El Cid’s Wife and Daughters Join Him in Valencia

January 19, 2023

A statue of Álvar Fáñez in Burgos, Spain.

Then Alvar and Martin went to the monastery, where Doña Ximena and her daughters were like people beside themselves with the great joy they had, and they came out running on foot, weeping plenteously for joy. When the men saw them coming, they jumped off their horses and Alvar embraced his cousins, and their pleasure was unspeakable.

Then Doña Ximena asked how the Cid fared. Alvar said he had left him safe and sound in Valencia, and that he had won many castles from the Moors, and lastly the noble city of Valencia, to which he was now to carry her and her daughters, as the Cid had sent for them. When Doña Ximena heard this, she and her daughters fell on their knees and thanked God for the favor he had shown to the Cid and to them.

While they were getting ready for the journey Alvar sent three knights to the Cid to tell him how kindly they had been received by the king, and that he now waited only until Doña Ximena could be ready. Then Alvar began to deck the ladies with the best trappings that could be found in Burgos, and he provided a great company of damsels and good riding horses and mules. He gave the abbot the silver the Cid had sent for the monastery, and to pay all the expenses they had been at for Doña Ximena and her daughters.

El Cid with Doña Jimena and his two daughters.

All this caused a great stir in that region; and when the people learned of the permission the king had granted that as many as chose could join the Cid, sixty knights came to the monastery, and a great number of squires on foot. These Alvar was glad to welcome, and he promised them the friendship of the Cid. The abbot wept when Alvar departed, and bade him kiss the Cid’s hand, and say that the monastery would never forget him and would pray for him every day in the year. Then Alvar departed with his company, and after five days they came to Medina Celi.

Now the three knights that Alvar had sent came to the Cid and delivered the message. When the Cid heard this he rejoiced, and said, “Blessed be God, since King Don Alfonso rejoices in my good fortune.” Then he called for certain of his knights and for the bishop, and bade them take a hundred knights and go to Molina, to Abencano, who was his friend, and bid him take another hundred knights and go with them as fast as they could to Medina. “There,” said he, “you will find Alvar and my wife and daughters; bring them to me with great honor. I will remain here in Valencia, which has cost me so much. It would be folly for me to leave it.”

These men accordingly set off, and when they came to Molina, Abencano received them honorably and took with him two hundred knights. On the next day they took horse, and they crossed the mountains, which are great and wild, and passed Mata without fear, and they thought to go through the valley of Arbuxedo. The knights at Medina were keeping a good lookout, and Alvar sent a messenger to ask who these were who were coming. When he learned that men of the Cid had come to meet them, Alvar cried, “This instant let us to horse.” Then all mounted, and they rode on goodly horses with bells and trappings of silk, and they had shields round their necks, and lances with streamers in their hands. It was a brave sight to see Alvar with the ladies leave Castile.

Statue of Martín Antolínez. Photo by Larrea

The other party now came on spurring their horses, couching their spears and then raising them. When Abencano came up he kissed Alvar on the shoulder, for that was his custom, and he said, “On a good day, do you bring these ladies, the wife and daughters of the Cid, whom we all honor. Whatever ill we may wish him, we can do him none. In peace or in war, he will have our wealth, and he must be a fool who does not acknowledge this truth.”

At this Alvar smiled, and told him he should lose nothing by this service which he had done the Cid. Then they asked them to partake of supper, and Abencano said he was well pleased to eat with them, and that within three days he would return the entertainment twofold. They they entered Medina, and Alvar served them.

On the next morning, they all took horse and left Medina, passed the river Saloj, spurred up the valley of Acbuedo, and crossed the plain of Torancio. The ladies rode between the bishop and Alvar. When they came to Molina they were lodged in a rich house, and Abencano served them. He also had their horses new shod, and did for them all the honor that he could. On the next day they left Molina, and Abencano went with them.

When they were within nine miles of Valencia, news of their coming was brought to the Cid. Never had he such joy as then, for tidings had come of what he loved best. He ordered two hundred knights to go out to meet them, and he bade others keep the Alacazar and the other high towers and all the gates and entrances. Then he ordered them to bring his horse Bavieca, one that he had won a short time before, and he had never yet tried him. Then they saddled Bavieca and threw on his trappings. The Cid wore light armor and his surcoat over it; and his long beard seemed very beautiful. Then the Cid put spurs to Bavieca and ran a career with him, and all marveled at his speed, so that from that day Bavieca was famous all over Spain.

At the end of the course, the Cid alighted and went toward his wife and daughters. Who can tell the joy of that meeting? They fell at his feet, and their joy was such that they could not speak. He raised them up and embraced them and kissed them many times, weeping for joy that he saw them alive. Then he said, “you dear and honored wife, and ye my daughters, my heart and my soul, enter with me into Valencia, the inheritance which I have won for you.”

While they were thus rejoicing, the bishop, who had gone rapidly into the city and brought out the priests, came with the procession to meet them and make them welcome. Thus they entered the city. Then there were games in their honor and bull fights and all manner of sports. The Cid led them to the Alcazar, and took them to the highest tower of it, and there they looked about and saw Valencia, how it lay before them, and the great garden with its thick shade, and the sea on the other side.

Calvin Dill Wilson, The Story of the Cid: For Young People (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1901), 186–91.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 862

 

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