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

King Yucef of Morocco Besieges Valencia


Doņa ximena had been in Valencia three months, and March was coming, when news came to the Cid from beyond the sea that King Yucef, the son of the Miramamolin, who lived in Morocco, was setting out with fifty thousand men to besiege Valencia. When the Cid heard this, he gave orders that all his castles should be well stored with food, and that they should be put in good repair. He also had the walls of the city made ready, and he laid up supplies of food and all things necessary in war. And he gathered a great army of the Christians and Moors under his rule.

He had not more than made these preparations when he heard that Yucef was near at hand, and coming as fast as he could. Then the Cid assembled the Christians in the Alcazar, and stood on his feet before them, saying: "Friends and kinsmen and vassals, all the goods which I have in the world are here in Valencia. With hard labor I won this city, and I hold it for my heritage, and for nothing but death will I leave it. My daughters and my wife shall see me fight; they shall see with their own eyes our manner of living in this land, and how we get our bread. We will go out against the Moors and give them battle, and God who has thus far shown favor to us will continue to be our helper." When they heard this, they all cried that they would do his bidding, and go out with him and fight under his banner, and that they were sure that by his good fortune the Moors would be conquered.

On the next day, the Cid took his wife by the hand and her daughters with her, and made them go up to the highest tower of the Alcazar, and they looked toward the sea and saw the army of the Moors, how they came on and began to pitch their tents around Valencia, beating their tambourines and making a great uproar. Then Ximena's heart began to fail her, and she asked the Cid if he thought God would deliver them from these enemies. "Fear not," said he, "you are but lately arrived in this land, and these people come to bring you a present, which shall be a marriage portion for your daughters. Fear not, for you shall see me fight; my heart kindles because you are here. The more Moors the more spoil."

Just then the tambourines sounded with a great noise, and the sun was shining. "Cheer up," said the Cid; "this is a glorious day." But Ximena was seized with such fear as if her heart was broken; never before had she and her daughters felt such fear. Then the Cid stroked his beard, and said: "Fear not, all this is for your good. Before fifteen days are over, those tambourines shall be laid before you and shall be sounded for your amusement, and then they shall be given to the Bishop to hang them in the church of St. Mary." Now the Moors began to enter the gardens which were round about the town, and the watchmen saw them and struck the bell. The Cid looked back and saw Alvar Salvadores beside him, and he said: "Go now, take two hundred horse and charge those Moors who are entering the gardens. Let Ximena and her daughters see the good-will you have to serve them." Down went Alvar Salvadores in haste and ordered a bell to be rung which was a signal for two hundred knights to make ready; for the Cid had arranged the signals, so that the men knew when one hundred were called for, and two, and so forth.

Presently they were ready, and the gate nearest the gardens was opened, and the knights fell upon them fiercely, smiting and slaying. Great was the pleasure of the Cid to see how they behaved themselves. But Doņa Ximena and her daughters stood trembling, like women who had never seen such things before; and when the Cid saw it, he made them seat themselves so that they could not behold the fight. The Bishop was mightily pleased to see how their men fought. Alvar and his men soon drove the enemy back to their tents, and then they turned back. But Alvar went on hacking and hewing, thinking the ladies were looking on, and he went on so far that, being alone, he was taken prisoner. The others returned to the city, having slain two hundred and fifty Moors. Then the Cid went down from the tower and received these men and praised them for what they had done. He was sorrowful that Alvar Salvadores had fallen into the hands of the Moors, but he trusted to rescue him on the next day.

Then the Cid assembled his chief captains and knights and people, and said: "Kinsmen and friends and vassals, to-day has been a good day, but to-morrow shall be a better. Be all armed and ready in the dark of the morning. Then we will to horse, and go out and smite our enemies. But let us take counsel in what manner we may go forth, so as to receive the least hurt; for they are a mighty host, and we can only defeat them by mastery in war." When Alvar Fanez heard this, he answered: "You have achieved greater things than this. Give me three hundred horse, and we will go out when the first cock crows and put ourselves in ambush in the valley of Albuhera; and when you have opened the battle, we will come out and fall upon them on the other side, and on one side or the other we shall overcome them." The Cid was well pleased with this advice and said he would follow it. So he bade them feed their horses in time and sup early, and as soon as it was cock-crow they would assemble.

At cock-crow they all came together, and the Bishop who had pronounced absolution said he craved a boon from the Cid. He said, "Let me have the first wounds in the battle;" and the Cid granted him his boon. Then being all ready they went out through the gate which is called the Gate of the Snake, for the greatest force of the Moors was on that side. Alvar Fanez was already gone out with his company and had formed their ambush. The Cid had four thousand men with whom to attack fifty thousand on that day. They went through all the narrow places and bad passes, leaving the ambush on the left, and struck to the right hand, so as to get the Moors between them and the town. And the Cid put his armies in good order, and bade Pero Bermudez carry his banner. When the Moors saw all this, they were greatly amazed, and they put on their armor in great haste and came out of their tents.

Then the Cid bade his banner move on, and the Bishop spurred forward with his company, and they fought in such a manner that the two armies were soon mingled together. Many a horse was soon running without a rider, and many a horseman was upon the ground. Terrible was the fighting and slaying; but as the Moors were so many in number they pressed hard upon the Christians and were about to overcome them. The Cid began to encourage them, shouting for "God and St. James."

And Alvar Fanez at this time came out of the ambush and fell upon the Moors on the side nearest the sea; and the Moors thought a great army had arrived to help the Cid, and they were dismayed and began to fly. The Cid and his men pursued them, punishing them greatly. It would be impossible to realize all the feats that were done that day, for every man did marvels. The Cid made such havoc among the Moors that the blood ran from his wrist to his elbow; and his good horse Bavieca proved to be a fine mount for him.

In the pursuit, the Cid came up with King Yucef and smote him three times; but the king escaped, for the horse of the Cid passed on so rapidly he could not check him, and when he turned, the king, being on a fleet horse, was far off. The king escaped to the Castle of Guyera, for so far did the Christians follow them, smiting and slaying without mercy. Hardly fifteen thousand of the fifty escaped. Those who were in the ships, when they saw this defeat, set sail and went to Denia.

Then the Cid and his people returned and began to plunder the tents. The spoil was so great that the men knew not what to take and what to leave of the gold and silver and horses and arms. Never had they seen such a tent as that of King Yucef, and it was filled with great riches, and there they found Alvar Salvadores, who had been made prisoner on the day before. The Cid rejoiced greatly to find him alive and well, and had his chains taken off. Then he left Alvar Fanez to look after the spoil while he went into the city. It was a wonderful sight to see the Cid then riding into Valencia; he had taken off his helmet, and his brow was full of great wrinkles, and he rode upon Bavieca with his sword still in his hand.

Doņa Ximena and her daughters were awaiting him, and great was their joy when they saw him coining He stopped by them, and said: "Great honor have I won for you while you kept Valencia this day; and goodly spoil have we. Look, with this bloody sword, and a horse covered with sweat,—this is the way that we conquer the Moors. Pray God that I may live yet awhile for your sakes, and you shall enter into great honor, and they shall kiss your hands."

Then the Cid alighted, and the ladies knelt down before him and kissed his hand and wished him long life. Then they entered the palace with him and took their seats upon the benches. "Wife, Doņa Ximena," said the Cid, "these damsels who have served you so well I will give in marriage to my vassals, and to every one of them two hundred marks of silver, that it may be known in Castile what they have got for their services." They all rose and kissed his hand; and great was the joy in the palace, and what the Cid promised was done.

Alvar Fanez remained in the field taking account of the spoil and writing down what was found, according to their custom, so that none could be carried off unfairly. The tents and arms and precious garments were so many that they cannot be told, and the horses were beyond all reckoning; they ran about the field, and there was no one to take them, and the Moors of that land profited by that victory, for they caught many of the horses. The Cid's own share of the horses was fifteen hundred good ones. The Cid won in this battle from King Yucef his famous sword Tizona, which name means a firebrand. The Cid gave orders that the tent of the king of Morocco, which was supported by two pillars wrought with gold, should not be touched, for he wished to send it to King Alfonso. The Bishop had his fill of battle that day, as he had desired, fighting with both hands, and no one can tell how many he slew.

King Yucef, who had taken refuge in a castle, when the pursuit was over, and he saw that he could come forth, went to Denia, and returned by ship to Morocco. There he brooded on his defeat, and how he had been conquered by so few, and how he had lost so many of his people, and he fell sick and died. But before he died he begged his brother Bucar, on account of the tie between them, that he would revenge him for the dishonor he had received at the hands of the Cid before Valencia; and Bucar promised to do this, and swore upon the Koran, the sacred book of the Mahometans, that he would do this.

Then the Cid sent Alvar Fanez and Pero Bermudez with a present to King Alfonso. He sent two hundred horses saddled and bridled, each with a sword hanging from the saddle-bow; he also sent the splendid tent which he had taken from the king of Morocco. He gave this present because the king had sent him his wife and daughters when he asked for them, and because of the honor which he had done them. So Alvar and Pero went their way toward Castile, over mountains and rivers; and they asked where the king was, and when they learned he was at Valladolid, they went there.

When they came near that city, they sent to let the king know of their coming, and to ask whether they should go into the city to him, or if he would come out to them, as they were a great company, and they brought a great present that could be seen better outside than within the town. The king sent word that he would come out of the city, and he took his horse and ordered all the noblemen with him to mount likewise. Now the two Infantes of Carrion were there, Diego Gonzalez and Ferrando Gonzalez, the sons of Count Don Gonzalo. And they found the company of the Cid about a mile and a half from the town, and when the king saw them, he blessed himself, for they seemed like a host.

And Alvar and Pero spurred their horses when they saw the king, and they came to him and alighted, and knelt down and kissed the ground, and kissed both his feet; but he bade them rise and mount their horses, and would not hear them until they were again in their saddles and had taken their places, one at his right hand and the other at his left. And they said: "Sir, the Cid commends himself to you as his liege lord, and thanks you greatly for having sent him with such honor his wife and daughters. And know, Sir, that since they arrived he has won a great victory over the Moors and their King Yucef of Morocco, the Miramamolin, who besieged Valencia with fifty thousand men. The Cid went out against them, and defeated them, and has sent you these two hundred horses from his fifth."

Then Alvar ordered the horses to be led forward, and they came in this manner. The two hundred horses came first, each one being led by a child, and each having a sword hanging from the saddle on the left side. After them came the pages of all the knights in the company, carrying their spears, and then the company, and after them a hundred couple with spears in rest. When they had all passed by, the king blessed himself again, and he laughed and said that never before had so goodly a present been sent to a king of Spain by his vassal.

Alvar said further, "Sir, the Cid has sent you a tent, the noblest that ever man saw, which he won in this battle." Then the king gave orders that the tent should be spread, and he alighted and went into it, and he and his people said they had never seen so splendid a tent as this. The king said he had won many tents from the Moors, but never such an one as this. Though all others were pleased, the Count Don Garcia was envious of what the Cid had done; and he and ten of his kinsmen talked together and said that this which the Cid had done was to their shame, for they hated the Cid in their hearts. The king said, "Thanks to God, those horses may do me good service." And he gave three of them to Alvar and three to Pero, and told them to choose which ones they liked best; he also ordered that food and clothing be given them while they remained, and that they should have new armor when they were ready to return, such as was fit for them to wear before the Cid.

When the Infantes of Carrion saw the noble present which the Cid had sent the king, and heard how his riches and power increased daily, and thought what his wealth must be when he had given those horses out of his fifth won in one battle, and that he was lord of Valencia, they talked together and agreed that if the Cid would give them his daughters, they might think themselves well and honorably married. They agreed that they would talk with the king privately about this matter. So they went after a while to him, and said, "Sir, we beseech you to help us in a matter that will be to your honor; for we are your vassals, and the richer we are the better shall we be able to serve you." The king asked them what they would have, and they told him their desire.

The king thought upon this awhile, and then came to them and said: "Infantes, this thing which you ask is not to be decided by me, but by the Cid. It is in his power to marry his daughters, and it may be that he does not wish to do this yet. Nevertheless, I will send him your request." Then they kissed his hand for his favor. And the king sent for Alvar and Pero, and talked with them privately, and he praised the Cid, and thanked him for his services, and said he had a great desire to see him. "Say to him," said the king, "that I beseech him to come and meet me, for I would speak with him about a matter which is for his good and his honor. Diego and Ferrando, the Infantes of Carrion, have told me they wish to marry his daughters, if he will; and I think this would be a good marriage." When Alvar and Pero heard this, they answered the king, and said: "We are sure that in this and in all things the Cid will do as you shall command or advise. When you have your meeting, you will agree concerning it as is best." Then they kissed his hand and took their leave.