Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, known best as El Cid, is revered as a great national hero of Spain. The name El Cid comes from the Arabic El Seid' meaning the Lord. Known to his admiring countrymen as campeador', or champion, he was a Spanish warrior whom later legend made into a hero and the symbol of chivalry and virtue. El Cid was born in Vivar near Burgos in 1043. His father, Diego Lainez, was a member of the minor nobility, called the infanzones' of Castile. El Cid was also directly connected on his mother's side to royalty.
History paints two pictures of Rodrigo Diaz. He was an unprincipled adventurer, who battled against both Christians and Moors. And on the other hand, he was also a symbol of romance, legend, and ballad. He is shown as the tender, loving husband and father, the loyal, courageous soldier, and an ever-present inspiration to Spanish patriotism. He stands out as the central figure of the long struggle of Christian Spain against the Muslim threats.
Fernando I, known as Fernando The Great, died in 1065, and at his death Fernando divided his lands among his three sons: Sancho, Alfonso, and Garcia, and his two daughters: Elvira and Urraca. He also asked them to promise him they would respect his wishes and abide by the divisions. But Sancho, who received the Kingdom of Castile, being the eldest, thought he should have inherited the entire dominions of his father. Sancho was stronger, braver, and craftier than his brothers and sisters and cherished the idea of taking their possessions, and becoming the sole successor of Fernando I.
At this time, El Cid was quite young, and Sancho out of gratitude to Rodrigo's father, had retained him at the court and looked after his education, especially his military training. When Sancho succeeded to the Castilian throne, he nominated the 22-year-old Cid as alferez', or commander-in-chief of the royal troops. This early...