The Cid





Unlike some of the other heroes told about in this book, the Cid was a

real man, whose name was Rodrigo Diaz, or Ruydiez. He was born in

Burgos in the eleventh century and won the name of "Cid," which means

"Conqueror," by defeating five Moorish kings. This happened after

Spain had been in the hands of the Arabs for more than three hundred

years, so it is small wonder that the Spaniards looked upon their hero

as a very remarkable man.



When Rodrigo was still a youth, his father, Diego Laynez, was grossly

insulted by Don Gomez. The custom in those days was to avenge such an

insult by slaying the offender; but Diego was too old and feeble to

bear arms. When he finally told his son of the wrong, Rodrigo sought

out Don Gomez and challenged him to fight. So bravely and skilfully

did Rodrigo manage his weapons that he slew his father's enemy. Then

he cut off the head and carried it to Diego.



Soon after this Diego bade his son do homage at King Ferdinand's

court. Rodrigo appeared before the king, but his bearing was so

defiant that Ferdinand was frightened, and banished him.



Rodrigo departed with three hundred followers, encountered some Moors,

who were invading Castile, defeated them and took five of their kings

captive, releasing them only after they had promised to pay tribute

and to refrain from further warfare. It was these kings who first

called him "Cid."



In return for his brave service Rodrigo was restored to favor and

given place among the king's courtiers.



One day Dona Ximena, daughter of Don Gomez, appeared and demanded

justice from the king. Recognizing Rodrigo among the courtiers, she

called to him to slay her also. But both demand and cry were unheeded,

for the king had been too well served by Rodrigo to listen to any

accusation against him.



Three times the maiden returned with the same request, and each time

she came she heard greater praise of the young hero. At last she

decided to alter her demand. A fourth time she returned, consenting to

forego all thoughts of vengeance if the king would order the young

hero to marry her. The Cid was very willing, for he had learned to

love the girl, admiring her beauty and spirit.



The marriage was celebrated with great pomp and the king gave Rodrigo

four cities as a marriage portion. Rodrigo, vowing that he would not

be worthy of his wife until he had won five battles, after a pious

pilgrimage to the shrine of the patron saint, hastened off to

Calahorra, a frontier town claimed by two kings--the kings of Castile

and Oregon.



It had been decided that the dispute over the town should be settled

by combat. Rodrigo became the champion of Ferdinand of Castile. The

other champion, Martin Gonzalez, began, as soon as the combat opened,

to taunt the Cid.



"Never again will you mount your favorite steed Babieca," he said,

"never will you return to your castle; never will you see your beloved

Ximena again."



But the Cid was undaunted, and had soon laid his enemy low. Great

praise then was given to the Cid--so great that the knights of Castile

were jealous and plotted to kill him. But the Moorish kings whom he

had captured and released warned him in time to avert the danger.





Then the Cid aided Ferdinand in defeating the hostile Moors in

Estremadura, after a siege of Coimbra lasting seven months. Several

other victories over his country's enemies were added to this, and

then Rodrigo returned to his beloved wife.



But not for long was he permitted to remain in the quiet of home.

Henry III, Emperor of Germany, complained to the Pope that King

Ferdinand had refused to acknowledge his superiority. The Pope sent a

message to Ferdinand, demanding homage and tribute. The demand angered

both Ferdinand and the Cid.



"Never yet have we done homage," cried the Cid, "and shall we now bow

to a stranger?"



A proud refusal was then sent to the Pope, and he, knowing of no

better way to settle the dispute, bade Henry send a champion to meet

Rodrigo. The emperor's champion was, of course, defeated, and all of

Ferdinand's enemies were so awed by the outcome of the fight that none

ever again demanded homage or tribute. Rodrigo was, indeed, a very

useful subject. When Ferdinand died, he was succeeded by his son, Don

Sancho. The latter, planning a visit to Rome, selected the Cid to

accompany him. Arriving, they found that in the preparations that had

been made for their reception a lower seat had been prepared for Don

Sancho than for the King of France. The Cid would not suffer such a

slight, and became so violent that the Pope excommunicated him.

Nevertheless, the seats were made of equal height, and the Cid, who

was a good Catholic, humbled himself before the Pope and was forgiven.



It was an age of great wars, and the Cid aided his king in many a

brave fight. At last, in the siege of Zamora, the king was

treacherously murdered, and, as he had no sons, Don Alfonso, his

brother, succeeded. When he arrived at Zamora the Cid refused to

acknowledge Alfonso until he should swear that he had no part in the

murder. The king, angered by the Cid's attitude, plotted revenge.

Opportunity came during a war with the Moors, and the Cid was banished

upon a slight pretext.



"I obey, O king," replied the Cid, when he heard the decree. "I am

more ready to serve you than you are to reward me. I pray that you may

never more in battle need the right arm and sword that so often served

your father."



Then the Cid rode away, through a crowd of weeping people, and camped

outside of the city until he could make definite plans. The people

longed to bring him food or offer him shelter, but they feared the

displeasure of the king. One old man, however, crept outside of the

city with food, declaring that he cared "not a fig" for Alfonso's

commands.



The Cid needed money, and to get it he pledged two locked coffers to

some Jews. The Jews in those days were much despised by the

Christians, though usually very wealthy. The men, thinking that the

boxes contained vast treasures, when in reality they were filled with

sand, advanced the Cid 600 marks of gold. Then the hero bade farewell

to his wife and children and rode away, vowing that he would return,

covered with glory and carrying with him rich spoils.



Within two weeks' time the Cid and his little band of followers had

captured two Moorish strongholds and carried off much spoil. The Cid

then prepared a truly royal present and sent it to the king. Alfonso,

upon receiving the gift, pardoned the Cid, and published an edict

permitting all who wished to join in the fight against the Moors to

join Rodrigo and his band.



Toledo, thanks to the valor of the Cid, soon fell into the hands of

Alfonso, but a misunderstanding arose and the king insulted the Cid.

The latter, in great rage, left the army and made a sudden raid on

Castile. Then the Moors, knowing that the Cid had departed, took

courage and captured Valencia. But the Cid, hearing of the disaster,

promptly returned, recaptured the city, and sent a message to Alfonso

asking for his wife and daughters. At the same time he sent more than

the promised sum of money to the Jews, who up to this time had not

learned that the coffers were filled with sand. To the messenger he

said:



"Tell them, that although they can find nothing in the coffers but

sand, they will find that the pure gold of my truth lies beneath the

sand."



As the Cid was now master of Valencia, and of vast wealth, his

daughters were sought in marriage by many suitors, and the marriage of

both girls was celebrated with great splendor. But the Counts of

Carrion, their husbands, were not brave men like the Cid, and after

lingering at Valencia in idleness for two years, their weakness was

clearly shown.



One evening while the Cid was sleeping, a lion broke loose from his

private menagerie and entered the room where he lay. The two princes,

who were playing in the room, fled, one in his haste falling into an

empty vat, and the other taking refuge behind the Cid's couch. The

roaring of the lion wakened the Cid, and jumping up he seized his

sword, caught the lion by the mane, led it back to its cage, and

calmly returned to his place.



The cowardly conduct of the Counts of Carrion roused the anger of the

Cid's followers, and in the siege of Valencia that followed their

conduct brought only contempt. When the Moors were finally driven away

the counts asked permission to return home with their brides and

gifts.



So the Cid parted from his daughters, weeping at the loss. The

procession started. The first morning the counts sent their escorts

ahead, and, left alone with their wives, stripped them of their

garments, beat them and kicked them, and left them for dead. But Felez

Munoz, a loyal follower of the Cid's, riding back, found the two

wives, bound up their wounds and obtained shelter for them in the

house of a poor man whose wife and daughters promised to nurse them.

Then he rode on to tell the Cid. The Cid swore that he would be

avenged, and as Alfonso was responsible for the marriage, he applied

to him for redress.



The king, who had long since forgiven the Cid and learned to value his

services, was very angry. A battle was finally arranged. The Counts of

Carrion and their uncle were defeated and banished, and the Cid

returned in triumph to Valencia. Here his daughters' second marriage

took place.



The Moors returned five years later, and the Cid was prepared to meet

them when he received a vision of St. Peter, predicting that he would

die within thirty days, but that even though dead he would triumph

over his enemy. He accordingly made preparations for his death, and

after appointing a successor, he gave instructions that none should

weep over his death, and that his body when embalmed should be set

upon his horse, Babieca, and that, with his sword Tizona in his hand,

he should be led on a certain day against the enemy.



The hero died and his successor together with his wife Ximena strove

to carry out his instructions. A battle was planned, and the Cid,

strapped upon his war horse, rode in the van. The Moors, filled with

terror, fled before him.



After the victory the body was placed in the Church of San Pedro de

Cardena, where for ten years it remained seated, in plain view of all.





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