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The Cid Campeador Simply Rodrigo 5C .pdf



Nombre del archivo original: The Cid Campeador Simply Rodrigo 5C.pdf
Autor: Carlos del Solo

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THE CID CAMPEADOR

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THE CID CAMPEADOR
SIMPLY RODRIGO
CARLOS DEL SOLO

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First edition (Spanish): July 2017
This edition (English): April 2018
© Carlos del Solo
Cover photographs: © Carlos del Solo
Original title: “El Cid Campeador. Simplemente Rodrigo”
No part of this publication, including cover design, may be
reproduced, stored or transmitted in any way or by any
means, whether electronic, chemical, mechanical, optical,
recording, on the Internet or photocopy, without prior
permission from editor or author.
Letrame Editorial does not have to agree with the opinions of
the author or the text of the publication, remembering always
that the work he has in his hands can be a fiction novel or an
essay in which the author makes personal and subjective
appraisals.
«Any form of reproduction, distribution, public
communication or transformation of this work can only be
carried out with the authorization of its owners, except
exceptions provided by law».

-4-

To María José (or Mari Pepi, as I call her)
For walking by my side and reading me every day.
To my daughter María Teresa.
To my parents Carlos and María del Carmen.

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Part One

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I - Spring of the year 1063.
Ramiro I of Aragon besieges the city of Graus.

I never thought a battle was anything so fierce. Until now, I had
only had contact with the weapons in the trainings with my good
friend Prince Sancho...
Now, it was different, very different. In the workouts, I couldn't see
the blood run this way. Maybe the blood of some small cut or gall, but
nothing of importance. Right now, I am seeing as the limbs of the
fighters are cut, the heads with the neck almost cut are twisted to one
side and the body, which almost does not hold them, collapses and
crashes against the floor. The field is a mud, but it is not water that
turns the earth into mud, it is the blood... Screaming, screaming
everywhere. Wailing and weeping. Heartbreaking sounds...
Sancho had told me that his father Fernando, the King, had
communicated him that the regent of the taifa of Zaragoza, the
Muslim Al-Muqtadir Billah, had requested help, since the King of
Aragon, Ramiro, had besieged the city of Graus. Our King cannot
deny, since the taifa of Zaragoza pays religiously for his pariahs and,
as against benefit, we must go to his aid when he requires it with
justified motives.
"Rodrigo, my father has told me that I must go to the aid of the
Moor King Al-Muqtadir, from the taifa of Zaragoza. As you know, it
is one of the taifas that religiously pays the pariah imposed by my
father for his protection. It seems that Ramiro, my uncle, King of
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Aragon, has besieged the city of Graus. I don't know when this family
fight is going to end.
They call my uncle "the bellicose" for a reason. How eager he is to
conquer everything around him!"
"I said, Sancho, I saw you approached worried. You know I'd like
to come with you and go into battle. I want to start putting into
practice everything I've learned with you here in court. In a way, I
think I'm ready for what can happen on the battlefield."
"Ha, ha, ha! Rodrigo, I figured you'd tell me this. I have asked my
father's permission to take you, and he had no inconvenient in it.
Although, he said you should be careful; One thing is the fortress's
backyard, with its workouts, and another very different thing is to be
put into the battlefield. He has asked me to watch over you, he thinks
you are of a great future value for the Kingdom. You look courageous
and faithful to the crown. He is convinced that you will be an
important warrior, but that, for now, there is much to learn. So yes,
you will come with me to fulfill what I am entrusted with, but promise
to obey what I tell you at all times. I don't want to lose my best
friend."
"Don't worry, Prince. I will be by your side and endeavor to learn
as much as possible from the experience."
"And, by the way, Rodrigo, say good bye to your friend tonight,
because you'll have a good time without seeing her. Ha, ha, ha!
Someday I will get you to tell me who she is."
My Prince and friend Sancho was so right, the journey to Graus
alone has taken us twenty-six days from the court in Leon. More than
a hundred leagues away are many for infantry and carts with
provisions. We could not further tighten the pace and we prayed so
that the fortress of Graus continued to endure the stakes of Ramiro.
It is May 8th, 1063 and we see in the distance the Peña del Morral
and the castle wall built by the Saracens. You hear the thunder from
here. Ramiro's people camped in the so-called Zapata field. There
must be no more than two thousand men between infantry and

-8-

cavalry. We bring a few more than a thousand, we will see how the
contest develops.
Sancho begins to give orders to his officers. I stand beside him, in
my saddle, trying to understand everything I see.
"Let the cavalry be placed at front! The Archers behind them and
that the infantry will stay at the rear. Let's go!"
With ordered movements, the whole army is placed in their
positions. I had never seen in person how the attack formation was
produced; they had explained it to me in countless occasions, but to
see it with my own eyes...
Ramiro's troops have already noticed our presence a while ago and
do the same. They stop the throwing of stones against the fortress and
they have prepared for the battle. From this distance, I do not
distinguish well what they are doing, the dust that has been mounted
with the movements of the armies, and I am not allowed to see clearly.
Silence is made, one can only hear some teeth creaking, I suppose
it is the fear and whinny of some horse. It seems that, little by little,
the dust is spreading, it is falling back to its place of origin, the soil,
and I see more clearly the troops of the Aragoneses. They are in front
of their infantry, with shields and spears, prepared for the cavalry’s
onslaught. We're still very far away. It doesn't make sense, I think, for
archers to start their work.
"Advance! Slowly. I want to see the reactions of the Aragoneses. I
imagine he expected our visit", cries Castellan Prince, already with the
helmet down and covering part of his face.
Without knowing very well how it is possible, we begin to hear the
roaring of the cavalry behind our backs. King Ramiro must have
known, for a long time, of our arrival and he had us prepared a
surprise. He is a King versed in a thousand battles and was not to be
surprised. His light cavalry was approaching galloping towards our
rear. Sancho starts giving orders to organize the defense.
"Infantry, turn around! Defense position! Shields to the front!"

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All this catches our troops by surprise. Our cavalry breaks ranks,
and tries to reach the new battlefront. The archers stay behind the
troop where the vanguard was before.
What a chaos was made! The Aragonese infantry starts to advance.
We are being attacked by two fronts and in a terrain, that we do not
know. We had just arrived, and it has not given us time to study it.
"Archers, charge and shoot!"
But the archers are frightened, as they watch how are approaching
hundreds of soldiers who have left their spears in their original
position and carry the shield and sword in their hands, while shouting
as possessed by the devil.
"Rodrigo, this looks bad. I thought I'd catch my uncle for surprise.
But, he is an old dog and I am the one who has being caught by
surprise. He's going to make a slaughter with us, as we don't know
how to react. And I recognize that I don't quite know what action to
take. Ideas are accepted, friend Rodrigo!" Sancho shouts to be heard.
"Prince Sancho, his light cavalry attacks our infantry. Order them
to resist at any cost. Organize our cavalry and attack his infantry that
comes running, and without spears, which is the most dangerous for
our Knights. Let the archers turn around, stand behind our infantry
and throw their arrows at the Knights of Aragon. If we can get your
cavalry troops to suffer major losses, you'll be able to dedicate the
infantry to help our Knights against their infantry. Do it now!"
Sancho gives the appropriate orders to put into practice my idea of
how to deal with the situation. My body begins to tremble for the
responsibility I just threw myself on for saying, at this situation, what
I thought it had to be done. I try to concentrate. In short, I would be
immersed in a battle and if I wanted to stay alive, I would have to be
in full mental conditions.
The cavalry goes back to meet the attacking infantry. The archers
put themselves in the rear of our infantry and they begin to throw their
arrows at the Knights who begin to fall from their horses. The
Aragonese infantry starts to falter seeing our heavy cavalry advancing
on them, but it is late, and the collision is imminent.
-10-

Deafening cries. The Knights with their great swords begin to tear
the foot attackers. The enemy infantry is numerous, and they also
manage to inflict serious damage on our men on horseback. Among
several, they throw themselves on our horses and they lay them down
for later, using their swords, cutting limbs and heads. The enemy
cavalry has been quite decimated; however, it is directed to one of our
flanks to the place where their infantry meets our Knights fighting to
death. Our archers are thrown sideways and the Castilian infantry is
running to the battle place. Sancho and I are surrounded by both sides
soldiers. Using our swords, we get rid all the Aragonese infants that
come to us. I'm splashed with blood. On several occasions, I had to
wipe my face with my sleeve, as I could not see. Blood was
everywhere, cries, men weeping and looking horrified at their
scattered limbs. Blood sludge on the ground. Sword-bends over here,
over there. I see Sancho and he's just like me. I do not know how
many men I have been able to injure or kill; I have the right arm
aching by handle the heavy sword.
Several Aragoneses approach and push my horse. I fall to the
ground and stand up immediately. My horse hasn't crushed me by
chance. Various soldiers jump on me. I clench my teeth and throw
myself at them, screaming and with my eyes out of my orbits. I don't
know how, but one after another, they're falling all around me. They
want to kill me, but I won't let them! There comes a time when I see
myself surrounded by Aragonese soldiers, but they dare not to get
near. I am surrounded by corpses of their partners. I look at them, I
scream, I clench my teeth and I throw myself at several of them. I
raise my sword threatening them. They run in terror.
Horns sound from the Aragonese field. They're retreat sounds. The
Aragonese King, Ramiro, has been mortally wounded. The Aragonese
troops run to retreat at their rear. We won the battle!
It seems that a Moorish disguised as a Castilian has approached
Ramiro until he arrived next to him. The Moorish with armor and a
helmet only allowing to see his eyes has nailed his spear in one of his
eyes; as the King was distracted. The King had fallen to the ground
-11-

deadly wounded and the attacker began to shout: "The King is dead!
The King is dead!"
I'm looking for Sancho around me. When I find him, I observe that
he had also been knock down from his horse. As me, the metal of his
armor is not visible, as it is all covered in blood and sweat. I find him
leaning on his sword, as exhausted as I am. We hugged each other.
Sancho raises his sword and cries:
"Victory!" And, in unison, the Castilians cast the same cry.
We look for our mounts in the hope that they will continue in this
world. Coincidentally, we locate our horses, who are still alive, and
we climb on them after petting them for a while to make them calm.
Sancho, in my company and his officers, leads the way to the
Aragonese camp. The soldiers, who formerly had besieged the fortress
of Graus, are kneeling on the ground, without their weapons, their
head bowed, as we passed before them.
Sancho is heading towards the Royal store. I stay at the entrance.
There is King Ramiro, lying on his bunk, his face totally disfigured
and full of blood. He's not dead, but it'll take a few hours for him to
die.
My friend, who climbed on a rock, addresses the Aragoneses:
"¡Aragoneses! Your King is fatally wounded. Collect your
belongings and leave these lands. Take your King with you so you can
give him Christian burial. Remember that these lands are protected by
Fernando, King of Castilla and Leon, and will never allow them to be
occupied by any enemy army. Give my condolences to the Aragonese
royal family for my uncle's death."
Shouts of jubilation are heard within the walls of the city of Graus.
They had been besieged for a long time and, probably, they did not
have much time before surrender, allowing the entrance of the
Aragonese troops.
The members of the Army of Aragon depart and leave their camp
assembled. We take advantage of the infrastructures left so that our
soldiers can accommodate and have a place to rest comfortably for a

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few days. They have been traveling for almost month and just had a
hard and fierce battle, so they need and deserve a break.
The monks, who have accompanied us in the voyage, with their old
robes and a cross in hand, go by the battlefield standing near each
fallen and saying their prayers. There are already some crows perched
on the carcasses biting their eyes and tearing them off. Sad picture.
Everything that happened will make me think a lot for the next few
days.
Sancho, his chief officers and I myself stayed in the city. We are
entertained by the hosts who are extremely thankful for having been
rescued from the siege. While stay in the city, the settlers take care of
the fallen in the battle. They lift mountains of corpses to be burned,
not without stripping them of everything that might have value for
them. The horses killed in the battle are cleaved and carried by the
peasants to be consumed as meat. I'm glad to see my horse safe and
sound! —A gift from my family from Vivar.
When I was fourteen years old, my father died. His wish was for
me to be a gentleman in court. Because of my family's friendship with
King Fernando, his son, and friend of mine, Sancho came to the
burial. After seeing how my father disappeared into the earth, while
the cries of pain flowed through the air, I went to court with Sancho.
My mother was sobbing when she gave me the sword of my father
and his best horse. She had lost her husband and now her son was
going away.
"Rodrigo, your father was very proud of you. Carry his sword with
honor and, please, let me hear from you, from time to time. I love you,
son. Take care."
"Mother, I will always carry my father with me and I promise to
write to tell how life is going, as well as the progress I am making.
But, please, write to me too to find out how you are. I'll miss you so
much, mother."
We remain ten days resting in the city of Graus. These Moorish do
know how to enjoy life. Beautiful women in silk clothes danced for us
in a sensual way, while we had the meals that were served. We
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Christians aren’t used to this. The ornaments on the walls, the
crockery, the furniture, everything is of an incomparable beauty. I
think I can get used to live like this. We have a lot to learn from them.
They are able to talk about the moon and the stars. They are versed,
they like to read and to educate themselves. We look like beasts next
to them, or at least that is what it seems to me.
After ten days, we left the place heading back to the court in Leon.

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II - In the court of León.

We are on our way to Leon. We will take the return more calmly or
at least that's what Sancho told me.
"Now, Rodrigo, we're in no hurry." We won't rush as much as
when we were going to help Graus.
Sancho, I admit I'm looking forward to getting there. I'll write my
mother to tell her what happened. I am sure that news that Graus was
on a siege has come to Vivar and that we have gone to their aid. It is
likely, that she will be worried, and it will be a relief for her to know
that I am fine.
"Well, don't hurry, enjoy the trip without stress. On the way, you
looked very nervous, I guess it's normal because you were headed for
your first real battle. Now, you head for the court, relax and enjoy the
way. If you want, we send an emissary to bring a note to your mother
and tell her that you are perfectly, communicating that you will write
more peacefully when you get to Leon."
"Thank you, Sancho."
"By the way, everyone talks about the bravery you have shown in
battle. It shows you have had a good teacher. Ha, ha, ha! Well, enough
jokes, I appreciate you helping me out when we were attacked by the
rear. I recognize that I was totally blocked, and in those difficult
moments, you were great help. So, it is me who must thank you."

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"Sancho, I must meditate a lot about what we've been through these
days. The war is horrific, and I've seen things I couldn’t even Imagine.
Also, I've noticed that I have a lot to learn. If one day I want to be able
to command an army, I must instruct myself, but not only in the use of
weapons, also in directing the soldiers, the strategies and so on. I am
convinced that it is not only important to have a great army, it is also
very important to know how to command it with precision and
cunning. I firmly believe that planning and studying can give pay off
and win the battles. When I am back in court, I am not only going to
strive to strengthen my body and master the weapons, I'm also going
to try to learn the whole war-related things. I've seen a lot of books
and manuscripts in the court that verse on these issues. Not only
Castellan books, I have also seen some Arabic books and I think they
will be latter on, also of great importance. It has become clear to me
that the Moorish are scholars in many topics and probably also in the
art of war."
"Rodrigo, I think my father, the King, is right about you. He always
says you'd be a great asset to the Kingdom. I say more, you are
already. You have fought well, the soldiers have seen you and, many
of them, already admire you. The generalized comment is that if, with
eighteen years, you fight and behave like this, in a few years you will
be a leader. I'm sure your attitude will lead you to be a great
commander of the armies of the Kingdom. At least, if I were to
become a King, —God’s will that would happen several years from
now— I would like to count on you."
The voyage had no setback. I dedicated myself to talk with Sancho
about banal things, anecdotes of the battle, the landscapes that we
were seeing in our way. And to think. To think about how to become
into someone of whom my father, in heaven, and my mother would be
proud. Someone of whom I myself would be proud to serve well my
King and my God.
By the way, how beautiful are the lands of Castilla and Leon.
This time, the journey from Graus to Leon has taken thirty days.

-16-

Dearest mother,
The first thing I want to tell you is that I miss you so much. Here,
although I have great friends, the best of them is Sancho. I always
remember your good words, your caresses and your advice. I
remember a lot about father too.
As you know, we have come in aid of the city of Graus. It belongs
to the taifa of Zaragoza and it always fulfills its payments of pariahs
to the King. Well, King Ramiro of Aragon, may he rest in peace, put
siege to the city and King Fernando was obliged to send his army in
his assistance. Sancho asked his father to take me with him and the
King agreed.
On the way to Graus, I was quite nervous, as I was heading for
battle. I have been prepared hard during these four years that I have
remained in court, but I had not faced the avatars of a real battle.
The war is very sad, mom, I've seen things I couldn't even imagine.
Whenever we talk about battles it seems that everything is glorious,
but they do not count the miseries of war. I don't want to go into
details with you about what was lived, so I'll leave it there.
I want to tell you that both Sancho and the other army officers
congratulated me for my behavior in battle. I took my father's sword
and the horse that you gave me. One and the other have come back
with me. At some point, I was worried for my horse, but finally, at the
end of the battle, I found him, frightened, but safe and sound.
King Ramiro of Aragon was killed by a Moorish soldier disguised
as a Christian. Then I found out that the soldier is called Sadadah.
And that he was wearing the clothes of a Christian soldier as well as
the helmet that only allowed his eyes to be shown. He approached the
King and stabbed the spear in one eye. I must admit that, in one hand,
it seems to me a death without honor and fruit of deceit, but, on the
other hand, because of that incident, the Aragonese troops withdrew
and many deaths were spared on both sides. They say that there is no

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evil that does not come from well. The Aragonese King did not die on
the spot, but he lasted a short time.
I —it should have been the first thing to tell you, and I haven’t—
I'm fine. I didn't suffer any major injuries in the battle. Some scratch
of which there's no more debris left. I hope you heard the news of my
state from the emissary sent to you by Prince Sancho. He's very good
to me, and because of my concern to inform you, he said he'd send
you a reassuring note. Now, I have decided to continue training in the
arts of battle, which seems to be what I am endowed with and what
father encouraged me to do when he was alive. I think the better
formed, I am, the further I will get in this matter and the more
protected my own life the more protected my life will be during the
tosses that the future offers to me.
With all the things that are happening to me, I forgot to ask you: How
are you feeling? Is everything all right? What an ungrateful son you
have, he thinks nothing more than to tell you his adventures and
worries without caring about his mother's condition.
Well, I don't think I have much more to tell you, either. I look forward
to hearing promptly from you and I am wishing that everything goes
well at Vivar, I say Goodbye,
Your son Rodrigo in León, June 25, 1063.
After lacquering the letter with my father’s seal, I deliver it so that
when the messengers leave, they take it to Burgos and get to my
mother’s hands as soon as possible.
Days in court went by in tranquility. Part of my time I spend it in
training and preparation in the art of war. I am getting more and more
an expert horseback battle, swordsmanship, archery and spear use.
Everyone is surprised at how fast I learn and how I can get rid of the
attack of several adversaries at once. I recognize that, beside the
physical training, I dedicate myself to the reading of manuscripts in
which it is detailed how to fight body to body and how to act in every
occasion or circumstance. Being full of explanatory drawings, I do not
-18-

have many problems in getting the idea of each of the movements they
explain in their texts. I understand that the brute strength of which
many Knights boast about is not matched up with knowledge. With
this intellectual formation and its subsequent practice in the training
yard, I get trained in techniques in which, ―through simple
movements― the opponent loses balance to the adversary and one
takes advantage of their strength against themselves. They make him
nervous and lose hand-to-hand combat with relative ease. Mentally, I
repeat what I learned, in the solitude of the room, I reproduce again
and again the movements, while I imagine the opponent that is
attacking me.
Also, I look for all the information I can referring to battle planning
and strategy. I found some Moor manuscripts that make a reference to
their combat tactics. Although I have knowledge of their writing, I had
to find translators to translate what is written in them. Maybe it's in
those Moorish manuscripts where I've found more interesting
information for me. In general, Christian armies are very chaotic and
undisciplined. The most important part of an army in battle is formed
by the cavalry and, in the Christian case, it is formed by Noble
Knights or wealthy men who seek fame and prestige, rather than
obedience to the commander and the common goal of the battle. I took
it as a conclusion that in order to win battles, although the number of
troops is important, it is very important to prepare, study the terrain,
strategy, the soldiers’ obedience and even the impression given to the
enemy. There may be battles that are won even before launching a
single arrow, because the enemy is impressed by our way of acting.
Almost a year has gone by and the news arrives that the armies of
King Fernando have reconquered Coimbra, which was in Muslim
hands. It seems that the Mozarabic, son of Jews, Sisando Davidiz, had
convinced our King of how convenient it was to conquer Coimbra. As
I have been told, Sisando had been educated in Cordoba and had
achieved to have jobs of great importance in Sevilla. Because of all
this, after taking the square, our King named him Earl and gave him
the government of the new County of Coimbra. It seems that there are
-19-

plans to make the city flourish more and more, building several castles
and expanding domains around the area. It was a good decision to
reconquer the city and put Sisando at the government.
I see Sancho coming at me with a face of anger. What could have
happened this time with his father and his brothers? Whenever I see
him with that face is because his father has given proof that, though he
is the eldest brother, Alfonso is his father's favorite. I'm not going to
get rid of listening to him. "My father has played it again! He has told
us that because his health is getting worse, he has made a testament.
You won't believe it! With his decisions, the only thing he's going to
get is for us his children to kill each other and that all the work that
has been done so far to try to make this Kingdom something big and
flourishing gets tumbled down. I don't get it! I know there are
traditions, but this goes from chestnut to dark. And above, as always,
Alfonsito is his favorite and leaves him the jewel of the crown. I do
not know what will happen when my father dies, but the truth is that I
augur not good for the Kingdom or for his children."
"Calm down, Sancho. It won't be that bad either. What decisions
has your father taken?"
"What will calm me? Look, he leaves Alfonsito the Kingdom of
Leon, the jewel of the crown, with the pariahs of the Taifa Toledo".
Sancho makes a sound similar to what a rabid dog would do. "He
leaves me Castilla with the pariahs of the taifa of Zaragoza. Galicia
and Portugal to our brother Garcia with the pariahs of Badajoz and
Sevilla", he growls again. "And my sisters Urraca and Elvira bequeath
the cities of Zamora and Toro with their corresponding incomes. What
a mess! And you know that, on top of that, my sister Urraca has
preferences for Alfonso, let’s see how this thing ends. We could have
a flourishing Kingdom and my father is wrecking it in pieces. Besides,
the way we get along, we will see if the southern Moorish won’t try to
oppress us and take advantage of us, and make us lose ground." He
growls again. "By the way, he also told me that next week he'll make
you Knight. He is very surprised by your progress and he knows of
your loyalty to the crown. Congratulations!"
-20-

"Well, Sancho, thank you, first of all, for the pleasant news of my
nomination. You know I wanted it with all my soul and I will not
disappoint you. On the other hand, do not obfuscate, the customs of
the Christian Kings have always been those: bequeath their domains to
all their children, always split and share. This shouldn’t be new to
you, in a way it is understandable: a father must feel bad to leave
everything to a son and nothing to the others. I also understand that,
probably, or the Kingdom, it's not the best, but we'll see how the
events unfold. Perhaps, among brothers, you get to understand each
other and the Kingdoms, over time, can be rejoined. Be patient."
"I'm sure I'll pass, my friend Rodrigo, but I'm afraid, when my
father is missing, there's going to be more than words between
brothers and that's very sad. By the way, prepare yourself to leave.
The King travels to Zamora for some business and he wants us to go
with him. There, in Zamora, you will be Knighted."
So, we left for Zamora with King Fernando. Counting the King, we
are twenty horse riders and it takes us a couple of days to get to the
city of Zamora. We could have taken a lot less, but the King had pains
all over his body and we made many stops for him to rest. The King
had been recommended not to travel, but he insisted and now he was
paying the consequences. The King is already forty-eight years old,
he's no young man to do these crossings on horseback.
What a thrill! In the Church of Santiago, located outside the walls
of the city of Zamora, opposite the castle that was ordered by King
Fernando to be constructed; I am knelt on the ground and in front of
me, our beloved King. As the rule of chivalry dictates, I have fasted
for a whole day and although I should be hungry, the truth is that I
have a shrunken stomach. I have spent all night praying and thanking
God for all that is given to me, and the joy I feel for being made a
Christian Knight. This morning, I have taken confession and I have
taken communion. My clothes, sword and armor have also been
blessed. I'm dressed in my armor, as well as white cloak and belt. A
shield and a helmet are on the floor at my right. The sword my mother
gave me, and that belonged to my father, is in the hands of the King. I
-21-

try to control myself, so my tears won’t burst. How proud my father
will be at this moment, seeing me from Glory where, surely, has
bestowed upon him our Lord Jesus Christ! It makes me very sad that
he can't be here with me. I also think of my mother, I had no time to
tell her that I was going to be Knighted. Almost better, as she would
have endeavored to come to Zamora and she is already old to travel.
I'll write her a letter telling her the good news when I find myself back
in Leon.
"I, Fernando I of Leon, Castilla, Galicia and Portugal find myself
here, to godfather the appointment as Knight of Don Rodrigo Díaz,
natural of Vivar ―Castilian of pure strain and noble blood. Son of
Diego Lainez, Noble Knight who fought to broaden the borders of our
Kingdom. This man, who is to be appointed Knight, has shown in
battle his bravery and loyalty to the Kingdom and myself. I personally
can attest to his fidelity without any reproach. Also, I can attest to his
Christian devotion without blemish. However, I ask, to those gathered
here, that if anyone knows important reason for not making this
appointment, communicate them it at this very moment. Anyone who
kept quiet knowing that the sponsor is not worthy of the Kingdom’s
trust, will be committing a serious crime against the King."
The silence in the temple was sepulchral.
"Rodrigo Díaz." The King holds the sword on my right shoulder. In
the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost". He touches me
with the sword on the other shoulder, on my head, and back to my
right shoulder. "I appoint you a Christian Knight of our Kingdom."
Sancho approaches to me. He takes my helmet and puts it on my head.
I stand up. The King gives me my father’s sword with which he has
just appointed me Knight, and Sancho gave me the shield. I make the
sign of the cross on my face. I turn, and the attendants jubilantly
shout. I'm a Christian Knight! I feel happy and proud. How hard it is
for me to hold back my tears! One tear escapes my eye, and Sancho
smiles at me. I will always be faithful to my friend Sancho.
We remain several days in the city of Zamora, while the King attends
his affairs with the nobles of the square. I imagine that, among other
-22-

things, he will want to leave everything settled as he wished for when
he passes away; those matters referring to how the city of Zamora
would become the domain of his daughter Urraca. The nobles of the
city have sworn allegiance to the King and his desires. I dedicate
myself, along with Sancho, to the visit of the beautiful city that is
crossed by the Duero River. We walked around the high walls that
have recently been raised again by King’s orders as Zamora is very
important in the defense of the Kingdom. Not in vain, the King called
it "the well fenced" when he saw in person how it turned out when it
was finished. A good work has been done for the defense of the city, I
don’t think that taking it to assault was an easy task. We tour the town
surroundings on horseback as the place has small oak and pine forests.
We also visited the riverside orchard areas where the peasants do not
stop coddling their land to be able to collect their best fruits. I think
the weather is hotter than in Leon and for that, perhaps, the orchards
are more fruitful than in our city.
We're going back to Leon. The truth is that I really want to get
there, so I can write to my mother and tell her the good news. Her son
has been Knighted! I'm sure she'll be proud of me. I must go visit her
at some point, I would like to see her face when I enter Vivar,
mounted on my horse, elegantly dressed in armor and white cloak.
The journey has no more complications than the King's moans; the
truth is that it must hurt all his body. He should have listened to the
doctors and either not have taken the trip or done it by car. But of
course, King Fernando complained when he was told about traveling
by car.
"You think I'm a lady!" He cried, showing how offended he was
when the idea was proposed to him.
I bet he's thinking about the car now, though I don't think he'll ever
recognize it.

-23-

III - Back home. Vivar. Burgos. Early 1065.

"Rodrigo —Sancho approaches me— I've been thinking about it a
lot and I think I'm going to move to Burgos. In the end, in a few years,
it will have to be my home and center of my Kingdom, since my
father would leave Leon to my brother Alfonso. I thought you'd like to
be by my side and come with me. You can stay in Burgos or, if you
want, and I'm sure you'll want to go to the land your father left you in
Vivar, so you can be with your mother."
"Sancho, you do not know the joy you give me. I am convinced
that my eyes are illuminated with joy. I was thinking of going to Vivar
and taking possession of my land. I didn't know how to tell you. I'm
also looking forward to seeing my mother and it's time for me to free
her from the pressure involved in land management and mills. As you
know, my father built, next to the riverbed of the Ubierna River,
several mills to make flour. These mills are of great importance in the
area, since they allow to grind the wheat and the barley of the peasants
of the zone. I hope everything is still working and there are not many
problems, you know how millers are —I get quiet and start thinking
for a moment—. On the other hand, I think, in my humble opinion,
that it would be better for you that you leave court, here in Leon,
because I see it gets more and more tense with your brothers. Even the
-24-

way you look at your father may not bring you anything good, if you
continue here near them."
"Enough talk, Rodrigo." It seems that Sancho would congratulate
himself with the words of his good friend. "We'll get ready and we'll
leave for Burgos as soon as possible. I'm going to talk to the King to
communicate the decision. It seems to me that he also thinks like you
and thinks it will be good to put a little distance between us right now.
By the way, I'm also looking forward to meeting your mother and
telling her the disaster she has for a son. Ha, ha, ha! It's a joke,
Rodrigo, don't make that face! You know well I think the opposite.
Few are like you — Sancho almost chokes on the laughter that
provoked him to see my face. On the other hand, I thought you'd
rather stay in your land, in Vivar, but there is no problem as it is next
to Burgos. In just over an hour, we can find each other just by going
for a walk! If necessary, on horseback, nailing spur, in a few minutes I
can have you by my side."
"Just because you are my Prince, otherwise, sometimes you ... Ha,
ha, ha!" I react, while I choke an invisible neck in front of him. “Okay,
I'll get ready for the departure. It's a short trip, if we hurry, we can be
there in three days."
"Well, yes, Rodrigo, but we shall go without haste. I won't mind
enjoying the trip, and visit with tranquility the villages that we go
through."
After three days we departed and, as you would suppose, the King
agreed with our departure. Father and son hug. Among them, although
with their manifest differences, it is noticeable the logical affection
that they have for each other. In a glimpse, I can tell that both have
slightly wet eyes. There are also hugs between siblings. Alfonso and
Garcia wish him a good trip and one can also tell that they will miss
each other. Urraca says goodbye with his hand and Elvira kisses and
hugs his brother.
"Rodrigo —King Fernando approaches me— take good care of my
son. He is strong and courageous, but also very stubborn and reckless.

-25-

I know I can count on your loyalty. Thanks for everything, Rodrigo. I
hope we meet again soon."
"Your majesty, you know that Sancho is not only my Prince, he is
also my best friend. He will always count on my loyalty. My fidelity
to the crown, to my King, and all that it entails I cannot doubt. Do not
worry, every time you need me I will be by your side."
On the first day, we arrived to Sahagun, where we are staying. We
are well received in their monastery dedicated to Saint Facundo and
Saint Primitive, men of many saints’ tradition, as they were children
of St. Marcelo and Saint Nonia. They had up to ten or twelve children
and all of them are holy martyrs. Saint Facundo and Saint Primitivo
were Roman legionaries who converted to Christianity. Because of
this, they were persecuted and finally captured. After the capture, they
had to undergo cruel torture, being thrown their bodies to the Cea
River, which passes through the locality. The lifeless bodies were
rescued by the Christians in the area and raised the primitive sanctuary
that was consecrated to both martyrs. It was destroyed, on several
occasions by the Muslims, but rebuilt many others. In the restoration
ordered by King Alfonso III, back in the year 872, it was donated to
the monks who arrived from Cordoba, being a man called Alonso their
abbot, and its activity revitalized.
In the monastery, a certain stir has been mounted, since it is
unusual that a Prince shows up, and more without notice, but soon
everything goes back to normal. They give us accommodation and a
monastic dinner. The abbot is not only friendly, but he obliges us,
always within the austerity that can offer a monastery of these
characteristics. It is worth mentioning the cream made of leeks
cultivated by the monks themselves on the banks of the Cea River.
They also offer us rich lentil and chickpeas stews, as well as the
possibility, which we refused, that they prepare us some frog legs or
snails that appear to be, according to them, an exquisite delicacy.
Between lentils and chickpeas, there is a piece of lamb, so there is no
shortage of meat at dinner. Better some lamb than frogs and snails.

-26-

"Ay, Rodrigo, I almost stir my guts when the abbot goes and offers
us to eat frogs and snails. Ha, ha, ha! What strange customs they have
in some places! They may have been brought from the old days, when
the monks who started the monastery came back from the south. Some
say that over there, in the south, the snails are stewed and considered a
rich delicacy". Sancho makes a face of disgust and takes out his
tongue, while simulating a retching.
"Hush, Hush, the same thing happened to me. How can they eat
those bugs that crawl on the ground leaving that slime? Aj! I can't
even imagine putting that in my mouth", my face shows, in all
certainty, the disgust I'm feeling. "And frogs! They cut off their legs
and eat them. I'd rather leave the subject, Sancho. This isn't going to
end well."
"Ha, ha, ha! Rodrigo, then rest well, if you can, you know how the
monasteries’ cots are. I must think If I throw myself in one of those
cots that have offered us or to throw myself to the ground, that looks
softer. Ha, ha, ha!"
"Good night, Sancho."
"Good night, Rodrigo. How close I see you from your lands!"
Words that put a smile on my lips.
I have trouble sleeping, but not because of the cot’s discomfort, but
because I am nervous of how close is the land that watch me get born
and grow. As well as, because I will be able to see my mother. I
wonder how she is?
We get up and the monks give us some bowls of milk and some
pieces of bread for breakfast. We joked by telling them if that was
breakfast for a Prince; when they looked back in fear, we started to
laugh and tell them that it is a joke, that we are very grateful for their
welcome.
We leave again, and the abbot and the monks go out to say good
bye.
"Thank you, Prince Sancho, for your visit. We hope to see you
again soon." The abbot says goodbye, bowing.

-27-

We continue along the roads towards Burgos. The grounds are
quite flat with few rises or descents, so the road is getting light
without too much effort for our horses. We make several stops along
the way to observe the fields that accompany us in our journey.
Sancho is committed to hunting a deer that has crossed our way, so we
devote a good time to that task. We took the deer for roasting and
eating. I can tell that Sancho is not in a hurry to get to Burgos and try
to enjoy the trip as much as possible.
We arrived already, ―when the night is near― to the locality of
Carrion. We headed to La Casona, owned by Gomez Diaz and his
wife Teresa Pelaez, the Counts Vanigomez. Our new hosts built, back
on the year 1047, the monastery of Saint Zoilo, a bridge over the river
and a hospital for pilgrims. They are good people, typical Castilians.
The Countess is related to royalty, as her father was Pelayo Froilaz,
therefore, she is great-granddaughter of King Bermudo II.
"Majesty, why have you not let us know about your visit in
advanced? We would have received you with greater luxury than we
can offer you so suddenly." The Count addresses Sancho after the
proper bow.
"Don't worry, Count, we didn't know in what places we would stop.
We are headed to Burgos and decided to make our last stop in Carrion.
The previous stop was in Sahagun’s monastery, and you can imagine
that the place cannot be more austere and simple. Tomorrow we will
leave and try, if God wants, to get to Burgos at once. We will get up
early so that the night won’t fall upon us." Sancho responds to the
Count, while making gestures for him to get up.
"Well, come in without delay, I'll have you prepared some supper
with what may be in our kitchen. I give you my apologies again, if we
cannot treat you as we should." Continues the Count convicted for not
being able to feast you as it is due to the son of the King.
"Gomez, I'm sure we won't have any complaints about you or how
you treat us. I introduce to you my good friend, Knight Don Rodrigo
Díaz, born in Vivar. He accompanies me in all my voyages. You may

-28-

have heard of him." I come a little closer to the Count, and I make a
slight reverence.
"Of course, we've heard of him. They say that he accompanied you
to Graus when the King of Aragon, Ramiro, who may rest in peace,
decided to besiege the city. For all they tell, this young man is
courageous and a great warrior. To our ears have arrived comments
that those of Aragon were running in terror before the onslaughts of a
certain Rodrigo Díaz, born in lands of Burgos. You know how
troubadours are, I guess they always exaggerate a little the Castilian’s
deeds to add more thrill to their songs."
"You have not been deceived, you should have seen him on the
battlefield. As he did on horseback and afterwards on foot, he took the
life of many Aragoneses. When the battle was coming to an end,
sometimes I saw him surrounded by several opponents and with his
cries and gestures, he made anyone flee. They had seen what had
happened to their comrades, moments earlier, when they tried to kill
him. He's a beast, I assure you. Ha, ha, ha!"
"You exaggerate too much, friend Sancho."
"Majesty, Don Rodrigo." The Count speaks to us, while a beautiful
woman is coming. "I introduce to you my wife, Countess Teresa
Pelaez. As you know, she is great-granddaughter of King Bermudo
II." One can tell he is proud to be related to someone of royalty, albeit
a little far away. "Come wife, I introduce to you Prince Sancho, eldest
son of our well-beloved King Fernando and his friend, Knight Don
Rodrigo Díaz." The Countess bows to Sancho and I approach her to
kiss her hand.
"Delighted to welcome you in our humble abode. I hope you feel
comfortable. I will speak to the service immediately to prepare a
dinner with what is in our pantries. You look tired from the trip.
Meanwhile, dear husband, why don't you ask for a room to be
prepared so that they can retire when they consider it appropriate after
dinner?" One can tell she is a woman of character and government of
her house.

-29-

"Yes, dear. Please, will you get into the living room and get
comfortable, meanwhile I prepare our best rooms?"
"Oh, Sancho, I think I know who is wearing the pants in this house.
Ha, ha, ha!" I tell the Prince when we are left alone.
"How innocent you are, Rodrigo! You handle the battlefield and
the training camp very well, but you still haven't noticed who handles
weapons in men's homes. Ha, ha, ha! You'll tell me when you have a
wife."
We spent the evening with the counts in conversations without
importance. They're talking about the monastery of San Zoilo. It
seems that, previously, it was much smaller, it was very worn out and
it was dedicated to San Juan Bautista. They put all their efforts to
rehabilitate it the best way. And because some monks brought from
Cordoba some relics of St. Zoilo, it was decided to dedicate it to this
saint. They are very proud of the work done. They also tell us that
they rehabilitated the bridge over the river, as there had been several
accidents, people and animals got injured as they crossed it. On the
other hand, they are also happy because, not long ago, they had
finished the works in a house that would devote to treat the pilgrims
who pass by with some problem or affection. It is a hospital for
pilgrims, but its intention was that any inhabitant who needed it was
also treated in it, especially if it was a child. The Countess is quite
concerned about children, who seem to be her weakness, and says she
cannot bear to see a child having it rough.
The night we spent on the beds provided by the counts has nothing
to do with the monastery. Although I am still nervous to arrive, I
recognize that tonight I have slept well in that fluffy, fragrant bed.
"It has been a pleasure to have you in our house," say the Earls, as
we set out for Burgos. "we will always remember your visit."
"Count, Countess, thank you for your hospitality. If you decide to
make a visit to Burgos, do not hesitate to go through the palace. You
will be well received so I can return your hospitality" Sancho
answered as he climbs his horse. "We will not delay in our departure,

-30-

to see if we avoid getting entertained in the road, and we arrive in
Burgos before the night falls."
We left Carrion to Burgos almost at sunrise, after a delicious
breakfast of cow's milk and some sweet buns that the counts put at our
disposal.
We have almost twenty leagues of road to Burgos and then there
are about two leagues to Vivar, my house. I imagine I will leave for
Vivar tomorrow, as we will surely be late, and I would like to present
myself at home, ―to my mother― a little cleaner and neater than I
am going to be today at the end of the journey.
Sancho, sometimes, seems to guess what goes through my head:
"Rodrigo, today, when we get to the palace, you will stay in it, so
you can take a nice bath and change your clothes. Tomorrow I'm
leaving with you to Vivar. I want to see your mother's face when you
arrive and, by the way, give also a hug to the woman who gave life to
my best friend."
"Thank you, Sancho, I was also thinking of doing so. I want to
present myself to my mother in the best possible look and, probably, it
won't be the one I have when we get to Burgos."
We passed by the town of Osorno and decided to stop after
crossing it, as we found River Abanades. This river flows a little
further on in the famous Pisuerga, which crosses the city of
Valladolid. The river has a large flow and it is limited on both sides by
a large number of trees. We've been freshening up and the horses
calmed their thirst. Then we continued on our way to Burgos.
We passed on a stone bridge, after crossing the Pisuerga River, and
reach Melgar de Fernamental ―named after Fernan Armentalez,
descendant of the Counts of Amaya, whom not long ago was devoted
to repopulating the area. In this area pass a few Roman roads, so it is
clear that it has always been a transfer area since immemorial time.
We arrived at Sasamon, where Octavio Augusto settled his camp
to, from here, carry out the campaigns against Cantabrians and
Astures. It shows the great Roman presence in the area with the two

-31-

Roman bridges over the Brulles River. And the Roman road that goes
to Zaragoza.
Sancho has also been impressed with the local Church takes the
opportunity to buy some cheese that, seems to have a good reputation
in the area. We have tasted some good pieces of the cheese and its
fame is well-deserved.
We continue on our way when our destination is near, and we
passed by Tardajos, where Nuño Nuñez built a fortification. You will
also find the churches of San Pelayo and Santa Eulalia.
"Look, Rodrigo, there's Burgos. We've practically arrived. We'll go
straight to the castle and rest. Tomorrow will be another day and we'll
leave for Vivar. I imagine you'll be anxious."
"Yes, Sancho, but, as you say, tomorrow will be another day." I
need a nice bath and a little rest. These trips are almost more tiring
than the struggles in the training camp. Ha, ha, ha!"
"By the way, Rodrigo, do you know that Burgos comes from the
word 'burgo' which means ‘city’? We're in the ‘city’, in plural. I
suspect that this place will be important to me. When I reign, it will be
the capital of the Kingdom without a doubt. My father also had it as
capital until he decided to move to Leon."
We go through the streets of the city founded back in the year 884
by Count Diego Porcelos, when our ancestors advanced establishing
Christian Kingdoms for the lands dominated by the Moors. In the
distance there is the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña which was
practically destroyed in the year 934 by the Moors. About two
hundred monks were martyred, of whom probably none saved their
lives. Such sad episodes our History has! At the top, we see the castle,
our destination for today and permanent location for my friend
Sancho. We crossed the Mighty Arlanzon River by the Stone Bridge
and went up to the castle. I can't wait to get there!
The cortege awaits us at the gates of the castle. They take our
horses and we go inside. Sancho tells them that we want to wash and
then we will be in the living room for dinner. They all do whatever
they can to serve the Prince.
-32-

After taking a bath and having dinner, I'm heading to the room
assigned to me. I am in a hurry to fall asleep as soon as possible and
that tomorrow comes. How would my mother be?
"Rodrigo! What's going on? Weren’t you so urged to go to Vivar? I
can’t believe that I have to wake you up. Ha, ha, ha!" Sancho is
shaking me, while I'm trying to open my eyes. I don't know where my
friend gets the strength. Always living in a hurry. He's not going to die
soon!
"Okay, okay, Sancho. I am coming. It took me a while to sleep, as
the nerves had me in suspense for a while and now it has taken its toll.
I'm getting up. I'll pass the washbowl through my head and I'll be like
new." I don't know if I say it or I babble. My eyes are stuck, and I
can't open them. I recognize my good friend by the voice, not because
I see him.
Once I get up, I turn to the washbowl and refresh my face. It looks
like I'm getting my eyes opened little by little. I take more water and I
wet my neck after I move my long hair aside. I have to comb my hair
a little. What a hair I have! I ask one of the maids to do me the favor
of combing it. She brings a large barb comb and when I sit down, she
starts to unravel my hair. I don't want to present myself to my mother
looking like this.
"Thank you for your service." I show my best smile to the young
maid.
"Whatever you need, Don Rodrigo." Replies the young lady, she
drew a little wicked smile.
"Well, Sancho, whenever you want, we can leave to my house."
"What do you mean, whenever I want? I have been waiting for you
to get ready, I even lost track of the time! Come on, you're heavy."
The two leagues that separate Burgos from Vivar seem eternal to
me, even though we are moving fast. I'm dressed in the best finery that
allowed the horseback riding and a white cloak. My father's sword
hanging in the belt and on both sides of the horse I carry my shield
―that has castles and lions― as well as my helmet.

-33-

We arrived in Vivar, the children approached running when they
saw the cortege coming. Sancho called six riders to join us and they
go with the Prince's banners. The Prince himself is also wearing some
good finery that clearly indicate his position. He wears his tunic with a
shield on his chest.
The adults, watching me pass, greet me with their hand. I think
some of them have recognized me. I come home. There are people
working around it. I know some of them, some others I don't. A few
tears have passed. We get off our horses and get close to the door. It's
closed, and I hit it with my knuckles.
Inside I can hear my mother's voice:
"How heavy you are! Don't you know how to do anything without
asking me? Have you finished with the pigsties? " And she opens the
door.
"Hello, mother."
"Son!" Her eyes are filled with tears. "My son!" She throws herself
at me and hugs me. She hugs me very tightly. "My son!" She repeats.
"Calm down, mother." I say, embracing her back. "If you keep this
up, you're going to make me cry, too, and it's not necessary in the
presence of a Prince." My eyes are moistened with emotion.
"Let me see you! You've become a man. A strong man. And you,
your Majesty, must be Prince Sancho. My son always talks about you
in his letters. I see a strong friendship." My mother bows to the Prince.
"Please, you are my best friend’s mother. You can treat me as
family. It is my pride to be in the presence of the woman who has
given life to Rodrigo."
My mother has aged quite a bit in these years. I see her slimmer
and bony. I guess my father’s loss and her son departure, has quite a
lot to do with it.
"You look well, mother! You're still as young and pretty."
"You're a liar, Rodrigo. Time is not forgiving. But come in, come
in. I didn't expect any kind of visit, so I didn't prepare the house
properly for you."

-34-

"Don't worry, Madame." Sancho went on. "I’ll stay to eat, but then
I'll go back to Burgos. I will not disturb you more than what is fair,
but I could not miss this reunion with Rodrigo. Even I am excited and
about to let go the tears that peep through my eyes. If you don't mind,
I'll stay to eat, and I will soon leave. So, I will leave you for you to
talk and recover the time of absence."
"Prince Sancho, you can stay as long as you consider. This is my
son's house and, due to your relationship, yours too." My mother's
wrinkled face outlines a pretty smile.
"Thank you, but I have business to deal with. So, I will not delay
anything more than needed. I also must organize my new house.
Rodrigo will tell you the ins and outs, I will fix my residence in the
castle of Burgos. So, you know where your house is. You will always
be welcome."
We had a very pleasant evening. My mother, who sits next to me,
doesn't stop hugging me, holding my hand, squeezing me. It seems
that she did not end up believing that her son is back home.
"Well, Rodrigo, I am leaving for Burgos. You know I'm counting
on you so that you belong to my council. At the moment, I am still
bound to what my father dictates, but at some point, I will be the one
who has to make decisions in the Kingdom and I will always welcome
the word of a good friend."
"Don't worry, Sancho. I will be with you often and, in any case,
whenever you may call me. By the way, there are good hunting areas
around the place, so you know, whenever you want, we can settle to
hunt here."
We merged in a warm and friendly embrace. The Prince climbs on
his horse and both my mother and I watching leaving. Sancho turns
and waves good-bye with his hand. The kids run after them until they
leave Vivar. Not every day there is a royal family visit in the place.
I spend the following days watching the land, the mills and houses
that my father left me and that had been well managed with such good
work by my mother. I also talk to the people of the place. I
remembered many of them from my childhood and others are not only
-35-

remembered, but we merge in hugs and laughter. Those kids which I
played to the war wielding sticks as a sword were men now, and they
work on my land. Those were the times!
Days and months passed. Everyone tells me my mother has
rejuvenated. She walks from one side to the other and doesn't stop
singing. She looks happy and I am not myself knowing that, to some
extent, I am the cause of that happiness. It's a shame she couldn't have
any more children. From what I was told, when I was very young, my
mother became pregnant and did not have good labor. The son who
came out of her bowels was dead and, due to the damage produced,
she could no longer become pregnant. My father always loved her and
always said he didn’t care about the fact of her not being able to have
more children, although I know that he would have liked to extend the
family.
I go very often to the castle, in Burgos, to be with Sancho. We talk
and continue with our training in the training yard. Sometimes, we go
out to ride in the surroundings and enjoy the beautiful landscapes of
the area.

-36-

IV - A King dies and a Kingdom is divided.

Sancho is worried. News has come to him that his father is not
well.
"Rodrigo, I hear for my father. Some people are sure he won't be
here next year. I'm worried. Besides the fact that I don’t want to lose
my father, it is certain that, afterwards, my brothers and I will get into
trouble. My father's will is not fair, and that's going to bring
complications. I do not know what it would have cost him to leave the
Kingdoms to his first-born, ―that is to me―, and to have left my
brothers in a good position, just as he has done with my sisters. We
will wait and see what the future brings, but I do not agree to separate
what has cost a lot to unite."
"Sancho, don't worry about it now. Nothing has happened yet, so
try to enjoy life and what you have now. By the way, I know you have
several marriage offers. Do you ever think about getting married? I
want to see you settle down."
"¡Ha, ha, ha!, Rodrigo. Well, I resist. Yes, it is true that there are a
few offers of marriage, but I would lose the freedom that I have now,
and you cannot imagine how well I spend my time being single. There
will be time to choose a wife, but that moment has not yet arrived."
In December a letter with the seal of the King arrives from Leon. It
is shor.
-37-

Dear brother Sancho, our father, King Fernando, is very ill. I don't
think he'll be here by the end of the month. I beg you to come to be by
your side in these difficult moments.
Alfonso
December 10, 1065.
Sancho sends for me and we left for Leon.
On December 27, King Fernando gave his last sigh and died in the
presence of his wife, Sancha, and his sons and daughters. There were
also the bishops that the King called for when he saw his end getting
closer.
I was in the rooms beside the rest of Knights and nobles, when
Sancho, as the eldest son of the King, came out of the Royal
Chambers and addressed us.
"The King is dead."
Two days before, although he looked pretty bad, the King visited
the church of San Isidoro where he prayed and accompanied the
cleric’s choir who was there during the liturgy. The morning of
Christmas day, he participated in the Holy mass, and had communion
and, later, he had to be taken into the bed, for he could not do it by
himself. On the 26th the King saw that his end was coming and called
for the bishops, clerics and others. He made himself dress with the
King's own robes, including his royal mantle; he put on his crown and
commanded to be moved to the church. He knelt in front of the saints’
relics, and prayed, beseeching God to receive his soul:
"Yours is the power, yours is the Kingdom, Sir. You are above of
all Kings and you are given all the Kingdoms of Heaven and earth.
And thus, the Kingdom that I received from you, and I have ruled by
your will; you wanted that I returned it to you now. I ask you to
embrace my soul, which is leaving the maelstrom of this world, and
embrace it with peace."

-38-

After his words to God, the King stripped his mantle and his crown.
He laid on the ground and received the ashes upon his head.
The King, ―fifty-five years old― has passed away. He has reigned
twenty-seven years, six months and twelve days. May the King rest in
peace. We'll see what happens from now on.
The remains of the King were transferred to the monastery of San
Isidoro in the same Leon, called until recently of San Juan Bautista. It
was sad the cortege which, opening the way by horse, was formed by
twenty Knights with formal uniforms, banners of the King, as well as
crepe ―or black ribbons― tied in their spears. Behind the royal
coffin, the widow, Sancha; the firstborn Sancho, and the rest of the
sons and daughters: Alfonso, Garcia, Elvira and Urraca, walked with a
bowed head. All of them wearing black. Behind the family walked a
crowd of Knights, nobles and family friends. The whole city of Leon
was present watching the cortege pass. Christianity was mourning.
King Fernando "The Great" was buried next to his father, Sancho
"The Eldest".
At the very moment of King Fernando’s death, the will left by him
was made effective. Sancho is therefore proclaimed Sancho II King of
Castilla, Alfonso is proclaimed Alfonso VI King of Leon and Garcia
is proclaimed Garcia II Rey de Galicia.
Once the funeral rituals were finished, my friend Sancho addresses
to me:
"Rodrigo, we are leaving again for Burgos. There is nothing else
we can do here. My mother will not be alone, as Alfonso is staying in
Leon. Besides, this is not my place and staying longer in it will only
complicate things."
"As you wish, majesty, let us leave."
Sancho is very quiet on the way back to Burgos.
"Sancho, let me ask you, I see you are very quiet. How are you? I
don't like to see my friend like that." I don't know how to address to
Sancho anymore. He's a King now.
"Rodrigo, please. To begin with, I would ask you to treat me as
always. We are friends and I know you respect the crown more than
-39-

your own life, but I find it very strange that you talk to me like that.
On the other hand, I'm sad about my father's death. I'm also saddened
by my mother's memory. She loved my father very much and now
she's left alone. I don't know how much she is going to last, but it
seems to me that not much. I saw her badly affected. She has aged a
lot these days. She looks deranged." Sancho stops as if he is thinking
the next thing he's going to tell me. "You know I don't agree with what
my father has done with the Kingdom. There's no point in splitting it.
It has taken a lot of effort to unify it, to split it now. Strange Navarrese
tradition to split the Kingdom among the children." He silences again
for a few moments. "Now, I will not undertake any action because I
do not want to see my mother suffering to watch her children fight,
but the day she is gone I will try to unify it again. Now, I cannot,
because perhaps, that will kill her, and I could not forgive myself for
that, but this cannot remain this way."
"Sancho, I feel your sadness and, as you know, I make it mine. The
way your mother feels is normal. They were a good marriage. The
same thing happened to my mother when my father passed away, but,
little by little, everything must pass. Time heals the wounds and
hopefully in your mother's case, too. As for the actions you have
thought to undertake, I think you are right: if you make enemies out of
your brothers, your mother will suffer a lot to see her children
fighting. It is better that time passes, so you also think about what you
want to do, that way you can be sure of your ideas or throw them
away. When your mother is absent, ―God’s will that happens in
many years― you will take the decisions that you consider
appropriate. You know I'm by your side."
"Thank you for being with me, Rodrigo."
The way to Burgos, apart from being sad, has no complications.
When we arrive at the castle, I go to my chambers and I am properly
groomed. After a while, they knock on my door and tell me that the
King requires my presence.
Once I finished dressing, I head to the Royal Hall and there I meet
with Sancho.
-40-

"Rodrigo, come closer. You have shown for all these years that you
are, as predicted by my father, a great value for the crown and for the
Christendom. As well you know, also for me, as you are always by my
side. In a weapon conflict, very few soldiers are like you. I've decided,
if you want to accept it, name you my banner. You will be my right
hand in everything related to the campaigns that are set, and if I am
not present, you will be my representation. I want you to be the
greatest officer in my armies. I don't think there's a more qualified
man. Do you accept my offer, Rodrigo?"
"Majesty." I kneel before King Sancho. "Of course, I accept. It's the
greatest honor you can make to a Knight. I will always be by your
side, just as I have done so far in all the tasks that I was entrusted.
Thank you, your Majesty. I am speechless."
"Get up, Rodrigo. Now, if you want, you can go to Vivar. I have
not plan of making any campaign and your place is on your land. You
know, however, that I like to see you around here and you're a few
steps from Burgos. Give me a hug and I'll see you soon."
"My King, as I did before and now with more reason, I will be
frequently in Burgos and whenever you require my presence. Thank
you for inviting me to go to Vivar. After the events lived in Leon, I
want to spend more time with my mother." I warmly embrace my
King and friend. "I'm leaving immediately."
I get out of the room and before I get to the door, I turn to Sancho
and bow to him.
As I head to Vivar I am thinking. How the circumstances in life
change. My best friend has lost his father, and, because of that, he has
become King of Castilla. He is now King, but although that is what he
wanted, he is saddened by the loss of his father, by the situation his
mother abides, and because he believes that he should fight his
brothers in order to reunite the Kingdom. Good problem he has in
front! And it seems to me that the same problem is going to affect me.
He had named me his first officer! The one who carries his royal
banner. The one who, in the event of the King's absence in battle,
would give orders to the armies. His right hand on military matters. I
-41-

will continue preparing myself for such a task. It is a great
responsibility which, although desired, always generates respect. Will
I be able to perform it efficiently?
The days go by, the months pass by, and I am next to my mother in
Vivar. Occasionally, I visit the King in Burgos, but, thank God, there
are no conflicts in which to use weapons. The taifa of Zaragoza is
calm, its pariahs fee religiously and the Kings Alfonso and Garcia,
―Sancho's brothers― have not done any action against Castilla.
I continue to study military tactics and perform daily physical
training and I exercise technical weapon handling. If I must see myself
in a battle situation, I want to be as prepared as possible, and more
now, that I am the King’s first officer.

-42-

V- Year 1067. Queen Mother Sancha of Leon dies.

We are in October of the year 1067. A horse rider comes galloping
at my doorstep. I expect bad news, it's not normal that I horse arrives
so suffocated bringing messages from the King. There must be a
hurry. I remove the King’s seal to read it immediately:
Rodrigo, I need you to come to Burgos. I must leave immediately to
Leon and I want you to join me. I got a letter from my brother Alfonso
telling me that my mother is wrong, and they don’t expect her to live
long. Please, don't delay. I'll wait for you to leave.
I, King Sancho.
I call on the rider to get off the horse, freshen up himself and water
the animal.
"Thank you, Don Rodrigo."
"Mother, I have to go. The King has written telling me that his
mother is dying. He wants me to go with him to Leon. I must
accompany him."
"Of course, Rodrigo. Right now, the King ―your friend― needs
you by his side. Don't delay. Get ready and don't keep him waiting.
You know you leave everything in good hands here."
"Thank you, mother."

-43-

I pick up what's necessary for the trip and I get on the road
immediately towards Burgos. I march without haste, but without
pause and in three hours I find myself in the presence of the King.
I don't do any reverence. I approach the King and offer my best
hug.
"Let's leave whenever you want, Sancho. I have come as soon as I
received your missive."
We left almost immediately to Leon. Sancho is nervous. Merely,
two years ago he has lost his father and his mother is on her way to
meet him. We make fair stops to eat and sleep, delaying as little as
possible in order to arrive quickly to Leon. Sancho wants to be able to
say goodbye to his mother and does not want to get too late.
It's November first, and we get to Leon. Sancha is still alive,
though she looks very ill, bedridden. I thank God that he has allowed
us to arrive in time so that my friend can say goodbye to his mother.
Two days later, on November 3, 1067, my friend's mother dies.
Sancha of Leon is buried next to her husband Fernando with all due
rites and honors of a queen, in the monastery of San Isidoro. The
person who made possible that peace existed between the Christian
Kingdoms of Castilla, Leon and Galicia has died.
It is always sad to watch children who have just lost their mother.
They're all gathered saying good-bye. Alfonso stays in Leon. Sancho
is back to Burgos. Garcia is back to his Kingdom in Galicia and
Portugal. Elvira and Urraca go back to Toro and Zamora respectively.
Sad picture of orphan children. I remember my mother and I wish to
meet her soon.
We left for Burgos again. What goes through Sancho's head? Will
he still think about unifying the Kingdom? Sometimes, he makes
comments about it, but I don’t know what would be his final decision.
He knows that his ideas will lead to war with his brothers and the war
does not bring good consequences. I'd rather not talk to him about my
thoughts. Whenever he wants, he'll tell me his intentions. I'm his first
banner and he trusts me, whenever he wants, I'll be here to listen to
him.
-44-

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-45-


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