Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was not called El Campeador (The Champion) or El Cid (The Lord) for no reason. He had excellent military skills, was never beaten in battles, and successfully repelled the Muslims from invading Spain… even as a corpse.

From the moment that Diaz de Vivar was born into a chaotic period in Spanish history in 1043, he was set to do great things. His father was a soldier in the battle at Atapuerco in 1054. Meanwhile, his mother was a niece of the Castilian diplomat. He was raised and received formal schooling in the court of King Ferdinand the Great when his father died. There, he learned how to read and write and was trained as a soldier. When King Ferdinand died, the kingdom was divided between his three sons: Sancho, who got Castile; Alfonso, who received Leon; and Garcia, who was given the region of Galicia. It turned out these brothers were not too fond of each other so they almost immediately went to war with each other with the goal of unifying the crown again under one ruler. First, it was Sancho and Alfonso versus Garcia. When they successfully drove him off, they battled each other. Now that’s some brotherly love.

Ferdinand the Great.
Ferdinand the Great. Minerva, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Working for Sancho…

Going back to Diaz de Vivar, he served as standard-bearer and commander of troops for Sancho, fighting against the Moorish Muslim invaders. Now, bear in mind that this was during the Reconquista period. It was a time when Christians and Muslims were fighting against one another as the Catholics of Spain tried to take back their country from the Moors. However, that’s not all. Cities and states were also battling, and rebellion was rampant. It was a chaotic period.

Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar
Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, el Cid Campeador. (Al pie de la imagen figuran los datos de su autor., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

…Then For Alfonso

With the help of Diaz de Vivar, Sancho successfully expanded his late father’s possessions and territory. During this time, Diaz de Vivar earned the title El Cid or in spanish, “The Champion.” Then in 1072, Sancho was assassinated. He had a gut feeling that it was Alfonso’s doing. Alfonso took over Sancho’s kingdom and possessions which out El Cid in a precarious position as he had to fought and crushed the forces of Alfonso in various battles. Backing El Cid, the Castilian nobility forced Alfonso to publicly swear in front of Santa Gadea Church and before God that he was not involved in his brother’s death.