El Cid, Great Cid, Fighter Cid, Cid-Compeador are all the names of one and the same man, the representative of a poor noble clan. His real name is Rodrigo Dias de Bivar. He was a courageous fighter and military leader, the national hero of Spain.
Scarcely could you find another person of this kind in the history of Spain. Valencia is very proud of Cid because in the 11th century he beated the city off the Arabs whose state called Almaravidi that time included not only Spanish territories but also the territories of Morocco and Portugal.
Cid is a contradictory personality. In spite of his image of a winner of many battles with Arabs, the Moslems respected him as well. The paradox is that in many Arabian written papers of Middle Ages Cid is called “a monster”. But the name Cid is of Arabian origin and means “the leader” or “the chief”. That also means that Arabians traditionally admired strength and courage.
As has already been mentioned Cid was born in a poor family in a small village of Vivar in the vicinity of Burgos. Having become of age Rodrigo Dias left for the court of the heir Sancho, the future ruler of the Kingdom of Castilla and Leon to learn the art of war. According to one version the first battle for Cid was the battle between Castillan and Aragon troops in 1063. In 1065 after the death of the Castillan ruler Fernando I the power came to Sancho. Cid was appointed the high military leader of the king. Since that time Spain rang with Cid’s fame.
Cid began his great campaign of conquering Valencia from Saragosa in 1088. For long six years he had been trying to defeat Moors and to turn them out from Valencia. Moreover he proved to be a genius not only in struggle but in political intrigues and in secret deals because his potential enemies had been not only Moors but the kings of Aragon and Catalonia.
In 1094 he managed to conquer Valencia and to change it from a Moslem City into one of the greatest Christian centres of Spain of that time. By 1096 all the Moslem mosques had been reconstructed into Christian churches.
El Cid had been the ruler of Valencia till 1099 when he was killed. His death became a legend. Mortally wounded in the battle Cid ordered his comrades-in-arms to fasten him to a saddle and to lead out to be at the head of the army. When Moors saw Cid riding a horse they trembled with fear and retreated.
Subsequently Cid’s wife Ximena was the ruler of Valencia for two years more and then she had to leave the city to the Moors. While retreating the Christians burnt it. Valencia became Spanish again 125 years later.
Time has passed but Cid’s fame has become even greater. The latest events can be the evidence of it. In 2007 Cid’s famous sword known as “Tizona” was bought by the community of Castilla and Leon from the Museum of Madrid at the sum of 1,6 mln euro. Nowadays “Tizona” is an exhibit of the Museum in Burgos. Cid’s fame is successfully used in tourist industry in Spain. Not long ago a special tourist route called “Cid’s Route” was opened. It includes the territories of eight Spanish provinces, Alicante, Valencia and Castellon are among them. The route has been worked out in two variants: one is for motor-car tourists and the other is a walking tour.
Besides that the great military leader became the main character of some films, the most famous of them is an epical drama “El Cid” of 1961 with Sophie Loren as a film-star. The other film “El Cid, la Leyenda” was shot in Spain in 2003.