Week 14


Wikipedia: Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (1043 – July 10, 1099), known as El Cid Campeador (Spanish pronunciation: [el θið kampea?ðor], "The lord-master of military arts"), was a Castilian nobleman, military leader, and diplomat. Exiled from the court of the Spanish Emperor Alfonso VI of León and Castile, El Cid went on to command a Moorish force consisting of Muladis, Berbers, Arabs and Malians, under Yusuf al-Mu'taman ibn Hud, Moorish king of the northeast Al-Andalus city of Zaragoza, and his successor, Al-Mustain II. After the Christian defeat at the Battle of Sagrajas, El Cid was recalled to service by Alfonso VI, and commanded a combined Christian and Moorish army, which he used to create his own fiefdom in the Moorish Mediterranean coastal city of Valencia. Rodrigo Díaz was educated in the royal court of Castile and became the alférez, the chief general, of Alfonso VI, and his most valuable asset in the fight against the Moors. The name El Cid comes from the article el (which means "the" in both Spanish and Arabic), and the dialectal Arabic word sîdi or sayyid, which means "Lord" or "The Master". The title Campeador means "champion" or "challenger" in Spanish. Because of his exceeding prowess in arms, he was the natural challenger in single combats. In Spanish warfare, it was common for leaders of armies to pit two Champions against each other (similar to the story of David and Goliath) to determine the outcome of the conflict. This way neither side would lose a great number of men. The Cid was the champion of King Alfonso IV of Castile. He had gained the title of "Campeador" when he fought on behalf of Alfonso against the forces of Granada. He defeated his enemy disastrously, gathered much treasure, and captured Count García Ordóñez, leader of the Granadian army. He pulled Ordóñez' beard in the ultimate insult of those days, then returned to Burgos, the Castilian capital. He is buried in the Cathedral of Burgos.

The El Cid poem is available on line:



Chris Lowney: Chapter 10.

Chris Lowney,

A Vanished World: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Medieval Spain,

Oxford University Press (2006),

ISBN 0195311914

Anonymous, Hamilton, Perry,

The Poem of the Cid: Dual Language Edition,

Penguin Classics (January 8, 1985),

ISBN 0140444467



Richard Fletcher,

The Quest for El Cid,

Knopf (April 7, 1990) ,

ISBN 0394574478

Review: Rodrigo Diaz, the legendary warrior-knight of eleventh-century Castile known as El Cid, is remembered today as the Christian hero of the Spanish crusade who waged wars of re-conquest for the triumph of the Cross over the Crescent. He is still honored in Spain as a national hero for liberating the fatherland from the occupying Moors. Yet, as Richard Fletcher shows in this award-winning book, there are many contradictions between eleventh-century reality and the mythology that developed with the passing years. By placing El Cid in a fresh, historical context, Fletcher shows us an adventurous soldier of fortune who was of a type, one of a number of "cids," or "bosses," who flourished in eleventh-century Spain. But the El Cid of legend--the national hero--was unique in stature even in his lifetime. Before his death El Cid was already celebrated in a poem written in tribute of the conquest of Almer�a; posthumously he was immortalized in the great epic Poema de Mio Cid and became the centerpiece for countless other works of literature. When he died in Valencia in 1099, he was ruler of an independent principality he had carved for himself in Eastern Spain. Rather than the zealous Christian leader many believe him to have been, Rodrigo emerges in Fletcher's study as a mercenary equally at home in the feudal kingdoms of northern Spain and the exotic Moorish lands of the south, selling his martial skills to Christian and Muslim alike. Indeed, his very title derives from the Arabic word sayyid meaning "lord" or "master." And as there was little if any sense of Spanish nationhood in the eleventh century, he can hardly be credited for uniting a medieval Spanish nation. In this ground-breaking inquiry into the life and times of El Cid, Fletcher disentangles fact from myth to create a striking portrait of an extraordinary man, clearly showing how and why legend transformed him into something he was not during his life. A fascinating journey through a turbulent epoch, The Quest for El Cid is filled with the excitement of discovery, and will delight readers interested not only in Spanish history and literature, but those who want to understand how myth can shape our perception of history.


A visit to the city of El Cid: Burgos
The old capital of Castile