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El Cid: History and Legend

Posted on Jun 23, 2012 by in Abstracts | 0 comments

Juan Abraham Caballero Prieto
University of Utah
Member ΦΑΘ–ΑP
Published in Historia: the Alpha Rho Papers, Vol II.

Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar El Cid Campeador[1] is the greatest hero in Spanish history: to the Christians he is the epitome of what a servant of god is, to the Muslim of Al-Andalus, he was and admired ally and also their foremost enemy. The sources however, both Muslim and Christian alike praise and criticize the figure of the man who damaged Al-Andalus greatly, and enabled the Spanish Reconquista to take hold in Iberia. Although in the 11th century northern Iberia had long been under a movement of Christian resurgence and reconquista[2], El Cid provided a much needed stepping stone for the emerging Christians who wanted to reclaim the land of the Visigoths, which they held as ancient territories of their race.

This paper will focus on the times prior to El Cid’s exile; since, despite our many versions of the story, there seems to be little to no evidence of the situation surrounding the knight’s birth and of what ancestry he came. Literature depicts our hero as the poorest of the poor, at the very least a very unimportant knight, who rises to the uppermost levels of power only to be dashed down by the evil king Alfonso VI. However the evidence available to us does tell a different story; the story of a man who was born in high society, who had the backing of the powerful families from which he came and who was trained early and for a long time into the art of combat, as well as educated in all other skills of the knights of his time.

[1] The complex name denotes El Cid´s life in full detail. Deeds worth singing about and writing of in epic poetic form “El Cantar”. El Cid is a hero made for all of Spain since “mio”, lit. mine, give us a sense of ownership. Finally he was known as “The Lord”, in Arabic, “Sayyid”. “The singing of my Lord” them, is a title worth a paper in order to have it explained in depth.

[2] Spanish. Lit. Re-conquest.

Juan Abraham Caballero Prieto is a junior at the University of Utah where he enthusiastically majors in history teaching and classical studies. Juan is the treasurer of the Alpha Rho chapter of Phi Alpha Theta.

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  1. El Cid: History and Legend | The Ancient Thinker - [...] Diaz de Vivar El Cid Campeador[1] is the greatest hero in Spanish history: to the Christians he is the…

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