El Cid Term Paper

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El Cid was a courageous and brave knight, who was born in Burgos in circa 1040, and was, during his lifetime, a great and popular hero. He was given the title of 'seid' or 'cid', which meant 'Lord' or 'Chief', by the Moors, and also that of 'Campeador' or 'Champion' by his own admiring countrymen. Unfortunately, tradition and legend have competed with one another through time, to such an extent that today, the real problem is that one must indeed regard him as a sort of a 'dual personality', wherein doubts have been cast over whether he really existed, or whether he was just a figment of the imagination. However, there is no doubt at all that this person actually existed in real life, and that he was a true hero of his times. One must distinguish this person from the historical Cid and the legendary Cid. (New Advent, El Cid)

When taken from the historic viewpoint, El Cid was not only a free booter but also a free and unprincipled adventurer, who would fight with equal enthusiasm and strength against the Moors, as he would against Christians. He was seen as an individual who would fight for his own personal gains, and he would as soon destroy a Church, as he would a Moslem mosque, and he had more selfish motives in mind than patriotic ones. However, all these statements may be grossly unfair to the man, since it is a fact that these versions have been passed on to the world in general by the hostile Arab historians, who may not have held an unprejudiced opinion about El Cid. Therefore, if one were to analyze his character properly and with justice, then one would have to do it while keeping in mind the standards of his own country, in his own day.

When seen from the legendary viewpoint, El Cid is vastly and completely different. Here he is seen as a tender and a loving individual, a sensitive father, a tender husband, and a gentle and at the same time, courageous soldier, brave beyond compare, and fully and unswervingly loyal to his country and to his fellowmen, and faithful to the King. Whatever may have been his achievements, and whatever may have been his failures, it is a fact that El Cid Campeador is the most important figure as far as modern historians are concerned, a name which has long been associated with a complete list of heroic achievements, especially in the long struggle of Christian Spain against her Moslem hosts. (New Advent, El Cid)

El Cid when seen as a central figure in the struggle between Christianity and the Moslem Faith in medieval Spain was an eleventh century warrior of heroic and indeed mythical proportions. Also known as Rodrigo Diaz, El Cid served as a Commander of the troops of Sancho II, the then ruler of Castile. After fighting many battles, El Cid finally set his sights on the city of Valencia, and after a twenty month siege, finally managed to capture that kingdom-city, and declare himself the 'de-facto' ruler of Valencia. He thereafter declared that Valencia was a Christian city, and after this, El Cid was forever immortalized in plays and songs and folktales. He continues to be one of the most revered heroes of Spanish history, even today. (El Cid, Personalities)

It must be noted here that according to legend, a hero is a man or a woman, who is the protagonist of a story or a tale, or a saga, who is in possession of a great deal more abilities and power than an average and normal person would have, and whose very qualities would enable him to perform certain tasks and deeds that would be outside the reach of an average and a common individual. This hero would often perform a task or a deed, for which he would attain fame as well as popularity among his people. In addition, these powers may not be merely physical, but they may also be powers of the mind. (Psych central, Hero) El Cid is one such widely acclaimed 'hero' of mythical proportions. Numerous works have been written about this hero, and some of these are the 'Le Cid' by the French playwright Pierre Corneille in the year 1636, and the 'Song of the Cid', which is a three part Spanish work about the hero. (El Cid in Literature, Film and other Media)

According to the Greek ideal, a hero is one individual who has great personal honor and integrity, and who is capable of great deeds of valor and courage. One however cannot help but question this Greek ideal and how and what the consequences of such idealization can be, for both Greeks, as well as for the Western part of the world. Idealization is commonly seen in basic human psychology as being a form of pattern of self making for all mankind in general, but at the same time, idealization has more psychological features than was previously known. This is because of the fact that an ideal becomes, in fact, a veritable cudgel with which to beat class, and this can also lead to a sort of splitting up wherein the basic attitude that one has towards the subject of Greek heroes and idealizations becomes extremely complex. (Spanking and Occentricity, some psychological consequences of the Greek ideal in the Construction of Westernness)

This would be a situation where the hero is seen as somebody very great, but at the same time, someone towards whom one tended to be ambivalent, just because of the fact that one assumes that one is quite unfit to take on a similar role, and therefore, becomes degenerate. Nowhere is this fact more evident than in the ancient Pro-Flacco by Cicero, where there is clear evidence of certain common Roman prejudices against the so called 'Asiatic Greeks' of the time. In later years, especially during the Classical times, Greeks of the time like for example, the Athenians and the Spartans were upheld as being models and beacons of their civilizations. The consequence of such splitting up has meant that the Greeks have in fact run afoul of their own 'ideal'. (Spanking and Occentricity, some psychological consequences of the Greek ideal in the Construction of Westernness)

The exact date of El Cid's birth is not known, and it is generally estimated that he was born between the years 1043 and 1045, and in a small place known as Vivar or Bivar, about six miles North of Burgos, the Capital of Castile. His father was Diego Lainez, a minor nobility of Castile, while his mother was form aristocratic stock. El Cid's life was full of excitement and adventure, and popular legend states how exactly he managed to acquire his very famous war horse, the stallion named Babieca. What happened was this: Rodrigo's godfather, Pedro El Grande, was a monk at a Carthusian Monastery, which was a form of religious order that had been formed by St. Bruno in the year 1084, which was taken as one of the highest orders of the Catholic Church. When Pedro wanted to gift a 'coming of age' gift to his godson El Cid, he supposedly asked him to take his pick from an Andulasian herd of horses. (El Cid: Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia)

Consequently, El Cid happened to pick up a particular horse, and when Pedro saw it, he appears to have exclaimed 'Babieca', which also means 'stupid', at his godson's poor choice of horse. This is the name that stuck on, and Babieca is often referred to in stories about the horse and his famous master. El Cid is known to have served the Prince and the future King, Sancho II, who was also the son of Prince Ferdinand the Great. After Ferdinand died in the year 1065, he went on to carry on his father's goal of enlarging his territory, and therefore captured Zamora, and Badajoz, Christian and Moorish cities. El Cid was, by this time, an adult, and he fought alongside Sancho in the year 1067, in the Saragossa War, which was fought against the Moorish stronghold in Zaragosa. In 1063 El Cid fought yet another war, and this time it was the Battle of Graus, in Zaragosan lands. A legend about this war states that El Cid managed to kill an Aragonese knight in a single hand to hand combat, a feat that earned him the title 'Campeador'. (El Cid: Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia)

El Cid continued to live in Castile, and when Ferdinand the Great partitioned his lands between all his children, including Sancho II, the peace within the family became disrupted over property disputes. As a resident of Castile, Cid was considered to be a vassal of Sancho II, and Sancho happened to believe that he, as an eldest son of his father, was entitled to the whole property of Ferdinand the Great, and that it must not be divided among his various brothers and sisters. He therefore concluded that…

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