24 April 2023

What is the Cid Campeador? – Learn about the history of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar

By Donald

In the history of Spain there are iconic and legendary characters, one of them is the one who stars in the epic called ‘El Cantar del Mío Cid’. This figure became a myth over the centuries, and is a symbol of Spanish independence and resistance. He continues reading this article of What is it, to learn more about who the Cid Campeador was.

Who was the Cid Campeador?

It was a man named Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, who is believed to have been born in Vivar, Spain, although there is no data to corroborate this information. The date of his birth is also unknown, although some historians place it in 1041 to 1057, his father was Diego Laínez, who served as a knightthis introduced his son into the life of the gentlemen of the low nobility.

At the age of 15 Rodrigo’s father dies, leaving him an orphan. After this, was formed in the court of King Ferdinand I, where he established a friendship with Prince Sancho, son of the current monarch, with whom he grew up for 5 years. Her cultivating a brotherhood between them as they grew older.

During his youth, he served Sancho, who would later become Sancho II of Castile. He learned the art of handling weapons, he was also instructed in letters, since there are records that knew how to read and write. There is a diploma of said endowment in the Cathedral of Valencia, which dates from the year 1098, likewise, it is known that he studied law, since on 2 occasions he participated in contentious trials.

Once Sancho ascended the throne, after the death of his father, he appointed Rodrigo lieutenant of his troops, granting him the title of prince of hosts. The position has as powers to carry the royal flag mounted on a horse, and also occupy the rank of head of the royal retinue, who were a group of armed men who were at the command of the king, a nobleman or a lord.

He accompanied this monarch in various combats and political events during the Middle Ages, including the battle of Graus in 1063 against Ramiro I of Aragon. He also accompanied King Sancho in the war against Alfonso VI, King of León, and García, King of Galicia, who were his brothers. They faced each other to determine who would be in charge of the kingdom after the death of his father.

After this fight, Alfonso arrested him and Sancho took the lands of León and Galicia, to later become Sancho de León II. During these confrontations, Rodrigo’s prestige increased due to the victory in one-on-one combat against the knight Jimeno Garcés. In which they disputed the domain of one of the castles located on the border of Castilla and Navarra, in which he earned the nickname of ‘Campeador’.

Later, once Sancho controlled most of the land, a gentleman named Vellido Adolfo, in the middle of the night, infiltrated the camp where the King was, and kills him with a knife to the heart.

Alfonso VI took refuge in Toledo, and proceeds to claim his right to the throne, which they granted him after swearing before the church of Santa Gadea, located in Burgos, that he had no part in the murder of his brother. The legends say that it was Rodrigo Díaz, the Cid Campeador, who pressured Alfonso to swear that he did not participate in said crime.

Because of this, Alfonso did not like El Cid, although he recognized the value of the services rendered, giving him the hand of his niece Doña Jimena. In 1081, Rodrigo undertook an expedition in the lands of Toledo, without having the permission of the king. Which endangered certain negotiations that were already taking place in those lands, thus causing the exile of the Campeador and the blocking of all his goods and belongings, as was characteristic of the medieval code.

He established himself as a warrior under the orders of the King of Zaragoza, of Al-Andalus origin, who was al-Muqtadir, later succeeded by al-Mutamán, who entrusted the Cid with a campaign against his brother, unleashing a battle between them. During the confrontations he received the nickname ‘Cid’, which in Arabic came from ‘sid’, which meant ‘lord’.

In 1086, after the defeat of Alfonso VI of Castilla y León before the Almoravids, there was a reconciliation between Rodrigo Díaz and said monarch. The Cid Campeador was granted land in Castile. Two years later, there were new discussions between the King and Rodrigo, thus causing his definitive banishment.

The Cid Campeador returns to the east, becoming al-Qadir’s guard. Once the latter died, he decided to take care of his own interests and settled in Valencia in the year 1093. In that place he established a small Christian kingdom known as taifa, which survived until his death in 1099. His wife tried to defend this land together with Count Ramón Berenguer III of Barcelona. So that, finally, in the year 1101 Valencia fell to the Almoravids.

What era is El Cid Campeador from?

Its history is located in the Spanish Middle Ages, during the 11th century, at a time when the Iberian Peninsula was divided into several kingdoms and some taifas. At this time there were very frequent confrontations, in which many territories were disputed.

Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was born in the year 1040, in a town called Vivar, near a town known as Burgos, in the kingdom of Castile. He was raised at the court of King Ferdinand I of León and Castilla, whose nickname was ‘El Magno’ and on other occasions ‘El Grande’. In addition, he also served the armies of King Sancho II and Alfonso VI.

What did the Cid Campeador do?

His exploits were transmitted through oral tradition and Spanish medieval literature. Multiple songs and stories were written to count the great battles in which this hero participated.

He stood out for being a warrior and military leader of the 11th century. His history was marked by various victories in battle, highlighting the reconquest of Valenciawhich will rule during his last years of life.

He began his career in the service of King Sancho II of Castile, and fought in the fratricidal wars of this kingdom and that of León, where he demonstrated great skill in battle and valentina. After the death of King Sancho II, he found himself without royal patronage and had to make alliances with other nobles. He participating in combats representing King Alfonso VI, and al-Mutamán in various battles as well.

He suffered exile twice by King Alfonso VI, and after the second establishes a taifa in Valenciain which he implemented policies that improved the economy and security of this Christian kingdom, until 1099, when he died.

His life and exploits became a series of myths and legends in Spanish history, for whom they composed, a figure of the literary genre called epic, whose name is ‘The Song of My Cid’and tells the story of the Cid Campeador, from his banishment to his triumphant return to the Kingdom of Valencia.

This work consists of 3 parts: the banishment of El Cid, the wedding of his daughters and the conquest of Valencia. In addition to this, in some popular festivals in Spain, in the town of Burgos, festivities called ‘Candelas del Cid’ are held in honor of this character. They are celebrated on February 2, the day of Candlemas.

This consists of a procession and a mass in homage to El Cid and his wife Jimenain which candles are also lit in honor of the saints and some historical figures such as Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar.