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On the morrow in the morning, one of the knights who were in the town went upon the wall, and cried out with a loud voice, King Don Sancho, give ear to what I say; I am a knight, and they from whom I spring were true men and delighted in their loyalty, and I also will live and die in my truth. I say unto you, that from this town of Zamora there is gone forth a traitor to kill you; his name is Vellido Dolfos. Look to yourself therefore and take heed of him. I say this to you, that if evil should befall you by this traitor, it may not be said in Spain that you were not warned against him. And the men of Zamora sent also to the king to bid him beware of Vellido; nevertheless he gave no heed to the warning. And Vellido, when he heard this went to the king, and said, Sir, the old Arias Gonzalo is full crafty, and hath sent to say this unto you, because he knows that by my means you would have won the town. And he called for his horse, feigning that he would depart because of what had been said. But the king took him by the hand and said, Friend and vassal, take no thought for this; I say unto you, that if I may have Zamora, I will make you chief therein, even as Arias Gonzalo is now. Then Vellido kissed his hand and said, God grant you life, sir, for many and happy years, and let you fulfil what you desire. But the traitor had other thoughts in his heart.

After this Vellido took the king apart and said to him, If it please you, sir, let us ride out together alone; we will go round Zamora, and see the trenches which you have ordered to be made; and I will show unto you the postern which is called the queen's, by which we may enter the town, for it is never closed. When it is night you shall give me a hundred knights who are hidalgos, well armed, and we will go on foot, and the Zamorans because they are weak with famine and misery, will let us conquer them, and we will enter and open the gate, and keep it open till all your host shall have entered in. The king believed what he said, and they took horse and went riding round the town, and the king looked at the trenches, and that traitor showed him the postern. And after they had ridden round the town the king had need to alight; now he carried in his hand a light hunting spear which was gilded over, such as the kings from whom he was descended were wont to bear; and he gave this to Vellido to hold it while he went aside, to cover his feet. And Vellido Dolfos, when he saw him in that guise, took the hunting spear and thrust it between his shoulders, so that it went through him and came out at his breast. And when he had stricken him he turned the reins and rode as fast as he could toward the postern. Now it chanced that the Cid saw him riding thus, and asked him wherefore he fled, and he would not answer; and then the Cid understood that he had done some treason, and his heart misgave him and he called in haste for his horse, but while they were bringing it, Vellido had ridden far away; and the Cid being eager to follow him, took only his lance and did not wait to have his spurs buckled on. And he followed him to the postern and had well nigh overtaken him, but Vellido got in; and then the Cid said in his anger, Cursed be the knight who ever gets on horseback without his spurs. Now in all the feats of the Cid never was fault found in him save only in this, that he did not enter after Vellido into the town; but he did not fail to do this for cowardice, neither for fear of death, or of imprisonment; but because he thought that this was a device between him and the king, and that he fled by the king's command; for certes, if he had known that the king was slain, there was nothing which would have prevented him from entering the town, and slaying the traitor in the streets, thereright.

Now the history saith, that when Vellido Dolfos had got within the postern, he was in such fear both of those who were in the town and of those who were without, that he went and placed himself under the mantle of the Infanta Donya Urraca. And when Don Arias Gonzalo knew this, he went unto the Infanta and said, Lady, I beseech you that you give up this traitor to the Castillians, otherwise the Castillians will impeach all who are in Zamora, and that will be greater dishonour for you and for us. And Donya Urraca made answer, Counsel me then so that he may not die for this which he hath done. Don Arias Gonzalo then answered, Give him unto me, and I will keep him in custody for three days, and if the Castillians impeach us we will deliver him into their hands; and if they do not impeach us within that time, we will thrust him out of the town so that he shall not be seen among us. And Don Arias Gonzalo took him from thence, and secured him with double fetters, and guarded him well.

Meantime the Castillians went to seek their king, and they found him by the side of the Douro, where he lay sorely wounded, even unto death; but he had not yet lost his speech, and the hunting spear was in his body, through and through, and they did not dare to take it out lest he should die immediately. And a master of Burgos came up who was well skilled in these things, and he sawed off the ends of the spear, that he might not lose his speech, and said that he should be confessed, for he had death within him. Then Count Don Garcia de Cabra said unto him, Sir, think of your soul, for you have a desperate wound. And the king made answer, The traitor Vellido has killed me, and I well know that this was for my sins, because I broke the oath which I made unto the king my father. As the king was saying this the Cid came up and knelt before him and said, I, sir, remain more desolate than any other of your vassals, for for your sake have I made your brethren mine enemies, and all in the world who were against you, and against whom it pleased you to go. The king your father commended me to them as well as to you, when he divided his kingdoms, and I have lost their love for your sake, having done them great evil. And now neither can I go before King Don Alfonso, your brother, nor remain among the Christians before Donya Urraca your sister, because they hold that whatsoever you have done against them was by my counsel. Now then, sir, remember me before you depart. And the king said, I beseech all ye who are here present, that if my brother King Don Alfonso should come from the land of the Moors, ye beseech him to show favour unto you, my Cid, and that he always be bountiful unto you, and receive you to be his vassal. Then the Cid arose and kissed his hand, and all the chief persons who were there present did the like. And the king said unto them, I beseech ye intreat my brother King Don Alfonso to forgive me whatever wrong I have done him, and to pray to God to have mercy upon my soul. And when he had said this he asked for the candle, and presently his soul departed. And all who were there present made great lamentation for the king.

Now when the king was dead, the townsmen who were in the camp forsook their tents and fled, but the noble Castillians would not depart from Zamora, nor break up the siege thereof, but remained bravely before it, though they had lost their lord. And they took counsel together how they should proceed against the men of Zamora for this great treason which had been committed. Then Count Don Garcia de Cabra arose and said, Friends, if there be one here who will impeach them for this thing, we will do whatever may be needful that he may come off with honour, and the impeachment be carried through. Then Don Diego Ordonez arose, and he said unto them, If ye will all assent to this which ye have heard, I will impeach the men of Zamora for the death of the king our lord: and they all assented. Now my Cid did not make this impeachment against the people of Zamora, because of the oath which he had sworn.

Then Don Diego Ordonez went to his lodging and armed himself well and rode toward Zamora. And when he drew nigh unto the town he began to cry aloud, asking if Don Arias Gonzalo were there, for he would speak with him. And Don Arias Gonzalo went with his sons upon the wall to see who called for him, and he spake to the knight, saying, Friend, what wouldest thou? And Don Diego Ordonez answered, The Castillians have lost their lord; the traitor Vellido slew him, being his vassal, and ye of Zamora have received Vellido and harboured him within your walls. Now therefore I say that he is a traitor who hath a traitor with him, if he knoweth and consenteth unto the treason. And for this I impeach the people of Zamora, the great as well as the little, the living and the dead. If there be any one in Zamora to gainsay what I have said, I will do battle with him, and with God's pleasure conquer him, so that the infamy shall remain upon you. Don Arias Gonzalo replied, If I were what thou sayest I am, it had been better for me never to have been born; but in what thou sayest thou liest, and I will do battle with thee upon this quarrel, or give thee one in my stead. But know that you have been ill advised in making this impeachment, for the manner is, that whosoever impeacheth a council must do battle with five, one after another, and if he conquer the five he shall be held a true man, but if either of the five conquer him, the council is held acquitted and he a liar. When Don Diego heard this it troubled him; howbeit he dissembled this right well, and said unto Don Arias Gonzalo, I will bring twelve Castillians, and do you bring twelve men of Zamora, and they shall swear upon the Holy Gospel to judge justly between us, and if they find that I am bound to do battle with five, I will perform it. And Don Arias made answer that he said well, and it should be so. And truce was made for three times nine days, till this should have been determined and the combat fought.

Then when the truce was made they chose out twelve alcades on the one part, and twelve on the other, who should decide in what manner he was bound to perform combat who impeached a council. Two of them who were held the most learned in these things arose, the one being a Castillian and the other of Zamora, and said that they had found the law as it was written to be this: That whosoever impeacheth the council of a town which was a bishop's seat, must do battle with five in the field, one after another; and that after every combat there should be given unto him fresh arms and horse, and three sops of bread, and a draught either of wine or of water, as he chose. And in this sentence which the twain pronounced, the other twenty and two accorded.

On the morrow the four and twenty alcades marked out the lists upon the sand beside the river, and in the middle of the lists they placed a bar, and ordained that he who won the battle should lay hand on the bar, and say that he had conquered: and then they appointed a term of nine days for the combatants to come to those lists which had been assigned. And when all was appointed the Infanta Donya Urraca ordered a meeting to be called, at which all the men of the town assembled.

And when they were gathered together, Don Arias Gonzalo said unto them, Friends, I beseech ye, if there be any here among ye who took counsel for the death of King Don Sancho, or were privy thereunto, that ye now tell me, and deny it not; for rather would I go with my sons to the land of the Moors, than be overcome in the field, and held for a traitor. Then they all replied, that there was none there who knew of the treason, nor had consented unto it. At this was Don Arias Gonzalo well pleased, and he went to his house with his sons, and chose out four of them to do combat, and said that he would be the fifth himself.


By Robert Southey

When the day appointed was come, Don Arias Gonzalo early in the morning armed his sons, and they armed him. As they rode through the gates of their house, Donya Urraca with a company of dames met them, and said to Don Arias, weeping, Remember now how my father, King Don Ferrando, left me to your care, and you swore between his hands that you would never forsake me; and lo! now you are forsaking me. I beseech you remain with me. And she took hold on him, and would not let him go, and made him be disarmed. Then came many knights around him, to demand arms of him, and request that they might do battle in his stead; nevertheless he would give them to none. And he called for his son Pedro Arias, who was a right brave knight, though but of green years, and Don Arias armed him completely with his own hands, and instructed him how to demean himself, and gave him his blessing with his right hand. Then went they into the field, where Don Diego Ordonez was awaiting them, and Pedro Arias entered the lists, and the judges placed them each in his place, and divided the sun between them, and went out, leaving them in the lists.

Then they turned their horses one against the other, and ran at each other full bravely, like good knights. Five times they encountered, and at the sixth encounter their spears brake, and they laid hand upon their swords, and dealt each other such heavy blows that the helmets failed; and in this manner the combat between them continued till noon. And when Don Diego Ordonez saw that it lasted so long, and he could not yet conquer him, he called to mind that he was there fighting to revenge his lord, who had been slain by a foul treason, and he collected together all his strength. And he lifted up his sword and smote Pedro Arias upon the helmet, so that he cut through it, and through the hood of the mail also, and made a wound in the head. And Pedro Arias with the agony of death bowed down to the neck of the horse; yet with all this he neither lost his stirrups, nor let go his sword. And Don Diego Ordonez seeing him thus, thought that he was dead, and would not strike him again; and he called aloud, saying, Don Arias, send me another son, for this one will never fulfil your bidding. When Pedro Arias heard this, grievously wounded as he was, he went fiercely against him: and he took the sword in both hands, and thought to give it him upon his head; but the blow missed, and fell upon the horse, and the horse immediately ran away because of the great wound which he had received. And Don Diego had no reins wherewith to stop him, and perceiving that he should else be carried out of the lists, he threw himself off. And while he did this, Pedro Arias fell down dead, just without the mark. And Don Diego Ordonez laid hand on the bar, and said, Praised be the name of God, one is conquered. And incontinently the judges came and took him by the hand, and led him to a tent and disarmed him, and gave him three sops, and he drank of the wine and rested awhile. And afterwards they gave him other arms, and a horse that was a right good one, and went with him to the lists.

Then Don Arias Gonzalo called for another son, whose name was Diego Arias, gave him his blessing and went with him to the lists. And the judges took the reins of the two champions and led them each to his place, and went out and left them in the lists. And they ran against each other with such force that both shields failed, and in another career they brake their lances. Then laid they hand on their good swords, and delivered such blows that their helmets were cut away, and the sleeves of the mail. And at length Diego Arias received such a blow near the heart that he fell dead. And Don Diego Ordonez went to the bar and laid hold on it, and cried out to Don Arias Gonzalo, Send me another son, for I have conquered two, thanks be to God. Then the judges came and said that the dead knight was not yet out of the lists, and that he must alight and cast him out. Don Diego Ordonez did as they had directed him, and then went and laid hand upon the bar again. And then the judges came to him, and led him to the tent, and disarmed him, and gave him the three sops and the wine, as they had done before.

Then Don Arias Gonzalo, in great rage called for his son Rodrigo Arias, who was a good knight, right hardy and valiant, the elder of all the brethren. And Don Arias said unto him, Son, go now and do battle with Diego Ordonez, to save Donya Urraca your lady, and yourself, and the Council of Zamora; and if you do this, in happy hour were you born. Then Rodrigo Arias kissed his hand and answered, Father, I thank you much for what you have said, and be sure that I will save them, or take my death. And he took his arms and mounted, and his father gave him his blessing, and went with him to the lists; and the judges took his reins and led him in. And when the judges were gone out, they twain ran at each other, and Don Diego missed his blow, but Rodrigo Arias, did not miss, for he gave him so great a stroke with the lance that it pierced through the shield, and broke the saddle-bow behind, and made him lose his stirrups, and he embraced the neck of his horse. But albeit that Don Diego was sorely bested with that stroke, he took heart presently, and went bravely against him, and dealt him so great a blow that he broke the lance in him; for it went through the shield and all his other arms, and great part of the lance remained in his flesh. After this they laid hand to sword, and gave each to the other great blows, and great wounds with them. And Rodrigo Arias gave so great a wound to Diego Ordonez, that he cut his left arm through to the bone. And Don Diego Ordonez, when he felt himself so sorely wounded, went against Rodrigo Arias and delivered him a blow upon the head which cut through the helmet and the hood of the mail, and entered into his head. When Rodrigo Arias felt himself wounded to death, he let go the reins and took his sword in both hands, and gave so great a blow to the horse of Don Diego that the horse ran out of the lists, and carried Don Diego out also, and there died. And Rodrigo Arias fell dead as he was following him. Then Don Diego Ordonez would have returned into the field to do battle with the other two, but the judges would not permit this, neither did they think good to decide whether they of Zamora were overcome in this third duel or not. And in this manner the thing was left undecided.

Nevertheless, though no sentence was given, there remained no infamy upon the people of Zamora. Better had it been for Don Arias Gonzalo if he had given up Vellido to the Castillians, that he might have died the death of a traitor; he would not then have lost these three sons, who died like good men, in their duty. Now what was the end of Vellido the history sayeth not, but it is to be believed, that because the impeachment was not made within three days, Don Arias Gonzalo thrust him out of the town as Donya Urraca had requested, and that he fled into other lands, peradventure among the Moors.

In the meantime the Infanta Donya Urraca wrote letters secretly and sent messengers with them to Toledo to King Don Alfonso, telling him that King Don Sancho his brother was dead, and had left no heir, and that he should come as speedily as he could to receive the kingdoms.

As soon as King Don Alfonso arrived at Zamora, he took counsel with his sister. And the Infanta Donya Urraca, who was a right prudent lady and a wise, sent letters throughout the land, that a cortes should assemble and receive him for their lord. And when the Leonese and the Gallegos knew that their lord King Don Alfonso was come, they were full joyful, and they came to Zamora and received him for their lord and king. And afterwards the Castillians arrived, and they of Navarre, and they also received him for their lord and king, but upon this condition, that he should swear that he had not taken counsel for the death of his brother King Don Sancho. Howbeit they did not come forward to receive the oath, and they kissed his hands in homage, all, save only Ruydiez, my Cid. And when King Don Alfonso saw that the Cid did not do homage and kiss his hand, he said, Since now ye have all received me for your lord, and given me authority over ye, I would know of the Cid Ruydiez why he will not kiss my hand and acknowledge me. And the Cid arose and said, Sir, all whom you see here present, suspect that by your counsel the King Don Sancho your brother came to his death; and therefore, I say unto you that, unless you clear yourself of this, as by right you should do, I will never kiss your hand, nor receive you for my lord. Then said the king, Cid, what you say pleases me well; and here I swear to God and to St. Mary, that I never slew him, nor took counsel for his death, neither did it please me, though he had taken my kingdom from me. And I beseech ye therefore all, as friends and true vassals, that ye tell me how I may clear myself. And the chiefs who were present said, that he and twelve of the knights who came with him from Toledo, should make this oath in the church at St. Gadea at Burgos, and that so he should be cleared.

So the king and all his company took horse and went to Burgos. And when the day appointed for the oath was come, the king went to hear mass in the church of Gadea. And the king came forward upon a high stage that all the people might see him, and my Cid came to him to receive the oath; and my Cid took the book of the Gospels and opened it, and laid it upon the altar, and the king laid his hands upon it, and the Cid said unto him, King Don Alfonso, you come here to swear concerning the death of King Don Sancho your brother, that you neither slew him nor took counsel for his death; say now you and these hidalgos, if ye swear this. And the king and the hidalgos answered and said, Yea, we swear it. And the Cid said, If ye knew of this thing, or gave command that it should be done, may you die even such a death as your brother the King Don Sancho, by the hand of a villain whom you trust; one who is not a hidalgo, from another land, not a Castillian; and the king and the knights who were with him said Amen. And the king's colour changed; and the Cid repeated the oath unto him a second time, and the king and the twelve knights said Amen to it in like manner, and in like manner the countenance of the king was changed again. And my Cid repeated the oath unto him a third time, and the king and the knights said Amen; but the wrath of the king was exceeding great, and he said to the Cid, Ruydiez, why dost thou thus press me, man? To-day thou swearest me, and to-morrow thou wilt kiss my hand. And from that day forward there was no love towards my Cid in the heart of the king.

After this was King Don Alfonso crowned King of Castille, and Leon, and Galicia, and Portugal; and he called himself King and Emperor of all Spain, even as his father had done before him.


Robin Hood is said to have been born at Locksley in the County of Nottingham, in the reign of Henry II, about 1160. Some claim that he came of good family, and was in reality the Earl of Huntingdon.

Public performances of plays based on the tales became so common by 1550 that they had to be forbidden, "but the people would not be forbidden," said John Knox, the preacher. Bishop Latimer complained bitterly how, when he was one day ready to preach in a country church, he was told it was Robin Hood's day, a busy day with them, and they could not hear him.

You will find a lot about Robin Hood in Scott's Ivanhoe, some of which is in the volume "The Stories that never Grow Old."


Retold by Mary Macleod

In the days of Richard I there lived a famous outlaw who was known by the name of Robin Hood. He was born at Locksley in the county of Nottingham, and was of noble origin, for he is often spoken of as "Earl of Huntingdon." Robin was very wild and daring, and having placed his life in danger by some reckless act, or possibly through some political offence, he fled for refuge to the greenwood. His chief haunts were Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, and Barnsdale in Yorkshire. Round him soon flocked a band of trusty followers. An old chronicler states that Robin Hood "entertained an hundred tall men and good archers." They robbed none but the rich, and killed no man except in self-defence. Robin "suffered no woman to be oppressed or otherwise molested; poor men's goods he spared, abundantly relieving them" with spoils got from abbeys or the houses of rich people.

Robin Hood's exploits were widely known, and although the poorer classes were all on his side, those in authority were naturally incensed against him. Many attempts were made to seize him, and large rewards were offered for his capture. He was often in danger of his life, and had many narrow escapes, but so daring was his courage, and so quick and clever his wit and resource that he always contrived to get clear away.

An old tradition says that the father of Robin was a forester, a renowned archer. On one occasion he shot for a wager against the three gallant yeomen of the north country--Adam Bell, Clym-of-the-Clough, and William of Cloudesly, and the forester beat all three of them.

The mother of Robin Hood was a niece of the famous Guy, Earl of Warwick, who slew the blue boar; her brother was Gamwel of Great Gamwel Hall, a squire of famous degree, and the owner of one of the finest houses in Nottinghamshire.

When the other outlaws flocked to Robin Hood they begged him to tell them what sort of life they were to lead, and where they were to go, what they were to take and what to leave, what sort of people they were to rob, and whom they were to beat and to bind--in short, how they were to act in every circumstance.

"Have no fear, we shall do very well," answered Robin. "But look you do no harm to any husbandman that tilleth with his plough, nor to any good yeoman that walketh in the greenwood, nor to any knight or squire who is a good fellow. And harm no folk in whose company is any woman.

"But fat rascals, and all who have got rich by pilfering, canting, and cheating, those you may beat and bind, and hold captive for ransom.

And chiefly the Sheriff of Nottingham--look you, bear him well in mind."

And his followers promised to pay heed to his words, and carry them out carefully.

Chief among the band of outlaws known as "Robin Hood's merry men" was "Little John," so called because his name was John Little, and he was seven feet high. Robin Hood was about twenty years old when he first came to know Little John, and they got acquainted in this way. Robin was walking one day in the forest when coming near a brook he chanced to spy a stranger, a strong lusty lad like himself. The two met in the middle of a long narrow bridge, and neither would give way. They quarrelled as to which should be the master, and finally agreed to fight with stout staves on the bridge, and whichever fell into the water the other was to be declared to have won. The encounter was a stiff one, but finally the stranger knocked down Robin Hood, and tumbled him into the brook. Robin bore no malice, but owned at once the other had got the best of it, and seeing what a stout nimble fellow he was, persuaded him to join his band of archers, and go and live with them in the greenwood.

Next to Little John the chief man was Will Scarlet, who in reality was Robin's own cousin or nephew, young Gamwel of Gamwel Hall. Having slain his father's steward either by accident or in some brawl, young Will fled to his kinsman, Robin Hood, in Sherwood Forest, where, as in the case of Little John, he first made his acquaintance by fighting with him. As young Will on this occasion happened to be dressed very smartly in silken doublet and scarlet stockings Robin Hood dubbed him "Will Scarlet," by which name he was always afterwards known.

Besides these two famous outlaws there were many others of lesser note who from time to time joined the band. Among them may be mentioned "Gilbert of the white hand" who was almost as good an archer as Robin himself; Allen-a-Dale, whose bride Robin Hood helped him to secure; Much, the son of a miller; George-a-Green; Friar Tuck; Will Stutely, who was taken prisoner by the Sheriff of Nottingham and nearly hanged, but was rescued from the gallows by the gallant yeomen; Arthur-a-Bland, the sturdy tanner of Nottingham, who beat Robin when they fought with staves; the jolly tinker of Banbury who went out to arrest Robin, but ended by joining his band, and the chief ranger of Sherwood Forest, who did the same.

Lastly, there was the bonny maid of noble degree, who was known in the north country as Maid Marian. She had loved Robin Hood when they were young together, in the days when he was still the Earl of Huntingdon, but spiteful fortune forced them to part. Robin had to fly for refuge to the greenwood, and Maid Marian, unable to live without him, dressed herself like a page, with quiver and bow, sword and buckler, and went in search of him. Long and wearily she ranged the forest, and when the lovers met they did not know each other, for Robin, too, had been obliged to disguise himself. They fought as foes, and so sore was the fray that both were wounded, but Robin so much admired the valour of the stranger lad that he bade him stay his hand, and asked him to join his company. When Marian knew the voice of her lover she quickly made herself known to him, and great was the rejoicing. A stately banquet was quickly prepared, which was served in a shady bower, and they feasted merrily, while all the tall and comely yeomen drank to the health of Robin Hood's bride. So for many years they dwelt together with great content in the greenwood.

It happened one day as Robin Hood stood under a tree in Barnsdale that Little John went up to him, and said:

"Master, if you would dine soon, would it not be well?"

"I do not care to dine," answered Robin, "until I have some bold baron or stranger guest to eat with us, or else some rich rascal who will pay for the feast, or else some knight or squire who dwells in these parts."

"It is already far on in the day; now heaven send us a guest soon, so that we may get to dinner," said Little John.

"Take thy good bow in thy hand," said Robin, "and let Will Scarlet and Much go with thee, and walk up to the Sayles and so to Watling Street.

There wait for some strange guest whom it may very well chance you will meet. Be it earl or baron, or abbot or knight, bring him here to lodge; his dinner shall be ready for him."

So these three good yeomen, Little John, Will Scarlet, and Much went off to the great high-road which is known as Watling Street, and there they looked east and they looked west, but not a man could they see.

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