July 10 – Death of El Cid in Spain

Posted on July 10, 2015

It always seems odd to me to celebrate the anniversary of the death of a hero, but that is what can happen when people don't know the exact birthday of the hero – but they DO know the date of death.

That may be what happened in this case – but, to be honest, I am surprised that historians know the day of his death! For one thing, it was a truly long time ago – 1099 – and for another thing, the cause of death is a bit iffy; we think he died from lack of food and other hardships caused by a Muslim Berber siege of the city where El Cid was living, at the time, Valencia, Spain.

El Cid means “the Lord” in the language of the Moors. El Cid was called “El Campeador (“the Champion”) by Christians, and his real name was Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar. Diaz was born to the lower echelon of nobility in Castile, and he became a famous military leader. From what I could tell, he fought against Muslims and Christians alike; he fought against the brothers of his own ruler (because people did that then, the history seems to suggest) in order to make the Castilian lands larger; later he fought FOR Moorish rulers in Zaragoza; he fought a lot a lot a lot.

He wouldn't have been a great hero if he hadn't won almost all of those fights. But win he did!

Even though Diaz was a real person, El Cid became a legend as well as a hero of Castile. Romanticized versions of his life have been told and retold in plays and movies, folk tales and books, songs and video games.

Isn't it nice that, these days, most of us have heroes who are sports stars and artists, actors and musicians, rather than soldiers and military leaders?

Also on this date:

Lobster Carnival in Nova Scotia


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