El Cid

Portrait of El Cid, from The Historians' History of the World, 1904.
Portrait of El Cid, from The Historians' History of the World, 1904. Public Domain

El Cid was also known as:

Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, Ruy Díaz de Vivar (also spelled Bivar), and El Campeador ("the Champion"). His title of "the Cid" comes from a Spanish dialect of Arabic, sidi, meaning "sir" or "lord," and was a title he acquired during his lifetime.

El Cid was noted for:

Being the national hero of Spain. El Cid displayed remarkable military ability in his conquest of Valencia, and after his death, he became the subject of many legends, stories, and poems, including the 12th-century epic El cantar de mío Cid ("The Song of the Cid").

Occupations & Roles in Society:

Military Leader

Places of Residence and Influence:


Important Dates:

Born: c. 1043
Married Jimena: July 1074
Died: July 10, 1099

About El Cid:

Born into minor nobility, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was raised in a royal household and was appointed the standard-bearer and commander of troops by Sancho II. Fighting for Sancho against Sancho's brother, Alfonso, would prove awkward to Díaz when Sancho died childless and Alfonso became king. Though he lost some prestige, he married Alfonso's niece, Jimena; and, despite his presence serving as a magnet for Alfonso's opponents, Díaz served loyally for several years. Then, after leading an unauthorized raid into Toledo, Díaz was exiled.

Diaz then fought for the Muslim rulers of Saragossa for almost 10 years, scoring significant victories against Christian troops. When Alfonso was defeated by the Almoravids in 1086, he recalled Diaz from exile, though the Cid did not stay in the kingdom for long. He embarked on a long campaign to take over Valencia, which he successfully captured in 1094 and ruled in Alfonso's name until he died. After his death, literature and poetry lionizing the Cid would obscure the facts of Díaz's life.

El Cid Resources:

Concise Biography of El Cid
Portrait of El Cid
El Cid in Print
El Cid on the Web
Medieval Iberia