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Calvin Dill Wilson

The Cid Challenges the Infantes to Mortal Combat

How the Cid dressed for the Cortes. He and his companions enter the Cortes. The Cid demands the swords Colada and Tizona. He demands the presents he had given the Infantes. The Cid challenges the Infantes and their uncle to mortal combat. Messengers from the Kings of Aragon and Navarre ask for the Cid's daughters to be given to the sons of those Kings.

N ow after the Cid had performed his vigil he made ready to go to the Cortes with a hundred of his best knights, clad in mail bright as the sun; over this they had ermine or other skins, laced tight that the armor might not be seen, and under their cloaks were their sharp swords. The Cid drew over his legs hose of fine cloth, and put on over them richly worked shoes. He wore a shirt that was white as the sun; all the fastenings were wrought with gold and silver; over this was gold tissue; and over this a red skin with points of gold. On his head he had a coif of scarlet wrought with gold, which was made so that none might clip the hair of the Cid. His was a long beard, and he bound it with a cord. Then he bade Alvar and Pero assemble their companions, and when he saw them, he said, "If the Infantes of Carrion should seek a quarrel, I can go without fear where I have a hundred such knights as these." And he said: "Let us mount now and go to the Cortes, and go to make one defiance, and perhaps two or three if they make stir against us. You will be ready to aid me, saying and doing as I command, always saving the honor and authority of King Alfonso our lord. See now that none of you say or do aught amiss." Then he called for his horse and rode to the Cortes.

When the Cid and his men had arrived at the palace, they went in gravely, he in the midst with his hundred knights around him. As he entered, the king rose up and so did all the counts except Don Garcia and those who were on the side of the Infantes of Carrion. All the others received him with great honor. And he said to the king, "Sir, where do you bid me sit with these my kinsmen and friends who are come with me?" And the king answered, "Cid, you are such a one, and have passed your time so well to this day that if you would listen to me I should hold it good that you took your seat with me; for he who has conquered kings ought to be seated with kings." But the Cid answered: "That, sir, would not please God. But I will be at your feet; for by the favor of your father Don Ferrando was I made his creature, and the creature of your brother, King Don Sancho am I, and it is not fitting that he who receives bounty should sit with him that dispenses it." Then the king said: "Since you will not sit with me, sit on your ivory seat, for you won it like a man; and from this day I order that none except a king or prelate sit with you, for you have conquered so many kings that there is none who is your peer or ought to be seated with you. Sit, therefore, like a king and lord upon your ivory seat." Then the Cid kissed the King's hand and thanked him for what he had said and for the honor he had done him, and he took his seat, and his hundred knights seated themselves around him. All who were in the Cortes sat looking at the Cid and at his long beard bound with a cord; but the Infantes of Carrion could not look on him for shame.

When they were all seated, the king commanded silence, and when the Cid saw that they were all still he arose to speak. He said: "Sir King Don Alfonso, I beseech you of your mercy that you will hear me, and give command that no one interrupt me, for I am not a man of speech, neither do I know how to set forth my words, and if they interrupt me I shall do worse. Moreover, give command that no one be insolent to me, lest we should come to blows in your presence." Then the king arose and said, "Since I have been king I have held only two Cortes. This third I have assembled for the love of the Cid, that he may demand justice against the Infantes of Carrion for the wrongs which we all know. The Counts Don Anrrich and Don Remond shall be judges in this cause; and these other counts who are not on either side, give good heed, for you are to see that right judgment is given. I give order that no one shall speak without my command, or utter anything insolent against the Cid; whoever shall disturb the Cortes shall be banished from the kingdom. I am on the side of him who shall be found to have the right." Then the judges were sworn upon the Gospels that they would judge between the Cid and the Infantes of Carrion rightly and truly according to the law.

When this was done the king bade the Cid make his demand. Then the Cid rose and said: "Sir, there is no reason to make long speeches here. I demand of the Infantes of Carrion before you two swords which I gave into their keeping; the one is Colada and the other, Tizona. I won them like a man, and gave them into the keeping of the Infantes, that they might honor my daughters with them, and serve you. When they left my daughters in the Oak-forest of Corpes, they chose to have nothing to do with me, and renounced my love; let them, therefore, give back the swords, seeing they are no longer my sons-in-law."

Then the king bade the judges decide this matter, and they agreed that the swords should be restored to the Cid. Count Don Garcia said they would talk of that, and he conferred with the Infantes and their friends, and they thought they were well off, and that the Cid would ask nothing more, but leave the Cortes when he had the swords. So they brought the swords and delivered them to the king. The king drew the swords, and the whole court shone with their brightness; their hilts were of solid gold; all the men in the Cortes marvelled at them. And the Cid rose and received them, and kissed the king's hand and went back to his ivory seat; and he took the swords in his hands and looked at them, and he knew them well, and he smiled. He laid them upon his lap, and said, "Ah, my swords Colada and Tizona, truly may I say of you that you are the best swords in Spain; and I won you, for I did not get you by buying or by barter. I gave you in the keeping of the Infantes of Carrion that they might do honor to my daughters with you; but you were not for them; they kept you hungry and did not feed you with the flesh with which you were used to be fed. Well is it for you that you have escaped from them and come again into my hands, and happy am I to recover you.

Then Alvar Fanez arose and said, "I beseech you give Colada into my keeping while this Cortes shall last, that I may defend you with it." The Cid said, "Take it; it hath changed its master for the better." Then Bermudez arose and made the same demand for the sword Tizona, and the Cid gave it in like manner. Then the Cid laid his hand on his beard as his habit was, and the Infantes of Carrion and they who were on their side thought that he meant to disturb the Cortes and they were afraid; but he sat still, like a wise man, for he was not rash with his words.

Again the Cid rose and said: "Sir King, I have now another demand against the Infantes of Carrion. You well know that you gave my daughters to these men, and not I; you did it for good, and not for evil; but what they did afterward was evil. Though they are of great blood, yet would I not have given my daughters to them unless in obedience to your commands; and this, sir, you well know, for I said so to you. I gave them, when they took my daughters from Valencia, horses and mules, and cups and vessels of fine gold, and much wrought silver, and many noble garments and other gifts, three thousand marks of silver in all, thinking that I gave it to my daughters whom I loved. Now, sir, since they have cast off my daughters, and hold themselves to have been dishonored in marrying them, give command that they restore to me that which is my own, or show cause why they should not."

Then you might have seen the Infantes of Carrion much disturbed. Count Don Remond called upon them to speak; and they said, "We gave his swords to the Cid that he might ask nothing more of us." But the king said they must answer the demand of the Cid. Then they consulted for a time with their friends, but they could find no good reason for opposing this demand of the Cid. However, Don Garcia spoke for them and said, "Sir, it is true that the Cid gave what he now asks back, but the Infantes have expended this money in your service; we hold therefore that they are not bound to make restitution of it, seeing the manner in which it has been used. Yet if you hold it lawful that they should restore this money, give them time to make payment, and they will go to Carrion and there discharge the demand."

The Cid now arose, when the Count had taken his seat, and said: "Sir, if the Infantes have expended anything in your service, that does not touch me. You and the judges have heard them say that I gave them this treasure, and they have found this excuse. I pray you that judgment be given whether they are bound to pay it or not." Then the king said, "If the Infantes have expended anything in my service, I am bound to repay it, for the Cid must not lose what is his own." And he bade the judges decide. The judges having taken counsel said that since the Infantes acknowledged that the Cid had given them treasure with his daughters, and that they had abandoned them, they must make restitution in the Cortes of the King. The king confirmed this sentence, and the Cid kissed his hand.

The Infantes were greatly troubled at this sentence, and they asked the king to have the Cid give them time; and the king asked him to grant fifteen days, and that they should not leave the Cortes until they had made payment. The Cid granted what the king asked; and then they made their account with the king, and it was found that they had spent only two hundred marks of silver in his service. This the king said he would repay, and the remainder they must make up. Great was the difficulty the Infantes had to find this money; and they bought on trust horses and mules and silver and other precious things as they could get them, and delivered them to the Cid. They sent to Carrion to their father and mother to help them, and they raised for them all they could, so that they made up the sum within the time appointed. Then they thought the matter was at an end.

After this payment had been made the Cortes assembled again, and the Cid arose from his ivory seat, and said: "Sir, I have recovered my swords and my treasures; now I pray that you will hear this other demand which I have to make from the Infantes. It is hard for me to make it, though I have it rooted in my heart. I say, then, let them answer before you and tell why it was they besought you to marry them to my daughters, and why they took them away from Valencia, when they had it in their heart to dishonor me, and to strike them and leave them in the Oak-forest. Look, sir, what dishonor they did them. They stripped them of the garments which they had not given them. With less than mortal defiance, I will not let them go. How had I deserved this, Infantes, at your hands? I gave you my daughters to take with you from Valencia, with great honors and great treasures I gave them to you. Dogs and traitors, you took them from Valencia when you did not love them, and with your bridles you smote them, and with your spurs you wounded them and left them alone in the forest to the wild beasts and to the birds of the mountain. King Don Alfonso, they neither remembered God nor you nor me nor their own good fortune. And here was fulfilled the saying of the wise man, that it is harder for those who have no understanding to bear with good than with evil. Praise be to God and my king that from the day when I first took arms and horse until now, that not only the Infantes of Carrion, but saving yourself, sir, there is not a king in Christendom who might not think himself honored in marrying with either of my daughters, how much more then these traitors. I beseech you give me justice upon them for the evil and dishonor they have done me. And if you and your Cortes will not right me, through the mercy of God and my own good cause I will take it myself for the offence they have committed against God and the faith, and the truth which they promised and vowed to their wives. I will pull them down from the honor in which they now are; better men than they have I conquered and made prisoners ere now. And with your permission, sir, I will follow them to Carrion, even to their inheritance, and there will I besiege them and take them by the throat and carry them prisoners to Valencia to my daughters, and there make them do penance for the crime they have committed. If I do not perform this, call me a traitor." When the king heard this, he rose up, and said that this matter touched him likewise. "Cid," said he, "I asked your daughters of you for the Infantes of Carrion because, as they well knew, they besought me to do so, I having never thought of it. It seems now they are not pleased with this marriage that I made at their request, and great part of the dishonor they have done you touches me also. But as you are in my presence, it is not fitting that you make your demand except through the Cortes; do you therefore accuse them, and let them acquit themselves if they can before the judges, who will pass sentence according to what is right." Then the Cid kissed the king's hand and sat down on his ivory seat.

Then the Cid rose, and said, "God prosper you, sir, in life and honor and estate, since you have compassion for me and the dishonor done my daughters." Then he turned to the Infantes, and said: "Ferrando Gonzales and Diego Gonzales, I say you are false traitors for leaving your wives as you left them in the Oak-forest. And here before the king I accuse you as traitors and defy you, and will produce your peers who shall prove it upon you, and slay you or thrust you out of the lists, or make you confess it in your throats." And they were silent. Then the king said that they must make an answer. Then Ferrando the elder arose and said: "Sir, we are your subjects, and of the best blood in Castile, and we hold that men of such station are not well married with the daughters of Rodrigo Diaz. For this reason we forsook them because they came not of blood fit for our wives. That we forsook them is true, and we hold that in doing so we did nothing wrong, for they were not worthy to be our wives, and we are to be more commended for having left them than we were while we were wedded to them. Now then, sir, there is no reason why we should do battle upon this matter with any one."

Then Diego his brother arose and said, "You know, sir, what perfect men we are in our lineage, and it did not befit us to be married to the daughters of Rodrigo." When he had said this, he sat down. Then Don Garcia arose, and said: "Come away, Infantes, and let us leave the Cid sitting like a bridegroom in his ivory chair. He lets his beard grow, thinking to frighten us with it." The Cid put up his hand to his beard and said: "What have you to do, Count, with my beard? It is long because it is kept for my pleasure. Never a son of woman hath taken me by it. Never son of Moor or Christian has plucked it, as I did yours in your castle of Cabra, when I took your castle and took you by the beard. There was not a boy in the army but had a pull at it. What I plucked then is not grown yet."

Then the Count cried out: "Come away, Infantes, and leave him. Let him go back to Rio, to his own country, and set up his mills, and take toll as he used to do. He is not your equal that you should quarrel with him." At this the knights of the Cid looked at each other with fierce eyes; but none of them dared speak till the Cid bade them, because of the command which he had given them.

When the Cid saw that none of his people answered, he turned to Pero Bermudez and said, "Speak, Pero Mudo, what are you silent for?" He called him Mudo, which is to say, "Dumb-ee," because he stuttered; and Pero was angry that he should be called so before all that assembly, and he said, "I tell you what, Cid, you always call me Dumb-ee in court, and you know I cannot help my words; but when anything is to be done, it shall not fail for me." And in his anger he forgot what the Cid had said to him and to the others to make no quarrel before the king. And he gathered up his cloak under his arm and went up to the eleven counts who were against the Cid, to Count Garcia, and when he was near him he clenched his fist and gave him a blow that brought him to the ground.

Then was the whole Cortes in an uproar, and many swords were drawn, and on one side the cry was "Cabra and Granon," and on the other it was "Valencia and Bivar "; but the strife was such that in a short time the counts left the palace. The king meanwhile cried out aloud, forbidding them to fight before him, and charging them to look to his honor. The Cid then tried to quiet his people, saying to the king, "Sir, you saw that I could bear it no longer, being thus insulted in your presence; if it had not been for you I would have punished him well." Then the king sent to call those counts who had been driven out, and they came again into the palace, though they would have preferred to stay outside, complaining of the dishonor they had received.

The king said to them that they should defend themselves with courtesy and reason, and not revile the Cid, who was not a man to be insulted; and he said he would defend as far as possible the rights of both parties.

Pero Bermudez rose and said to Count Garcia: "Foul mouth in which God has put no truth, you have dared to let loose your tongue to speak of the Cid's beard, an honorable beard, one that has never been shamed nor overcome. And if you please you may remember when he fought against you in Cabra, hundred to hundred, he threw you from your horse, and took you by the beard and carried you away prisoner across a pack-saddle. His knights pulled your beard for you, and I had a good handful of it. How, then, shall a beard that has been dishonored speak against one that has never been shamed? If you deny this, I will fight you upon this quarrel before the king."

Then Count Suero Gonzales rose in haste, and said: "Nephews, go away and leave these rascals. If they are for fighting, we will give them their fill of that, if the king should think good. We will fight, though they are not our peers." Then Alvar Fanez stood up, and said: "Hold your peace, Count Gonzales, you have been to breakfast before you said your prayers, and your words are more like a drunkard's than one who is in his senses. You say your kinsmen are equal to those of the Cid; if it were not for reverence for the king, I would teach you never to talk in that way again." When the king saw that their words were going from bad to worse, and that they were not to the point, he commanded them to be silent, and said, "I will determine this business of the challenge with the judges as shall be found right; and I will not have these disputes carried on before me."

Then the king went apart with the judges into a chamber, and the Cid and the others remained in the hall. When the king and judges had counselled together what was right in this matter, they came out of the chamber and took their seats, and commanded all to be silent. Then the king said, "I have taken counsel with these judges in this case, and this is the sentence that I give, that both the Infantes and Count Suero Gonzales their uncle, inasmuch as he was the adviser in the dishonor of the Cid's daughters, shall do battle with such three of the Cid's people as he may appoint, and thereby acquit themselves if they can."

When the king had given this sentence, the Cid rose and kissed his hand, saying: "May God give you long and happy years, seeing you have judged justly as a just and righteous king. I receive your sentence, and I shall ever be at your service." Then Pero Bermudez rose up and went to the Cid, saying, "I ask a boon, sir; I beseech you let me be one of those who shall do battle on your part, for I trust in God to be able to take vengeance for this foul deed." And the Cid answered that he was well pleased it should be so, and that he should do battle with Ferrando the eldest; and then Pero kissed his hand. Then Martin Antolinez rose and besought the Cid that he might be another, and the Cid granted his desire, and said that he should do battle with the younger one, Diego. Then Muno Gustioz besought that he might be the third, and the Cid granted it and appointed him to do battle with Count Suero Gonzales the uncle.

When the Cid had appointed his champions, the king gave command that the combat should be performed on the next day; but the Infantes said they were not ready to fight so soon, and asked that they might go to Carrion to prepare for the battle. But the king would not allow them the time they asked; however, the king's sons-in-law begged the king to grant the Infantes three weeks, and the king granted this, with the consent of the Cid.

When all these arrangements had been made, and while the court was still in session, there came messengers from the kings of Aragon and of Navarre, with letters to King Alfonso and to the Cid, in which these kings asked the king for the daughters of the Cid in marriage, the one for Don Sancho the son of the king of Aragon, the other for Garcia Ramirez the son of the king of Navarre. When they came before the king, they bent their knees and gave him the letters and delivered their message. They also did the same to the Cid. Much were the king and the Cid pleased with this news, and the king said to the Cid, "What do you say to this?" And the Cid answered, "I and my daughters are at your disposal; do with us as you shall think good." Then the king said, "I hold it good that they wed with the kings' sons, and that from henceforward they be queens; and that for the dishonor they before received they now receive this honor." And the Cid rose and kissed the hands of the king and all his knights did the same.

The king and the Cid ordered that letters of consent to these marriages be given to the messengers; the one who came from Aragon was named Ynigo Ximenez, and the one from Navarre Ochoa Perez. These knights arranged that in three months from that day the princes or Infantes of Aragon and Navarre should come to Valencia to be married to the daughters of the Cid. Great was the joy of the comrades of the Cid that these marriages were to be, for they increased their honor; and great was the sorrow of the Infantes of Carrion and their friends, for this was to their confusion. Then Alfonso said aloud to the Cid before them all, "Praised be the name of God, because it has pleased him that the dishonor that was done to me and to you and to your daughters should thus be turned into honor; for they were the wives of the sons of counts, and now shall they be the wives of the sons of kings, and shall be queens hereafter." Great was the pleasure of the Cid and his company at these words of the king. The Infantes went away from the palace very sorrowful, and made ready to go to Carrion to prepare for the combat which was to take place in three weeks.

Then the Cid said to the king: "Sir, I have appointed those who are to do battle for my honor; and as there is nothing more for me to do here, I will leave them in your hand, knowing that you will defend their right. If it please you, I will return to Valencia; for I would not that the Moors rise up in my absence. Moreover, I have to make ready for these marriages." The king bade him go when he pleased and good fortune go with him, and said he would protect his knights and his right in all things. The king called for Don Remond his son-in-law and gave the knights of the Cid into his charge and bade them not depart from him, and then the king arose and returned to the Alcazar.

Then the Cid took off his coif and he loosed his beard and took it out of the cord that bound it. All who were there could not be satisfied with looking at it. The Counts Don Anrrich and Don Remond came up to him and he embraced and thanked them and the men who had been judges in his matter for upholding his right; and he promised to do for them whatever they would ask, and he offered them part of his treasure. They thanked him for this offer, but said it was not fitting that they should accept these; yet he sent great presents to each of them, and some accepted them and some did not. Before the Cid departed he forgave the king the two hundred marks which should have been paid on the account of the Infantes; for the Cid had not been so anxious for the money as to compel those men to lose what he had given them. He also gave to the knights who had come from Aragon and Navarre concerning the marriages many horses and money in gold, and he sent them with great honor into their own country.

On the next day the Cid went to take leave of the king, and the king went some way out of the town with him with many of his chief men. When he was about to part from the king they brought him his horse Bavieca, and he turned to the king and said: "Sir, it does not become me to take away so good a horse as Bavieca; I will leave him for you, for such a horse as this is fit for you and for no other master. And that you may see what he is, I will do before you what I have not done for a long time except in battle." Then he mounted his horse and gave him the spur, and all were astonished at his speed. As the Cid was riding his career, the horse broke one of his reins, yet he came and stopped before the king as easily as if both the reins had been whole, at which all wondered greatly. And the Cid urged the king that he would be pleased to take this horse, but he said: "Rather would I give you a better one if I had one, for he is better in your hands than in mine or those of any other man; upon that horse you have done honor to yourself and to us and to all Christians. Let him go as mine, and I will take him when I please." Then the Cid kissed the king's hand, and the king embraced him and returned to Toledo.

When the king had taken leave, Pero and Martin Antolinez and Muno rode on with the Cid for a time, and he advised them as to the manner in which they should conduct themselves in the combat with the Infantes and their uncle. And they took his counsel well, as was afterward shown. Then he bade them return to the king, praying to God to have them in his keeping and assist them, as he knew their cause was right.