El Cid Routs the Muslim King Bucar, Driving Him Into the Sea

April 6, 2023

Jerome of Périgord, Bishop of Valencia. The French spelling of his name is Jérôme; the standard Latin form is Hieronymus, but in contemporary document it is sometimes spelled Jheronimus. He is sometimes called “of Périgueux”, after the capital of the region of Périgord.

On the next morning, at cock-crow, they, according to their custom, received the sacrament; and before the dawn broke they went forth from Valencia. When they had got through the narrow passes among the gardens, the Cid set his army in array. The front he gave to Alvar Fanez and to Pero Bermudez, who carried his banner; and he gave them five hundred horsemen and fifteen hundred footmen. In the right wing was the Bishop Don Hieronymo, with the same number of horse and foot; and in the left Martin Antolinez and Alvar Salvadores. The Cid came in the rear with a thousand horsemen, all in coats of mail, and twenty-five hundred footsoldiers. In this array they proceeded until they came in sight of the Moors.

A statue of Álvar Fáñez in Burgos, Spain.

As soon as the Cid saw their tents, he ordered to go more slowly, and he got upon his horse, Bavieca, and put himself in the front of the whole army, and his sons-in-law went with him. Then the Bishop said: “Cid, I left my own country and came to you through the desire I had to kill the Moors and to do honor to my order and to my own hands. Now I would be foremost in this business. I have my banner and will employ them so that my heart may rejoice. If you do not for love of me grant me this, I will go my ways from you.” But the Cid bade him do his pleasure.

Statue of Martín Antolínez. Photo by Larrea

Then the Moors came from their tents in haste, and formed their battle quickly and came against the Christians, with the sound of trumpets and tambourines. As they came in haste, not thinking the Cid would come against them so soon, they did not advance in order, as Bucar had commanded. When the Cid saw this, he ordered his banner to be carried forward, and bade his people lay on. The Bishop put spurs to his horse, and slew two Moors with the first two thrusts of his lance; the haft broke and then he took his sword. How the Bishop did fight! He soon felled five with his sword; the Moors came round him and laid on him a load of blows, but they could not pierce his armor. The Cid had his eyes upon him, and took his shield and placed it before him, and lowered his lance, and gave that good horse Bavieca the spur. With heart and soul he went at them and made his way into their ranks, smiting down seven and slaying four. Now the battle was very hot, and so great was the noise from the blows and the tambourines that no one could hear what another said. . . .

Then they all three advanced into the midst of the battle. But the power of the Moors was so great that they could not put them to flight, and the battle hung in the balance until noon. So many Moors and Christians were lying dead on the field that the horses could scarcely move among their bodies. But after noon the Cid and his men smote the Moors so hard that they could no longer stand against them, and they turned their backs and fled. The Christians followed, hewing them down, smiting and slaying. They drove them through their camp beyond it for seven miles. In this pursuit the Cid saw King Bucar and made at him, and the Moorish king knew him when he saw him coming. “Turn this way, Bucar,” cried the Cid, “you who came from beyond the sea to see the Cid with the long beard. We must greet each other and cut out a friendship.” – “I want no such friendship,” cried Bucar, and turned his horse and began to flee toward the sea, and the Cid after him. But Bucar had a good horse and fresh, while Bavieca had had a hard day’s work. When they were near the ships, the Cid saw that he could not reach him, so he threw his sword at him and struck him between the shoulders. But Bucar being badly wounded rode into the sea and got to a boat, and the Cid alighted and picked up his sword.

Then his people came up, hewing down the Moors before them, and the Moors in their fear ran into the sea, so that twice as many died in the water as in the battle. It is said that seventeen thousand were slain on the field, and that a greater number perished in the sea. Of the twenty-nine kings, seventeen were slain. When the Cid saw that some of the Moors had gotten to the ships, and that others were slain or captured, he returned toward their tents.

Calvin Dill Wilson, The Story of the Cid: For Young People (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1901), 227–31.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 873


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