|A.K.A.||Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, Rodrigo, El Campeador|
|Birth||1045 (Vivar del Cid, Quintanilla Vivar, Burgos Province, Castile and León)|
|Death||May 1, 1099 (Valencia, Comarca de València, Valencia Province, Valencian Country)|
Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (c. 1040 – 1099), better known as El Cid, or simply Rodrigo, was a Castilian nobleman and military leader in medieval Spain. The Moors called him El Cid, which meant the Lord, and the Christians, El Campeador, which stood for Outstanding Warrior. He was born in Vivar, a town near the city of Burgos. After his death, he became Castile's celebrated national hero and the protagonist of the most significant medieval Spanish epic poem, El Cantar de Mio Cid.
Born a member of the minor nobility, El Cid was brought up at the court of King Ferdinand the Great and served Ferdinand's son, Sancho II of León and Castile. He rose to become the commander and royal standard-bearer (armiger regis) of Castile upon Sancho's ascension in 1065. Rodrigo went on to lead the Castilian military campaigns against Sancho's brothers, Alfonso VI of León and García II of Galicia, as well as in the Muslim kingdoms in Al-Andalus. He became renowned for his military prowess in these campaigns, which helped expand Castilian territory at the expense of the Muslims and Sancho's brothers' kingdoms. When conspirators murdered Sancho in 1072, Rodrigo found himself in a tight spot. Since Sancho was childless, the throne passed to his brother Alfonso, the same whom El Cid had helped remove from power. Although Rodrigo continued to serve the Castilian sovereign, he lost his ranking in the new court which treated him at arm's length and suspiciously. Finally, in 1081, he was ordered into exile.
El Cid found work fighting for the Muslim rulers of Zaragoza, whom he defended from their traditional enemies, Aragon and Barcelona. While in exile, he regained his reputation as a strategist and formidable military leader. He repeatedly turned out victorious in battle against the Muslim rulers of Lérida and their Christian allies, as well as against a large Christian army under King Sancho Ramírez of Aragon. In 1086, an expeditionary army of North African Almoravids inflicted a severe defeat to Castile, compelling Alfonso to overcome the resentments he harbored against El Cid. The terms for the return to the Christian service must have been attractive enough since Rodrigo soon found himself fighting for his former Lord. Over the next several years, however, El Cid set his sights on the kingdom-city of Valencia, operating more or less independently of Alfonso while politically supporting the Banu Hud and other Muslim dynasties opposed to the Almoravids. He gradually increased his control over Valencia; the Islamic ruler, al-Qadir, became his tributary in 1092. When the Almoravids instigated an uprising that resulted in the death of al-Qadir, El Cid responded by laying siege to the city. Valencia finally fell in 1094, and El Cid established an independent principality on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. He ruled over a pluralistic society with the popular support of Christians and Muslims alike.
El Cid's final years were spent fighting the Almoravid Berbers. He inflicted upon them their first major defeat in 1094, on the plains of Caurte, outside Valencia, and continued resisting them until his death. Although Rodrigo remained undefeated in Valencia, his only son, and heir, Diego Rodríguez died fighting against the Almoravids in the service of Alfonso in 1097. After El Cid's death in 1099, his wife, Jimena Díaz, succeeded him as ruler of Valencia, but she was eventually forced to surrender the principality to the Almoravids in 1102.
To this day, El Cid remains a Spanish popular folk-hero and national icon. Numerous plays, films, folktales, songs, and even video games continue to memorialize the traditions of allegiance that his allegories typify.
The name El Cid (Spanish: [el ˈθið]) is a modern Spanish denomination composed by the article el meaning "the" and Cid which comes from the Old Castilian loan word Çid from the dialectal Arabic word سيد sîdi or sayyid, which means "Lord" or "Master". The Mozarabs or the Arabs that served in his ranks may have addressed him in this way, which the Christians may have transliterated and adopted. Historians, however, have not yet found contemporary records referring to Rodrigo as Cid. Arab sources use instead Rudriq, Ludriq al-Kanbiyatur or al-Qanbiyatur (Rodrigo el Campeador). The cognomen Campeador derives from Latin campi doctor, which means "battlefield master". He probably gained it during the campaigns of King Sancho II of Castile against his brothers King Alfonso VI of León and King García II of Galicia. While his contemporaries left no historical sources that would have addressed him as Cid, they left plenty of Christian and Arab records, some even signed documents with his autograph, addressing him as Campeador, which prove that he used the Christian cognomen himself. The whole combination Cid Campeador is first documented ca. 1195 in the Navarro-Aragonese Linage de Rodric Díaz included in the Liber Regum under the formula mio Cid el Campeador.
Life and career
El Cid was born Rodrigo Díaz circa AD 1043 in Vivar, also known as Castillona de Bivar, a small town about six miles north of Burgos, the capital of Castile. His father, Diego Laínez, was a courtier, bureaucrat, and cavalryman who had fought in several battles. Despite the fact that El Cid's mother's family was aristocratic, in later years the peasants would consider him one of their own. However, his relatives were not major court officials; documents show that El Cid's paternal grandfather, Lain, confirmed only five documents of Ferdinand I's; his maternal grandfather, Rodrigo Alvarez, certified only two of Sancho II's; and El Cid's father confirmed only one.
Service under Sancho II
As a young man in 1057, Rodrigo fought against the Moorish stronghold of Zaragoza, making its emir al-Muqtadir a vassal of Sancho. In the spring of 1063, Rodrigo fought in the Battle of Graus, where Ferdinand's half-brother, Ramiro I of Aragon, was laying siege to the Moorish town of Cinca, which was in Zaragozan lands. Al-Muqtadir, accompanied by Castilian troops including El Cid, fought against the Aragonese. The party slayed Ramiro I, setting the Aragonese army on the run, and emerged victorious. One legend has said that during the conflict, El Cid killed an Aragonese knight in single combat, thereby receiving the honorific title Campeador.
When Ferdinand died, Sancho continued to enlarge his territory, conquering both Christian strongholds and the Moorish cities of Zamora and Badajoz. When Sancho learned that Alfonso was planning on overthrowing him in order to gain his territory, Sancho sent Cid to bring Alfonso back so that Sancho could speak to him.
Service under Alfonso VI
Sancho was assassinated in 1072, possibly as the result of a pact between his brother Alfonso and his sister Urraca. Since Sancho died unmarried and childless, all of his power passed to his brother Alfonso who, almost immediately, returned from exile in Toledo and took his seat as king of Castile and León. He was, however, deeply suspected of having been involved in Sancho's murder. According to the epic of El Cid, the Castilian nobility led by El Cid and a dozen "oath-helpers" forced Alfonso to swear publicly on holy relics multiple times in front of Santa Gadea (Saint Agatha) Church in Burgos that he did not participate in the plot to kill his brother. This is widely reported as truth, but contemporary documents on the lives of both Rodrigo Diaz and Alfonso VI of Castile and León do not mention any such event. Rodrigo's position as armiger regis was taken away and given to Rodrigo's enemy, Count García Ordóñez.
In 1079, Rodrigo was sent by Alfonso VI to Seville to the court of al-Mutamid to collect the parias owed by that taifa to León–Castile. While he was there Granada, assisted by other Castilian knights, attacked Seville, and Rodrigo and his forces repulsed the Christian and Grenadine attackers at the Battle of Cabra, in the (probably mistaken) belief that he was defending the king's tributary. Count García Ordóñez and the other Castilian leaders were taken captive and held for three days before being released.
In the Battle of Cabra (1079), El Cid rallied his troops and turned the battle into a rout of Emir Abdullah of Granada and his ally García Ordóñez. However, El Cid's unauthorized expedition into Granada greatly angered Alfonso, and May 8, 1080, was the last time El Cid confirmed a document in King Alfonso's court. This is the generally given reason for El Cid's exile, although several others are plausible and may have been contributing factors: jealous nobles turning Alfonso against El Cid, Alfonso's own animosity towards El Cid and an accusation of pocketing some of the tribute from Seville.
At first he went to Barcelona, where Ramon Berenguer II (1076–1082) and Berenguer Ramon II (1076–1097) refused his offer of service.
The exile was not the end of El Cid, either physically or as an important figure. After being rejected by Ramon Berenguer II, El Cid journeyed to the Taifa of Zaragoza where he received a warmer welcome. In 1081, El Cid went on to offer his services to the Moorish king of the northeast Al-Andalus city of Zaragoza, Yusuf al-Mu'taman ibn Hud, and served both him and his successor, Al-Mustain II. He was given the title El Cid (The Master) and served as a leading figure in a diverse Moorish force consisting of Muladis, Berbers, Arabs and Malians.
According to Moorish accounts:
Andalusian Knights found El Cid their foe ill, thirsty and exiled from the court of Alfonso, he was presented before the elderly Yusuf al-Mu'taman ibn Hud and accepted command of the forces of the Taifa of Zaragoza as their Master.
In his History of Medieval Spain (Cornell University Press, 1975), Joseph F. O'Callaghan writes:
That kingdom was divided between al-Mutamin (1081–1085) who ruled Zaragoza proper, and his brother al-Mundhir, who ruled Lérida and Tortosa. El Cid entered al-Mutamin's service and successfully defended Zaragoza against the assaults of al-Mundhir, Sancho I of Aragón, and Ramon Berenguer II, whom he held captive briefly in 1082.
In 1084, The Army of the Taifa of Zaragoza under El Cid defeated the Aragonese at the Battle of Morella near Tortosa, but in autumn the Castilians started a loose siege of Toledo and later the next year the Christians captured Salamanca, a stronghold of the Taifa of Toledo.
In 1086, the Almoravid invasion of the Iberian Peninsula through and around Gibraltar began. The Almoravids, Berber residents of present-day North Africa, led by Yusuf ibn Tashfin, were asked to help defend the divided Moors from Alfonso. El Cid commanded a large Moorish force during the Battle of Sagrajas, which took place in 1086, near the Taifa of Badajoz. The Almoravid and Andalusian Taifas, including the armies of Badajoz, Málaga, Granada, Tortosa and Seville, defeated a combined army of León, Aragón and Castile.
In 1087, Raymond of Burgundy and his Christian allies attempted to weaken the Taifa of Zaragoza's northernmost stronghold by initiating the Siege of Tudela and Alfonso captured Aledo, Murcia blocking the route between the Taifas in eastern and western Iberia.
Recall from exile
Terrified after his crushing defeat, Alfonso recalled El Cid. It has been shown that El Cid was at court on July 1087; however, what happened after that is unclear. El Cid returned to Alfonso, but now he had his own plans. He only stayed a short while and then returned to Zaragoza. El Cid was content to let the Almoravid armies and the armies of Alfonso fight without his help, even when there was a chance that the armies of Almoravid might defeat Alfonso and take over all of Alfonso's lands. El Cid chose not to fight because he was hoping that both armies would become weak. That would make it easier for him to carry out his own plan to become ruler of the Kingdom of Valencia.
Conquest of Valencia
Around this time, El Cid, with a combined Christian and Moorish army, began maneuvering in order to create his own fiefdom in the Moorish Mediterranean coastal city of Valencia. Several obstacles lay in his way. First was Berenguer Ramon II, who ruled nearby Barcelona. In May 1090, El Cid defeated and captured Berenguer in the Battle of Tébar (nowadays Pinar de Tévar, near Monroyo, Teruel). Berenguer was later released and his nephew Ramon Berenguer III married El Cid's youngest daughter Maria to ward against future conflicts.
Along the way to Valencia, El Cid also conquered other towns, many of which were near Valencia, such as El Puig and Quart de Poblet.
El Cid gradually came to have more influence on Valencia, then ruled by Al-Qadir. In October 1092 an uprising occurred in Valencia inspired by the city's chief judge Ibn Jahhaf and the Almoravids. El Cid began a siege of Valencia. A December 1093 attempt to break the siege failed. By the time the siege ended in May 1094, El Cid had carved out his own principality on the coast of the Mediterranean. Officially El Cid ruled in the name of Alfonso; in reality, El Cid was fully independent. The city was both Christian and Muslim, and both Moors and Christians served in the army and as administrators.
El Cid and his wife Jimena Díaz lived peacefully in Valencia for five years until the Almoravids besieged the city. El Cid died on June 10, 1099. His death was likely a result of the famine and deprivations caused by the siege. Valencia was captured by Masdali on May 5, 1102 and it did not become a Christian city again for over 125 years. Jimena fled to Burgos, Castile, in 1101. She rode into the town with her retinue and the body of El Cid. Originally buried in Castile in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña, his body now lies at the center of Burgos Cathedral.
After his demise, but still during the siege of Valencia, legend holds that Jimena ordered that the corpse of El Cid be fitted with his armor and set atop his horse Babieca, to bolster the morale of his troops. In several variations of the story, the dead Rodrigo and his knights win a thundering charge against Valencia's besiegers, resulting in a war-is-lost-but-battle-is-won catharsis for generations of Christian Spaniards to follow. It is believed that the legend originated shortly after Jimena entered Burgos, and that it is derived from the manner in which Jimena's procession rode into Burgos, i.e., alongside her deceased husband.
Warrior and general
During his campaigns, El Cid often ordered that books by classic Roman and Greek authors on military themes be read aloud to him and his troops, for both entertainment and inspiration before battle. El Cid's army had a novel approach to planning strategy as well, holding what might be called brainstorming sessions before each battle to discuss tactics. They frequently used unexpected strategies, engaging in what modern generals would call psychological warfare — waiting for the enemy to be paralyzed with terror and then attacking them suddenly; distracting the enemy with a small group of soldiers, etc. (El Cid used this distraction in capturing the town of Castejón as depicted in Cantar de Mio Cid (The Song of my Cid). El Cid accepted or included suggestions from his troops. In The Song the man who served him as his closest adviser was his vassal and kinsman Álvar Fáñez "Minaya" (meaning "My brother", a compound word of Spanish possessive Mi (My) and Anaia, the basque word for brother), although the historical Álvar Fáñez remained in Castile with Alfonso VI.
Taken together, these practices imply an educated and intelligent commander who was able to attract and inspire good subordinates, and who would have attracted considerable loyalty from his followers, including those who were not Christian. It is these qualities, coupled with El Cid's legendary martial abilities, which have fueled his reputation as an outstanding battlefield commander.
Babieca or Bavieca was El Cid's warhorse. Several stories exist about El Cid and Babieca. One well-known legend about El Cid describes how he acquired the stallion. According to this story, Rodrigo's godfather, Pedro El Grande, was a monk at a Carthusian monastery. Pedro's coming-of-age gift to El Cid was his pick of a horse from an Andalusian herd. El Cid picked a horse that his godfather thought was a weak, poor choice, causing the monk to exclaim "Babieca!" (stupid!) Hence, it became the name of El Cid's horse. Another legend states that in a competition of battle to become King Sancho's "Campeador", or champion, a knight on horseback wished to challenge El Cid. The King wished a fair fight and gave El Cid his finest horse, Babieca, or Bavieca. This version says Babieca was raised in the royal stables of Seville and was a highly trained and loyal war horse, not a foolish stallion. The name in this instance could suggest that the horse came from the Babia region in León, Spain. In the poem Carmen Campidoctoris, Babieca appears as a gift from "a barbarian" to El Cid, so its name could also be derived from "Barbieca", or "horse of the barbarian".
Regardless, Babieca became a great warhorse, famous to the Christians, feared by El Cid's enemies, and loved by El Cid, who allegedly requested that Babieca be buried with him in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña. His name is mentioned in several tales and historical documents about El Cid, including The Lay of El Cid.
A weapon traditionally identified as El Cid's sword, Tizona, used to be displayed in the Army Museum (Museo del Ejército) in Toledo. In 1999, a small sample of the blade underwent metallurgical analysis which confirmed that the blade was made in Moorish Córdoba in the eleventh century and contained amounts of Damascus steel.
In 2007, the Autonomous Community of Castile and León bought the sword for 1.6 million Euros, and it is currently on display at the Museum of Burgos.
El Cid also had a sword called Colada.
Marriage and family
El Cid was married in July 1075 to Alfonso's kinswoman Jimena Díaz. The Historia Roderici calls her a daughter of a Count Diego Fernández de Oviedo.
Tradition states that when El Cid first laid eyes on her, he was enamored by her great beauty. Together El Cid and Jimena had two daughters and a son. Their daughters Cristina and María both married into royal families; Cristina to Ramiro, Lord of Monzón, grandson of García Sánchez III of Navarre via an illegitimate son; María, first (it is said) to a prince of Aragon (presumably the son of Peter I) and second to Ramon Berenguer III, count of Barcelona. El Cid's son Diego Rodríguez was killed while fighting against the invading Muslim Almoravids from North Africa at the Battle of Consuegra in 1097.
El Cid's own marriage and those of his daughters raised his status by connecting him to the peninsular royalty; even today, most European monarchs (including the current King of Spain) and many commoners of European ancestry descend from El Cid, through Cristina's son, King García Ramírez of Navarre and to a lesser extent via Maria's daughter, Jimena of Barcelona, who married Roger III, Count of Foix.
El Cid in literature and music
The figure of El Cid has been the source for many literary works, beginning with the Cantar del Mio Cid, an epic poem from the 12th century which gives a partly-fictionalized account of his life. This poem, along with similar later works such as the Mocedades de Rodrigo, contributed to portray El Cid as a chivalric hero of the Reconquista, making him a legendary figure in Spain. In the early 17th century the Spanish writer Guillén de Castro wrote a play called "Las Mocedades del Cid", on which French playwright Pierre Corneille based one of his most famous tragicomedies, Le Cid. He was also a popular source of inspiration for Spanish writers of the Romantic period, such as Juan Eugenio Hartzenbusch, who wrote "La Jura de Santa Gadea", or José Zorrilla, who wrote a long poem called "La Leyenda del Cid".
Jules Massenet wrote in 1885 an opera based on Corneille´s play, also called Le Cid.
In popular culture
- The 1960 short film, El destierro del Cid, is a documentary based on texts from the 'Poema del Mio Cid'.
- The 1961 epic film, El Cid, was a romanticized story of the life of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar where El Cid was portrayed by Charlton Heston.
- The 1980 animated television series Ruy, el pequeño Cid ("Ruy, the Little Cid") told stories from El Cid's youth.
- The 1983 comedy film, El Cid cabreador is a tongue-in-cheek spoof of the El Cid story.
- The 2000 expansion for the video game Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings includes a campaign featuring El Cid.
- The 1999 album from Avalanch called Llanto de un Heroe a former Spanish renown band created a song Called "Cid" which denotes him as a hero for Spaniards
- The 2003 animated feature, El Cid: La leyenda, tells his story from childhood.
- The 2006 video game Medieval II: Total War has El Cid as a rebel general in Valencia.
- The 2010 video game Civilization V has El Cid as a Great General unit.
- The 2012 video game Crusader Kings II depicts El Cid as a landless courtier, though he can lead battles and gain titles for the player; he becomes Count of Valencia at 1095.
- The first chapter of the second season (2016) of the Spanish TV series El Ministerio del Tiempo focuses on the character El Cid.
- Drag racer Hans Schmidt owned and raced a Shelby Cobra Dragonsnake named El Cid in 1965.
- In the HBO Television Series "Oz", the leader of the Latino gang (Raoul Hernandez) is referred to multiple times as "El Cid".