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This poem, of some three thousand seven hundred lines, is divided into two cantos-and was written about 1200. It is a compilation from extant ballads in regard to the great Spanish hero Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar, born between 1030 and 1040, whose heroic deeds were performed at the time when the Christian kings were making special efforts to eject the Moors, who had invaded Spain three hundred years before.

The first feat mentioned relates that Rodrigo's father, having been insulted by Don Gomez, pined at the thought of leaving this affront unavenged, until his son, who had never fought before, volunteered to defend him. Not only did Rodrigo challenge and slay Don Gomez, but cutting off his head bore it to his father as a proof that his enemy was dead, a feat which so pleased the old gentleman that he declared Rodrigo should henceforth be head of the family.

After thus signalizing himself, Rodrigo was suddenly called upon to face five Moorish kings who had been making sallies into Castile. Not only did he defeat them, but took them prisoners, thereby winning from them the title by which he is commonly known, of "The Cid" or "The Lord."

Shortly after this Donna Ximena, daughter of Don Gomez, appeared before King Ferrando demanding satisfaction for her father's death, and consenting to forego revenge only on condition that Rodrigo would marry her. The young hero having assented, the couple were united in the presence of the king, after which Rodrigo took his beautiful bride to his mother, with whom he left her until he had earned the right to claim her by distinguishing himself in some way.

It seems that Ferrando of Castile was then disputing from the king of Aragon the possession of Calahorra, a frontier town. Both monarchs decided to settle their difference by a duel, stipulating that the town should belong to the party whose champion triumphed.

Ferrando having selected Rodrigo as his champion, our hero set out to meet his opponent, delaying on the way long enough to rescue a leper from a bog. Then, placing this unfortunate on his horse before him, Rodrigo bore him to an inn, where, in spite of the remonstrances of his followers, he allowed the leper to share his bed and board. That night, while lying beside his loathsome bed-fellow, Rodrigo suddenly felt a cold breath pass through him, and, on investigating, discovered that his companion was gone. He beheld in his stead St. Lazarus, who proclaimed that, since Rodrigo had been so charitable, he would meet with prosperity, and might know whenever he felt a cold shiver run down his spine that it was an omen of success. Thus encouraged, Rodrigo rode on to take part in the duel, but he had been so delayed that the battle call had already sounded, and Alvar Fanez, his cousin, was preparing to fight in his stead. Bidding his cousin step aside, Rodrigo entered the lists, and soon won Calahorra for Ferrando.

Pleased with what Rodrigo had done, the king now showered honors upon him, which so aroused the jealousy of the courtiers that they began to conspire with the Moors to ruin him. It happened, however, that they addressed their first proposals to the very kings whom Rodrigo had conquered, and who proved loyal enough to send him word of the plot. On discovering the treachery of the courtiers, the king banished them, but the wife of Don Garcia pleaded so eloquently with the Cid, that he furnished the banished man with letters of introduction to one of the Moorish kings, who, to please his conqueror, bestowed the city of Cabra upon him.

Although treated with such generosity, Don Garcia proved ungrateful, and even tried to cheat the Moors. Hearing this, the Cid, siding with his former enemies, came into their country to take away from Don Garcia the city which had been allotted for his use.

During one of Ferrando's absences from home, the Moors invaded one of his provinces, whereupon Rodrigo, in retaliation, besieged the city of Coimbra. While he was thus engaged his army suffered so much from lack of provisions that it finally seemed as if he would have to give up his undertaking. But the monks, who had advised the Cid to besiege the city, now came to his rescue, and by feeding his army from their own stores enabled Rodrigo to recover another town from the pagans.

Delighted with this new accession of territory, Ferrando knighted Rodrigo, who meantime had added to his title of the Cid that of Campeador, "the champion," and hereafter was often mentioned as "the one born in a fortunate hour." In addition, the king bestowed upon Rodrigo the governorship of the cities of Coimbra and Zamorra, which were to be reoccupied by Christians.

Shortly after this, the Pope demanded that Ferrando do homage to the empire, but the king rejoined that Spain was independent and therefore refused to obey. Hearing that large forces were marching against him to compel him to submit, Ferrando placed the Cid at the head of an army, and our hero not only defeated the enemy at Tobosa, but won so brilliant a victory that the Pope never ventured to renew his demands.

Feeling death draw near, Ferrando divided his realm between his sons, who became kings of Castile, Leon, and Gallicia, and bestowed upon his daughters the cities of Zamorra and Toro. Although disappointed not to inherit the whole realm, the eldest prince, Don Sancho, dared not oppose his father's will, until one of his brothers proceeded to dispossess one of their sisters. Under the plea that the promise made to their father had already been broken, Don Sancho now set out to conquer the whole realm, but proved so unfortunate in his first battle as to fall into his brother's hands. There he would have remained for the rest of his life, had not the Cid delivered him, taken his captor, and confiscated his realm in Sancho's behalf. Hearing this, the third king, Alfonso, clamored for his share of his brother's spoil, and, as none was allotted him, declared war in his turn. In this campaign Sancho proved victorious only when the Cid fought in his behalf, and the struggle resulted in the imprisonment of Alfonso, who would have been slain had not his sister asked that he be allowed to enter a monastery. From there Alfonso soon effected his escape, and hastened to seek refuge among the Moors at Toledo.

Don Sancho, having meantime assumed all three crowns, became anxious to dispossess his sister of Zamorra. But the Cid refused to take part in so unchivalrous a deed, and thereby so angered the king that he vowed he would exile him. When the Cid promptly rejoined that in that case he would hasten to Toledo and offer his services to Alfonso to help him recover all he had lost, Sancho repented and apologized. He did not, however, relinquish his project of despoiling his sister of Zamorra, but merely dispensed the Cid from accompanying him.

Because Zamorra was well defended by Vellido Dolfos,—the princess' captain,—King Sancho was not able to take it. He so sorely beset the inhabitants, however, that Vellido Dolfos resolved to get the better of him by strategy. Feigning to be driven out of the city, he secretly joined Don Sancho, and offered to deliver the city into his hands if the king would only accompany him to a side gate. Notwithstanding adverse omens, the credulous Sancho, believing him, rode off, only to meet his death at the postern gate, inside of which his murderer immediately took refuge.

On learning that his master has been slain, the Cid hastened to avenge him, and, as Sancho had left no heir, proclaimed Alfonso his successor. We are told that this young prince had already heard of his brother's death through a message from his sister, and, fearing the Moors would not allow him to depart for good, had merely asked permission to visit his kin. The wary Moorish king consented, but only on condition Alfonso would promise never to attack him or his sons, should he become king.

When Alfonso arrived at Zamorra, all the Spaniards readily did homage to him save the Cid, who refused to have anything to do with him until he had solemnly sworn he had no share in his brother's death. To satisfy the Cid, therefore, Alfonso and twelve of his men took a threefold oath in the church of Burgos; but it is said Alfonso never forgave the humiliation which the Cid thus inflicted upon him.

The new monarch proved to be a wise ruler for the kingdoms of Leon, Castile, Gallicia, and Portugal. He was not without his troubles, however, for shortly after his succession the Cid quarrelled with one of his nobles. Next the Moorish kings became disunited and Alfonso's former host summoned him to his aid. Not only did Alfonso assist this king of Toledo, but invited him into his camp, where he forced him to release him from the promise made on leaving his city. Not daring to refuse while in the power of the Christians, the Moorish king reluctantly consented, and was surprised and delighted to hear Alfonso immediately renew the oath, for, while not willing to be friends with the Moors under compulsion, he had no objection to enter into an alliance with them of his own free will.

Not long after this the king of Navarre sent forth his champion to challenge one of Alfonso's, the stake this time being three castles which the Cid won. But the Moors, taking advantage of the Cid's illness which followed this battle, rose up against Alfonso, who was compelled to wage war against them. In this campaign he would have fallen into the enemy's hands had not the Cid risen from his sick-bed to extricate him from peril! By this time the renown of the Cid was so great, that people in speaking of him invariably termed him "the Perfect One," thereby arousing such jealousy among the courtiers, that they persuaded Alfonso his subject was trying to outshine him! In anger the king decreed Rodrigo's immediate banishment, and, instead of allowing him the customary thirty days to prepare for departure, threatened to put him to death were he found within the land nine days later! As soon as the Cid informed his friends he was banished, one and all promised to follow wherever he went, as did his devoted cousin Alvar Fanez.

It is at this point that the present poem of the Cid begins, for the ballads covering the foregoing part of the Cid's life exist only in a fragmentary state. We are told that the decree of banishment proved a signal for the courtiers to plunder the hero's house, and that the Cid gazing sadly upon its ruins exclaimed, "My enemies have done this!" Then, seeing a poor woman stand by, he bade her secure her share, adding that for his part he would henceforth live by pillaging the Moors, but that the day would come when he would return home laden with honors.

On his way to Burgos the Cid was somewhat cheered by good omens, and was joined by so many knights in quest of adventure that no less than sixty banners fluttered behind him. A royal messenger had, however, preceded him to this city, to forbid the people to show him hospitality and to close his own house against him. The only person who dared inform the Cid of this fact was a little maid, who tremblingly reported that he was to be debarred from all assistance.

  "O thou that in a happy hour didst gird thee with the sword,
  It is the order of the king; we dare not, O my lord!
  Sealed with his royal seal hath come his letter to forbid
  The Burgos folk to open door, or shelter thee, my Cid.
  Our goods, our homes, our very eyes, in this are all at stake;
  And small the gain to thee, though we meet ruin for thy sake.
  Go, and God prosper thee in all that thou dost undertake."[13]

Pausing at the church only long enough to say a prayer, the Cid rode out of the gates of Burgos and camped on a neighboring hill, where his nephew Martin Antolinez brought him bread and wine, declaring he would henceforth share the Cid's fortunes in defiance of the king. It was to this relative that the Cid confided the fact that he was without funds and must raise enough money to defray present expenses. Putting their heads together, these two then decided to fill two huge chests with sand, and offer them to a couple of Jews in Burgos for six hundred marks, stating the chests contained treasures too heavy and valuable to be taken into exile, and assuring them that, if they solemnly pledged themselves not to open the chests for a year, they could then claim them, provided the Cid had not redeemed them in the meanwhile. Trusting to the Cid's word and hoping to enrich themselves by this transaction, the Jews gladly lent the six hundred marks and bore away the heavy chests.

Having thus secured the required supplies, the Cid proceeded to San Pedro de Cardena, where he entrusted his wife Ximena and two daughters to the care of the prior, leaving behind him funds enough to defray all their expenses. Then, although parting with his family was as hard as "when a finger-nail is torn from the flesh," the Cid rode away, crossing the frontier just as the nine days ended. He was there greatly cheered by a vision of the angel Gabriel, who assured him all would be well with him.

  The prayer was said, the mass was sung, they mounted to depart;
  My Cid a moment stayed to press Ximena to his heart:
  Ximena kissed his hand, as one distraught with grief was she:
  He looked upon his daughters: "These to God I leave," said he;
  "Unto our lady and to God, Father of all below;
  He knows if we shall meet again:—and now, sirs, let us go."

  As when the finger-nail from out the flesh is torn away,
  Even so sharp to him and them the parting pang that day.
  Then to his saddle sprang my Cid, and forth his vassals led;
  But ever as he rode, to those behind he turned his head.

Entering the land of the Moors with a force of three hundred men, the Cid immediately proceeded to take a castle and to besiege the city of Alcocer. But this town resisted so bravely, that after fifteen weeks the Cid decided to effect by strategy the entrance denied by force. Feigning discouragement, he, therefore, left his camp, whereupon the inhabitants immediately poured out of the city to visit it, leaving the gates wide open behind them. The Cid, who was merely hiding near by, now cleverly cut off their retreat and thus entered Alcocer through wide-open gates.

No sooner did the Moors learn that the Cid had conquered this important place, than they hastened to besiege it, cutting off the water supply, to compel the Christians to come out. To prevent his men from perishing of thirst, the Cid made so vigorous a sortie that he not only drove the enemy away, but captured their baggage, thus winning so much booty that he was able to send thirty caparisoned steeds to Alfonso, as well as rich gifts in money to his wife. In return, the bearer of these welcome tokens was informed by King Alfonso that Rodrigo would shortly be pardoned and recalled.

Meanwhile the Cid, leaving Alcocer, had taken up his abode on the hill near Medina, which still bears his name. Thence he proceeded to the forest of Tebar, where he again fought so successfully against the Moors that he compelled the city of Saragossa to pay tribute to him. Rumors of these triumphs enticed hundreds of Castilian knights to join him, and with their aid he outwitted all the attempts the Moors made to regain their lost possessions. We are also told that in one of these battles the Cid took prisoner Don Ramon, who refused to eat until free. Seeing this, the Cid took his sword, Colada, and promised to set him and his kinsmen free if they would only eat enough to have strength to depart. Although doubtful whether this promise would be kept, Don Ramon and his follows partook of food and rode away, constantly turning their heads to make sure that they were not pursued.

  He spurred his steed, but, as he rode, a backward glance he bent,
  Still fearing to the last my Cid his promise would repent:
  A thing, the world itself to win, my Cid would not have done:
  No perfidy was ever found in him, the Perfect One.

As some of his subjects were sorely persecuted by the Moors, Alfonso now sent word to the Cid to punish them, a task the hero promised to perform, provided the king would pledge himself never again to banish a man without giving him thirty days' notice, and to make sundry other wise reforms in his laws. Having thus secured inestimable boons for his fellow-countrymen, the Cid proceeded to besiege sundry Moorish castles, all of which he took, winning thereby much booty. Having thus served his monarch, the Cid was recalled in triumph to Castile, where he was told to keep all he had won from the Moors. In return the Cid helped Alfonso to secure Toledo, seeing the king with whom this king had sworn alliance was now dead. It was while the siege of this city was taking place that Bishop Jerome was favored by a vision of St. Isidro, who predicted they would take the city, a promise verified in 1085, when the Cid's was the first Christian banner to float above its walls. Our hero now became governor of this town, but, although he continued to wage war against the Moors, his successes had made the courtiers so jealous that they induced the king to imprison Ximena and her daughters.

Perceiving he was no longer in favor at court, the Cid haughtily withdrew, and, when Alfonso came down into Valencia, demanding that the cities which had hitherto paid tribute to his subject should now do so to him, the Cid retaliated by invading Alfonso's realm. None of the courtiers daring to oppose him, Alfonso had cause bitterly to repent of what he had done, and humbly assured his powerful subject he would never molest him again. Ever ready to forgive an ungrateful master, the Cid withdrew, and for a time king and subject lived in peace.

Although the Cid had permitted the Moors to remain in the cities he had conquered, they proved rather restive under the Christian yoke, and guided by Abeniaf finally told the Moors in Northern Africa that if they would only cross the sea they would deliver Valencia into their hands. But this conspiracy soon became known to the Moors who favored the Cid, and they immediately notified him, holding their town which was in dire peril for twelve days.

To keep his promise, Abeniaf finally hauled some of the Moors up over the walls by means of ropes, and the presence of these foes in their midst compelled the Moors who favored the Cid to leave the city in disguise, thus allowing Abeniaf and his allies to plunder right and left and even to murder the Moorish king. This done, Abeniaf himself assumed the regal authority, and began to govern the city in such an arbitrary way that he soon managed to offend even his own friends.

Meantime the Moors who had fled rejoined the Cid, and, when they reported what had occurred, Rodrigo wrote to Abeniaf, reproaching him for his treachery and demanding the surrender of the property he had left in town. Because Abeniaf replied that his allies had taken possession of it, the Cid termed him a traitor and swore he would secure revenge. Thereupon our hero set out with an army, and, finding himself unable to take the city by assault, began to besiege it, pulling down the houses in the suburbs to secure necessary materials to construct his camp. Then he began a systematic attack on the city, mastering one of its defences after another, and carrying on the siege with such vigor that he thereby won additional glory. All the Moorish captives taken were sent out through his lines into the open country, where they were invited to pursue their agricultural avocations, and assured protection, provided they would pay tribute of one-tenth of the produce of their lands.

Meantime the people in the besieged city suffered so sorely from hunger, that they finally sent word they would treat with the Cid if he would allow Abeniaf and his followers to leave the country unharmed. The Cid having consented to this proposal, the invading Moors withdrew to Morocco, whence, however, they soon returned in increased numbers to recapture Valencia and take their revenge upon Abeniaf, who had proved treacherous to them too. To check the advance of this foe, the Cid flooded the country by opening the sluices in the irrigation canals, and the invaders, fancying themselves in danger of drowning, beat a hasty retreat. Because Abeniaf took advantage of these circumstances to turn traitor again, the Cid besieged him in Valencia for nine months, during which the famine became so intense that the inhabitants resorted to all manner of expedients to satisfy their hunger.

Throughout this campaign the Cid ate his meals in public, sitting by himself at a high table and assigning the one next him to the warriors who won the most distinction in battle. This table was headed by Alvar Fanez, surrounded by the most famous knights. A notorious coward, pretending to have done great deeds, advanced one day to claim a seat among the heroes. Perceiving his intention, the Cid called him to come and sit with him, whereupon the knight became so elated that when he again found himself on the field of battle he actually did wonders! Seeing his efforts, the Cid generously encouraged him and, after he had shown himself brave indeed, publicly bade him sit with the distinguished knights.

The city of Valencia having finally opened its gates, the Cid marched in with a train of provision-wagons, for he longed to relieve the starving. Then, sending for the principal magistrates, he expressed commiseration for their sufferings, adding that he would treat the people fairly, provided they proved loyal in their turn. But, instead of occupying the city itself, he and the Christians returned to the suburbs, enjoining upon the Moorish governor to maintain order among his people, and slay none but Abeniaf, who had proved traitor to all.

Soon after, seeing that the Moors and Christians would never be able to live in peace within the same enclosure, the Cid appointed another place of abode for the Moors. Then he and his followers marched into Valencia, which they proceeded to hold, in spite of sundry attempts on the part of the Moors to recover possession of so important a stronghold.

When the Moorish king of Seville ventured to attack the Cid, he and his thirty thousand men experienced defeat and many of his force were drowned in the river while trying to escape. Such was the amount of spoil obtained in this and other battles, that the Cid was able to make his soldiers rich beyond their dreams, although by this time he had a very large force, for new recruits constantly joined him during his wars with the Moors.

As the Cid had vowed on leaving home never to cut his beard until recalled, he was now a most venerable-looking man, with a beard of such length that it had to be bound out of his way by silken cords whenever he wanted to fight. Among those who now fought in the Cid's ranks was Hieronymo (Jerome), who became bishop of Valencia, and who, in his anxiety to restore the whole land to Christian rule, fought by the Cid's side, and invariably advised him to transform all captured mosques into Christian churches.

  But lo! all armed from head to heel the Bishop Jerome shows;
  He ever brings good fortune to my Cid where'er he goes.
  "Mass have I said, and now I come to join you in the fray;
  To strike a blow against the Moor in battle if I may,
  And in the field win honor for my order and my hand.
  It is for this that I am here, far from my native land.
  Unto Valencia did I come to cast my lot with you,
  All for the longing that I had to slay a Moor or two.
  And so, in warlike guise I come, with blazoned shield, and lance,
  That I may flesh my blade to-day, if God but give the chance.
  Then send me to the front to do the bidding of my heart:
  Grant me this favor that I ask, or else, my Cid, we part!"

Now that he had a fixed abiding place, the Cid bade Alvar Fanez and Martin Antolinez carry a rich present to Don Alfonso, and obtain his permission to bring his wife and daughters to Valencia. The same messengers were also laden with a reward for the Abbot of St. Pedro, under whose protection the Cid's family had taken refuge, and with funds to redeem the chests of sand from the Jews at Burgos, begging their pardon for the deception practised upon them and allowing them higher interest than they could ever have claimed. Not only did the messengers gallantly acquit themselves of this embassy, but boasted everywhere of the five pitched battles the Cid had won and of the eight towns now under his sway.

On learning that the Cid had conquered Valencia, Alfonso expressed keen delight, although his jealous courtiers did not hesitate to murmur they could have done as well! The monarch also granted permission to Donna Ximena and her daughters to join the Cid, and the three ladies set out with their escorts for Valencia. Nine miles outside this city, the Cid met them, mounted on his steed Bavieca, which he had won from the Moors, and, joyfully embracing wife and daughters, welcomed them to Valencia, where from the top of the Alcazar he bade them view the fertile country which paid tribute to him.

But, three months after the ladies' arrival, fifty thousand Moors crossed over from Africa to recover their lost territory. Hearing this, the Cid immediately laid in a stock of provisions, renewed his supplies of ammunition, and inspected the walls and engines of his towns to make sure they could resist. These preparations concluded, he told his wife and daughters they should now see with their own eyes how well he could fight! Soon after the Moors began besieging the city (1102), the Cid arranged that some of his troops should slip out and attack them from behind while he faced them. By this stratagem the Moors were caught between opposing forces, and overestimating their numbers fled in terror, allowing the Cid to triumph once more, although he had only four thousand men to oppose to their fifty thousand! Thanks to this panic of the Moors the Cid collected such huge quantities of booty, that he was able to send a hundred fully equipped horses to King Alfonso, as well as the tent which he had captured from the Moorish monarch. These gifts not only pleased Alfonso, but awed and silenced the courtiers, among whom were the Infantes of Carrion, who deemed it might be well to sue for the Cid's daughters, since the father was able to bestow such rich gifts. Having reached this decision, these scheming youths approached the king, who, counting upon his vassals' implicit obedience to his commands, promised they should marry as they wished.

When the bearers of the Cid's present, therefore, returned to Valencia, they bore a letter wherein Alfonso bade the Cid give his daughters in marriage to the Infantes of Carrion. Although this marriage suited neither the old hero nor his wife, both were far too loyal to oppose the king's wishes, and humbly sent word they would obey.

Then the Cid graciously went to meet his future sons-in-law. They were escorted to the banks of the Tagus by Alfonso himself, who there expressed surprise at the length of the Cid's beard, and seemed awed by the pomp with which he was surrounded, for at the banquet all the chief men ate out of dishes of gold and no one was asked to use anything less precious than silver. Not only did the Cid assure his future sons-in-law that his daughters should have rich dowries, but, the banquet ended, escorted them back to Valencia, where he entertained them royally.

The wedding festivities lasted fifteen days, but even after they were over the Infantes of Carrion tarried in Valencia, thus giving the Cid more than one opportunity to regret having bestowed his daughters' hands upon youths who possessed neither courage nor nobility of character. While the young men were still lingering in Valencia, it happened one afternoon—while the Cid lay sleeping in the hall—that a huge lion, kept in the court-yard for his amusement, escaped from its keepers. While those present immediately rushed forward to protect the sleeper, the Cid's sons-in-law, terrified at the sight of the monster, crept one beneath the hero's couch and the other over a wine-press, thus soiling his garments so he was not fit to be seen. At the lion's roar the Cid awoke. Seeing at a glance what had occurred, he sprang forward, then, laying a powerful hand on the animal's mane, compelled him to follow him out of the hall, and thrust him ignominiously back into his cage.

Because the Infantes had so plainly revealed their cowardice, people made fun of them, until they roused their resentment to such an extent that, when the Moors again threatened Valencia, they offered to go forth and defend the Cid. This show of courage simply delighted the old hero, who sallied forth accompanied by both sons-in-law and by the bishop, who was a mighty fighter. Although most of the warriors present did wonders on this occasion, the Infantes of Carrion were careful not to run any risk, although one of them purchased a horse which a soldier had won from the Moors, and shamelessly passed it off as his own trophy. Pleased to think this son-in-law had so distinguished himself, the Cid complimented him after the battle, where he himself had slain so many Moors and won so much booty that he was able to send another princely present to Alfonso. Perceiving they were still objects of mockery among the followers of the Cid, the Infantes now begged permission to take their wives home, although their real intention was to make these helpless girls pay for the insults they had received. Although the Cid little suspected this fact, he regretfully allowed his daughters to depart, and tried to please his sons-in-law by bestowing upon them the choice swords, Tizona and Colada, won in the course of his battles against the Moors.

Two days' journey from Valencia the Infantes prepared to carry out the revenge they had planned, but while conferring in regard to its details were overheard by a Moor, who, vowing he would have nothing to do with such cowards, left them unceremoniously. Sending on their main troops with a cousin of the girls, Felez Munoz, who served as their escort, the Infantes led their wives into a neighboring forest, where, after stripping them, they beat them cruelly, kicked them with their spurs, and abandoned them grievously wounded and trembling for their lives. When the Infantes rejoined their suite minus their wives, Felez Munoz, suspecting something was wrong, rode back hastily, and found his cousins in such a pitiful plight that they were too weak to speak. Casting his own cloak about the nearly naked women, he tenderly bore them into a thicket, where they could lie in safety while he watched over them all night, for he did not dare leave them to go in quest of aid. At dawn he hurried off to a neighboring village and secured help. There, in the house of a kind man, the poor ladies were cared for, while their cousin hastened on to apprise the Cid of what had occurred.

Meantime the Infantes had met Alvar Fanez conveying to the king another present, and, on being asked where were their wives, carelessly rejoined they had left them behind. Ill pleased with such a report, Alvar Fanez and his troops hurried back in quest of the ladies, but found nothing save traces of blood, which made them suspect foul play. On discovering what had really happened to the Cid's daughters, Alvar Fanez hurried on to deliver the present to the king, and indignantly reported what treatment the Cid's daughters had undergone at the hands of the bridegrooms the king had chosen for them, informing him that since he had made the marriage it behooved him to see justice done. Horrified on hearing what had occurred, Alfonso summoned the Cortes, sending word to the Cid and to the Infantes to appear before it at Toledo three months hence.

Meantime the Cid, learning what had befallen his poor girls, hastened to them, took them home, and, hearing that the king himself would judge his case, decided to abide by the decision of the Cortes. At the end of the third month, therefore, the Cid's followers—who had preceded him—erected in the royal hall at Toledo the ivory seat he had won at Valencia, and Alfonso himself openly declared the Cid quite worthy to occupy a throne by his side, seeing no one had ever served him as well as the man whom the courtiers were always trying to belittle. The day for the solemn session having dawned, the Cid entered the hall, followed by a hundred knights, while the Infantes of Carrion appeared there with equal numbers, being afraid of an attack. When summoned to state his wrongs, the Cid quietly rose from his ivory throne, declaring that, having bestowed upon the Infantes two swords of great price, he demanded their return, since, as they refused to have anything more to do with his daughters, he could no longer consider them his sons. All present were amazed at the mildness of the Cid's speech and at his demanding merely the return of his swords, and the Infantes, glad to be let off so easily, promptly resigned both weapons into the Cid's hand. With his precious swords lying across his lap, the Cid now declared that having also given the Infantes large sums of money he wished those returned also, and, although the young men objected, the court sentenced them to pay the sum the Cid claimed. Both of these demands having been granted, the Cid next required satisfaction for the treatment the Infantes had inflicted upon his daughters, eloquently describing to the Cortes the cruelty and treachery used.

  "So please your Grace! once more upon your clemency I call;
   A grievance yet remains untold, the greatest grief of all.
   And let the court give ear, and weigh the wrong that hath been done.
   I hold myself dishonored by the lords of Carrion.
   Redress my combat they must yield; none other will I take.
   How now, Infantes! what excuse, what answer do ye make?
   Why have ye laid my heartstrings bare? In jest or earnest say,
   Have I offended you? and I will make amends to-day.

  "My daughters in your hands I placed the day that forth ye went,
   And rich in wealth and honors from Valencia were ye sent.
   Why did ye carry with you brides ye loved not, treacherous curs?
   Why tear their flesh in Corpes wood with saddle-girths and spurs,
   And leave them to the beasts of prey? Villains throughout were ye!
   What answer ye can make to this 'tis for the court to see."

When the Cid added that Alfonso was responsible for these unfortunate marriages, the monarch admitted the fact, and asked what the Infantes of Carrion could say in their own defence. Insolently they declared the Cid's daughters not worthy to mate with them, stating they had, on the whole, treated them better than they deserved by honoring them for a time with their attentions.

Had not the Cid forbidden his followers to speak until he granted permission, these words would have been avenged almost as soon as uttered. But, forgetting his previous orders, the aged Cid now demanded of Pero Mudo (Dumby) why he did not speak, whereupon this hero boldly struck one of the Infantes' party and challenged them all to fight.

Thus compelled to settle the difficulty by a judicial duel, the king bade the Infantes and their uncle be ready to meet the Cid's champions in the lists on the morrow. The poem describes the encounter thus:

  The marshals leave them face to face and from the lists are gone;
  Here stand the champions of my Cid, there those of Carrion;
  Each with his gaze intent and fixed upon his chosen foe,
  Their bucklers braced before their breasts, their lances pointing low,
  Their heads bent down, as each man leans above his saddle-bow.
  Then with one impulse every spur is in the charger's side,
  And earth itself is felt to shake beneath their furious stride;
  Till, midway meeting, three with three, in struggle fierce they lock,
  While all account them dead who hear the echo of the shock.

The cowardly Infantes, having been defeated, publicly confessed themselves in the wrong, and were ever after abhorred, while the Cid returned to Valencia with the spoils wrung from his adversaries, and proudly presented to his wife and daughters the three champions who had upheld their cause.

  He who a noble lady wrongs and casts aside—may he
  Meet like requital for his deeds, or worse, if worse there be.
  But let us leave them where they lie—their meed is all men's scorn.
  Turn we to speak of him that in a happy hour was born.
  Valencia the Great was glad, rejoiced at heart to see
  The honoured champions of her lord return in victory.

Shortly after this the Cid's pride was further salved by proposals of marriage from the princes of Aragon and Navarre, and thus his descendants in due time sat upon the thrones of these realms.

  And he that in a good hour was born, behold how he hath sped!
  His daughters now to higher rank and greater honor wed:
  Sought by Navarre and Aragon for queens his daughters twain;
  And monarchs of his blood to-day upon the thrones of Spain.

Five years now elapsed during which the Cid lived happy, honored by all and visited by embassies even from distant Persia. But the Cid was now old and felt his end near, for St. Peter visited him one night and warned him that, although he would die in thirty days, he would triumph over the Moors even after life had departed.

This assurance was most comforting, for hosts of Moors had suddenly crossed the seas and were about to besiege Valencia. Trusting in St. Peter's warning, the Cid made all his preparations for death, and, knowing his followers would never be able to hold the city after he was gone, bade them keep his demise secret, embalm his body, bind it firmly on his steed Bavieca, and boldly cut their way out of the city with him in their van.

Just as had been predicted, the Cid died on the thirtieth day after his vision, and, his corpse having been embalmed as he directed, his followers prepared to leave Valencia. To the amazement of the Moors, the gates of the city they were besieging were suddenly flung open wide, and out sallied the Christians with the Cid in their midst. The mere sight of this heroic leader caused such a panic, that the little troop of six hundred Christian knights safely conveyed their dead chief and his family through the enemy's serried ranks to Castile. Other detachments led by the bishop and Gil Diaz then drove these Moors back to Africa after securing immense spoil.

Seeing Valencia abandoned, the Moors whom the Cid had established without the city returned to take possession of their former houses, on one of which they discovered an inscription stating that the Cid Campeador was dead and would no longer dispute possession of the city.

Meantime the funeral procession had gone on to the Monastery of St. Pedro de Cardena, where the Cid was buried, as he requested, and where his marvellously preserved body sat in his ivory throne ten years, before it was placed in its present tomb.

For two years and a half the steed Bavieca was reverently tended by the Cid's followers, none of whom, however, ever presumed to bestride him. As for Ximena, having mounted guard over her husband's remains four years, she finally died, leaving grandchildren to rule over Navarre and Aragon.

  And so his honor in the land grows greater day by day.
  Upon the feast of Pentecost from life he passed away.
  For him and all of us the Grace of Christ let us implore.
  And here ye have the story of my Cid Campeador.


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