Like Others Before Him, the Sultan of Persia’s Ambassador Becomes Speechless Before the Cid

April 20, 2023

Some time after this, the great Sultan of Persia, who had heard of the greatness of the Cid and of his wonderful feats at arms, and how he had never been vanquished by any man, and how he had conquered many kings, Moors and Christians, and had won the great city of Valencia, and had defeated King Bucar of Morocco and twenty-nine kings with him, was anxious to gain his friendship. Holding him to be one of the noble men of the world, he sent messengers to him with great gifts, and with them one of his own kinsmen, an honorable man, with letters of love.

This kinsman reached the port of Valencia and sent word to the Cid of his arrival with a message from the great Sultan of Persia, who had sent him a present. The Cid was well pleased, and in the morning he took his horse and went out with all his company, and his knights rode before with lances erect. When they had gone about three miles, they met the messenger of the Sultan coming to Valencia; and when he saw the manner of his coming, he understood what a great man the Cid was.

As he drew near the Cid stopped his horse Bavieca and waited to receive him; and when the messenger came before the Cid and looked on him, his flesh began to tremble, and he wondered at his own fear; and his voice failed him, and he could not speak a word. The Cid said he was welcome and went forward to embrace him; but the Moor made no reply, being amazed. After he had somewhat recovered and could speak, he would have kissed the Cid’s hand, but the Cid would not give it to him, and he thought this was done from pride; but they made him understand that it was done to honor him. He was greatly rejoiced, and said: “I humble myself before you, O Cid, who are the fortunate one, the best Christian and the most honorable who has girded on a sword or bestrode a horse for a thousand years. The great Sultan of Persia, hearing of your great fame and renown, has sent me to salute you and receive you as his best friend. He has sent a present by me who am his kinsman, and beseeches you to receive it as from a friend.” . . .

. . . The Cid . . . called for the governor and bade him take the kinsman of the Sultan and lodge him in the Garden, and honor him as he would himself.

Great honor was done to this man, even as if he had been the Cid himself. When the governor and the Persian had eaten together, the stranger asked what manner of man the Cid was. The governor told him that the Cid was the bravest man in the world and the best knight, and one whose word never failed, and the best friend to his friend, and to his enemy the most deadly foe; that he was merciful to the vanquished and thoughtful and wise in all that he did, and that his face was one that no man could see for the first time without fear. “And this,” said the governor, “I have many times observed; for when any messengers of the Moors come before him, they are so abashed that they do not know where they are.” After the Persian heard this, he called to mind how it had been with him; and he said to the governor that as they were both Mahometans he asked him to keep secret what he would say, and he would tell his own experience; and this the governor promised, and he said that when he first saw the Cid he for a long time was not able to speak, and he thought this power was given him of God so that none of his enemies might behold his face without fear. After the Persian said this, the governor saw that he was a man of understanding, and he asked him if he would answer him a question; and the governor asked why the Sultan had sent so great a present to the Cid, and why he desired his friendship when he lived so far away.

Now the Persian thought the governor wished to find out the state of his master’s country, and that the Cid had told him to do this. And he made answer that the great renown of the Cid had moved his master to do this. But the governor said he thought there must have been some other motive. And the Persian saw that the governor understood him, and wished to know the whole matter; and he said he would tell him if he would keep it secret, and the governor promised that he would do this. Then he told him that a great Crusade had gone forth from Europe and had won Antioch, and now lay before Jerusalem. And the Sultan was afraid that the crusaders would take his country. The Sultan having heard of the greatness of the Cid, and thinking he would join the Crusade, wished to have his friendship. Then the governor said he believed this to be the truth.

Calvin Dill Wilson, The Story of the Cid: For Young People (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1901), 287–89, 291–93.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 875



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