Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Late one sunny afternoon one and twenty knights were riding along the highway in the
northern part of Spain. As they were passing a deep mire they heard cries for help, and
turning, saw a poor leper who was sinking in the mud. One of the knights, a handsome
young man, was touched by the cries. He dismounted, rescued the poor fellow, took him
upon his own horse, and thus the two rode to the inn. The other knights wondered at this.
When they reached the inn where they were to stop for the night, they wondered still
more, for their companion gave the leper a seat next to himself at the table. After supper
the knight shared his own bed with the leper. If the knight had not done this, the leper
would have been driven out of the town, with nothing to eat and no place in which to
sleep. At midnight, while the young man was fast asleep, the leper breathed upon his
back. This awakened the knight, who turned quickly in his bed and found that the leper
The knight called for a light and searched, but in vain. While he was wondering about
what had happened, a man in shining garments appeared before him and said, "Rodrigo,
art thou asleep or awake?" The knight answered, "I am awake, but who art thou that
bringest such brightness?" The vision replied, "I am St. Lazarus, the leper to whom thou
wast so kind. Because I have breathed upon thee thou shalt accomplish whatever thou
shalt undertake in peace or in battle. All shall honor thee. Therefore, go on and evermore
With that the vision vanished.
The promise of St. Lazarus was fulfilled. In time young Rodrigo became the great hero of
Spain. The Spaniards called him Campeador (cam-pe-a-dor'), or Champion. The Saracens
called him "The Cid," or Lord. His real name was Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar, but he is
usually spoken of as "The Cid."
The Goths, after the death of Alaric, had taken Spain away from the Romans. The
Saracens, or, as they were usually called, the Moors, had crossed the sea from Africa and
in turn had taken Spain from the Goths. In the time of Charles Martel the Goths had lost
all Spain except the small mountain district in the northern part. In the time of the Cid the
Goths, now called Spaniards, had driven the Moors down to about the middle of Spain.
War went on all the time between the two races, and many men spent their lives in
fighting. The Spanish part of the country then comprised the kingdoms of Castile, Leon,
Aragon and others.
The Cid was a subject of Fernando of Castile. Fernando had a dispute with the king of
Aragon about a city which each claimed. They agreed to decide the matter by a combat.
Each was to choose a champion. The champions were to fight, and the king whose
champion won was to have the city. Fernando chose the Cid, and though the other
champion was called the bravest knight in Spain, the youthful warrior vanquished him.