THE "CANTARES DE GESTA" AND THE "POEMA DEL CID"
When meat and drink is great plentye
"Guy and Collbrand," a romance
THE French origin of the cantares de gesta has already been alluded to. Their very name, indeed, bespeaks a Gallic source. But in justice to the national genius of Spain we trust that it has been made abundantly clear that the cantares speedily cast off the northern mode and robed themselves in Castilian garb. Some lands possess an individuality so powerful, a capacity of absorption and transmutation so exceptional, that all things, both physical and spiritual, which invade their borders become transfigured and speedily metamorphosed to suit their new environment. Of this magic of transformations Spain, with Egypt and America, seems to hold the especial secret. But transfigure the chansons of France as she might, the mould whence they came is apparent to those who are cognisant of their type and machinery. Nor could the character of their composers and professors be substantially altered, so that we must not be surprised to find that in Spain the trouvères and jongleurs of France trovadores and juglares. The trovador was the poet, the author, the juglar merely the singer or declaimer, although no very hard-and-fast line was drawn betwixt them. Some juglares of more than ordinary distinction were also the authors of the cantares they sang, while an unsuccessful
trovador might be forced to chant the verses of others. Instrumentalists or accompanists were known as juglares de peñola in contradistinction to the reciters or singers, juglares de boca .
The Singers of Old Spain
With the juglar, indeed, was left the final form of the cantar , for he would shape it and shear it, add to or suppress, as his instinct told him the taste of his audience demanded. Not infrequently he would try to pour the wine of a cantar into the bottle of a popular air, and if it overflowed and was spilt, so much the worse for the cantar. Frequently he was accompanied not only by an instrumentalist, but by a remendador, or mimic, who illustrated his tale in dumb show. These sons of the gay science were notoriously careless of their means of livelihood, and lived a hand-to-mouth existence. A crust of bread and a cup of wine sufficed them when silver was scarce. Unsullied by the lust of hire, they journeyed from hall to hall, from castle to castle, unmindful of all but their missionto suit the asperities of a barbarous age.
Our long dead brothers of the roundelay,
But this simple state did not last. As the taste for the cantares grew, the trovadores and their satellites, after the manner of mankind, became clamorous for the desirable things of life, making the age-long plea of the artist that the outward insignia of beauty are his very birthright, and forgetting how fatal it is to
Stain with wealth and power
These "spirits beyond the moon" did not, alas! "refuse the boon." Kings, infants and peers indulged the trovador out of full purses, flattered him by imitating his art and life, and even enrolled themselves in his brotherhood. Few men of genius are so constituted as to be able to control altogether a natural hauteur and superiority. In these early days poetical arrogance seems to have been as unchecked as military boastfulness, and the trovadores, pampered and fêted by prince and noble, at length grew insufferable in their intolerance and rapacity. The land swarmed with singers, real and pretended, the manner of whose lives became a scandal, even in a day when scandal was cheap. The public grew weary of the repetition of the cantares and the harping on a single string. It became fashionable to read romances instead of listening to them, and eventually, we see the juglares footing it on the highways of Spain, and declaiming at street-corners in a state of mendicancy more pitiable by far than their old indigent yet dignified conditions.
Few of the ancient cantares of Spain have survived, in contradistinction to the hundreds or more chansons that France can show. But what remains of them suffices to distinguish their type with sufficient clearness. As has been indicated, we owe our knowledge of more than one of them to the circumstance that they became embedded in the ancient chronicles of Spain. An excellent illustration of this process of literary embalming is provided by the manner in which the cantar of Bernaldo de Carpio has become encrusted in the rather dreary mass of the General Chronicle of Spain which was compiled by King Alfonso the Wise (c.1260), in which it will be found in the seventh and twelfth
chapters of the third part. The poet king states that he has founded his history of Bernaldo upon "old lays," and in the spirit as well as the form of his account of the legendary champion we can trace the influence of the cantar.
The Story of Bernaldo de Carpio
Young Bernaldo de Carpio, when he arrived at manhood, was, like many another hero of romance, unaware of his illustrious parentage, for his mother was a sister of Don Alfonso of Castile, and had wed in secret the brave and noble Count de Sandias de Saldaña. King Alfonso, bitterly offended that his sister should mate with one who was her inferior in rank, cast the Count into prison, where he caused him to be deprived of sight, and immured the princess in a cloister. Their son Bernaldo, however, he reared with care. While still a youth, Bernaldo rendered his uncle important services, but when he learned that his father languished in prison a great melancholy settled upon him, and he cared no more for the things that had once delighted him. Instead of mingling in the tourney or the dance, he put on deep mourning, and at last presented himself before King Alfonso and beseeched him to set his father at liberty.
Now Alfonso was greatly troubled when he knew that Bernaldo was aware of his lineage and of his fathers imprisonment, but his hatred for the man who had won his sister was greater than his love for his nephew. At first he made no reply, but sat plucking at his beard, so taken aback was he. But kings are not often at a loss, and Alfonso, thinking to brush matters aside by brusque words, frowned, and said sternly: "Bernaldo, as you
love me, speak no more of this matter. I swear to you that never in all the days of my life shall your father leave his prison."
"Sir," replied Bernaldo, "you are my king and may do whatsoever you shall hold for good, but I pray God that He will change your mind on this matter."
King Alfonso had no son of his own, and in an ill moment had proposed that Charlemagne, the mighty Emperor of the Franks, should be regarded as his successor. But his nobles remonstrated against his choice, and refused to receive a Frank as heir to the throne of Christian Spain. Charlemagne, learning of Alfonsos proposal, prepared to invade Spain on the pretext of expelling the Moors, but Alfonso, repenting of his intention to leave his crown to a foreigner, called his forces around him and allied himself with the Saracens. A battle, fierce and sustained, took place in the Pass of Roncesvalles, in which the Franks were signally defeated, chiefly by the address of Bernaldo, who slew the famous champion Roland with his own hand.
These and the other services of Bernaldo King Alfonso endeavored to reward. But neither gift nor guerdon would young Bernaldo receive at his hands, save only the freedom of his father. Again and again did the King promise to fulfil his request, but as often found an excuse for breaking his word, until at last Bernaldo, in bitter disappointment, renounced his allegiance and declared war against his treacherous uncle. The King, in dread of his nephews popularity and war-like ability, at last had recourse to a stratagem of the most dastardly kind. He assured Bernaldo of his fathers release if he would agree to the surrender of the great
castle of Carplo. The young champion immediately gave up its keys in person, and eagerly requested that his father might at once be restored to him. The treacherous Alfonso in answer pointed to a group of horsemen who approached at a gallop.
"Yonder, Bernaldo, is thy father," he said mockingly. "Go and embrace him."
"Bernaldo," says the chronicle, "went toward him and kissed his hand. But when he found it cold and saw that all his colour was black, he knew that he was dead; and with the grief he had from it he began to cry aloud and to make great moan, saying: 'Alas! Count Sandias, in an evil hour was I born, for never was man so lost as I am now for you; for since you are dead and my castle is gone, I know no counsel by which I may do aught.'" Some say in their cantares de gesta that the King then said: "Bernaldo, now is not the time for much talking, and therefore I bid you go straightway forth from my land."
Broken-hearted and utterly crushed by this final blow to his hopes, Bernaldo turned his horse's head and rode slowly away. And from that day his banner was not seen in Christian Spain, nor the echoes of his horn heard among her hills. Hopeless and desperate, he took service with the Moors. But his name lives in the romances and ballads of his native country as that of a great champion foully wronged by the treachery of an unjust and revengeful King.
Although the cantares of Fernan Gonzalez and the Children of Lara also lie embedded in the chronicles, I have preferred to deal with them in the chapter on the ballads, the form in which they are undoubtedly best known.
The "Poema del Cid"
But by far the most complete and characteristic of the cantares de gesta is the celebrated Poema del Cid, the title which has become attached to it in default of al knowledge of its original designation. That it is a cantar must be plain to all who possess even a slight familiarity with the chansons de gestes of France. Like many of the chansons heroes, the Cid experiences royal ingratitude, and is later taken back into favour. The stock phrases of the chansons, too, are constantly to be met with in the poem, and the atmosphere of boastful herohood arising from its pages strengthens the resemblance. There is also pretty clear proof that the author of the Poema had read or heard the Chanson de Roland. This is not to say that he practised the vile art of adaptation or the viler art of paraphrase, or in any way filched from the mighty epic of Roncesvalles. But superficial borrowings of incident appear, which are, however, amply redeemed by originality of treatment arid inspiration. The thought and expression are profoundly national nor does the language exhibit French influence, save, as has been said, in the matter of well-worn expressions, the clichés of medieval epic.
Its Only Manuscript
But one manuscript of the Poema del Cid is known, the handiwork of a certain Per or Pedro the Abbot. About the third quarter of the eighteenth century, Sanchez, the royal librarian, was led to suspect through certain bibliographical references that such a manuscript might exist in the neighbourhood of Bivar, the birthplace of the hero of the poem, and he succeeded in unearthing it in that village. The date at the end is given as[paragraph continues]
Mille CCXLV, and authorities are not agreed as to its significance, some holding that a vacant space showing an erasure after the second C is intentional, and that it should read 1245 (1207 new style). Others believe that I307 is the true date of the MS. However that may be, the poem itself is referred to a period not earlier than the middle of the twelfth nor later than the middle of the thirteenth century. As we possess it, the manuscript is in a rather mutilated and damaged condition. The commencement and title are lost, a page in the middle is missing, and the end has been sadly patched by an unskilful hand. Sanchez states, in his Poesías Castellanas anteriores al Siglo XV (1779 90) that he had seen a copy made in 1596 which showed that the MS. had the same deficiencies then as now.
Its Authorship Unknown
The personality of the author of the Poema del Cid will probably for ever remain unknown. He may have been a churchman, as Ormsby suggests, but I am inclined to the opinion that he was a professional trovador . The trouvères, rather than ecclesiastics, were responsible for such works in France, and why not the trovadores in Spain? 1 That the writer lived near the time of the
events he celebrated is plain, probably about half a century after the Cid sheathed his famous sword Colada for the last time. On the ground of various local allusions in the poem he has been claimed as a native of the Valle de Arbujuelo and as a monk of the monastery of Cardena, near Burgos. But these surmises have nothing but textual references to recommend them, and are only a little more probable than that which would make him an Asturian because he does not employ the diphthong ue. We have good grounds, however, for the assumption that he was at least a Castilian, and these are to be found in his fierce political animus against the kingdom of Leon and all that pertained to it. That Pedro the Abbot was merely a copyist is clear from his mishandling of the manuscript; for though we have to thank him for the preservation of the Poema, our gratitude is dashed with irritation at the manner in which he has passed it on to us, for his copy is replete with vain repetitions, he frequently runs two lines into one, and occasionally even transfers the matter of one line to another in his haste to be free of his task.
Other Cantares of the Cid
That other cantares relating to the Cid existed is positively known through the researches of Senor Don Ramón Menéndez Pidal, who has demonstrated that one of them was used in the most ancient version of the
Crónica General, of which three recensions evidently existed at different periods, and it is now clear that the passage in question does not come from the Poema as we have it, as was formerly believed. 2 The passages on the Cid in the second version of the Crónica are also derived from still another cantar on the popular hero, known as the Crónica Rimada, 3 or Cantar de Rodrigo, evidently the work of a juglar of Palencia, and which seems to be a mélange of several lost cantares relating to the Cid, as well as to other Spanish traditions. This version, however, is much later than the Poema, and is chiefly interesting as enshrining many traditions relative to the Cid as well as to the ancient folk-tales of Spain.
Metre of the "Poema del Cid"
It would certainly seem as if, like all cantares, the poem had been especially written for public recitation. The expression "0 senores," encountered in places, may be taken as the equivalent of the English " Listen, lordings," of such frequent occurrence in our own lays and romances, which was intended to appeal to the attention or spur the flagging interest of a medieval audience. The metre in which the poem is written is almost as unequal as its poetic quality. The prevailing line is the Alexandrine or fourteen-syllabled verse, but some lines run far over this average, while others are truncated in barbarous fashion, probably through the inattention or haste of the copyist. 4 It seems to me
that the Poema, although of the highest merit in many of its finest passages, has received the most extravagant eulogy, and I suspect that many of the English critics who descant so glibly upon its excellences have never perused it in its entirety. Considerable tracts of it are of the most pedestrian description, and in places it descends to a doggerel which recalls these metrical barbarities of the pantomime. Hut when the war-trump gives him the key it arouses the singer as it arouses Scott the parallel is an apt and almost exact one and it is a mighty orchestra indeed which breaks upon our ears. The lines surge and swell in true Homeric tempest-sound, and as we listen to the crash of Castilian spears upon the Moorish ranks we are reminded of those sounding lines in Swinburnes Erechtheus beginning:
With a trampling of drenched, red hoofs and an earthquake
But the music of the singer of the Poema does not depend upon reverberative effect alone. His is the true music of battle, burning the blood with keenest fire, and he has no need to rely solely upon the gallop of his
metrical war-horse to excite our admiration, as does the English poet.
The Poem Opens
The opening of the Poema del Cid, as we possess it, is indeed sufficiently striking and dramatic to console us for the loss of the original commencement. The great commander , banished (c. 1088) by royal order from the house of his father through the treachery of the Leonese party at the Court or King Alfonso, rides away disconsolately from the broken gates of his castle. A fairly accurate translation of this fine passage might read as follows:
He turns to see the ruined hold, the tears rail thick and fast,
The empty chests, the broken gates, all open to the blast.
Sans raiment am the wardrobes, reft of mantle and of vair,
The empty hollow of the hall of tapestry is hare.
No feather in the falconry, no hawk to come to hand,
A noble beggar must the Cid renounce his fathers land.
He sighed, but as a warrior sighs. "Now I shall not repine
All praise to Thee, our Father; for Thy grace to me and mine.
The slanderous tongue, the lying tale have wrought nay wreck to-day,
But 'Thou in Thy good due, O Lord, the debt wilt sure repay. "
As they rode out of Bivar flew a raven to the right,
By Burgos as they bridled the bird was still in sight
The Cid he shrugged his shoulders as the omen he espied;
"Greeting, Cousin Alvar Fañez; we am exiles now," he cried.
The sixty lances of the Cid rode clattering through the town;
From casement and from turret-top the burgherfolk looked down.
Sore were their hearts, and salt their eyen as Roderick rode by;
"There goes a worthy vassal who has known bad mastery."
And many a roof that night had sheltered Roderick and his band
But for the dead in Burgos of Alfonso's heavy hand.
The missive broad with kingly seals had run throughout the town:
"Who aids the Cid in banishment, his house shall be cast down."
So as the train rode through the streets each eye was turned aside,
All silent was the town-house where the Cid was wont to bide;
Both lock and bar were on the gates, he might not enter there.
Then from a casement spoke a maid who had the house in care:
"My lord Don Roderick, who took the sword in happy hour,
The King hath sent a letter broad to ban from hall and bower
Both thee and all thy company, 'tis doom to shelter one;
Never again who aids thee shall his eyes look on the sun.
Now go, and Goddés help with thee, thy pity we implore;
In all broad Spain thou canst not lack, O Cid Campeador."
Finding no place to lay their heads within the town, the Cid with his men rode disconsolately to the plain of Glera, to the east of Burgos, where he pitched his tents on the banks of the river Arlanzon. To him came Martin Antolinez, one of his former vassals, who brought food and wine for all his train and strove to comfort him. Not a maravedi had the Cid, and how to furnish his men with arms and food he knew not. But he and Antolinez took counsel together, and hit upon a plan by which they hoped to procure the necessary sinews of war. Taking two large chests, they covered them with red leather and studded them with gilt nails, so that they made a brave outward show. Then they filled the chests with sand from the river-banks and locked them securely.
Money-lending in the Eleventh Century
"Martin Antolinez," said the Cid, "thou art a true man and a good vassal. Go thou to the Jews Raquel and Vidas, and tell them I have much treasure which I desire to leave with them since it is too weighty to carry along with me. Pledge thou these chests with them for what may seem reasonable. I call God and all His saints to witness that I do this thing because I am driven to extremity and for the sake of those who depend upon me." Antolinez, rather fearful of his mission, sought out the Jews Raquel and Vidas where they counted out their
wealth and their profits. He told them that the Cid had levied much tribute which he found it impossible to carry him, and that he would pledge this with them if would lend him a reasonable sum upon it. But he stipulated that they must solemnly bind themselves not open the chests for a year to come. The Jews took counsel together, and consented to hide the chests and not to look upon their contents for a year at least.
"But tell us," they said, " what sum will content the Cid, and what interest will he give us for the year?"
"Needy men gather to my lord the Cid from all sides," said Antolinez. "He will require at least six hundred marks."
"We will willingly give that sum," said Raquel and "for the treasure of such a great lord as the Cid must indeed be immense."
"Hasten then," said Antolinez, "for night approaches, and my lord the Cid is under decree of banishment to quit Castile at once."
"Nay," said the Jews, after the manner of their kind. "Business is not done thus, but by first taking and then giving." They then requested to be taken to where the Cid lay, and having greeted him, paid over the sum agreed upon. They were surprised and delighted at the sight of the chests, and departed well satisfied, giving Antolinez a present or commission of thirty golden for the share he had taken in the business.
Donna Ximena *
When they had gone the Cid struck his camp and galloped through the night to the monastery of San Pedro de Cardena, where his lady, Donna Ximena, and his two young daughters lay. He found them
deeply engaged in prayer for his welfare, and received him with heartfelt expressions of joy. Taking the Abbot aside, the Cid explained to him that he about to fare forth on adventure in the country of the Moors, and tendered him such a sum as would provide for the maintenance of Donna Ximena and her daughters until his return, as well as a goodly bounty for convent's sake.
By this time tidings of the Cid's banishment had gone throughout the land broadcast, and so great was the fame of his prowess that cavaliers from near and far flocked to his banner. When he put foot in stirrup at bridge of Arlanza a hundred and fifty gentlemen had assembled to follow his fortunes. The parting with his wife and daughters presents a poignant picture of leave-taking:
Sharp as the pain when finger-nails are wrenched from off the hand
So felt the Cid this agony, but turned him to his hand,
And vaulted in the saddle, and forth led his menie,
But ever and anon he turned his streaming eyes to see
Their faces he might see no more, till blunt Minaya, irked
To see the yearning and regret that on his heartstrings worked
Cried out, "O born in a happy hour," 5 let not thy soul be sad.
The heart of knight on venture hound should never but be glad
The heavy sorrow of to-day will prove to-morrow's joy.
What grief can bide the trumpets' sound, what woe the hat ploy?"
Giving rein to their steeds, they galloped forth of the bounds of Christian Spain and, crossing the river Duero on rafts, stood upon Moorish soil. Far to the west they could see the slender minarets of the Saracen city of Ahilon glittering in the high sun of noon, emblematic
of the rich treasure they had come to win in the land of the paynim. At Higeruela still more good lances rallied to the Cid's banners, border men to whom the foray was a holiday and the breaking of spears the sweetest music. As he slept that night the Cid dreamed that the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him and said "Mount, O Cid Campeador, mount and ride. Thy cause is just. Whilst thou livest thou shalt prosper!"
With three hundred lances behind him, the Cid rode into the land of the Moors. He lay in ambush while Alvar Fañez and other knights made a foray toward Alcala. In their absence the Cid observed that the men of Castijon, a Moorish town hard by, came out of the place to work in the fields, leaving the gates open. He and his men made a dash at the gates, slew the handful of heathens who guarded them, and took the town without striking a score of blows. The men were well content at the treasure of gold and silver they found in the quaint Moorish houses. But they were merciful to the inhabitants, of whom they made servitors rather than slaves.
The Taking of Alcocer
After they had rested at Castijon, the Cid and his array rode down the valley of the Henares, passing by way of Alhamia to Bubierca and Ateca, and as he was in unknown country, and environed round by hosts of enemies, he took up a position upon a "round hill" near the strong Saracen city of Alcocer, to which he set siege. But the place was well guarded, and he saw that if he were to penetrate its defences it must be by stratagem and not by fighting alone. So one morning, after he had beleaguered Alcocer for full fifteen weeks, he withdrew
his men as if retreating in disgust, leaving but one pavilion behind him. When the Moors beheld his withdrawal they exalted, and in their eagerness to see what spoil the solitary tent might contain they rushed out of the town, leaving the gates open and unguarded.
Now when the Cid saw that there was a wide space between the Moors and the gate of Alcocer, he ordered his men to turn and fall upon the excited rabble of Saracens. Small need had he to ask them to smite the paynim. Dashing among the dense crowd with levelled lances, the cavaliers of Castile did fearful execution. The wretched Moors, taken completely by surprise, fled wildly in all directions, and soon the plain was littered with white-robed corpses. Meanwhile the Cid himself, with a few trusted followers, galloped to the gates and secured them, so that with much triumph the Spaniards entered Alcocer. As before, the Campeador was merciful to such of the Moors as made full surrender, saying, "We cannot sell them, and we shall gain nothing by cutting off their heads. Let us make them rather serve us."
The Saracens in the neighbouring towns of Ateca and Zerrel were aghast at the manner in which Alcocer had been taken, and sent word to the Moorish King of Valencia how one called Roderigo Diaz of Bivar, a Castilian outlaw, had come into their land to spoil it, and had already taken the strong city of Alcocer. When King Tamin of Valencia heard these tidings he was greatly wroth, and sent an army of three thousand well-appointed men against the Campeador. In his anger he charged his captains that they should take the Spanish renegade alive, and bring him where justice might be done to him.
The Cid knew nothing of the coming of this host, and one morning his sentinels, pacing the walls of Alcocer, were surprised to see the surrounding country alive with Moorish scouts, flitting from point to point upon their active jennets, and shaking their scimetars in menace. His own outposts soon brought in word that he was surrounded, and his knights and men-at-arms clamoured to be led forth to do battle with the infidels. But the Cid was old in Moorish warfare, and denied them for the moment. For days the enemy paraded around the walls of Alcocer. But the Cid, with three hundred men, knew well the folly of attacking three thousand, and bided his time.
The Combat With the Moorish King
At last the Moors succeeded in cutting off the water-supply of Alcocer. Provisions, too, were running low, and the Cid saw clearly that such a desperate situation demanded a desperate remedy. Alvar Fañez, ever panting for the fight like a war-horse that hears the trumpet, urged an immediate sally in force, and the Cid, knowing the high spirit of his men, consented. First he sent all the Moors out of the city and looked to its defences. Then, leaving but two men to guard the gate, he marshalled his array and issued forth from Alcocer with dressed ranks and in strict order of battle. And here prose must once more give place to verse. 6
Huzza! Huzza! The Moorman mounts and waves his crescent blade
Hark to the thunder of the drums, the trumps fanfaronade!
Around two glittering gonfanons the paynim take their stand,
Beneath each waving banners folds is massed a swarthy band.
The turbaned sons of Termagaunt sweep onward like the sea;
So trust they to engulf and drown the Christian chivalry.
"Now gentles, keep ye fast your seats," cries the Campeador,
"And hold your ranks, for such a charge saw never a knight before."
But the fierce heart of Bermuez that echoed to the drum
Cried, "Santiago, shall I stay the while these heathen come?
With this bold banner shall I pierce yon pride of paynimrie.
So follow, follow cavaliers, for Spain and Christendie!"
"Nay, comrade, stay!" implored the Cid, "but Pero shook his head.
His hand was loose upon the rein. "It may not be," he said;
Then in his destriers flank he drove the bright speed-making spur:
Like a spray-scattering ship he clove the sands of Alcocer.
Lost in a sea of Saracens, whose turbans surge as foam,
He stands unshaken as a cliff when on its bosom come
Madness of ocean and the wrath of seas that overwhelm.
So rain the hounds of Máhomet fierce blows on shield and helm.
"A rescue, rescue," cries the Cid, "and strike for Holy Land!
Up, gentlemen of Old Castile, and charge the heathen brood!"
As forth the hound when from the leash the hunters hand is taen,
As the unhooded falcon bounds, her jesses cast amain,
But fiercer far than falcon or the hounds unleashed zeal
Comes crashing down upon the foe the fury of Castile.
Now rally, rally, to the flash of Roderigos blade,
The champion of Bivar is here who never was gainsaid.
Three hundred levelled lances strike as one upon the foe.
Down, down in death upon the sand three hundred heathen go.
The lances rise, the lances fall, how fast the deadly play!
Ah, God! the sundered shields that lie in dreadful disarray.
The snow-white bannerets are dyed with blood of Moorish slain,
And charged rush all masterless across the littered plain.
As lightning circles Roderick's sword above the huddled foe,
With Alvar Fañez, Gustioz, and half a hundred moe
He reaps right bloodily. But stay, the Saracens have slain
Bold Alvar Fañez' destrier; to aid him comes amain
The Cid Campeador, for sore the brave Minaya's need.
His way is barred, his stride is marred by a tall emir's steed.
His falchion swoops, his falchion stoops, down sinks the turbaned lord.
"Mount in his place, Minaya, mount ! I need thy trenchant sword.
The phalanx of the foe is firm, unbroken still they stand."
The stout Minaya leaps in selle, and falchion in hand
Strews death to left and right, his trust to rout the Moor right soon.
But see, the Cid hath fiercely rid with blood-embroidered shoon
Upon the Moorish capitan, he cleaves his shining shield
The haughty Moslem turns to fly~that blow hath won the field.
Bold Martin Antolinez aims a stroke at Calve's head
The jewelled casque it cracks in twain, the infidel hath fled
Rather than bide its fellow; he and Fariz make retreat
They caracoled to victory, they gallop from defeat.
Neer was a field so worthy sung since first men sang of war.
Its laurels unto thee belong, O Cid Campeador!
Fierce and sanguinary was the pursuit. The Moorish rout was complete, and the little Castilian hand had lost it fifteen men. Five hundred Arab horses, heavily caparisoned, each with a splendid sword at the saddle-bow, fell into the hands of the Cid, who kept a fifth share for himself, as was the way with the commanders of such free companies as he led. But greatly desiring to make his peace with King Alfonso of Castile, he
sent the trusty Alvar Fañez to Court with thirty steeds saddled and bridled in the Moorish fashion.
But the Moors, even with the dust of defeat in their mouths, were not minded to leave the Cid the freedom of their borders, and seeing that he would not be able to hold Alcocer for long against their numbers, he bargained with the Saracens of the neighbouring cities for the ransom of Alcocer. This they gladly agreed to for three thousand marks of gold and silver, so, quitting the place, the Campeador pushed southward, and took up a position on a hill above the district of Mont'real. He laid all the Moorish towns in the neighbourhood under tribute, remaining in his new encampment full fifteen weeks.
Meanwhile Alvar Fañez had journeyed to the Court and had presented the King with the thirty good steeds taken in battle. "It is yet too soon to take the Cid back into favour," said Alfonso, "but since these horses come from the infidel, I scruple not to receive them. I pardon thee, Alvar Fañez, and withdraw my banishment from thee. But as to the Cid, I say no more than that any good lance who cares to join him may do so without hindrance from me."
The War with Raymond Berenger
Now the Count of Barcelona, Raymond Berenger, haughty and arrogant lord, conceived the presence of the Cid in a territory so near his own dominions to be an insult to himself, and in a high passion he mustered all his forces, Moorish as well as Christian, so that he might drive the Cid from the lands he held in tribute.
The Campeador, hearing of the advance of this host, sent a courteous message to Count Raymond, assuring
him of pacific intentions toward himself. But the Count felt that his personal dignity had been offended, and refused to receive the messenger.
When the Cid beheld the army of Raymond marching against his position on the heights of Mont'real, he knew that his overtures for peace had been in vain, and, dressing his ranks for the fierce combat that he knew must follow, took up a position upon the plain suitable for cavalry. The lightly armed Moorish horsemen of Berenger's host rushed precipitately to the attack, but were easily routed by the Castilian cavaliers. The Count's Frankish menat-arms1 a band of skilful and warlike mercenaries, then thundered down-hill upon the lances of the Cid. The shock was terrific, but brief was the combat, for the knights of Castile, hardened by constant warfare, speedily overthrew the Frankish horsemen. The Cid himself attacked Count Berenger, took him prisoner, and forced him to deliver up his famous sword Colada, which figures so prominently in the mighty deeds which follow. A falchion which tradition states is none other than this celebrated blade, the Spanish Excalibur, is still shown at the Armeria at Madrid, and all pious lovers of chivalry will gladly believe that it is the sword taken by the Campeador from the haughty Berenger, even though the profane point out that its hilt is obviously of the fifteenth century
Greatly content were they of the Cid's company with the victory no less than with the spoil, and a feast worthy of princes was prepared to celebrate the occasion.
In courtesy the Cid invited the defeated Count Raymond to feast with him, but he refused the invitation with hauteur, saying that his capture by outlaws had taken I away his appetite. Nettled at this display of rudeness,
the Cid told him that he would not see his realms again until he broke bread and drank wine with him. Three whole days did the Count refuse to touch all provender, and on the third day, the Cid promised him immediate freedom if he would break his fast. This was too much for the haughty Berenger, whose hunger now outmatched his scruples. "Powers above " exclaims the poet, "with what gust did he eat. His hands plied so quickly that my Cid 7 might not see their play." The Cid then gave him his liberty, and they parted on good terms.
"Ride on, ride on, my noble Count, a free Frank as thou art;
For all the spoil thou leavest me I thank thee from my heart.
And if to turn the chance of fate against me thou shalt come,
Right gladly shall I listen for the echoes of thy drum."
"Nay, Roderick, I leave in peace and peace I shall maintain;
For me thou sure hast spoil enow to count a twelvemonths gain."
He drove the spur, but backward glanced, he feared for treachery;
So black a thought the Cid had harboured not for Christendie.
No, not for all the wealthy world, who kept his soul in light.
Whose heart as his so free from guile, the very perfect knight?
The Cid Makes War Seaward
Turning from Huesca and Montalvan, the Cid began to make war towards the salt sea. His eastward march struck terror in the hearts of the Moors of Valencia. They took counsel together, and resolved to send such a host against him as they thought he might not withstand. But he routed them with such a slaughter that they dared face him no more. Three years did the Cid
war in that country, and his many conquests there were long to tell. He and his men sat themselves down in the land as kings, reaped its corn, and ate its bread. And a great famine came upon the Moor, so that thousands perished.
Now the Cid sent messengers to Castile and Aragon, who made it known that all Christians who came to dwell beneath his rule should fare well. Hearing this, thousands flocked to his banner, and so greatly was he reinforced that in time he was able to march against Valencia itself, the capital of the Moors of that country.
With all his host he sat down before that city and beleaguered it. Nine months he environed it, and in the tenth month the men of Valencia opened the gates and surrendered the place. Great was the booty of gold and silver and precious stuffs, so that there fell to his share alone treasure to the amount of thirty thousand marks, and he grew in greatness so that not only his own followers but the Moors of Eastern Spain began to look upon him as their rightful lord.
Beholding his puissance, the Moorish King of Serville grew greatly afraid, and resolved to bring the whole power of his kingdom against him. Collecting an army of ten thousand men, he marched against Valencia. But the Cid encountered him on the banks of the Huerta, and defeated him so completely that never again was he able to do him scathe.
The heart of the Cid now began to grow hopeful that his King would receive him into friendship and confidence once more. And he swore a great oath that for love of Alfonso he would never let his beard be shorn. "So," he said, "will my beard be famous among both Moors and Christians." Once more he sent Alvar
Fañez to Court with the gift of a hundred splendidly appointed horses of the purest Arab blood, praying that he might be permitted to bring his wife, Donna Ximena, and their daughters, to the possessions which he had carved out for himself by his good sword.
Meanwhile there had come to Valencia from the East a holy man, one Bishop Don Jerome, who had heard afar of the prowess of the Cid and longed to cross swords with the infidel. The Cid was well pleased with him, and founded a bishopric of Valencia for the doughty Christian, whose one thought was but to spread the worship of God and slay Saracens.
When Alvar Fañez reached the Court, he sought audience of King Alfonso, who was heartened to hear of the deeds of the Campeador, how he had routed the Moors in five pitched battles, made their lands subject to the crown of Castile, and erected a bishopric in the heart of paynimne, so that he readily granted per-mission that Donna Ximena and the ladies Elvira and Sol should go to Valencia. Hearing this, Count Garcia Ordoñez, of the Leonese party, who had secured the Cid's banishment and who cordially hated him, was greatly vexed. But the two Infantes or Princes of Carrión, in Leon, seeing how the Cid grew in power and importance, resolved to ask his daughters in marriage from the King, but meanwhile kept their counsel. The time had long passed when the Cid should have discharged his debt to the Jews Raquel and Vidas, and hearing that Alvar Fañez was at Court they came to him and begged that it might be paid. Fañez assured them that all should be done as the Cid had promised, and that only stress of constant warfare had kept his master from fulfilling his obligation to them. They
were perfectly satisfied with this assurance, and so greatly had they trusted the Cid that they had never opened the chests to examine the nature of the security he had given them.
The Cid Welcomes His Family
Alvar Fañez now made ready to set out for Valencia with Donna Ximena and the Cid's daughters, whom he safely conveyed to their new home. When he heard that they were near at hand, the Cid, who had only a few days before won his famous steed Babieca in a skirmish with the Moors, leapt upon the charger's back, and rode off at a gallop to meet them and welcome them to their new possessions. Greeting them with much affection, he led them to the castle, from the towers of which he showed them the lands he had won for them. And they gave thanks to God for a gift so fair.
Now there was great stirring among the Moors of Africa when they heard of the deeds of the Cid, and they held it for dishonour that he should have redeemed so great a part of Spain from their brothers of the Peninsula. Their king, Vussef, levied a mighty army of fifty thousand men, and, crossing the seas to Spain, marched upon Valencia, hoping to regain it for the Crescent. When the Cid heard this, he exclaimed "I thank God and the blessed Mother that I have my wife and daughters here. Now shall they see how we do battle with the Moors and win our bread in the land of the stranger'." The host of Yussef soon came in sight, and environed Valencia so closely that none might enter or leave it, and when the ladies beheld the great army which surrounded the city they were much afraid. But the Cid bade them be of good cheer. "Hearten ye," he
said, "for, see, marvellous great wealth conies to us. Here comes a dowry against the marriage of your daughters!"' 8
The Battle with King Bucar
Springing upon Babieca, the Cid led his lances against the Moors of Africa. Then began a contest great and grim. The Spanish spears were red that day, and the Cid plied his good blade Colada so terribly that the Saracens fell before his strokes like corn before the sickle. He aimed a great blow at King Vussef's helm, but the Moorish chieftain, avoiding it, gave his horse the rein and galloped off the field, his dusky host following him in head. long rout. Countless was the spoil in gold, silver, richly caparisoned horses, shields, swords, and body-armour.
Too wearied with ceaseless slaughter to give chase, the Cid rode back to where his wife and daughters had sat watching the progress of the battle, his dripping sword in his hand. "Homage to you, ladies," he cried. "Thus are Moors vanquished on the field of battle." But ever mindful of his King and liege-lord, he at once dispatched Alvar Fañez and Pero Bermuez to Court, with the tent of King Vussef and two hundred horses with their caparisons. Greatly pleased was Alfonso. "I receive the gift of the Cid willingly," he said, "and may the day of our reconciliation soon arrive."
The Infantes of Carrión, seeing that the reputation of the Cid increased daily, were now fully resolved to ask the daughters of the Campeador in marriage from the
King. Alfonso agreed to enter into negotiations with the Cid, not only for the hands of his daughters, but with the idea of effecting a reconciliation with him, for he was well aware of all the service which the Campeador had done him. So he sent for Alvar Fañez and Pero Bermuez and acquainted them with the offer of the Infantes of Carrión, requesting them to convey it to the Cid without loss of time and assuring him of his esteem.
The envoys hastened to Valencia and told the Cid how the King had sent him a gracious message, asking for the hands of his daughters for the Infantes of Carrión. The Cid was right joyful on hearing this. "What the King desires is my pleasure," he said, "though the Infantes of Carrión are haughty, and bad vassals to the Throne. But be it as God and the King wills."
Then the Campeador made great preparations and set out for the Court, and when the King knew he was approaching he went out to meet him. And the Cid went on his knees before the King and took the grass of the field in his teeth to humble himself before his lord. But Don Alfonso was troubled at the sight, and, raising him, assured him of his grace and affection, at which the Cid was greatly moved and wept joyfully. Then the King feasted the Cid bravely, and when the banquet was at an end asked for the hands of his daughters for the Infantes of Carrión. The Cid made reply that he and his daughters were in the King's hands and that Alfonso himself might give the damsels in marriage.
The Cids Daughters Wed
After some days spent in feasting and rejoicing, the Campeador returned to Valencia with the two Infantes
of Carrión. He told his wife and daughters that the marriage was of the King's making and not of his, as he was not without misgivings as to the result of the alliance. Nevertheless he made great preparations, as befitted the importance of such a ceremony with two of the greatest lords in Spain, and Donna Elvira and Donna Sol were espoused to the Infantes of Carrion in the church Santa Maria by the good warrior-bishop Jerome. The wedding celebrations lasted fifteen days, and the Cid had no reason to be dissatisfied with his sons-in-law who bore themselves as gallantly in the lists as in the dance.
The Adventure of the Lion
The Infantes of Carrión and their wives had remained in Valencia for about two years when a mishap befell. One day, during the time of the afternoon siesta, a lion, kept for baiting in the ring, broke loose from its cage and made its way into the palace. The Campeador reclined upon a couch asleep, but his dauntless followers gathered round him to protect him, all except the Infantes Carrión, one of whom crept beneath the couch on which the Cid slept, while the other made such speed to quit the palace that he fell across the beam of a wine-press and rent his robes. The clamour awoke the Cid, who rose, and, going to where the lion crouched, firmly place his hand on the brute's bristling mane and led him back to his cage. Nor did the lion resist, evidently knowing his master.
The Infantes of Carrión, when they knew all danger was past, came out of hiding, looking so pale and terrified that the hardy soldiers of the Cid could not restrain their laughter. At this the haughty northern grandees felt
deep insult and resentment and an unmanly feeling of revenge awoke in their hearts.
Within a few days of this incident news reached Valencia that Abu Bekr, the commander of the armies of the King of Morocco, was marching upon the city. The Cid and his captains rejoiced at the news, but not so the Infantes of Carrión, who took counsel together as to how they might avoid the fighting and return to their own territories.
Here a break occurs in the narrative, and from a later Passage it is clear that the missing lines relate to a test of the courage of at least one of the Infantes, who, stung by an imputation of cowardice, armed himself and set out to fight a Moor, who, however, put him to flight. But Pero Bermuez, to save the Cid's feelings, slew the Saracen and made it appear that the Infante had done so.
A Secret Service Story of "The Cid"
A most romantic tale hangs upon the first line of the next passage
"May the time come when I deserve as much of both of you."
The line is supposed to be the last in the speech of Pero Bermuez to the Infante Don Ferrando, who had probably expressed gratitude to him. The first English author to attempt a translation of the Poema del Cid was John Hookham Frere, the translator of the plays of Aristophanes, who was for some years British Minister at Madrid. He made a conjectural reading of the above line, which he communicated to the Marquis de la Romana. Some years later, in 1808, when the Marquis was commanding a body of troops in the French service in Denmark, Frere was able to accredit a confidential messenger to him, assuring the
Spanish commander of the genuineness of the message he carried by mention of the amended line, the correction in which was known only to the Marquis himself. The circumstance led to one of the most important movements in the war against Napoleon.
The Fighting Bishop
The Infantes of Carrión, who did not relish the idea of a protracted struggle with the Moors, resolved to betake themselves to the security of their own estates at the first opportunity. But, as if to shame them, warlike Bishop Jerome appeared before the Cid armed cap-à-pie and entreated his permission to take part the fighting. The Cid smilingly gave his assent, and no sooner had he done so than the doughty churchman mounted a great war-horse and, issuing out of the gates, galloped headlong against the Saracens. At the first onset he slew two of them outright, but had the misfortune to break his lance. Nothing daunted however, this ardent disciple of the Church militant, drew his sword and, brandishing it about his head like a trained knight-at-arms, flung himself once more upon the Moorish ranks with all the weight of his charger. Laying about him left and right, he killed or wounded a heathen with every blow. But the enemy closed round him, and it would have gone hard indeed with the fighting bishop had not the Cid, who had witnessed his gallantry with all a warrior's admiration for the deeds of another brave man, laid his lance in rest and, setting spurs to Babieca, plunged into the thickest of the fray. Beneath his terrific onset the lightly armed Moors gave way in terror. Wheeling, he came at them again, crashing through their ranks
like a tempest, and dealing death and destruction wherever he went, The Moors wavered, broke, and fled amain. The whole army of the Cid now bore down upon them, horse and man, bursting into their camp, breaking the tent-ropes, and dashing aside the gaudy Eastern pavilions where they had lodged.
Upon the terror-stricken ranks the horsemen of Castile
Came thundering down; King Bucar's men the iron tempest feel. And down to dust the severed arm, the severed steel-capped head Fall lifeless, and the charger's hoofs trample the gory dead.
"Ha! stay, King Bucar!" cries the Cid. "Now tarry, Moorish lord;
You came to seek me o'er the sea, mine is the peaceful word."
"If peace is in thy naked sword and in thy charging steed,
Then I would flee it," cried the King, and spurred his horse to speed.
With hasty stride the King doth ride straight for the open sea;
Spain's champion is at his side, never again will he
Know the delights of Algiers' halls; Colada shines on high:
Now whether by the sword or sea, King Bucar, wilt thou die?
The good blade shears the Moor in twain, down to the saddlebow;
So perished the Algerian lordmay every Moor die so!
And thus upon this day of fame the Cid his guerdon won,
Worth many a purse of minted marks, the noble blade Tizon!
Riding back from the fray, the Cid espied the Infantes of Carrión and welcomed them. "Now that they are brave will they be welcomed by the brave," he said, rather wistfully, to Alvar Fañez. The proud and shallow princes were wrathful when they overheard this, and the shadow of vengeance once more arose within their haughty hearts. " Let us take our leave of the Cid and return to Carrión," they said. "We have been flouted and insulted here by these banditti and their leader. On the way home we shall know how to avenge ourselves upon his daughters."
With this cowardly purpose they smilingly requested the Campeador to permit them to depart. Sorrowfully he granted it, and loading them with presents and bestowing upon them the famous swords Colada and Tizon, which he had himself taken in battle from the Moors, he requested Felix Muñoz, his nephew, to accompany the Infantes and his daughters to Carrión.
The Infantes Revenge
Great was the grief of the Cid and Donna Ximena at parting with the ladies Elvira and Sol, and they were not without some misgivings. But they charged Feliz Muñoz to keep good watch over their daughters, and this he promised to do. After journeying for some days the party had to traverse the great forest of Corpes. where in a glade they pitched pavilions and spent the night. In the morning the Infantes sent their suite on ahead, and, taking the saddle-girths from the horses, beat the unfortunate daughters of the Cid most cruelly. The wretched ladies begged for death rather than suffer such disgrace, but the cowardly Infantes, laughing scornfully, mocked them, cast them off, and so dealt with them that they left them for dead. "Thus," they said, "the dishonour of the affair of the lion is avenged," and mounting their horses they rode off.
As the deserted and dishonoured wives of the cowardly pair lay bleeding on the grass, Feliz Muñoz, their cousin, who had lodged during the night in another part of the forest, rode up, and seeing their piteous condition hastened to their relief. Having dressed their hurts to the best of his ability, he rode quickly to the nearest town and purchased clothing and horses
for them as befitted their station. When these tidings reached the Cid in Valencia great anger rose in his heart. He did not give it vent, however, but sat moodily pondering upon the dishonour done to his daughters. At last, after many hours, he spoke. " By my beard! he cried, "the Infantes of Carrión shall not profit by this." Soon the ladies Sol and Elvira arrived at Valencia, and he received them lovingly, but not compassionately. "Welcome, my daughters," said he. " God keep ye from evil! I accepted this marriage, for I dared not gainsay it. God grant that I see you better married hereafter, and that I have my revenge upon my sons-in-law of Carrión."
The Court at Toledo
Then the Cid dispatched messengers to King Alfonso, acquainting him of the great wrong done to his daughters by the Infantes, and pleading for justice. The King greatly wroth at the news, and ordered the Court to sit at Toledo and the Infantes to be summoned before him to answer for their crime. They begged to be excused attendance, but the King peremptorily refused to accept any apology or subterfuge, and demanded their instant compliance with his summons. With great misgivings they journeyed to Toledo, taking with them the Count Don Garcia, Asur Gonzalez, Gonzalo Asurez, and a great band of dependents, thinking thereby to overawe the Cid. The Campeador himself soon arrived at Court, with many a trusted veteran, all armed to the teeth. He wore a rich robe of red fur broidered with gold, and his beard was bound with a cord to preserve it. When he entered the Court with his men all rose to greet him save the
Infantes of Carrión and their party, for he seemed a great baron and the Infantes might not look at him shame.
"Princes, barons, and hidalgos," said King Aifonso, "I have summoned ye here that justice may be done the Cid Campeador. As ye all know, foul wrong has been done his daughters, and I have set judges apart to moderate in this business and to search out the right for wrong I will not have in Christian Spain. I swear by the bones of San Isidro that he who disturbs my Court shall quit my kingdom and forfeit my love, and he who shall prove his right, on his side am I. Now let the Cid make his demand and we shall hear the answer of the Infantes of Carrión."
Then rose the Cid, and in the Court among all the great barons and lords there was no nobler figure. "My lord the King," he said, "it is not I alone whom the Infantes of Carrión have wronged, but yours also, who gave them my daughters in marriage. Let them first restore my swords Colada and Tizon, since they are no longer my sons-in-law."
The Infantes, hearing the Cid speak thus, thought that he would urge no more against them if they restored the swords, and so they formally handed them over to the King. But it was the Campeador's intention to punish them by every means in his power, so when he received the wondrous falchions from the hands of Alfonso he at once presented them to Feliz Muñoz and Martin Antolinez, thus showing that it was not for himself that he desired them. Having done this, he turned once again to the King.
"My liege," he said, "when the Infantes left Valencia I bestowed upon them three thousand marks in gold
and silver. Let them now restore this, since they are no longer my sons-in-law."
'Nay, if we do this," cried the Infantes, "we must even pay it out of our lands in Carrión." But the judges demanded that the sum be paid in Court without delay. The treacherous princelings could not raise such a treasure in money, so the Court decided that it must be paid in kind. Then the Infantes saw that there was help but to acquiesce, and brought many a steed and trained paifrey with their furniture to repay the Cid, borrowing from the members of their suite and entering into such obligations as would burden them for many a day.
Redress by Combat
When this matter had at last been settled, the Cid then advanced his principal grievance against the Infantes, and asked for redress by combat in the lists for the at wrong they had done his daughters. At this Count Garcia, their spokesman, rose to defend the Infantes. He pleaded that they were of princely degree, And for that reason alone were justified in casting off the daughters of the Cid. Then Ferran Gonzalez, the elder of the Infantes, himself rose to approve the speech of his vassal, and cast fresh scorn upon the alliance he had made, justifying his cowardly action by his princely rank as a thing quite natural and fitting. At this Pero Bermuez opened the vials of his wrath upon the Infantes taunting them with cowardice in the affair of the lion and casting defiance of battle in their teeth.
Enter Asur Gonzáles
The argument waxed high, when at that moment Asur Gonzáles, a haughty vassal of the Infantes, entered the hall.
With early viands and with wine flushed were his face and brow,
Disordered were his garments and his mantle hung full low.
He scanned the Court with bearing rude, right clownish was his vaunt:
"How now, my lords? What have we here? Thinkst Carrión to daunt?
What bruit is this about the Cid, the lordling of Bivar?
At drawing tithes from dusty millers better is he far
Than ruffling at a Cortés; he to match with Carrión
Then up leapt Muño Gustioz: "Ha' done, thou knave, ha' done!
Drunkard, who lookest on the wine before ye tell a bead,
Who never yet did keep thy troth, evil in word and deed,
The only boon I crave is but to have thee where my sword
May cut the false tongue from thy throat and cease thy lying word,"
"Enough, enough," Alfonso cried, "I give thee my consent
To meet each other in the lists; so ends this Parliament."
The tumult which the King had endeavoured to abate had hardly died away when two cavaliers entered the Court. The new-comers were ambassadors from the Infantes of Navarre and Aragon, who had come to request the King to bestow the hands of the Cid's daughters upon their masters. Alfonso turned to the Cid and requested his permission to ratify the marriage at once, and when the Campeador had humbly given his consent he answered to the assembled nobles that the espousals would duly take place, adding that the combat between the disputants would be fought out on the morrow.
This was right woeful news to the Infantes of Carrión, who, in great fear, requested him to permit them some delay to procure fitting horses and arms, so that at last the King scornfully fixed the day of combat at three weeks from that date, and the place where it was to be fought out as Carrión itself, so that the Infantes should have no grounds of excuse for absence or be able to
plead that the champions of the Cid had been granted any undue advantage.
The Cid then took his leave of the King, and on parting pressed him to accept his courser Babieca. But Alfonso refused the proffered gift, saying courteously that if he accepted it Babieca would not have so good a lord. Turning to those who were to uphold his cause in the lists, the Campeador bade them an affectionate farewell, and so he departed for Valencia, and the King for Carrión to see justice done.
The Trial by Combat
When the time of truce was over the contending parties sought the lists. The Cid's men did not waste much time in arming themselves, but the treacherous Infantes of Carrión had brought with them a number of their vassals in the hope that they might be able to slay the Cid's champions by night, when they were off their guard. But Antolinez and his comrades kept good watch and frustrated their design. When they saw that there was no help for it but to meet their challengers à outrance, they prayed the King that the Cid's men might not be permitted to use the famous swords Colada and Tizon, for they superstitiously dreaded the trenchancy of these marvellous weapons, and bitterly repented that they had restored them. Alfonso, however, refused to listen to this appeal.
"Ye have swords of your own," he said brusquely. "Let them suffice you, and see that you wield them like men, for, believe me, there will be no shortcoming on the side of the Campeador."
The trumpets sounded and the Cid's three champions leapt upon their impatient destriers, first having made
the sign of the Cross upon their saddles. The Infantes of Carrión also mounted, but none so blithely. The marshals or heralds who were to decide the rules of combat, and give judgment in case of dispute, took their places. Then said King Alfonso: "Hear what I say, Infantes of Carrión. This combat ye should have fought at Toledo, but ye would not, so I have brought these three cavaliers in safety to the land of Carrión. Take your right; seek no wrong: who attempts it ill betide him."
The description of the scene that follows has more than once been compared with Chaucer's description of combat between Palamon and Arcite in The Knights Tale, and, as will be seen, a resemblance certainly exists. 9
And now the marshals quit the lists and leave them face to face
Their shields are dressed before their breasts, their lances are place.
Each charger's flank now feels the spur, each helm is bending low
The earth doth shake as horse and man hurl them upon the foe.
The echo of their meeting is a sound of meikle dread,
And all who hear the deadly shock count them as good as sped.
The false Ferrando and Bermuez strike lance on either's shield,
The Infantes spear goes through the boss, but the stout shaft doth yield
And splinters ere the point can pass thorough the other's mail.
But Pero's shaft struck home, nor did the seasoned timber fail;
It pierced Ferrando's corselet and sank into his breast,
And to the trampled ground there drooped the Infant's haughty crest.
Bermuez then drew Tizon's bright blade; ere ever he could smite
The Infant yielded him and cried, "Thou hast the victor's right."
While this combat was proceeding Antolinez and the other Infante came together. Each of their lances smote the other's shield and splintered. Then, drawing their swords, they rode fiercely against one another. Antolinez, flourishing Colada, struck so mightily at Diego that the good blade shore its way clean through the steel plates of his casque, and even cut half the hair from Diego's head. The terrified princeling wheeled his courser and fled, but Antolinez pursued him with mock fury and struck him across the shoulders with the flat of his sword. So had the hound the chastisement of cowards. As he felt the blade across his withers Diego shrieked aloud and spurred past the boundaries of the lists, thus, according to the rules of the combat, admitting himself vanquished.
When the trumpets of the pursuivants sounded, Muño Gustioz and Asur Gonzalez ran swiftly and fiercely together. The point of Astir's spear glanced off Muño's armour, but that of the Cid's champion pierced the shield of his opponent and drove right through his breast, so that it stuck out a full fathom between the shoulder-blades. The haughty Asur fell
heavily to the ground, but had enough of life left in him to beg for mercy.
King Alfonso then duly credited the Cid's champion, with the victory, and without loss of time they returned to Valencia to acquaint their master with the grand news that his honour had been avenged. Shortly afterward the espousals of the Cid's daughters to the noble Infantes of Navarre and Aragon were celebrated with much pomp. The Poema del Cid, however, concludes as abruptly as it begins:
So in Navarre and Aragon his daughters both did reign,
And princes of his blood to-day sit on the thrones of Spain.
Greater and greater grew his name in honour and in worth;
At last upon a Pentecost he passed away from earth.
Upon him be the grace of Christ, Whom all of us adore.
Such is the story, gentles, of the Cid Campeador.
The Real Cid
Cervantes' summing-up upon the Poema del Cid is perhaps the sanest on record. The Cid certainly existed in the flesh: what matter, then, whether his achievements occurred or not? For the Cid of romance is a very different person from the Cid of history, who was certainly a born leader of men, but crafty, unscrupulous, and cruel. The Poema is thus romance of no uncertain type, and as this book deals with romance and not with history, there is small need in this place to provide the reader with a chronicle of the rather mercenary story of Roderigo of Bivar the real.
"Mio Cid," the title under which he is most frequently mentioned, is a half Arabic, half Spanish rendering of the Arabic Sid-y, "My lord," by which he was probably known to his Moorish subjects in Valencia, and it is
unlikely that he was given this appellation in Spain during his lifetime. But to this day it is a name to conjure with in the Peninsula. So long as the heart of the Briton beats faster at the name Arthur and the Frenchman is thrilled by the name of Roland the Spaniard will not cease to reverence that of the great romantic shadow which looms above the early history of his land like a very god of warthe Cid Campeador.
55:1 Ormsby (The Poem of the Cid), who wrote in 1879, seems to have had the most elementary notions of what a cantar was, and states that the Poema "was nearly contemporary with the first chansons de gestes." Hut he is probably at least a century out in his reckoning, as the first chansons date from about the middle of the eleventh century. Of trovador and juglar he had evidently never heard. Yet he is anything but superficial, and on the whole his book is the best we have in English on the Poema. It is unlucky, too, as Saintsbury remarks, that neither Ticknor nor Southey, who wrote so widely on ancient Spanish
literature, were acquainted with the chansons de gestes. Still more luck- less is it that so much in the way of Spanish translation was left to Longfellow, who shockingly mangled and Bowdlerized many fine ballads. Probably no poet was so well qualified as he to divest a ballad of all pith and virility in the course of translation. Bad as are his Spanish renderings, however, they are adequate when compared with his exploits in the field of Italian translation.
57:2 See his Poema del Cid (1898).
57:3 See Manuel Rivadeneyra, Biblioteca de Autores españoles , vol. xvi (1846-80).
57:4 A good deal of controversy has arisen. concerning the metre of the Poema. Professor Cornu of Prague (see M. Gaston Paris, in Romania , xxii, pp. 153, 531) has stated that the basis of it is the ballad octo-syllable,p. 58 full or catalectic, arranged as hemistichs of a longer line, but this theory presupposes that the copyists of the original MS. must have mistaken such a simple measure, which is scarcely credible. Professor Saintsbury ( Flourishing of Romance, p. 403) gives it as his opinion that "nobody has been able to get further in a generalization of the metre than that the normal form is an eight and six (better a seven and seven) fourteener, trochaically cadenced, but admitting contraction and extension with a liberality elsewhere unparalleled." No absolute system of assonance or rhyme appears, and we are almost forced to the conclusion that the absence of this is in a measure due to the kind offices of Abbot Pedro.
61:* TRANSCRIBERS NOTE: Spanish Doña = "Lady." Pronounced as donyah.
62:5 By this phrase the Cid seems to have been widely known in appears to have served him as a sort of cognomen or nickname.
65:6 The passage in the Poema del Cid which tells of the combat that followed has perhaps a better right than any other in the epic to the title 'Homeric.' 'The translation which I furnish of it may not he so exact as those of Frere or Ormsby. But although I am only too conscious of its many shortcomings, I cannot bring myself to make Se of the pedestrian preciseness of the one or the praiseworthy version f the other of my predecessors, both of which, in my view, fail to
render the magnificent spirit and chivalric dash of the original. All that I can claim for my own translation is that is that it does not fail so utterly in this regard. I have in places attempted the restoration of lines which seemed to me omitted or coalesced with others, and I must admit that this rendering of a great passage is more consciously artificial than the othersa fault which I am unable to rectify. But allowance must be made for the rendition of such a passage, and the whole must be accepted by the reader foute de mieux.
70:7 Throughout the Poema and elsewhere the Cid is constantly alluded to as Mio Cid" ("My lord"). I deal with the etymology of the name farther, but hold to the form "the Cid" as being most familiar to English readers.
74:8 This passage is reminiscent of the saying of the famous Border outlaw Jock Eliot, when he and his men came upon a large haystack of which they resolved to make fodder for their horses. "Eh, man," exclaimed the humorous raider, "if ye had legs, wouldna' ye run!"
86:9 The commencement of the passage in question is as follows (1741-50)
The heraldz laften here prikyng up and doun
Now ryngede the tromp and clarioun
Ther is no more to say, hot est and west
In goth the speres ful sadly in arrest
Ther seen men who can juste, and who can ryde
In goth the scharpe spore into the side,
Thee schyveren schaftes upon schuidres thykke
He feeleth through the herte-spon the prikke
Up sprengen speres on twenty foot on hight
Out goon the swerdea as the silver height.
The balance is, however, greatly in favour of Chaucer, whose lines, if properly accented, beat the original Spanish on its own ground, and this notwithstanding the absurd remark of Swinburne that "Chaucer and Spenser scarcely made a good poet between them."