Friday, February 22, 2008
El Cid,(Rodrigo, or Ruy, Diaz, Count of Bivar), the great popular hero of the chivalrous age of Spain, was born at Burgos c. 1040; and died at Valencia, 1099. He was given the title of seid or cid (lord, chief) by the Moors and that of campeador (champion) by his admiring countrymen.
Tradition and legend have cast a deep shadow over the history of this brave knight, to such an extent that his very existence has been questioned; there is however, no reason to doubt his existence. We must, at the same time regard him as a dual personality, and distinguish between the historical Cid and the legendary Cid. History paints him as a free booter, an unprincipled adventurer, who battled with equal vigour against Christians and Moors; who, to further his own ends, would as soon destroy a Christian church as a Moslem temple; who plundered and slew as much for his own gain as from any patriotic motives. It must be born in mind, however that the facts which discredit him have reached us through hostile Arab historians, and that to do him full justice he should be judged according to the standard of his country in his day. Vastly different indeed is the Cid of romance, legend, and ballad, wherein he is pictured as the tender, loving husband and father; the gentle courageous soldier; the noble, generous conqueror, unswervingly loyal to his country and his king; the man whose name has been an ever-present inspiration to Spanish patriotism. But whatever may have been the real adventures of El Cid Campeador, his name has come down to us in modern times in connection with a long series of heroic achievements in which he stands out as the central figure of the long struggle of Christian Spain against the Moslem hosts.