N THE TWENTY-NINTH day, being the day before he departed, he called for Dona Ximena, and for the Bishop Don Hieronymo, and Don Alvar Fanez Minaya, and Pero Bermudez, and his trusty Gil Diaz; and when they were all five before him, he began to direct them what they should do after his death; and he said to them, "Ye know that King Bucar will presently be here to besiege this city, with seven and thirty Kings whom he bringeth with him, and with a mighty power of Moors. Now therefore the first thing which ye do after I have departed, wash my body with rose-water many times and well, and when it has been well washed and made clean, ye shall dry it well, and anoint it with this myrrh and balsam, from these golden caskets, from head to foot, so that every part shall be anointed. And you, my Dona Ximena, and your women, see that ye utter no cries, neither make any lamentation for me, that the Moors may not know of my death. And when the day shall come in which King Bucar arrives, order all the people of Valencia to go upon the walls, and sound your trumpets and tambours and make the greatest rejoicings that ye can. For certes ye cannot keep the city, neither abide therein after they know of my death. And see that sumpter beasts be laden with all that there is in Valencia, so that nothing which can profit may be left. And this I leave especially to your charge, Gil Diaz. Then saddle ye my horse Bavieca, and arm him well; and apparel my body full seemlily, and place me upon the horse, and fasten and tie me thereon so that it cannot fall: and fasten my sword Tizona in my hand. And let the Bishop Don Hieronymo go on one side of me, and my trusty Gil Diaz on the other, and he shall lead my horse. You, Pero Bermudez, shall bear my banner, as you were wont to bear it; and you, Alvar Fanez, my cousin, gather your company together, and put the host in order as you are wont to do. And go ye forth and fight with King Bucar: for be ye certain and doubt not that ye shall win this battle; God hath granted me this. And when ye have won the fight, and the Moors are discomfited, ye may spoil the field at pleasure. Ye will find great riches."
And this noble Baron yielded up his soul, which was pure and without spot, to God, on that Sunday which is called Quinquagesima, being the twenty and ninth of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand and ninety and nine, and in the seventy and third year of his life. After he had thus made his end they washed his body and embalmed it as he had commanded. And then all the honourable men, and all the clergy who were in Valencia, assembled and carried it to the Church of St. Mary of the Virtues, which is near the Alcazar, and there kept their vigil, and said prayer and performed masses, as was meet for so honourable a man.
Three days after the Cid had departed King Bucar came into the port of Valencia, and landed with all his power. And there came with him thirty and six Kings, and one Moorish Queen, and she brought with her two hundred horsewomen, all negresses like herself, all having their hair shorn save a tuft on the top, and they were all armed in coats of mail and with Turkish bows. King Bucar ordered his tents to be pitched round about Valencia. And his people thought that the Cid dared not come out against them, and they were the more encouraged, and began to think of making engines wherewith to combat the city.
All this while the company of the Cid were preparing all things to go into Castille, as he had commanded before his death; and his trusty Gil Diaz did nothing else but labour at this. And the body of the Cid was prepared and the virtue of the balsam and myrrh was such that the flesh remained firm and fair, having its natural colour and his countenance as it was wont to be, and the eyes open, and his long beard in order, so that there was not a man who would have thought him dead if he had seen him. And on the second day after he had departed, Gil Diaz placed the body upon a right noble saddle. And he took two boards and fitted them to the body, one to the breast and the other to the shoulders; these were so hollowed out and fitted that they met at the sides and under the arms, and these boards were fastened into the saddle, so that the body could not move. All this was done by the morning of the twelfth day; and all that day the people of the Cid were busied in making ready their arms, and in loading beasts with all that they had. When it was midnight they took the body of the Cid fastened to the saddle as it was, and placed it upon his horse Bavieca, and fastened the saddle well: and the body sate so upright and well that it seemed as if he was alive. And it had on painted hose of black and white, so cunningly painted that no man who saw them would have thought but that they were grieves, unless he had laid his hand upon them; and they put on it a surcoat of green sendal, having his arms blazoned thereon, and a helmet of parchment, which was cunningly painted that every one might have believed it to be iron; and his shield was hung around his neck, and they placed the sword Tizona in his hand, and they raised his arm, and fastened it up so subtly that it was a marvel to see how upright he held the sword. And the Bishop Don Hieronymo went on one side of him, and the trusty Gil Diaz on the other, and he led the horse Bavieca, as the Cid had commanded him. And when all this had been made ready, they went out from Valencia at midnight, through the gate of Roseros, which is towards Castille. Pero Bermudez went first with the banner of the Cid, and with him five hundred knights who guarded it, all well appointed. Then came the body of the Cid with an hundred knights, all chosen men, and behind them Dona Ximena with all her company, and six hundred knights in the rear. All these went out so silently, and with such a measured pace, that it seemed as if there were only a score. And by the time that they had all gone out it was broad day.
Now, while the Bishop Don Hieronymo and Gil Diaz led away the body of the Cid, and Dona Ximena, and the baggage, Alvar Fanez Minaya fell upon the Moors. First he attacked the tents of that Moorish Queen, the Negress, who lay nearest to the city; and this onset was so sudden, that they killed full a hundred and fifty Moors before they had time to take arms or go to horse. But that Moorish Negress, so skilful in drawing the Turkish bow, that they called her the Star of the Archers, was the first that got on horseback, and with some fifty that were with her, did some hurt to the company of the Cid; but in fine they slew her, and her people fled to the camp. And so great was the uproar and confusion, that few there were who took arms, but instead thereof they turned their backs and fled toward the sea. And when King Bucar and his Kings saw this they were astonished. And it seemed to them that there came against them on the part of the Christians full seventy thousand knights, all as white as snow: and before them a knight of great stature upon a white horse. And King Bucar and the other Kings were so greatly dismayed that they never checked the reins till they had ridden into the sea; and the company of the Cid rode after them, smiting and slaying and giving them, no respite. And when the Moors came to the sea, so great was the press among them to get to the ships, that more than ten thousand died in the water. And King Bucar and they who escaped with him hoisted sails and went their way, and never more turned their heads.
Then Alvar Fanez and his people went after the Bishop Don Hieronymo and Gil Diaz, who, with the body of the Cid, and Dona Ximena, and the baggage, had gone on till they were clear of the host, and then waited for those who were gone against the Moors. And so great was the spoil, gold, and silver, and other precious things that the poorest man among the Christians, horseman or on foot, became rich with what he won that day. And when they were all met together, they took the road toward Castille; and they halted that night in a village which is called Siete Aguas, that is to say, the Seven Waters, which is nine leagues from Valencia.
When the company of the Cid departed from the Siete Aguas, they held their way by short journeys. And the Cid went alway upon his horse Bavieca, as they had brought him out from Valencia, save only that he wore no arms, but was clad in right noble garments, Great was the concourse of people to see the Cid Ruydiez coming in that guise. They came from all the country round about, and when they saw him their wonder was the greater, and hardly could they be persuaded that he was dead.
At this time King Don Alfonso abode in Toledo, and when the letters came unto him saying how the Cid Campeador was departed, and after what manner he had discomfited King Bucar, and how they brought him in this goodly manner upon his horse Bavieca, he set out from Toledo, taking long journeys till he came to San Pedro de Cardena to do honour to the Cid at his funeral. And when the King Don Alfonso saw so great a company and in such goodly array, and the Cid Ruydiez so nobly clad and upon his horse Bavieca, he was greatly astonished. And the King beheld his countenance, and seeing it so fresh and comely, and his eyes so bright and fair, and so even and open that he seemed alive, he marvelled greatly.
On the third day after the coming of King Don Alfonso, they would have interred the body of the Cid, but when the King heard what Dona Ximena had said, that while it was so fair and comely it should not be laid in a coffin, he held that what she said was good. And he sent for the ivory chair which had been carried to the Cortes of Toledo, and gave order that it should be placed on the right of the altar of St. Peter; and he laid a cloth of gold upon it, and he ordered a graven tabernacle to be made over the chair, richly wrought with azure and gold. And he himself, and the King of Navarre and the Infante of Aragon, and the Bishop Don Hieronymo, to do honour to the Cid, helped to take his body from between the two boards, in which it had been fastened at Valencia. And when they had taken it out, the body was so firm that it bent not on either side, and the flesh so firm and comely, that it seemed as if he were yet alive. And the King thought that what they purported to do and had thus begun, might full well be effected. And they clad the body in cloth of purple, which the Soldan of Persia had sent him, and put him on hose of the same, and set him in his ivory chair; and in his left hand they placed his sword Tizona in its scabbard, and the strings of his mantle in his right. And in this fashion the body of the Cid remained there ten years and more, till it was taken thence and buried.
Gil Diaz took great delight in tending the horse Bavieca, so that there were few days in which he did not lead him to water, and bring him back with his own hand. And from the day in which the dead body of the Cid was taken off his back, never man was suffered to bestride that horse, but he was alway led when they took him to water, and when they brought him back. And this good horse lived two years and a half after the death of his master the Cid, and then he died also, having lived full forty years. And Gil Diaz buried him before the gate of the monastery, in the public place, on the right hand; and he planted two elms upon the grave, the one at his head and the other at his feet, and these elms grew and became great trees, and are yet to be seen before the gate of the monastery.
(Adapted from "Chronicle of the Cid," from the Spanish, by Robert Southey)