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A statue of the Cid in Burgos, the capital of Sancho II's kingdom, and where the Cid served in his early years.

Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (c. 1040 – July 10, 1099), known as El Cid Campeador, was a Castilian nobleman, a military leader and diplomat who, after being exiled, conquered and governed the city of Valencia. Rodrigo Díaz was educated in the royal court of Castile and became the alférez, or chief general, of Alfonso VI, and his most valuable asset in the fight against the Moors. He is considered the national hero of Spain.



The name "El Cid" comes from the Spanish article el (meaning "the"), and the dialectal Arabic word سيد sîdi or sayyid, which means "Lord" or "The Master". The title Campeador is the Old Spanish version of the Latin campi doctor or campi doctus; the term can be found in writings of late Latinity (4th – 5th century) and can be found in some inscriptions of that era. After that period it became rare, although still sometimes found in the writings of the less educated writers of the Middle Ages. The literal significance of the expression campi doctor is "master of the military arts", and its use in the period of the late Roman Empire appears to have signified only one who instructed new military recruits. But it was in current usage when El Cid was still alive, and was applied to Rodrigo by a member of his circle in an official document promulgated in his name in 1098. Overall, then, El Cid Campeador translates as "The lord, master of military arts", or more directly, "The Champion."

Life and career

El Cid's signature: Ego Ruderico, "I, Rodrigo".


El Cid was born circa 1040 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, only confirmed five documents of Ferdinand I's, his maternal grandfather, Rodrigo Alvarez, certified only two of Sancho II's, and the Cid's own father confirmed only one. This seems to indicate that El Cid's family was not composed of major court officials.

Service under Sancho II

As a young adult in 1057, Rodrigo fought against the Moorish stronghold of Zaragoza, making its emir al-Muqtadir a vassal of Sancho. In the spring of 1063, he 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 the Cid, fought against the Aragonese. The party would emerge victorious; Ramiro I was killed and the Aragonese fled the field. 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 and the Moorish cities of Zamora and Badajoz.

Service under Alfonso VI

Sancho was assassinated in 1072. Most say this was the result of a pact between his brother Alfonso and his sister Urraca; some even say Alfonso and Urraca had an incestuous relationship. In any case, since Sancho died unmarried and childless, all of his power passed to his brother Alfonso — the very person he had fought.

Almost immediately, Alfonso returned from exile in Toledo and took his seat as king of León and Castile. He was deeply suspected in Castile, probably correctly,[citation needed] for being involved in Sancho's murder. According to the epic of El Cid, the Castilian nobility led by the Cid and a dozen "oath-helpers" forced Alfonso to swear publicly in front of Santa Gadea (Saint Agatha) Church in Burgos on holy relics multiple times 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 Alfonso VI of Castile and Leon and Rodrigo Diaz do not mention any such event. The Cid's position as armiger regis was taken away, however, and it was given to the Cid's enemy, Count García Ordóñez.


In the Battle of Cabra (1079), El Cid rallied his troops and turned the battle into a rout of Emir Abd Allah 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.

However, the exile was not the end of El Cid, either physically or as an important figure. In 1081, El Cid, now a mercenary, offered 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. O'Callaghan writes:

First paragraph of the Carmen Campidoctoris, the earliest literary treatment of El Cid's life, written by a Catalan partisan to celebrate the Cid's defeat of Berenguer Ramon.

At first he went to Barcelona where Ramón Berenguer II (1076-1082) and Berenguer Ramón II (1076-1097) refused his offer of service. Then he journeyed to Zaragoza where he received a warmer welcome. 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-Mutamdhir, Sancho I of Aragón, and Ramón Berenguer II, whom he held captive briefly in 1082.

In 1084, he defeated Sancho of Aragon at the Battle of Morella. In 1086, the great Almoravid invasion of the Iberian Peninsula through and around Gibraltar began. The Almoravids, Berber residents of present-day Morocco and Algeria, led by Yusuf ibn Tashfin, were asked to help defend the Moors from Alfonso. The great battle of Sagrajas took place on Friday, October 23, 1086, near Badajoz. The Moorish Andalusians, including the armies of Badajoz, Málaga, Granada and Seville, defeated a combined army of León, Aragón and Castile.

Terrified after his crushing defeat, Alfonso recalled the best Christian general from exile — El Cid. It has been shown that the Cid was at court on July 1087; however, what happened after that is unclear.

Conquest of Valencia

An engraving by Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville of the Cid ordering the execution of the King of Valencia after his conquest of the city in 1094.

Around this time, the 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 Ramón II, who ruled nearby Barcelona. In May 1090, the Cid defeated and captured Berenguer in the Battle of Tébar. Berenguer was later ransomed and his nephew Ramón Berenguer III married the 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, like Castejón and Alucidia.

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. The Cid began a siege of Valencia. A December 1093 attempt to break failed. By the time the siege ended in May 1094 the Cid had carved out his own principality on the coast of the Mediterranean. Officially the Cid ruled in the name of Alfonso; in reality, the 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 died peacefully at Valencia in 1099. His wife, Jimena ruled in his place for three years until the Almoravids besieged the city. Unable to hold it, she abandoned the city. Alfonso ordered the city burned to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Almoravids. Valencia was captured by Masdali on May 5, 1102 and would not become a Christian city again for over 125 years. Jimena fled to Burgos with her husband's body. Originally buried in Castile in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña, his body now lies at the center of the Burgos Cathedral.

Warrior and general

Battle tactics

During his campaigns, the Cid often ordered that books by classic Roman and Greek authors on military themes be read in high-pitched, loud voices to him and his troops, both for 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 Lay of the Cid). El Cid accepted or included suggestions from his troops. In The Lay 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, 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.


Tomb of Babieca at the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña.

Babieca or Bavieca was El Cid's warhorse. Several stories exist about the Cid and Babieca. One well-known legend about the 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 the Cid. The King wished a fair fight and gave the 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 the Cid, so its name could also be derived from "Barbieca", or "horse of the barbarian".

In either case, Babieca became a great warhorse, famous to the Christians, feared by El Cid's enemies, and loved by the Cid, who allegedly requested that Babieca be buried with him in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña.[citation needed] His name is mentioned in several tales and historical documents about El Cid, including The Lay of the 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.[citation needed]

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 daughter of a Count Diego of Oviedo, a person unknown to contemporary records, while later poetic sources name her father as an otherwise unknown Count Gomez de Gormaz. In the 1961 film El Cid,[1] starring Charlton Heston, Jimena is portrayed by Sophia Loren, interestingly, in view of the uncertainly detailed above, the father of Jimena is Count Gormaz of Oviedo (played by Andrew Cruickshank).

Tradition states that when the Cid laid eyes on her he was enamored of her beauty. Together El Cid and Jimena had three children. Their daughters Cristina and María both married into the high nobility; 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 Ramón 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 (1097).

His own marriage and those of his daughters raised his status by connecting El Cid to the peninsular royalty; even today, most European monarchs 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 a granddaughter Jimena of Barcelona, who married into the Counts of Foix.

El Cid depicted on the title page of a sixteenth-century working of his story.

Legend, literature and art

Beginning in the 12th century the legend of El Cid has been perpetuated in chronicles and ballads. Until the 14th century his life was told in the form of epic poems, each time with more attention to his youth imagined with much creative liberty, as can be observed in the late Mocedades de Rodrigo, in which are mentioned how in his youth he ventures to invade France, so eclipsing the exploits of the French chansons de geste. The new compositions presented a conceited nature much to the liking of the times but were contradictory to the moderate and prudent style of Cantar de mio Cid.

His youth and his love of Jimena were also subjects in the Spanish Romanceros. These anonymous short poems were based upon the epic poetry, which preserved the memory of El Cid in the late Middle Ages and created new literary episodes on the topic. The feats of El Cid are one of the many sources for Don Quixote's early inspiration: though his steed Rocinante is less than capable, Don Quixote believes him to be better than Babieca.

Many works have been written about El Cid. The oldest of the preserved manuscripts is the three-part Castilian cantar de gesta Cantar de Mio Cid, also called The Lay of the Cid, The Song of My Cid, or Poema de Mio Cid. It keeps a realistic tone while not exactly following the historical truth.

The exploits of El Cid are the topic of the Carmen Campidoctoris, a Latin text that predates the Cantar de Mio Cid. Here we find the only description about the shield of the Cid. According to the poem, it has a "fierce shining golden dragon" depicted on it.

The French playwright Pierre Corneille wrote the tragicomedy Le Cid in 1636, based on the play of Guillén de Castro y Bellvis, Las Mocedades del Cid. Jules Massenet's 1885 opera Le Cid was based on Corneille's play. It is a favorite of Plácido Domingo, who has sung the role of Rodrigue (Rodrigo) many times since first performing it at Carnegie Hall in 1976.[2]

Statue of El Cid in San Diego

The English poet Robert Southey wrote "The Chronicle of the Cid" in English. This work, written in 1808, is a translated blend of three Spanish sources: Chronica del famoso cavallero Cid Ruydiez Campeador, Poema del Cid, and Romances del Cid. El Cid is mentioned in Canto III of The Cantos of Ezra Pound: as he arrives at Burgos Cathedral and later, alluding to his capture of Valencia.

In 1927 the sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington created an equestian statue of El Cid. The 23-ft (7m) bronze sculpture exists in five versions. Three in the United States:

Two are in Spain:

Cid Harbour, in the Whitsunday Islands, on Australia's Great Barrier Reef was named in his honour. It is overlooked by Bavieca Hill.



  • Simon Barton and Richard Fletcher. The world of El Cid, Chronicles of the Spanish reconquest. Manchester: University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-7190-5225-4 hardback, ISBN 0-7190-5226-2 paperback.
  • Gonzalo Martínez Díez, "El Cid Histórico: Un Estudio Exhaustivo Sobre el Verdadero Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar", Editorial Planeta (Spain, June 1999). ISBN 84-08-03161-9
  • Richard Fletcher. "The Quest for El Cid". ISBN 0-19-506955-2
  • Kurtz, Barbara E. El Cid. University of Illinois.
  • I. Michael. The Poem of the Cid. Manchester: 1975.
  • C. Melville and A. Ubaydli (ed. and trans.), Christians and Moors in Spain, vol. III, Arabic sources (711-1501). (Warminster, 1992).
  • Joseph F. O'Callaghan. A History of Medieval Spain. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1975
  • Peter Pierson. The History of Spain. Ed. John E. Findling and Frank W. Thacheray. Wesport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1999. 34-36.
  • Bernard F. Reilly. The Kingdom of León-Castilla under King Alfonso VI, 1065-1109 Princeton, New Jersey: University Press, 1988.
  • The Song of the Cid. Translated by Burton Raffel. Penguin Classics, 2009.
  • R. Selden Rose and Leonard Bacon (trans.) The Lay of the Cid. Semicentennial Publications of the University of California: 1868-1918. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997.
  • Steven Thomas. 711-1492: Al-Andalus and the Reconquista.
  • Camino del Cid
  • M. J. Trow,El Cid The Making of a Legend, Sutton Publishing Limited, 2007.
  • Henry Edwards Watts. "The Story of the Cid (1026-1099)" in The Christian Recovery of Spain: The Story of Spain from the Moorish Conquest to the Fall of Grenada (711-1492 AD). New York: Putnam, 1894. 71-91.
  • Cantar de mío Cid - Spanish (free PDF)
  • Poema de Mio Cid, Códice de Per Abbat in the European Library (third item on page)
  • T.Y. Henderson. "Conquests Of Valencia"


  1. ^ The DVD release of El Cid made a list of "5 Things You Should Know About," Time 171.5 (February 4, 2008): 63.
  2. ^ The official authorized Website of Plácido Domingo | Repertoire/ Roles


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From el, the, + Cid, from the dialectal Arab word سيد (sïdi or sayyid), lord, master); thus "El Cid" means "The Lord". The title "Campeador" is a word from Vulgar Latin that can be translated as "champion" or "master of military arts".

Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:


El Cid

  1. Nickname of Rodrigo (or Ruy) Díaz de Vivar (b. c. 1040, Vivar, near Burgos – 10 July 1099, Valencia), also called El Cid Campeador, was a Castilian nobleman, military leader, and diplomat. After being exiled, he conquered and governed the city of Valencia. Rodrigo Díaz was educated in the royal court of Castile and became the alférez, or chief general, of King Alfonso VI of Castile, and Alfonso's most valuable asset in the fight against the Moors. El Cid became the subject of a Spanish national epic.


  • Wikipedia
  • Spanish epic poem Cantar de Mio Cid.

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