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Calvin Dill Wilson

The Almoravides Come from Africa

The Cid is summoned to help Don Alfonso against the Almoravides. The Cid's enemies again vex Don Alfonso against him. Again they become friends. Abeniaf takes Valencia. King Yahia is slain.

I n the meanwhile, a Moor named Ali Abenaxa, who was a chief of those Almoravides, the Moors who had recently come from North Africa, came with a great force of the Moors of Andalusia to besiege the Castle of Aledo. He did this, thinking that Alfonso would come against him with a small army and that he would be able to take or kill the king. When the king heard of this, he gathered a very large army, and sent word to the Cid to come to his help.

The Cid went to Requena, thinking he should meet the king there, but Alfonso went by another way, and the Cid waited for him several days, as that was the chief road on which be might be expected to come. But when the Moors knew that Alfonso was coming with so large an army, they fled as quickly as they could. Don Alfonso came to the castle, and there found that he was short of provisions, but he supplied the castle with arms and food as best he could.

The enemies of the Cid now told Alfonso that the Cid had delayed at Requena, knowing that the king had gone another way and hoping that the Moors might fall upon him. The king believed this, and was very angry, and ordered that all the Cid's possessions in Castile be taken from him, and sent orders that his wife and daughters should be made prisoners. When the Cid heard this, he sent a knight to the king to defend himself, saying that if there was a knight who would maintain that he had a better will to serve the king than he had, he would do battle with him body to body. But the king was so angry that he would not listen to this messenger.

Alfonso decided to go against Ali. The queen of Alfonso and the knights who were friends of the Cid wrote to the Cid that he should now come and help the king in his need in such a way that Alfonso should know he was his friend. When he had gotten these letters, the Cid left Zaragoza, where he was at this time, and went with a great following to Martos, where he found the king. Alfonso received him gladly, and they went on together for a time, but presently the Cid went into the plain and continued on before the king. The envious men who hated the Cid now said, "The Cid came after you like one who was wearied, and now he goes before you." In this way they again set the king against him.

The Moors now were afraid to give Alfonso battle, and they retreated. When the Cid saw that the king was once more angry with him, he returned to Valencia, while Alfonso went back to Toledo.

After this Alfonso took a great army and went toward Valencia, and sent word to all the castles in that land, saying that for five years they should pay him the tribute that they had been paying the Cid. When the Cid learned this, he sent word to the king, saying he could not understand why the king sought thus to dishonor him, and that he trusted soon to make him know what bad advisers he had about him.

Presently the Cid gathered a great army of Moors and Christians and entered the land of King Don Alfonso, burning and destroying whatever he found, and he took Logrono and Alfaro also and sacked it. While he was at Alfaro, Count Garcia Ordonez and other knights sent word to him that if he would wait seven days they would give him battle. He waited for them twelve days, but they did not dare to come. And when the Cid saw this, he returned to Zaragoza.

When Alfonso learned that the Cid had been burning and destroying in his land, and that his chiefs dared not fight him, he saw that he had been wrong when he listened to evil counsel against him. He sent letters to the Cid, saying that he forgave him all that he had done, since he had given him the occasion to do it; and he urged him to come to Castile, where his property should all be restored to him. At this, the Cid was greatly rejoiced, and he wrote the king thanking him and asking that he would never again listen to bad counsel against him, as he was always at the king's service.

The Cid now tarried a long time in Zaragoza, and the people of Valencia forgot their fear of him, and complained that he oppressed them; and they conspired against him. When Abenalfarax, the governor the Cid had appointed, learned that one Abeniaf was at the head of this conspiracy, he wished to take this man and put him in prison; but he did not dare to do this until the Cid should come; and he knew besides that when the Cid should arrive all the disturbance would cease.

Now Abeniaf knew that the governor would put him in prison if he dared, so he sent word to Ali, of the Almoravides, telling him to come to Valencia, and he would deliver the city to him. Ali at once set out, and on the way compelled many castles to submit to him, taking possession also of Denia and Xucar. When these tidings reached Valencia, the Christians who were in the city were afraid, and took their goods and went away. The governor of the city also was terrified and knew not what to do, and Yahia, the king, stayed in his house in fear. Then the governor, Abenalfarax, went to him and advised that they should take their goods and go to the Castle of Segorbe, one of the strongest forts in the city; so they set forth with many beasts laden with goods to the Castle of Benaecab. There Yahia and his governor gathered foot-soldiers and crossbowmen to defend themselves, and sent word quickly to Zaragoza to urge the Cid to come to their help. But he could not come at once; so that Valencia was in peril for twenty days.

Then the governor of Xucar, whom Ali had appointed over that place, set forward early in the night with forty horsemen all clad in green, after the manner of the Almoravides; and they came by night to Valencia to the gate called Tudela, and sounded their drums, so that a rumor spread through the town that five hundred knights had come to take the town. Then the governor was in great fear, and he went into the castle to counsel with the king; and he gave orders that the gates of the town should be barred, and that the walls should be manned.

The king's soldiers now sent to the house of Abeniaf who had made all this trouble and called him to come out and go before the king; but he was afraid and would not come out. The men of the town came to his help, and when he saw how many were on his side, he put himself at their head, and went to the palace and captured the Cid's governor. The townsmen then went to the gates of the city and drove away the king's soldiers who were guarding them, and as they could not break down the gates, they burned them. Others let ropes down from the walls and drew up the Almoravides.

King Yahia now put on women's garments, and fled with his women and hid himself in a house near a bath. The Almoravides took possession of the palace and plundered it. In this manner Valencia was taken.

When this Abeniaf saw that all the people were on his side, he thought himself a great man. As he knew the king was still in the town, he searched for him and found him in the house where he had hidden with the women. When the king had fled from his palace, he had taken with him the best of his treasures, pearls, among which was one of the finest in the world, precious stones, sapphires, and rubies, and emeralds, and a casket of pure gold; and in his girdle he had hidden a string of precious stones, and of pearls, so that no king had so rich and precious a thing as that carkanet. It was said that in former times it had belonged to a famous queen in Africa, and that afterwards it came to the lords of Andalusia; and that after that Alimaymon, king of Toledo, possessed it and gave it to his wife, and that she gave it to the wife of her son, who was the mother of Yahia.

Abeniaf greatly coveted these jewels, and he thought he might obtain them by killing Yahia, and no one would know what had been done. Therefore, on that night he commanded that the head of Yahia should be cut off and thrown in a pond. This was done accordingly, and Abeniaf took the most of the treasures, while some were taken by the murderers. The body lay where the murder took place until the next day; and then a kind man who grieved at the death of his king placed it on the cords of a bed, and covered it with an old horsecloth and carried it out of the town and made a grave for it where camels were accustomed to lie down, and he buried it there, without any honors, as if the body had been that of a villain.