El Cid Is Banished From the Kingdom of León and Castile

May 5, 2022

Some time after this, the Moors began to make trouble, and Don Alfonso [VI, King of León and Castile] gathered his army and went against them, but the Cid was sick and could not go at that time. While the king was in Andalusia, a great host of Moors assembled on the other side and entered the country, and laid siege to the castle of Gormaz. By this time the Cid felt his strength return, and hearing the Moors were in the country, he gathered what men he could and went after them, but the Moors were so afraid that they began to fly. The Cid followed them as far as Toledo, slaying and killing, and he took seven thousand prisoners; then he and his people returned with great spoils and honor.

When the [Muslim] king of Toledo heard of the Cid’s deeds of burning and destroying in his country, he sent a complaint to Don Alfonso, and the king was much distressed. Then the Cid’s enemies who were about Alfonso said, “You see the Cid has broken your oath to the king of Toledo, and he has done this that the king of Toledo may come here to fight against us and slay us all.” This the king believed, as he had no love for the Cid since he had made him take the oath three times that he had not been guilty of the death of Don Sancho [his older brother and King of Castile and León before him]. So he hastened to Burgos, and sent for the Cid to come to him.

Alfonso VI, King of León and Castile

Now the Cid knew that the king did not feel kindly to him, and he made answer that he would meet Alfonso between Burgos and Bivar, his own town. When they had met there, the Cid went up and would have kissed the hand of the king, but Alfonso would not permit this, but said to him, “Sir, leave my land!” Then  the Cid put spurs to his mule, and rode to a piece of ground which was his inheritance, and answered, “I am not in your land, but in my own.” But the king answered angrily, “Go out of my kingdom at once!” The Cid replied, “Give me thirty days’ time, which is my right as a knight.” The king said he would not, but if he were not gone in nine days, he would go and look for him. The Cid’s enemies about the king were pleased at this, but the people were very sorry. Thus Alfonso and the Cid parted.

Then the Cid called for all his friends and relatives and vassals, and told them Alfonso had banished him, and asked if they would follow him. Then his cousin, Alvar Fanez, answered, “Cid, we will go with you wherever you go, and never fail you, and we will spend for you our wealth, and our mules and horses, and while we live will be your loyal friends and followers.” All the others agreed to what Alvar had said; and the Cid thanked them, and said there would come a time when he could reward them.

The terrain known as the “Solar del Cid”, where his house was located. The monument was erected in 1784.

As the Cid was about to depart, he looked toward his home, and saw it deserted, the doors open, the chests unfastened, no seats in the porch, no hawks upon the perches, and tears came into his eyes, and he said, “My enemies have done this.” Then he knelt down and prayed that he might be given strength to destroy all the Moors, and to win enough to reward his friends and all his followers. He called Alvar to him, and said, “Cousin, the poor have no part in the wrong the king has done us; see that no wrong be done to them.” An old woman who was standing at her door said, “Go in a lucky minute, and make spoil of whatever you wish.” As the Cid rode away, he said, “Friends, we shall return to Castile with great honor and riches.” As they went out from Bivar, they saw a crow to their right, and when they came to Burgos, they saw a crow to the left; and these they cosidered good signs.

The Cid entered Burgos with sixty banners. The people of the town stood at their windows as he passed, and wept, saying, “How good a vassal he is, if he had a good master.” And they would gladly have asked him into their houses, but they did not dare break the command of the king, for Don Alfonso had sent letters saying that if any one gave the Cid lodging he should lose all he had, and have his eyes put out.

Then the Cid went to his own door, and found it fastened, for fear of the king. His people called, but there was no answer from within. The Cid rode to the door, and gave it a kick with his foot, but did not break it, for it was strongly fastened. Then a little girl came from one of the houses, and said: “O Cid, the king has forbidden us to receive you. We dare not open the doors, lest we lose our heads, and all that we have, and our eyes.” When the Cid heard what the king had done, he went to the church and there knelt down and prayed. He then mounted his horse and rode from the town, and pitched his tent upon the sands, because there was no one who would receive him within his door.

The king had also commanded that no one in Burgos should sell him or his men food; but a nephew of the Cid, named Martin Antolinez, supplied the company with bread and wine. This man said: “Cid, we will rest here tonight, and tomorrow we will go away. I shall be accused for what I have done for you, but by following you I shall afterwhile have the king for my friend; and if not, I do not care a fig for what I leave behind.” And the Cid said to him: “You are a bold lancer; if I live, I will pay you double. You see I have nothing with me, and yet must have money for my followers. I will take two chests and fill them with sand, and do you go secretly to the Jews Rachel and Vidas, and tell them to come privately to me; and say to them that I cannot take my treasures with me because of their weight, but I wish to leave them in their hands for a small sum of money. Let them come for the chests at night. I say to you I do this thing from necessity; but I shall redeem the boxes honestly.”

Álvar Fáñez went his way to Castile

Now Rachel and Vidas were rich Jews to whom the Cid had been accustomed to bring the spoils he got in war, and to receive money for them. Martin went to these men, and taking them to a place where he could talk with them privately, he said: “Promise not to reveal what I say to Moor or Christian, and I will make you rich men forever. The Cid has two chests full of gold; but as the king is angry with him, he cannot carry them away without being seen. He wishes to leave them with you, and have you lend him money on them, if you will swear not to open them for a year.” Then the two Jews consulted together, and answered: “We know the Cid got riches among the Moors, and we will keep the chests. But how much money does he wish from us, and what interest will he pay?” Martin said he needed six hundred marks, and this the Jews agreed to advance. So they took horses and rode away; they did not cross the bridge, but forded the stream, so that no one should see them, and they came to the tent of the Cid.

In the meanwhile, the Cid had taken the two chests, that were covered with red leather and gold, and bound with iron, and each fastened with three locks, and he filled them with sand. When Rachel and Vidas had entered his tent, they kissed his hand, and the Cid smiled, saying, “ I am banished from the land by the king, but I have something to leave with you.” Then the Jews agreed to lend him the six hundred marks, and to not open the chests for a year. Martin said they should now take the chests, and he would go with them and bring the money, as the Cid wished soon to depart. So they took hold of the chests, and found them so heavy they could not lift them, and they were greatly pleased at their bargain. But Martin and his people helped them, and went with them to their home, where they placed the chests in safety, and gave Martin the marks in silver and gold, and he loaded this money on five of his men to carry. When this was done, Martin said to the Jews, “You see I got these chests for you and I deserve a pair of hose.” And the Jews said to each other, “Let us give him a good gift for what he has done.” And they gave him thirty marks to buy hose and a doublet and a cloak. Don Martin thanked them and took the marks and went away joyfully.

Monasterio de San Pedro de Cardeña, where El Cid’s family stayed. Photo by Jtspotau.

When Martin had returned to the Cid’s camp, they took their horses, and all the company set off, except Martin, who said he would follow them later, but he must first see his wife. At daybreak the Cid came to St. Pedro’s, where his own wife and children were, and the Abbot received him joyfully. The Cid told them all that he was a banished man, and he gave the Abbot fifty marks for himself, and a hundred for the Cid’s wife, Doña Ximena, and his children. And he said, “Abbot, I leave my wife and children in your care, and when this money is gone, supply them abundantly, and for every mark you spend I will give the monastery four.” The Abbot promised to do this with a right good will.

Then the Cid’s wife came up with her children in her arms, and she knelt before him, weeping bitterly, saying: “Now you are banished, and here I am with your little daughters. Tell me what we shall do.” The Cid took the children in his arms, and held them to his heart and wept, for he loved them dearly. And he said. “I shall yet live to give these daughters in marriage, and to serve you whom I love as my own soul.”

The Chapel of El Cid, Burgos. The original tombs of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar & his wife Doña Jimena. Photo by Jose Luis Filpo Cabana

That day a great feast was made in the monastery in honor of the Cid, and the bells rang merrily. When the people of Castile learned that the Cid was banished, they were filled with sorrow, and many left their houses and their honors to follow him. That day one hundred and fifteen knights came with Martin to join the Cid, and when  he saw such a company coming, he rejoiced, and rode out to meet them, and they kissed his hand.

Six days of the nine that were allowed the Cid to stay in Don Alfonso’s kingdom were now gone, and if after the nine days he was found within the king’s dominions, he would be attacked. That day they feasted, and in the evening the Cid divided all his money among his followers, and said they would meet early in the morning and depart. So long before daybreak the Abbot said prayers [Mass?], and then all left the church and took horse. The Cid embraced his wife and daughters and blessed them; and their parting was like taking the nail from the finger; and the Cid wept and looked around after them.

A section of the map of the map of the Way of El Cid’s banishment. The Monastery is on the far left.

Then Alvar Fanez came to him, and said: “Where is your courage, Cid? Think of our journey now. Your sorrow will yet be turned into joy.” And Alvar said to the Abbot, “If you see any who care to follow us, tell them our road, and bid them hasten that they may reach us.” Then they put spurs to their horses and hastened away.

That night they passed at Spinar de Can, and many people joined them, and on the next day they passed the borders of Castile; and they went by the Calzada de Quinea, and crossed the river Douro on rafts. That night, being the eighth, they rested at Figeruela, and many more men joined them. There the Cid had a vision, while he was asleep, as it is said; and the angel Gabriel appeared to him, saying, “Go on boldly and fear nothing; for everything shall go well with you as long as you live, and all that you begin shall end well, and you shall be rich and honored.” Then the Cid awoke and knelt down and thanked God for his mercy, as he was made glad by the vision.

The second panel that shows (in this part of the story) where El Cid was traveling through. Between Miedes de Atienza and Atienza, located on the middle-right.

Early on the next morning they started again, this being the last day of the nine. And they went on toward the Sierra de Miedes, and before sunset the Cid halted his company and counted them, finding that he had three hundred men with horses and lances, and a great many foot-soldiers. He ordered them to eat, as he said they must pass the mountain that night to get out of King Alfonso’s dominions, for on the morrow they might be attacked. After having eaten they hastened onward, and passed the Sierra that night.

Calvin Dill Wilson, The Story of the Cid: For Young People (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1901), 77–87.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 827

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