| Heroes of the Middle Ages|
|by Eva March Tappan|
|Recounts the stories of the most important movements in the history of Europe during the Middle Ages and acquaints the reader with the most important figures in those scenes. The figures are grouped into seven periods: The Barbarian Invasion, The Forming of the Germanic Nations, The Teutonic Invasions, The Rise of Nationalities, The Crusades, The Time of Progress and Discovery, and The Struggles of the Nations. In the tapestry which the author weaves may be traced the history of the rise and fall of the various nationalities and the circum-stances and mode of life of each. Ages 11-14 |
LITTLE while before Charles Martel fought the battle of Tours and
drove the Mohammedans or Moors out of Gaul, they came into
Spain, and before long the southern part of that country was
in their hands. They became very prosperous, and founded
splendid cities, of which the most famous were Granada
and Valencia. The earlier comers, the Goths,
held the northern part of Spain; and there were continual wars
between the two peoples. The Goths, now called Spaniards,
also fought among
themselves; and in their quarrels they were glad of any one's
help, no matter whether he was Christian or Mohammedan. Of
all these warriors, Rodrigo Diaz, or the Cid, was the
Poem of the Cid was afterward written about his exploits,
besides a countless number of ballads. The following are
some of the stories that were told about him:—
THE ALHAMBRA, AT GRANADA, SPAIN, SHOWING COURT OF THE LIONS
Long before he was made a knight, two of the Spanish kings had
a quarrel about a certain city that lay on the line
between their two kingdoms. Each wanted it, and the dispute
would have come to war if one of them had not suggested that
each should choose a warrior, and that single combat should
settle the question. One king chose a famous knight, but the
other chose the young Rodrigo.
 "I will gladly fight for you,"
he said to his king, "but I have vowed to make a
pilgrimage, and I must do that first."
A FAMOUS CASTLE AT VALENCIA, SPAIN
So on the pilgrimage he went. On the way he saw a leper who
begged for help. Rodrigo helped him out of the bog in which
he was fast sinking, set him in front of him on his own horse,
and carried him to an inn. There he and the leper used the
same trencher, or wooden plate, and they slept in the same bed.
In the night Rodrigo awoke with the feeling that some
one had breathed upon him so strongly that the breath had passed
through his body. The leper was gone, but a vision of
St. Lazarus appeared to him and said, "I was the leper
whom you helped, and for your kindness God grants that
your foes shall never prevail against you.'' Upon returning from
his pilgrimage, Rodrigo vanquished in single contest
the knight opposed to him and so gained the city for his king.
After this people called him the Campeador,
Even before this he had won his title of the Cid, or chief, by
overcoming five Mohammedan kings. Instead of putting them
to death, however, he had let them go free, and they were so
grateful that they agreed to become his vassals, and to
send him tribute. But this was not the end of their gratitude.
A while later some
 of the counts of Castile
became so envious of the Cid's greatness that they plotted to
bring about his death. They made what they thought was a
most excellent plan. They wrote to a number of the Moors,
saying that in the next battle that should be fought they all
intended to desert the Cid; and then, when he was alone, the
Moors could easily capture him or slay him. The Moors would
have been delighted to do this; but, unluckily for the plotters,
some of the letters went to the five kings to whom the
Cid had shown mercy. They had not forgotten his kindness; they
sent him word of the proposed treachery, and the wicked
counts were driven out of the kingdom.
The greatest exploit of the Cid was his capture of the Moorish
city of Valencia, the richest city in all Spain. After a
siege nine months long, the city yielded; and the people were
in terror of what the Cid might do to them for having
resisted him so long. But he was a humane warrior.
He called the chief
men together and told them that they were free to
cultivate their lands, and that all he should ask from them was
one-tenth of their gains. The ruler of Valencia was a
man who had slain their rightful king. While the siege was
going on, he had sold food to the starving people at a great
price; and after the surrender he offered to the Cid the money
that he had made in this way; but the Cid would not
accept it, and he put the wicked man to death with many
The Cid was now a mighty ruler and a very wealthy man. Even
the Sultan of far-away Persia sent noble gifts to him
and earnestly desired his friendship.
After some years the Cid heard that the king of Morocco
was about to come upon him with six and thirty
kings and a mighty force, and he was troubled. But one night St.
Peter came to him in a vision. "In thirty days you will
leave this world," he said, "but do you atone for your sins,
and you shall enter into the light. Be not troubled about
the coming of the Moors upon your people, for even though you
are dead, you shall win the battle for them."
Then the Cid made himself ready for death. He ordered that,
after he was dead, his people should put his body in battle
array with helmet and armor, with shield and sword, and fix
it firmly upon his horse with arm upraised as if to strike.
This they did, and they went forth with the body of the Cid
at their head to meet the six and thirty kings. The knights
of the Cid came so suddenly and fought so fiercely that the
six and thirty kings fled, and galloped their horses even
into the sea. "We saw an amazing sight," the Moors afterwards
declared, "for there came upon us full 70,000 knights, all
as white as snow. And before them rode a knight
 of great
stature, sitting upon a white horse with a bloody cross. In one
hand he bore a white banner, and in the other a sword which
seemed to be of fire, and he slew many."
THE CID'S LAST BATTLE
Twenty-two of the six and thirty kings were slain. The others
went their way and never even turned their heads. Then
when the body of the Cid had been lifted down from the horse,
his friends robed it in cloth of purple and set it in the
ivory chair of the conqueror, with his sword Tizona
in its hand. And after ten years it was buried close by the
altar of St. Peter in a monastery at Cardena.
One of his followers cared for Banieca, the horse
that had been so dear to the Cid. Every day he led it to
water and led it back and gave it food with his own hand. When
the horse died, he buried it before the gate of the
monastery. He set an elm at its head and another at its feet,
and he bade that, when he himself should die, he should be
buried beside the good horse Banieca whom he had loved so well,
and for whom he had cared so tenderly.
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