The Historical View - Royal and Clan Struggles

The Cid
As portrayed in El Cid
The Christian kingdoms of northern Spain in the Cid's time may be thought of as arbitrary vertical territories running across the northern Iberian peninsula from east to west: Catalonia, Aragon, Navarre, Castille, Leon, Galicia, Portugal. In reality these were not borders in the modern sense, but complex feudalistic webs of smaller territories held by noble families that swore allegiance to one king or another according to circumstance. But first, to understand the choices available to these families, we have to consider the background of the royal family's struggles of the time.

Generations of Civil War

In the Cid's century the custom was for a king's possessions to be divided among his heirs upon his death. This inevitably led to civil war among the Christians until the strongest son of each generation had defeated the others. The victor of each generation also added to his possessions through conquest of Moorish kingdoms to the south, a process called the Reconquista (reconquest).

The Generation of Ferrando 1035-1065

Sancho el Mayor (Sancho III of Navarre and Castille 1004-1035) was the first to have combined two kingdoms of northern Spain. On his death his united kingdom was divided among his male hers: Ferrando (Fernando I of Castille 1035-1065); Garcia (Garcia I of Navarre 1035-1054); Ramiro (Ramiro I of Aragon 1035-1063); and Gonzalo (Count of Sobrarbe and Ribagorza 1035-1063). In this generation, Ferrando was triumphant.

In the east, Ramiro took over Gonzalo's possessions on the latter's death in 1045. Ramiro made the Moorish kingdoms of Huesca, Zaragoza, and Lerida his vassals and reconquered some Moorish territory.

In the west, Ferrando took possession of Leon by killing his wife's brother, Bermudo, King of Leon, at Tamaron in 1037. Ferrando killed his brother Garcia at the battle of Atapuuerca in 1054, obtaining control over, but not nominal title, to Navarre. He added to his kingdom further by obtaining tribute from the Muslim Muslim Kings of Toledo, Zaragoza, and Seville by 1062 and outright reconquest of Portugal down to Coimbra in 1064. In the last years of his reign a young knight, Don Rodrigo de Bivar, the Cid, came to prominence.

The Generation of Alfonso 1065-1109

Having spent thirty bloody years reunifying Christian Spain, Ferrando's kingdom was again divided on his death in 1065 among his children. Alfonso received Castille, Sancho received Leon, Garcia received Galicia, Urraca received the city of Zamora, and Elvira received the city of Toro. The sons of Ferrando's brothers ruled in Navarre and Aragon (Sancho IV of Navarre and Sancho Ramirez of Aragon). The division again resulted in civil war, until Alfonso reigned supreme.

Sancho struck first, turning against Garcia, defeating him in 1071. A year later, he defeated Alfonso. Urraca intervened and arranged Alfonso to go into exile with the Moorish King of Toledo. Sancho laid siege to Urraca at Zamora, but was murdered. Alfonso returned from Toledo and became King of Castile, Leon, and Galicia.

Alfonso then attempted to incorporate Christian lands to the east. He arranged for the murder of Sancho IV of Navarre in 1076, but his takeover of that kingdom was blocked when local nobility named Sancho Ramirez of Aragon as their king. Alfonso then turned to reconquest of Arab lands, making Toledo his outright possession in 1085. The Cid took possession of Valencia for the Christians in 1094. However from 1086, the Islamist Almoravides began their own reconquest of Spain from the south. These fundamentalists overcame the Muslim kingdoms one by one, and took back some recently-conquered Christian territory, notably Valencia, after the Cid's death in 1099.

The Clans

Barely discernible below these dynastic struggles, but fundamental to them, were the jostling between the landed nobility of Spain, who supported one or the other of the kings. These kings could only rule by obtaining and maintaining the allegiance of this nobility. In the sanitized history left to us by court historians, the complex allegiances between them, have been erased. But some of them are discernible in the Poem of the Cid.

The Cid's clan, the Flainez of Leon, had been part of an uprising against King Ferrando in 1060-1065, as a result of which they were deprived of their lands. Many fled to the mountains of Castille and became knights errant. It is even possible the Cid's father was killed at this time. When Sancho was made King of Leon, they put their allegiance and faith with him, probably in an attempt to regain their lands.

Another Leonese clan, the Beni Gomez of Carrion, seem to have supported Ferrando in the struggle and obtained Leonese lands lost by the Flainez. When Sancho was made King of Leon, they eventually were in league with Alfonso against him and, by extension, the Cid. In the poem Alfonso orders the Cid to marry his daughters to two of the Carrion nobility, with disastrous consequences. Although a great portion of the poem is devoted to this story, there is no historical trace of such a betrothal or marriage. There are however certainly reasons to assume an historical animosity between the Beni Gomez and the Flainez, which is reflected in the poem.

An Asturian clan of great antiquity and the highest status, the Ordonez, had seen one of their family, Bermudo, killed by Ferrando. They seem to have redressed this grievance by supporting Alfonso against Sancho. They had also married one of their daughters to the Beni Gomez, cementing an alliance with them and against Sancho. By extension they became enemies of the Cid, and are certainly portrayed as such in the poem. Complicating the matter was the fact that the Cid's mother was an Ordonez, and thereby he was related to them by blood.

So, the dramatis personae of the Chronicle of the Cid, may be arranged as follows:

The Royal Households


In the Cid's time, the Catalonians were not a single kingdom, but dominated by the Counts of Barcelona. After taking possession of Valencia, and repeated battled against the Catalonians, the Cid secured his northeast border by marrying one of his daughters to the nephew of the Ramon Berenguer of the poem.

Ramon Berenguer- Count of Barcelona, taken prisoner by the Cid on two occasions, in 1082 and 1090.
Guillen Bernalto- Kinsman of Count Ramon Berenguer.
Hugo- Kinsmen of Guillen Bernalto.
Bernalte de Tamaris- Noble prisoner taken by the Cid in his battle against the Catalonians.


In the Cid's time, Aragon and Navarre were ruled by descendants of Sancho el Mayor. The Cid famously defeated Aragon's champion to secure the city of Calahorra for King Ferrando. Later Alfonso had the king of Navarre assassinated in 1076. But the nobility of Navarre managed to block Alfonso's ambitions by asking the king of Aragon to rule over them as well. Near the end of his life, the Cid seems to have attempted to secure his northeastern border by marrying his daughters to princes of Aragon and Navarre. Only the marriage to a prince of Navarre came to pass, leading to the Cid's blood entering the lineage of European royalty.

Ramiro- King of Aragon 1035-1063. Died fighting the Muslims at Graus.
Sancho Ramirez- King of Aragon 1063-1094. He was also made King of Navarre 1076-1094 in order to block Alfonso's eastern expansion.
Pedro of Aragon- King of Aragon and Navarre, 1094-1104.
Infante Don Sancho - Son of Pedro, betrothed to but never married to the Cid's daughter
Martin Gonzalez- Champion of the King of Aragon, held to be the best knight in all Spain.
Ynigo Ximenez- Messenger from Aragon. Historically Inigo Jimenez was the governor of Meltria, 1106-1107.


Garcia of Navarre- King of Navarre 1035-1054. Killed by his brother Ferrando at the Battle of Atapuerca.
Sancho Garcia- King of Navarre 1054-1076. Son of King Garcia, nephew of King Ferrando. Killed at the instigation of Alfonso, his cousin, by conspirators.
Garcia Ramirez- Prince Ramiro Sanchez of Navarre, Lord of Monzon; married the Cid's daughter Elvira (the historical Christina) in 1098. Their son, Garcia Ramirez, became King of Navarre in 1134
Ximen Garcia de Tiogelos- A knight, who was one of the best of Navarre, who lost to the Cid in single combat.
Gonzalo- Knight of the Infante Don Sancho Garcia.
Ochoa Perez- A messenger from Navarre.


Ferrando - King of Castille, 1035-1065.
Sancha- Queen of Castille, sister of Bermudo, King of Leon. Her brother would be slain in 1037 by her husband, Ferrando.
Sancho- King of Castille 1065-1072. He managed to take Galicia and Leon from his brothers Garcia and Alfonso. He was killed while attempting to take Zamora from his sister Urraca.
Diego de Osma- Don who carried the banner of King Sancho.


Bermudo- King of Leon, slain in the year 1037 by King Ferrando at Tamaron. Bermudo was the brother of Dona Sancha, Ferrando's wife.
Gonzalo Moniz- A knight married to a daughter of King Bermudo.
Cabrian- Bishop of Leon.
Alfonso -
Pero Ansures- Chief counselor of King Don Alfonso, a key man in taking him from defeat at the hands of Sancho to possesion of the northern Christian kingdoms..
Ferran Ansures- Brother of Don Pero Ansures and Don Gonzalo Ansures.
Gonzalo Ansures- Brother of Don Pero Ansures and Don Ferran Ansures.
Benito Perez- Seneschal (official in charge of administration of the royal household) of King Alfonso.
Anrrich- grandson of Robert I, Duke of Burgundy; and nephew of Queen Constance, the wife of Alfonso.
Diego Ordonez- The son of Count Don Bermudo, who was the son of the Infante Don Ordonez of Leon.
Gonzalo Salvadores- A knight of King Ferrando.


Urraca- Eldest daughter of King Don Ferrando, ruler of Zamora.
Arias Gonzalo- Foster-father of Dona Urraca, who lost three sons to Don Diego Ordonez in the affair of the fall of Zamora.
Diego Arias- Son of Don Arias Gonzalo.
Rodrigo Arias- Son of Don Arias Gonzalo, a good knight, right hardy and valiant, the elder of all the brethren
Pedro Arias- Son of Don Arias Gonzalo, a right brave knight, though but of green years.
Bernal Dianez de Ocampo- Hidalgo of Santiago, who followed his conscience and publicly warned King Sancho of the assassin Vellido from the walls of Zamora
Vellido- Knight that murdered King Don Sancho by subterfuge.

Galicia and Portugal

Garcia- Youngest son of King Don Ferrando. King of Galicia 1065-1071. Removed by his brother Sancho in 1071, and imprisoned for the rest of his life by his brother Alfonso in 1073.
Verna- A favorite of King Don Garcia, to whom the King gave so much authority, that it brought about his downfall.
Ruy Ximenez- A knight of Asturias.
Fafes Sarracem de Lanhoso - a noble of the Portuguese Godinho clan.
Gomes Echiguis- A Don from whom the old Sousas of Portugal derived their descent.
Gonzalo de Sies- A right valiant Portuguese knight.
Moninho Hermigis- Don of Portugal.
Pedro Frojaz- Brother of Don Rodrigo Frojaz.
Rodrigo Frojaz- Count, brother of Don Pedro Frojaz.
Vermui Frojaz- Portuguese knight, brother of Don Rodrigo and Don Pedro.

The Clans
The Fainez Clan, the Cid, and the Cid's Followers

The Immediate Family

The Cid - Rodrigo Diez de Bivar, who supported Sancho
Diego Laynez- the Cid's father, possibly a leader of an uprising of the Fainez clan against King Ferrando in 1060, resulting in loss of his estates and possibly his death.
Teresa Rodriguez- the Cid's mother - daughter of Don Rodrigo Alvarez, Count and Governor of Asturias, a member of the Ordonez clan.
Diego Rodriguez- the Cid's son, killed at Consuegra in 1097.
Elvira- the Cid's daughter, the historical Cristina, married to Ramiro, Prince of Navarre, Lord of Monzon; mother of Garcia Ramirez, King of Navarre from 1134.
Sol- the Cid's daughter, the historical Maria, married to Ramon Berenguer III the Great, Count of Barcelona.
Ferrando Diaz- Brother of the Cid and father of Martin Antolinez
Alvar Fanez- Cousin (or nephew) of the Cid, his right hand man and most trusted knight.
Pero Bermudez- The Cid's second most trusted knight, after Alvar Fanez. Nephew and standard bearer of the Cid.
Martin Antolinez- Prodigious Burgalese knight, the Cid's nephew, third in favor to the Cid after Alvar Fanez and Pero Munez.
Alvar Alvarez- a nephew of the Cid
Felez Munoz- Nephew of the Cid, one of his principle knights and supporters.
Ferran Alfonso- A squire that the Cid had brought up and in whom he had great trust and made an hidalgo
Pedro de Pernegas- A good priest of Burgos, who baptized the Cid and was his godfather

Ximena, her relatives and retinue (Ordonez Clan)

Ximena Gomez-Wife of the Cid; daughter of Diego Rodriquez, Count of Oviedo (Count Don Gomez of Gormaz in the poem), and a Cristina; sister of Don Fruela, Count of Asturias; youngest of three sisters; and a first cousin of King Alfonso.
Gomez- Count and Lord of Gormaz, father of Ximena. Historically he is called Diego Rodriquez, Count of Oviedo, and was married to a Cristina.
Fruela- Count of Asturias, brother of Ximena, commander of one wing of Don Alfonso's army.
Muno Gustios. Ximena's brother-in-law, from Linquella. He fought Suero Gonzalez in defense of the honor of the Cid's daughters. Muno stayed in Ximena's service after the Cid's death.
Sisebuto- Abbott of San Pedro de Cardenas, endowed by the Fainez and a place of refuge for her during the Cid's exiles from Castile.

Principle Captains unrelated to the Cid

Martin Munoz who held Montemayor, commanded 50 knights
Alvar Salvadores- One of the Cid's captains.
Galin Garcia- A knight of Aragon, one of the Cid's lieutenants. Lord of Estada, a vassal of King Pedro of Aragon.
Benito Sanchez- Lieutenant of the Cid, commanding 50 knights.
Felez Ferruz- Lieutenant of the Cid, commanding 50 knights.
Hieronymo- Fighting bishop of Valencia, who fought at the Cid's side.
Antolin Sanchez- Count of Soria, commanded 40 knights
Alvar Bermudez- Colonizer of Osma, commanded 40 knights
Martin Salvadorez , commanded 50 knights
Martin Garcia , commanded 50 knights
Pero Gonzalvez , commanded 50 knights
Diego Sanchez- Knight of Arlanza, commanded 50 knights
Gonzalo Munoz- A knight of Orbaneja, commanded 60 knights.
Yvanez Cornejo , commanded 60 knights
Garcia de Roa , commanded 90 knights
Serrazin, brother of Garcia de Roa, , commanded 90 knights Muno Fernandez- Lord of Monteforte, commanded 60 knights
Gomez Fernandez- Knight who colonized Pampliego, commanded 60 knights
Muno Ravia , commanded 60 knights

Other knights of the Cid

Martin Ferrandez- A knight, a native of Burgos.
Martin Pelaez- A knight, a native of Santillana in Asturias, a hidalgo who the Cid carefully cured of his cowardice.
Pero Sanchez- Knight who was part of the escort of the daughters of the Cid and who convinced the party to turn around and search for them after their abasement by the Infantes of Carrion.
Diego Tellez- A knight of Alvar Fanez, later the historical Governor of Sepulveda

The Ordonez Clan

Garcia Ordonez- historically Lord of Pancorbo and Governor of Najera, on the borderlands between Castille and Navarre.
Don Ordono- Garcia Ordonez' father
Alvar Diez- brother]-in]-law of Garcia Ordonez
Fortun Sanchez- Son-in-law of King Garcia of Navarre.
Lope Sanchez- Brother of Fortun Sanchez, the son-in-law of King Garcia of Navarre
Rodrigo Alvarez- Count and Governor of Asturias, father of Dona Teresa Rodriguez, mother of the Cid.
Diego Perez- One of the best men of Castille.

Beni Gomez Clan - descendants of Bermudo III, close to the throne

Gonzalo Gonzalez - Father of the Infantes of Carrion, a hidalgo of the kingdom of Castille.
Suero Gonzalez- The brother of Gonzalo Gonzalez.
Diego Gonzalez- One of the "Infantes of Carrion" - sons of Gonzalo Gonzalez
Ferrando Gonzalez- One of the "Infantes of Carrion" - sons of Gonzalo Gonzalez

Texts via the Gutenberg Project
Commentary © Mark Wade, 2006.
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