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'Saviour' of The Reconquista: El Cid  (Part 1)

April 11, 2022

'Saviour' of The Reconquista: El Cid (Part 1)
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"...This man, the scourge of his time, by his appetite for glory, by the prudent steadfastness of his character, and by his heroic bravery:
Was one of the miracles of God". -Ibn Bassam (11th Century Poet) on El Cid

El Cid was a knight in 11th century Spain.

Growing up in the borderlands between two religions, he gained a reputation for military skill and bravery. This led to his nickname Campeador, 'Master Of The Battlefield'.

Today's he's remembered as loyal, merciful and above all, pious. But behind the legends and myths was a very different man.

In this episode, we peel back the layers of this Spanish hero and learn the real story behind the hero of The Reconquista.


  • Did El Cid pull the beard of García Ordóñez?
    • There is no historical proof for this taking place.
  • What does ‘El Cid’ mean?
    • ‘The Lord’. It is a corruption of the Arabic term ‘Sayyid’ which El Cid was likely referred to by his Moorish soldiers (though there is no Islamic sources that support this).

  • Was El Cid from poverty?
    • His family were well-to-do. They were not rich, but were not peasants.

  • Did the infantes of Carrion marry El Cid’s daughters?
    • This story comes from ‘The Poem Of El Cid’. It has no historical accuracy.

  • Was El Cid’s dead body mounted on a horse to lead his men into battle?
    • No. The story likely originates from his wife, Ximena bringing his body back to Castile.

  • Did El Cid fill a treasure chest with sand, and trick his debtors into believing it was filled with gold?
    • This story comes from ‘The Poem Of El Cid’. It has no historical accuracy.

  • Did the swords: Colada and Tizona really belong to El Cid?
    • These swords exist (currently in the Museum of Madrid) but whether they were owned by El Cid is dubious.

  • Was El Cid loyal to King Alphonso VI?
    • El Cid’s loyalty swayed back and forth over his lifetime.

Additional Reading / Sources:


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