El Cid

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Statue of El Cid in Burgos, Spain
A 1904 illustration of El Cid based upon earlier artwork.
A different statue in Balboa Park, San Diego, California

Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (c. 1040, Vivar, near Burgos – July 10, 1099, Valencia), known as El Cid Campeador, was a Castilian nobleman, a gifted 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.

The name "El Cid" comes from the Spanish article El, and the dialectal Arab word سيد sïdi or sayyid, which means "Lord". The title Campeador comes from campidoctor, a vulgar Latin word roughly meaning "master of military arts", so El Cid Campeador translates as "The lord, master of military arts". He is considered the national hero of Spain.


[edit] Early life

The 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.

[edit] Education and early adulthood

El Cid was educated in the Castilian royal court, serving the prince and future king Sancho II, the son of King Ferdinand I. When Ferdinand died in 1065, Sancho continued to enlarge his territory, conquering both Christian and the Moorish cities of Zamora and Badajoz.

[edit] El Cid, the Champion

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 Graus 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, giving him the honorific title of "El Cid Campeador".

Campeador is the Romance or Vulgar Latin 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.

[edit] Service under Alfonso

Much speculation abounds about Sancho's death. Most say that the assassination was a 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 against whom he had fought.

Almost immediately, Alfonso was recalled from exile in Toledo and took his seat as king of León and Castile. He was deeply suspected in Castile, probably correctly, 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. Later in the year Alfonso's younger brother García returned to Galicia under the false pretenses of a conference.

[edit] Battle tactics

During his campaigns, the Cid often ordered 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 had a humble personality and frequently accepted or included suggestions from his troops. He remained open to input from his soldiers and to the possibility that he himself was capable of error. The man who served him as his closest adviser was his kinsman, Alvar Fáñez de Minaya.

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. It is these qualities, coupled with El Cid's legendary martial abilities, which have fueled his reputation as an outstanding battlefield commander.

[edit] Marriage and family life

El Cid was married in July 1075 to Alfonso's kinswoman Jimena of Oviedo 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. The marriage was probably on Alfonso's suggestion[citation needed], a move that he probably hoped would improve relations between him and El Cid; although we are told[who?] that when the Cid laid eyes on her he was enamored by her beauty. Together El Cid and Jimena had three children. Their daughters Cristina and María both married 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 that of his daughters increased his status by connecting El Cid to royalty; even today, living monarchs descend from El Cid, through the lines of Navarre and Foix. El Cid is an ancestor to the monarchies of France and Britain, as well as every other monarchy in Europe, through his daughter Cristina's son, king García Ramírez of Navarre, as well as most of their nobility and even many of the people, which once considered him one of their own.

[edit] Service as administrator

El Cid was a cultivated man, having served Alfonso as a judge. He kept in life a personal archive with copies of the letters he mailed and important diplomas he signed as part of his co-operation in the king's administration.

[edit] Exile

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, an accusation of pocketing some of the tribute from Seville, and what one source[citation needed] describes as El Cid's "penchant" towards insulting powerful men.

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-Andaluz city of Zaragoza, Yusuf al-Mutamin, and served both him and his successor, Al-Mustain II. O'Callaghan writes:

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 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 az-Zallaqah took place on Friday, October 23, 1086, at Sagrajas (in Arabic, Zallaqa). The Moorish Andalusians, including the armies of Badajoz, Málaga, Granada and Seville, defeated a combined army of León, Aragón and Castile.

According to Thomas:[citation needed]

"The Andalusians encamped separately from the Murabitun [Almoravids]. The Christian vanguard (Alvar Fañez) surprised the Andalusian camp before dawn; the men of Seville (Al-Mutamid) held firm but the remaining Andalusians were chased off by the Aragonese cavalry. The Christian main body then attacked the Murabitun, but were held in check by the Lamtuma, and then withdrew to their own camp in response to an outflanking move by ibn Tashufin. The Aragonese returned to the field, didn't like what they saw, and started a withdrawal that became a rout. The Andalusians rallied, and the Muslims drove Alfonso to a small hill. Alfonso and 500 knights escaped in the night to Toledo."

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. There is an urban legend that El Cid's ghost is still present in Vivar and in Burgos.

[edit] El Cid's Conquest of Valencia (1094-1102)

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 Ramón Berenguer 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 son Ramón Berenguer III married the Cid's youngest daughter Maria to ward against future conflicts.

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. In 1096 Valencia's nine mosques were converted into churches; Jérôme, a French bishop, was appointed archbishop of the city.

El Cid died afterwards. His wife, Jimena ruled in his place for three years until the Almoravids once again 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.

[edit] Babieca

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 white 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 "Cantar de mio Cid" ("The Lay of the Cid").

[edit] Tizona

A weapon traditionally identified as El Cid's sword, Tizona, can still be seen in the Army Museum (Museo del Ejército) in Madrid. 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.

[edit] In literature, film, and other media

Starting 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, 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.[1]

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.

Guy Gavriel Kay's "The Lions of Al-Rassan" is a fairly recent work of speculative fiction loosely based on Rodrigo.

There have been modern-day films about El Cid, such as El Cid [2] (1961, starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren) and the animated El Cid: La Leyenda (2003). In the early 1980s there was an animated series called Ruy, el Pequeño Cid (Little Cid no Boken), portraying the fictional adventures of El Cid as a child.

Computer games set in medieval Europe sometimes feature El Cid. Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion featured a six-level campaign based on the exploits of El Cid, including his exile from Castile, his conquest of Valencia and his legendary posthumous battle. He also appears as a warrior in the Anachronism card game and as the rebel leader of Valencia in Medieval: Total War and Medieval II. In the latter case, his appearance is also an in-joke homage to Sid Meier, creator of the Civilization series. Also in the game Crusader Kings, he appears as Rodrigo de Vivar at the court of King Sancho II of Castile. Most instalments of the Final Fantasy series also feature a character named Cid, as well as some having swords named after El Cid directly. Final Fantasy XII specifically has a character named El Cid Margrace, along with the traditional Cid. The bard in the original Bard's Tale was named El Cid.

The El Cid Statue overlooks the Plaza de Panama, facing south toward the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park, San Diego, California. This 23-ft (7-m) tall bronze equestrian sculpture was dedicated in 1930 as a symbolic guardian of Balboa Park. Three other statues were made from the same mold — one stands in the court of the Museum of the Hispanic Society in New York City; anothes stands on Plaza de España, Valencia (Spain), near the oldest known church in the city- San Vicent de la Roqueta; the other is in Seville, Spain. The statue is attributed to Anna Hyatt Huntington and dated 1927.

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

Isabel Allende made El Cid one of the ancestors of the De La Vega family and thus a direct ancestor to El Zorro in her novel Zorro. This revelation explains a reference in Johnston McCaulley's original story that Diego Vega had 'the highest blood' among the Californios.

Julio A. Garcia, a prominent attorney in Laredo, Texas, was referred to as "El Cid" because of his grassroots political activities.

In an episode of the cartoon series "The Tick" called The Tick vs. El Seed, The Tick fights a flower man named El Seed who in exile tries to raise an army of corn to destroy all humans.

[edit] References

[edit] Notes

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