Le Cid Campeador

The name Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar may not mean anything to you. This Spanish is indeed better known by his nickname: the Cid Campeador!

the Cid Campeador

the Cid Campeador

Made famous in France in 1637 by Pierre Corneille, in Spain he has long been a national hero despite questionable morals. Let's follow his adventures and we'll see how he became one of the most popular figures in this country...

The hero was born in the village of Vivar, near Burgos, around 1043, into a family of Castilian minor nobility. Following his father, Rodrigo (Rodrigue in French) engages on the battlefields, both against the Christian rivals of his king and his Muslim enemies, the “taifa reyes”.

Having become king of Castile, Sancho II offered the post of chief of the armies to his friend, whose feats of arms were already legendary. A single combat against Martin Garcés, champion of the King of Navarre Sancho IV, earned him his first nickname: camper (Latin campi doctor : master of arms or master of the battlefield). But our warrior has other talents: he knows how to read and write but also speaks Arabic, the language of the invaders.

The tide turned with the death of Sancho, assassinated in front of Zamora (Castile and León) in 1072, certainly on the orders of his brother, Alphonse.

Become in his turn king of Castile under the name of Alfonso VI, this one does not show himself ungrateful towards Rodrigo and gives him the hand of one of his relatives, Jimena (Chimene in French). But he soon takes umbrage at her ambition, her brutality and her lack of scruples.

Forced into exile in 1081, Rodrigo offered his services to both Christian and Muslim kinglets who fought over the peninsula in this troubled period.

He first enters the service of the Muslim king of Zaragoza, who allows him to keep all the territories he can conquer. He then wields the sword throughout the east of the peninsula, giving rise to this reputation for invincibility which will follow him until after his death. He becomes forever cid, " the Lord " (from Arabic al-sayyid Where sidi).

Events follow one another. In 1087, he seized Valence and became its "protector", ignoring the claims of the King of Castile and the Count of Barcelona. But in 1092, the city was conquered by the Almoravids, formidable warriors from Morocco. Their victory is short-lived.

Rodrigo imposes a new siege on the city and retakes it two years later. He then had all the cards in hand to build a powerful kingdom, but he died in his fifties, on January 10, 1099, after seeing his only son disappear. The Kingdom of Valencia would have to wait until the 13th century to see the light of day.