After Years of Banishment and Having Conquered Valencia, El Cid Meets With King Alfonso VI of Castile

June 1, 2023

Then the Cid sent letters to the king saying that he would meet him as he commanded, and whatever the king wished he would do. When the king saw the letters, he was well pleased, and sent a reply appointing a meeting three weeks later upon the river Tagus.

Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, El Cid

The preparations for this meeting on both sides were of a splendid kind. The king sent a great supply of food to the Tagus; and he made ready his company upon the best horses and mules, and with streamers upon their spears, and shields adorned with gold and silver, and mantles and skins. . . . The Cid took with him many of his best knights; but he bade Alvar Salvadores and Galin Garcia and all those who were under them to remain and look with heart and soul after the safety of Valencia, and not open the gates of the Alcazar by day or night, for his wife and daughters were there. And he told these ladies that not one of them should stir out of the Alcazar till he returned. Then his company put spurs to their horses and set forth; more than a thousand knights, all ready for war, were in this company.

The king, Don Alfonso, arrived at the meeting place one day earlier than the Cid, and when he learned that the Cid was coming he went out more than three miles to meet him. When the Cid saw the king, he ordered his company to halt, and with fifteen of his best knights he alighted and took herbs from the ground put them between his teeth as if he would have eaten them, weeping for great joy. Thus he knew how to humble himself before his king; and he approached the king’s feet and would have kissed them, but the king said, “The hand, Cid, not the foot.” And the Cid drew near upon his knees, and said, “In this manner, give me your love, so that all may hear.” The king then said that he forgave him, and granted him his love with his heart and soul. The Cid kissed both his hands, being still upon his knees; and the king embraced him and gave him the kiss of peace. At this sight, all were well pleased, except Alvar Diez and Garcia Ordonez, who hated the Cid.

Alfonso VI of León and Castile

Then all went together to the town, the king and the Cid talking together on the way. And the Cid asked the king to eat with him, but the king said: “We arrived yesterday, and you came but now. You are not prepared. Do you and your company eat with me today, and tomorrow we will do as pleases you.” . . . Then the Cid’s company came up and kissed the king’s hand. So they alighted and went to the table. The king would have had the Cid sit at table with him, but he would not. Then the king ordered a high table to be placed for the Cid and Count Don Gonzalo, the father of the Infantes of Carrion.

All the while they were eating the king looked at the Cid and wondered at his great beard. On the next day, the king and his company were entertained by the Cid, and they agreed that they had not eaten better for three years. There was not a man there who did not eat upon silver, and the king and his chief men ate upon dishes and trenchers of gold. . . .

El Cid with Doña Jimena and his two daughters.

On the next day, after the Bishop had sung mass before the king, the king said to all who were assembled: “Counts and Infantes and knights, hear what I shall say to the Cid. Cid, I have appointed this meeting for two reasons. First, that I might see you, which I greatly desired, for I love you much for the many and great services you have done me, although I was at one time angry with you and banished you. But in spite of that you never did me a wrong, but on the other hand you have served me and have won Valencia and so enlarged Christendom. For these reasons I am bound to favor you and love you always. The second reason was that I might ask you for your two daughters, Doña Elvira and Doña Sol, that you would give them in marriage to the Infantes of Carrion, for I think this would be a suitable marriage and for your honor and good.”

Calvin Dill Wilson, The Story of the Cid: For Young People (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1901), 209–12.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 880


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