Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, known as El Cid Campeador, was the great hero of the chivalrous age of Spain. Probably of Visigoth descent, he was born at Burgos around 1040 and died at Valencia in 1099. He was given the title of “Cid” (lord, chief) by his enemy, the Moors, and that of campeador by his Christian countrymen. The term “campeador” derives from Latin “campi-doctor”, “campi” meaning battles, and “doctor” expert; hence “campeador” means champion of battles.
Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar was a gifted military leader and diplomat who, after being exiled, conquered and governed the city of Valencia. El Cid was educated in the royal court of Castile and became chief general of Alfonso VI, and his most valuable asset in the fight against the Moors. Historical records show that El Cid’s father Diego Laínez was part of the minor nobility (infanzones) of Castile. Diego Laínez was a courtier, bureaucrat, and cavalryman who had fought in several battles. Despite the fact that El Cid’s mother’s family was aristocratic, in later years the peasants would consider him one of their own.
Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar first fought alongside king Sancho II against the Muslim stronghold of Zargosa. Later Sancho II was assassinated by the king’s brother Alfonso and his sister Urraca. But Sancho died childless and Alfonso was recalled from exile and took the throne of Castile and Leon. Because Alfonso was suspected in Castile of having murdered his brother Sancho, El Cid forced Alfonso to swear several times in front of Agatha Church in Burgos that he did not conspire to kill his brother.