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A Famous Military Leader
Around the year 1043, a famous Spaniard was born. His full name was Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar.
His birthplace was the town of Vivar, near Burgos. His nickname was El Cid, meaning 'the chief.'
He was also known as El Campeador - meaning 'the champion of the battlefield.'
Rodrigo was educated in the royal court and became a great military leader during the period of history known as la Reconquista. What was la Reconquista? .........
La Reconquista: In the year 711, the Moors (from North Africa) had conquered the Iberian Peninsula, including Spain. This event is known as The Moorish Conquest Of Spain and as a result, Arabic / Moorish rule in Spain lasted for 780 years. That is why there is so much wonderful, Arabic architecture in Spain, particularly in the south of the country.
The slow and gradual reversal of Arabic to Spanish rule, over many centuries, is referred to as La Reconquista - The Reconquest - and it was concluded in 1492.
El Cid rode a beautiful, white horse named Babieca meaning - foolish. It is one of the most famous horses in history. El Cid loved his horse and had chosen it against the advice of his godfather who thought that the horse was not very clever. That is why people called it Babieca.
The story of El Cid is told in an epic poem called El Cantar de Mio Cid - The Song of My Cid, written around the year 1200. It is one of the oldest pieces of Spanish literature and is kept at the National Library of Spain - la Biblioteca Nacional de España in Madrid. It consists of 3,735 verses.
Below is a statue in the city of Burgos of El Cid on his horse and also an image of a piece of the famous poem.
It is believed that El Cid died just before an important battle in 1099. His wife, called Jimena, strapped the dead body to his horse. The body was dressed in armour, to make it appear to the army that their great leader was still alive. The soldiers, unaware that El Cid was dead, rode bravely into battle, following him, and they won!
The sword of El Cid can be seen in the Museum of Burgos. The name of the sword is Tizona.
It is believed to be one of the most precious possessions of the Spanish Royal Family.
The tomb of El Cid and his wife Jimena can be found inside Burgos Cathedral - la Catedral de Burgos. The grave of his horse Babieca can be found at the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña, near to Burgos.
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