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