Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, better known as El Cid, or simply Rodrigo, was a Castilian nobleman and military leader in medieval Spain. The Moors called him El Cid, which meant the Lord, and the Christians, El Campeador and he was born in Vivar, a town near the city of Burgos. After his death, he became Castiles celebrated national hero and the protagonist of the most significant medieval Spanish epic poem, El Cantar de Mio Cid. Born a member of the nobility, El Cid was brought up at the court of King Ferdinand the Great and served Ferdinands son, Sancho II of León. He rose to become the commander and royal standard-bearer of Castile upon Sanchos ascension in 1065, Rodrigo went on to lead the Castilian military campaigns against Sanchos brothers, Alfonso VI of León and García II of Galicia, as well as in the Muslim kingdoms in Al-Andalus. He became renowned for his prowess in these campaigns, which helped expand Castilian territory at the expense of the Muslims. When conspirators murdered Sancho in 1072, Rodrigo found himself in a tight spot, since Sancho was childless, the throne passed to his brother Alfonso, the same whom El Cid had helped remove from power. Although Rodrigo continued to serve the Castilian sovereign, he lost his ranking in the new court which treated him at arms length, finally, in 1081, he was ordered into exile. El Cid found work fighting for the Muslim rulers of Zaragoza, while in exile, he regained his reputation as a strategist and formidable military leader. He repeatedly turned out victorious in battle against the Muslim rulers of Lérida and their Christian allies, in 1086, an expeditionary army of North African Almoravids inflicted a severe defeat to Castile, compelling Alfonso to overcome the resentments he harbored against El Cid. The terms for the return to the Christian service must have been attractive enough since Rodrigo soon found himself fighting for his former Lord and he gradually increased his control over Valencia, the Islamic ruler, al-Qadir, became his tributary in 1092. When the Almoravids instigated an uprising that resulted in the death of al-Qadir, Valencia finally fell in 1094, and El Cid established an independent principality on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. He ruled over a society with the popular support of Christians. El Cids final years were spent fighting the Almoravid Berbers and he inflicted upon them their first major defeat in 1094, on the plains of Caurte, outside Valencia, and continued resisting them until his death. Although Rodrigo remained undefeated in Valencia, his son, and heir. After El Cids death in 1099, his wife, Jimena Díaz, succeeded him as ruler of Valencia, to this day, El Cid remains a Spanish popular folk-hero and national icon. Numerous plays, films, folktales, songs, and even video games continue to memorialize the traditions of allegiance that his allegories typify, the Mozarabs or the Arabs that served in his ranks may have addressed him in this way, which the Christians may have transliterated and adopted. Historians, however, have not yet found contemporary records referring to Rodrigo as Cid, arab sources use instead Rudriq, Ludriq al-Kanbiyatur or al-Qanbiyatur
First paragraph of the Carmen Campidoctoris, the earliest literary treatment of El Cid's life, written by a Catalan partisan to celebrate El Cid's defeat of Berenguer Ramon
Marcos Giráldez de Acosta painting (1864) depicting the "Santa Gadea Oath". In the middle of the scene, Alfonso VI (with red cape) is swearing with his right hand on the Bible that he did not take part in the murder of his brother Sancho II, while El Cid stands as a witness in front of him.
El Cid ordering the execution of Almoravid allies after his conquest of Valencia in 1094