El Cid Defeats Two Moorish Kings

June 2, 2022

Then the Moors in other places sent word to the king of Valencia that the Cid had come, and had taken Alcocer, and that if he were not stopped he would take the whole country. When the king of Valencia, whose name was Alcamin, heard this, he was much troubled, and he sent word to two Moorish kings who were his vassals to take three thousand horsemen and all the men they could gather, and to take the Cid alive, that he might punish him for coming into his land.

These kings, named Fariz and Galve, then set out and came with a great host against Alcocer, and pitched their tents round about the castle. And the Moors cut off the water supply, so that the Castilians would have sallied out and given battle, but this the Cid would not let them do. Thus they were besieged for three weeks, and when the fourth week began, the Cid called for Alvar and his company, and said: “You see that the Moors have cut off our water, and we have little bread. They increase in numbers every day, and we grow weak, and they are in their own country. They will not let us go out if we would; we cannot depart by night, for they surround us on all sides, and we cannot pass through the air nor into the ground. Now let us go out and fight them, though they are so many, and either conquer them or die bravely.”

Alvar answered: “We are banished from our own land, and if we do not conquer the Moors, they will not give us food. We are but few, but we are of a race of warriors, and are of one heart and one will. Let us therefore go out tomorrow early in the morning, and give them battle.” And they all thought well of what Alvar said. Then the Cid ordered all the Moors who were in the town to be put outside the gates, that they might not know what was to be done, and the rest of that day and night they passed in getting ready for the battle.

On the next day at sunrise the Cid and his men went out of the town, leaving only two foot-soldiers to keep the gates. When the Moorish scouts saw them they ran to the camp with the alarm. Then there was a noise of tambourines in the camp, as if the earth had been broken, and the Moors hurried to get their arms. The Moors drew up their men in two great bodies, and they moved forward, thinking to take the Cid and his men alive; and the Cid commanded his followers to stand still till he should bid them move.

But Pero Bermudez, who bore the Cid’s banner, could not endure to remain still, but holding the banner in his hand he cried, “Cid, I shall put your banner in the middle of that army, and you are bound to stand by it.” Then he began to spur his horse, while the Cid cried for him to stop as he loved him, but Pero answered that he would stop for nothing; and away he went and carried his banner into the middle of the Moors. Then the Moors fell upon him to get his banner, and hit him many hard blows to overthrow him. But as his armor was of the strongest kind, they could not pierce it, nor could they overthrow him, nor take the banner, for he was a man of great strength and most brave.

A statue of Álvar Fáñez in Burgos, Spain.

When the Cid saw him in this plight, he cried to his followers to move on to his help, and they placed their shield before their breasts, and lowering their lances, they bent forward and rode on. Each of the three hundred lancers slew a Moor at the first charge. “Smite them, knights!” cried the Campeador; “I am the Cid of Bivar.” Then began a terrific battle, in which many a shield was pierced, and many a corselet broken, and many a horse left without a rider. The Moors called on Mahomet, and the Christians on St. James, and the noise of the tambourines and the trumpets was so great that no man could hear his neighbor.

The Cid and his company rescued Pero Bermudez, and they rode through the host of the Moors, slaying as they went, and rode back in like manner, slaying thirteen hundred men. Wherever the Cid went on his gilt saddle, the Moors made a path for him, for he smote them without mercy. The Moors killed the horse of Alvar Fanez, and his lance was broken, and he fought with his sword on foot. When the Cid saw him, he singled out a Moor who rode a good horse, and cut him down, and gave the horse to Alvar, saying: “Mount, for you are my right hand.”

El Cid

They fell upon the Moors once again, and these having suffered great loss began to give way. The Cid, seeing King Fariz, rode toward him, cutting down all in his path; and when he had come up to him, he struck at him three times: two of these blows missed their aim, but the third went through his cuirass, so that the blood ran down his legs. Then Fariz, feeling himself sorely wounded, turned his horse and fled. Martin Antolinez gave King Galve a blow on the head, that scattered all the jewels from his helmet, and cut through it to the skin, and this king fled also. Seeing their kings retreating, the Moors began a general flight.

The Christians pursued them as far as Calatayud, and Alvar slew thirty-four men in this pursuit, and his arm was all red, and the blood dropped from his elbow. As Alvar was returning, he said, “I am now well pleased, for tidings will go to Castile how the Cid has won a battle against the Moors.” The Cid also turned back, and the hood of his mail hung down upon his shoulders, but his sword was still in his hand, and he rejoiced when he found that of all his people only fifteen had been killed. Then they gathered up the spoil, and found weapons of all kinds in abundance, and much wealth, besides five hundred and ten horses. The Cid divided the spoil fairly among all his men, and took the Moors who had been put out of the castle before the battle again into Alcocer, and gave them also a part of the booty, so that they were well content. And all the vassals of the Cid rejoiced with him. The Cid offered to give Alvar whatever he would take of the Cid’s fifth, for it was custom to allow the leader a fifth of all that was taken, but Alvar said he was content his own portion.

Calvin Dill Wilson, The Story of the Cid: For Young People (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1901), 92–97.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 831

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