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Myths and legends

El Cid

A giant “doll” representing El CidA giant “doll” representing El CidEl Cid was another name for Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (1043–99), the great military leader and Spain's national hero. He fought for and against both Spanish kings and the Muslim rulers of Spain. The Moors, the Muslim inhabitants of Spain and North Africa during the Middle Ages, gave him the name El Cid, from an Arabic word meaning "Lord”, in honour of his military prowess. Christians of the same period called him El Campeador, “Champion”. His exploits inspired many legends and poems written by both Muslims and Christians.


El Cid rides into exileEl Cid rides into exile

The Life of El Cid

Rodrigo Díaz was the son of a Spanish nobleman. He was born in Vivar, a town near Burgos in northern Spain. His early years were spent in the service of Sancho, a son of King Ferdinand I. After Ferdinand’s death, his sons quarrelled over who should rule the kingdom. With El Cid commanding his troops, Sancho defeated his brothers and became king. Sancho died in 1072 and was succeeded by his brother Alfonso, who after initially deciding to employ El Cid, later exiled him from his kingdom.

After El Cid's death in 1099, his wife, Jimena Díaz, succeeded him as ruler of Valencia

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