friend."

The Cid answered that he thanked him greatly, and he bade his people make way that the camels and horses that bore the present might pass, and also the strange animals that the Sultan had sent. When they were passed by, he returned to the town and the messenger with him. Whenever the messenger spoke with the Cid, he recalled how his voice had failed him and his flesh had crept, and he wished to ask the Cid why that was. As they entered Valencia, a great crowd assembled to see the animals that bore the present, and the strange beasts, such as they had never seen before; and they wondered at them.

The Cid gave orders that the beasts should be cared for; and he took the messenger with him to the Alcazar, where he humbled himself before the Cid's wife and daughters. He commanded that the camels and other beasts should be unloaded in their presence, and he opened the packages. He laid before them a great quantity of gold and money, which came in leather bags, each having its lock, and wrought silver in dishes and trenchers and basins and pots for preparing food—all these were of silver and weighed ten thousand marks. He brought out five cups of gold, in each of which were ten marks of gold, with many precious stones set in them, and three silver barrels which were full of pearls and of precious stones. He presented to him many pieces of cloth of gold and of silk. He gave also a pound of myrrh and of balsam in little caskets of gold; this was held to be very precious, for with this ointment they were accustomed to anoint the bodies of kings who had died, to preserve their bodies that they might not corrupt. He gave also a chessboard made of ivory, riveted with gold, and set with precious stones; and the chessmen were of gold and silver, and the squares were wrought with fine stones.

When the Persian had produced all these things, he said, "All this, sir, with the animals you have seen, my lord, the Sultan of Persia has sent to you, because of the fame of your goodness, and he asks you to accept it for love of him." The Cid thanked him, and said he would do him more honor than he had ever yet done to any one. He embraced him in the name of the Sultan, and asked if there was anything among these presents that had belonged to the Sultan that he might give it a kiss of honor, according to their custom, for he knew that his master was one of the noblest men in the world. This great courtesy of the Cid rejoiced the Persian, and he saw how noble a man he was. Then the Persian said: "Sir Cid, if you were before my master, he would give you the head of his horse to eat; but as this is not your custom, I give you my living horse, which is one of the best horses of Syria, and do you give order that he be taken in honor of my lord, the Sultan, and he will be better than his head would be, boiled. I kiss your hand, sir, and hold myself a more honored man than I have ever been before." The Cid accepted the horse and gave his hand to be kissed, and then he called for the governor and bade him take the kinsman of the Sultan and lodge him in the Garden, and honor him as he would himself.

Great honor was done to this man, even as if he had been the Cid himself. When the governor and the Persian had eaten together, the stranger asked what manner of man the Cid was. The governor told him that the Cid was the bravest man in the world and the best knight, and one whose word never failed, and the best friend to his friend, and to his enemy the most deadly foe; that he was merciful to the vanquished and thoughtful and wise in all that he did, and that his face was one that no man could see for the first time without fear. "And this," said the governor, "I have many times observed; for when any messengers of the Moors come before him, they are so abashed that they do not know where they are." After the Persian heard this, he called to mind how it had been with him; and he said to the governor that as they were both Mahometans he asked him to keep secret what he would say, and he would tell his own experience; and this the governor promised, and he said that when he first saw the Cid he for a long time was not able to speak, and he thought this power was given him of God so that none of his enemies might behold his face without fear. After the Persian had said this, the governor saw that he was a man of understanding, and he asked him if he would answer him a question; and the governor asked why the Sultan had sent so great a present to the Cid, and why he desired his friendship when he lived so far away.

Now the Persian thought the governor wished to find out the state of his master's country, and that the Cid had told him to do this. And he made answer that the great renown of the Cid had moved his master to do this. But the governor said he thought there must have been some other motive. And the Persian saw that the governor understood him, and wished to know the whole matter; and he said he would tell him if he would keep it secret, and the governor promised that he would do this. Then he told him that a great Crusade had gone forth from Europe and had won Antioch, and now lay before Jerusalem. And the Sultan was afraid that the crusaders would take his country. The Sultan having heard of the greatness of the Cid, and thinking he would join the Crusade, wished to have his friendship. Then the governor said he believed this to be the truth.

While this Persian was still in Valencia, news came that the Princes of Aragon and Navarre were coming to their marriage. The Prince of Navarre was called Don Ramiro; and he of Aragon was named Don Sancho, and was the son of the King Don Pedro, whom the Cid had once made a prisoner; and he, remembering the great courtesy of the Cid, and knowing his great courage and worth, had held it good that his son match with the Cid's daughter, that the race of so good a man be preserved in Aragon.

When the Cid knew the princes were coming, he and all his people went six leagues to meet them, all gallantly attired, and he ordered his tents to be pitched in a meadow where he waited until they came. When they were all met, they proceeded to Valencia, and there the Bishop came out to meet them, and great rejoicings were held for eight days before the marriage.

After eight days were passed the Bishop married the Prince Don Ramiro of Navarre to Doņa Elvira, and the Prince Don Sancho of Aragon to Doņa Sol. Wonderful were these weddings, and for eight days more there was feasting every day, where all ate out of silver. Many bulls were killed every day, and many of the wild beasts that the Sultan had sent. Many sports were devised, and many garments and saddles and noble trappings were given to those who took part. The Moors also exhibited their sports in so many ways that men knew not which to go to first.

The marriage having been concluded, the Cid took his sons-in-law by the hand and led them to Doņa Ximena and showed them all the gifts of the Sultan, and they were astonished, and said they had not thought any man in Spain so rich as the Cid. While they were marvelling, the Cid said, "My sons, this and all I have is for you and for your wives, and I will give you the noblest dowry that was ever given women; for you shall have half of all that is here, and the other half Doņa Ximena and I will keep while we live, and after our death all shall be yours; and my days are now almost full."

The Princes answered that they prayed God to grant him life for many years, and they thanked him greatly and held him as their father, and that they would ever honor him and hold themselves honored to be his sons. Three months these Princes stayed with the Cid in Valencia. Then they made ready to depart, and the Cid gave them great treasures, as he had promised, and gave them some of the wild beasts the Sultan had sent. He rode with them twelve leagues, and when they took leave, the Cid gave something to every knight in all their company. Then he blessed his daughters and returned to Valencia, while they went to their own countries.

When the Cid had returned, he sent for the messenger of the Sultan and gave him many of the rare things of Spain to carry back to his lord. He gave him a sword with the device of the Sultan wrought in gold, and a coat of mail and sleeve armor, and he sent letters with assurance of his friendship. Much was the messenger pleased with the honorable treatment he had received, and much was he pleased that he had seen the weddings. So he departed and went to the port and embarked on board his ship.

The Cid now spent a year in settling the affairs of the castles of the Moors that were subject to him and in settling the Moors of Valencia well with the Christians. From this time he dwelt in peace and labored always to serve God and to make amends for his faults, for he knew he had not long to live.