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The Cid.

From Myths and Legends of all nations
by Logan Marshall
Age suitability 8 Plus..

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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 Babieša," 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.


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