El Cid Is Besieged in Valencia by King Yusuf of Morocco and a Large Army of Moors

February 2, 2023

Doña Ximena had been in Valencia three months, and March was coming, when news came to the Cid from beyond the sea that King Yucef, the son of the Miramamolin, who lived in Morocco, was setting out with fifty thousand men to besiege Valencia. When the Cid heard this, he gave orders that all his castles should be well stored with food, and that they should be put in good repair. He also had the walls of the city made ready, and he laid up supplies of food and all things necessary in war. And he gathered a great army of the Christians and Moors under his rule.

He had not more than made these preparations when he heard that Yucef was near at hand, and coming as fast as he could. Then the Cid assembled the Christians in the Alcazar, and stood on his feet before them, saying: “Friends and kinsmen and vassals, all the goods which I have in the world are here in Valencia. With hard labor I won this city, and I hold it for my heritage, and for nothing but death will I leave it. My daughters and my wife shall see me fight; they shall see with their own eyes our manner of living in this land, and how we get our bread. We will go out against the Moors and give them battle, and God who has thus far shown favor to us will continue to be our helper.” When they heard this, they all cried that they would do his bidding, and go out with him and fight under his banner, and that they were sure that by his good fortune the Moors would be conquered.

On the next day, the Cid took his wife by the hand and her daughters with her, and made them go up to the highest tower of the Alcazar, and they looked toward the sea and saw the army of the Moors, how they came on and began to pitch their tents around Valencia, beating their tambourines and making a great uproar. Then Ximena’s heart began to fail her, and she asked the Cid if he thought God would deliver them from these enemies. “Fear not,” said he, “you are but lately arrived in this land, and these people come to bring you a present, which shall be a marriage portion for your daughters. Fear not, for you shall see me fight; my heart kindles because you are here. The more Moors the more spoil.”

Just then the tambourines sounded with a great noise, and the sun was shining. “Cheer up,” said the Cid; “this is a glorious day.” But Ximena was seized with such fear as if her heart was broken; never before had she and her daughters felt such fear. Then the Cid stroked his beard, and said: “Fear not, all this is for your good. Before fifteen days are over, those tambourines shall be laid before you and shall be sounded for your amusement, and then they shall be given to the Bishop to hang them in the church of St. Mary.”

Now the Moors began to enter the gardens which were round about the town, and the watchmen saw them and struck the bell. The Cid looked back and saw Alvar Salvadores beside him, and he said: “Go now, and take two hundred horse and charge those Moors who are entering the gardens. Let Ximena and her daughters see the good-will you have to serve them.” Down went Alvar Salvadores in haste and ordered a bell to be rung which was a signal for two hundred knights to make ready; for the Cid had arranged the signals, so that the men knew when one hundred were called for, and two, and so forth.

Presently they were ready, and the gate nearest the gardens was opened, and the knights fell upon them fiercely, smiting and slaying. Great was the pleasure of the Cid to see how they behaved themselves. But Doña Ximena and her daughters stood trembling, like women who had never seen such things before; and when the Cid saw it, he made them seat themselves so that they could not behold the fight. The Bishop was mightily pleased to see how their men fought. Alvar and his men soon drove the enemy back to their tents, and then they turned back. But Alvar went on hacking and hewing, thinking the ladies were looking on, and he went on so far that, being alone, he was taken prisoner. The others returned to the city, having slain two hundred and fifty Moors. Then the Cid went down from the tower and received these men and praised them for what they had done. He was sorrowful that Alvar Salvadores had fallen into the hands of the Moors, but he trusted to rescue him on the next day.

Calvin Dill Wilson, The Story of the Cid: For Young People (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1901), 193–97.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 864


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