Page 1297


was two hundred and fifty feet in height, and

illustrated the beauties of arabesque architecture in its best estate. Of the other edifices

of the city the most

noted was the famous Moorish castle

called the Alcazar, which was the residence of the prince

of the city, and was

in many respects

equal in architectural excellence to

the Alhambra


While the greater

part of Spain was

thus dominated by

the Moors, the

Christians still

maintained their

hold in the northwestern part of the

peninsula. The

kings of Leon and Castile, during the eleventh century, made some valorous attempts to advance their frontiers and to reestablish the Cross. Of these sovereigns the most

distinguished were Sancho II and his brother Alphonso. To this epoch belonged the exploits of the hero Rodrigo Diaz, commonly known as the Cid, the most valorous Christian warrior of his time. In the country below the Pyrenees he was, for a season, a sort of Richard Lion Heart, whose battle ax was well-nigh as terrible to the Moors as was that of Plantagenet in Palestine. He made war in the name of his sovereign against the Arab governors of Spain, and marked his way with havoc. He overthrew the Kadi of Valencia, took the province, for

his own, and, if tradition may be believed, gave orders that his captive adversary should suffer death by fire. Scarcely

less famous was his wife, the Princess Donna

Ximena, who accompanied him on his expeditions, and was, after his death, his successor

in the palace of Valencia.