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

A Great Victory Over the Africans


At this time the Moorish king, Bucar, across the sea in Morocco, remembering the oath he had taken to his brother, King Yucef, that he would take vengeance upon the Cid, ordered proclamation to be made throughout all the dominions of his father that he wished for a great army to go against the Cid. As his father was Miramamolin, that is Emperor, he soon was able to gather so great a host that among them there were twenty-nine kings. When he had assembled this host, he took ship and started across the sea.

Now for two years after their marriage the Infantes of Carrion had lived in Valencia in peace and pleasure, much to their own satisfaction and that of their uncle who was with them. At the end of that time, they had an adventure by reason of which they became angry with the Cid, but without any fault on his part.

There was in the house of the Cid a large lion, nimble and strong, which the Cid kept for his amusement. This beast was kept by three men in a den which was in the courtyard; and when these men cleansed the court they were accustomed to shut him up in his den, and afterward to open the door that he might come out and eat. Now it was the custom of the Cid to dine every day with his company, and after he had dined he was used to sleep upon his seat.

One day when he had dined there came a man who told him a great fleet was arrived in the port of Valencia, bringing a great army of Moors under King Bucar. When the Cid heard this, his heart rejoiced, for it was nearly three years since he had had a battle with the Moors. He at once gave orders that a signal should be given that all the chief men of the city should assemble. When they were all together in the Alcazar and his sons-in-law with them, the Cid told them the news, and took counsel with them in what manner they should go out against the Moors. When they had advised together, the Cid went to sleep upon his seat, and the Infantes and others sat at the tables playing chess.

Now at this time the men who were the keepers of the lion were cleaning the court; and when they heard the cry that the Moors were coming, they opened the den, and came down into the palace where the Cid was and left the door of the court open. When the lion had eaten his meat and saw that the door was open, he went out of the court and came down into the palace, into the hall where they were. When those who were there saw the lion, there was a great stir; but the Infantes showed greater cowardice than any others. Ferrando crept under the seat where the Cid was sleeping, and in his haste he burst his mantle and his doublet. The other, Diego, ran to a rear door, crying, "I shall never see Carrion again;" this door opened upon a courtyard where there was a wine-press, and he jumped out and fell among the lees of the wine, covering himself with them.

All the others who were in the hall wrapped their cloaks around their arms, and stood by the seat where the Cid was sleeping, that they might defend him. The noise which they made awakened the Cid, and he saw the lion coming, and he lifted up his hand and said, "What is this?" And the lion hearing his voice stood still; then he rose up and took him by the mane as if he had been a gentle dog, and led him back to the court, and ordered his keepers to look after him better in the future. When he had done this, he returned to the hall and took his seat again, and all who saw this were astonished.

After some time, Ferrando crept out from under the seat where he had hidden himself, and he came out with a pale face. Soon Diego came out of the wine-press, and when he came in covered all over with the stains, all who were present made sport of him and his brother. But the Cid forbade them to laugh. Diego went out to wash himself, and sent for his brother, and when they were together they said: "The Cid, our father-in-law, has let this lion loose to put us to shame, and make fools of us. But we will be revenged on his daughters. We were badly matched with them in any case, and now he makes sport of us. But we must keep this secret and not let him know we are angry, or he will not let us depart or take our wives with us. We will therefore make merriment of this matter, that he may suspect nothing." While they were talking, their uncle Suero Gonzalez came in, and they told him what they intended to do; but he advised them to do nothing until the fight with the Moors should be over; then they could demand their wives, as if they would go to their own country. "This," said he, "the Cid can have no reason to refuse, and when you have gone out of this land, you can revenge yourselves on his daughters."

El Cid


After they had thus counselled together, they went to their lodging, and on the next day they went to the Alcazar where the Cid was preparing for war. When they came in, the Cid rose and greeted them kindly, and they made sport of what had happened about the lion. And the Cid began to give orders as to the battle. While they were thus talking, a great cry was heard in the town and a great tumult, for King Bucar had come within three miles of Valencia and was pitching his tents there. This camp made a great show, and the chroniclers say there were five thousand pavilions, besides common tents.

After the Cid had heard this, he took his sons-in-law and their uncle, and went with them into the highest tower of the Alcazar, and showed them the army of Bucar. The Cid looked on this sight and began to laugh, and he was exceeding glad; but Suero and his nephews were in great fear. When they came down from the tower the Cid went first, and the others stayed behind, and said, "If we go into this battle, we shall never return to Carrion." Now it so happened that Muno Gustios heard them, and he told it to the Cid, and he was grieved at their cowardice; but he presently made sport of it, and said to his sons-in-law, "You, my sons, shall remain in Valencia and guard the town, and we who are used to this business will go out to the battle." Having heard this they were ashamed and knew some one had overheard them, and they answered, "We will go with you to the battle, and protect your body as if we were your sons, and you were the Count our father." At this the Cid was much pleased.

While they were talking thus, word was brought that a messenger from King Bucar was at the gate of the town, who wished to speak with the Cid. The Cid gave orders that this Moor, whose name was Ximena de Algezira, should be admitted. It is said that the Cid was so wonderful and powerful in his appearance that no Moor was ever able to look upon him without fear; and this Ximena began to gaze upon his countenance, but said nothing. The Cid saw his fear and bade him take courage and deliver the message of his master without fear or shame. When the Moor heard this, he recovered heart, and said; "Sir Cid, King Bucar, my lord, has sent me to you to say that you have done him great wrong in holding Valencia, which belonged to his forefathers; and you have defeated his brother, King Yucef. Now he is come with twenty-nine kings to revenge his brother, and to win Valencia in spite of you and all who are with you. However, he says, that as he has heard that you are a wise man, he will show you favor, and let you leave Valencia and go into Castile, and take with you all that is yours. If you will not do this, he will fight you and take you and your wife and your daughters, and torture you in such a way that all Christians who hear of it will talk of it forever. This is the message of my lord, King Bucar."

Then the Cid answered in a few words: "Go tell your lord, King Bucar, I will not give up Valencia to him; I had hard labor to win it, and I am beholden to no man in the world for it, except to my kinsmen and friends and vassals who helped me to win it. Tell him I am not a man to be besieged, and when he does not expect it, I will give him battle in the field. I would that even as he has brought twenty-nine kings, so had be brought all the Moors in the world; for I trust that by the help of God I could conquer them all. Bear this answer to your lord, and come here no more with messages on this account or any other."

Ximena then left Valencia and went to his lord and told him before the twenty-nine kings all that the Cid had said. They were astonished at the brave words of the Cid; for they did not think he would have resisted, as they had such a great army; nor did they think he would so soon come out to battle. They began at once to lay siege to the city and to place their army around it. This King Bucar was a kinsman of Alimaymon, who had been king of Toledo and Valencia, and this was the reason why Bucar said that Valencia had belonged to his forefathers.

When the messenger had left the town, the Cid ordered the bell to be struck, at the sound of which all the men at arms in Valencia were to gather together. They assembled at once, and he told them to be ready early in the morning to go out and give battle to the Moors. They answered as one man that they were well pleased to do this, for they trusted in God and in his good fortune that they should conquer. On the next morning, at cock-crow, they, according to their custom, received the sacrament; and before the dawn broke they went forth from Valencia. When they had got through the narrow passes among the gardens, the Cid set his army in array. The front he gave to Alvar Fanez and to Pero Bermudez, who carried his banner; and he gave them five hundred horsemen and fifteen hundred footmen. In the right wing was the Bishop Don Hieronymo, with the same number of horse and foot; and in the left Martin Antolinez and Alvar Salvadores. The Cid came in the rear with a thousand horsemen, all in coats of mail, and twenty-five hundred foot-soldiers. In this array they proceeded until they came in sight of the Moors.

As soon as the Cid saw their tents, he ordered to go more slowly, and he got upon his horse, Bavieca, and put himself in the front of the whole army, and his sons-in-law went with him. Then the Bishop said: "Cid, I left my own country and came to you through the desire I had to kill the Moors and to do honor to my order and to my own hands. Now I would be foremost in this business. I have my banner and will employ them so that my heart may rejoice. If you do not for love of me grant me this, I will go my ways from you." But the Cid bade him do his pleasure.

Then the Moors came from their tents in haste, and formed their battle quickly and came against the Christians, with the sound of trumpets and tambourines. As they came in haste, not thinking the Cid would come against them so soon, they did not advance in order, as Bucar had commanded. When the Cid saw this, he ordered his banner to be carried forward, and bade his people lay on. The Bishop put spurs to his horse, and slew two Moors with the first two thrusts of his lance; the haft broke and then he took his sword. How the Bishop did fight! He soon felled five with his sword; the Moors came round him and laid on him a load of blows, but they could not pierce his armor. The Cid had his eyes upon him, and took his shield and placed it before him, and lowered his lance, and gave that good horse Bavieca the spur. With heart and soul he went at them and made his way into their ranks, smiting down seven and slaying four. Now the battle was very hot, and so great was the noise from the blows and the tambourines that no one could hear what another said.

In the course of this fight the Infante Diego encountered a Moor of great stature, and this man came at him fiercely; and when the Infante saw him coming so savagely, he turned and fled. No one saw this but Felez Munoz, a nephew of the Cid, who was a squire; he set himself against the Moor with his lance under his arm, and gave him such a thrust in the breast that the streamer of the lance came out between his shoulders all red with blood, and he seized the horse by the bridle and began to call the Infante. At this the young man turned, and when he saw that it was his cousin Felez, he came back. Then Felez said, "Take this horse and say that you killed the Moor, and no one shall ever know otherwise unless you give cause." While they were talking the Cid came up after another knight, whom he slew beside them, and smote him with his sword upon the head so that he split it down to his teeth. When Felez saw the Cid, he said, "Sir, your son-in-law has great desire to help you this day, and he has just slain a Moor from whom he won this horse." This pleased the Cid much, for he thought it was true.

Then they all three advanced into the midst of the battle. But the power of the Moors was so great that they could not put them to flight, and the battle hung in the balance until noon. So many Moors and Christians were lying dead on the field that the horses could scarcely move among their bodies. But after noon the Cid and his men smote the Moors so hard that they could no longer stand against them, and they turned their backs and fled. The Christians followed, hewing them down, smiting and slaying. They drove them through their camp beyond it for seven miles. In this pursuit the Cid saw King Bucar and made at him, and the Moorish king knew him when he saw him coming. "Turn this way, Bucar," cried the Cid, "you who came from beyond the sea to see the Cid with the long beard. We must greet each other and cut out a friendship."—"I want no such friendship," cried Bucar, and turned his horse and began to flee toward the sea, and the Cid after him. But Bucar had a good horse and fresh, while Bavieca had had a hard day's work. When they were near the ships, the Cid saw that he could not reach him, so he threw his sword at him and struck him between the shoulders. But Bucar being badly wounded rode into the sea and got to a boat, and the Cid alighted and picked up his sword.

Then his people came up, hewing down the Moors before them, and the Moors in their fear ran into the sea, so that twice as many died in the water as in the battle. It is said that seventeen thousand were slain on the field, and that a greater number perished in the sea. Of the twenty-nine kings, seventeen were slain. When the Cid saw that some of the Moors had gotten to the ships, and that others were slain or captured, he returned toward their tents.

When the Cid returned from the slaughter, the hood of his mail was thrown back, and the coif upon his head bore marks of the battle. When he saw his sons-in-law, he said, to do them honor, "Come here, my sons, for by your help we have conquered in this battle." Presently Alvar Fanez came up; the shield that hung from his neck was all battered; more than twenty Moors had he slain, and the blood was running from his wrist to his elbow. "Thanks to God," said he, "and to you, Cid, we have won the day. All these spoils are yours and your vassals'."

Then they gathered the spoils, which were great riches in gold and silver, in pearls and precious stones, and in tents and horses and oxen. The poorest man among the Christians was rich that day. So great was the spoil that six hundred horses fell to the Cid as his fifth, besides camels and twelve hundred prisoners. Then the Cid said: "God be praised, once I was poor, but now I am rich in lands and in possessions and in gold and in honor. Moors and Christians both fear me; even in Morocco among their mosques do they fear lest I should set upon them some night. Let them fear it. I shall not go to seek them, but here will I be, in Valencia, and they shall pay me tribute." Great was the joy in Valencia over this victory; and great was the joy of the Infantes of Carrion, whose portion of the spoil was five thousand marks. When they saw themselves so rich, they and their uncle took counsel together, and agreed to do the wickedness of which they had before spoken.