Index - Definition

The Gang
ABIRAM. Jewish traitor named in the Bible, and considered in the Middle Ages as being tormented in hell for all eternity.


ADALIDES. Chiefs, leaders.

ADAM. The First Man, according to the Bible.


ADRIA. Modern Name: Andros. Island of Andros. Also Andria. Sendal de Adria was derived from the French Cendal díAndrie; the isle of Andros was famous for its silks.

AERA. Years from the conquest of Spain by Julius Caesar, in 38 BC.

AFRICA. Continent south of Spain, the northwest portion of was entirely controlled by the Moors in the Cidís time.

ALCADE. Leader; official.

ALCAYDE. Commander of a fortress or castle (also spelled alcaide).

ALCAZAR. Arabic Name: al-qasr. Palace; fortress.

ALFAQUI. Moslem expounder and teacher of the Koran.

ALFEREZ. Ensign; lieutenant.

ALGUAZIL. Officer (also Guazil, Alguacil).

ALHAGI. Arabic Name: al-Haji. A Muslim who as made the pilgrimage to Mecca.


ALJAMA. Moslem assembly.

ALMEXIA. Small cloak (also almejia).

ALMOCADENES. Commanders.

ALMOGAVARES. Marauding soldiers.

ALMORAVIDES. Arabic Name: al-Murabitun. Islamic fundamentalists that arose in Barbary south of the Atlas mountains. Of Tuareg origin, they conquered the Moorish kingdoms of northern Africa and Spain, and part of Christian Spain, making them a single Islamic state.

ALMOXARIFE. Tax collector (also almojarife).

ALQUINAL. Womanís veil or headdress.

ANGEL GABRIEL. In the Bible, the Heavenly messenger who delivers

ANTIOCH. Major town in Asia Minor which passed repeatedly between Christian and Moslem hands.

ARABIC. Arabic was the language written by the Muslim invaders of Spain and spoken by their rulers (although many of them were of Tuareg or Berber origin).

ARBALISTER. Medieval cross-bow man (also arbalester).

ARMATOST. An instrument used for charging the cross-bow.

ARRAYAZ. Chief; captain. (also arraez)

ARROBA. Variable measure of weight.

ASSOYLED. Absolved (as of sin by a priest).

AYO. Tutor.

BARBARY. The Mediterranean coast of North Africa.

BARBICAN. Fortified outpost.

BASTILLES. Fortification.

BAVIECA. Modern Name: Babieca. The Cidís battle horse, a beloved white stallion of immense intelligence according to legend.

BEIRA. Province of Portugal.

BELCAB. Arabic Name: Baghdad. Capital of the Muslim caliphate of Harun al-Rashid, founded by the grandfather of Zubaida, Al-Mansur.

BELFANHANES. Gate of the Snake in Valencia.

BENEDICT. Full Name: St. Benedict. St. Benedictine monks operated the royal Monastery of Sahagun.

BEWRAYED. Revealed.

BISCAY. The bay of the Atlantic off the north shore of Spain, and the name applied to the inhabitants of the coastal cities of Spain and France along its shores.

BLACK BOOK OF SANTIAGO. Ancient book of prophecy found at Santiago de Compestela.

BRIAL. Silken shirt.

BROIL. Quarrel.

BUREVA. Modern Name: Bureba. Mountainous region in Burgos province

CADI. Arabic Name: Qadis. Judge or magistrate in a Moslem community.

CAFIZ. Nominal measure of twelve bushels (the load of a mule (also cahiz).

CALABRIA. Southern Ďbootí of Italy.

CALZADA DE QUINEA. Ancient Roman road that ran from Tiermes to Burgos de Osma.

CAMPEADOR. The name applied to the Cid. Variously translated as Campaigner, or Battler, or Champion or, in modern syntax, War-Fighter.

CAMPO DEL QUARTO. Plain west of Valencia, site of the Cidís victory over King Bucar.

CAMPOS. Modern Name: Tierra Campos. Region in the west of modern Vallodolid province.

CARKANET. Ornamental chain of precious stones (also carcanet).

CAROB. Mediterranean fruit.

CASTELLAN. Governor of a castle.

CHRISTIAN. The Chronicle of the Cid tells of the battle between the Christians and the Moors for possession of the Spanish peninsula.

CID. Full Name: El Cid - Rodrigo Diez (Ruydiez) de Bivar - El Campeador. The Cid.

COIF. Close-fitting cap.

COLADA. The name probably derives from acero colado, or cast steel. It is believed that the sword said to be the Colada in the Royal Armory in Madrid is not, in fact, the real sword, which disappeared in 1503.

COLEWORT. Variety of cabbage.

COMPLINES. Evening prayers said immediately after vespers.

CORREGIDOR. Magistrate; mayor.

CORTES. Spanish parliament.

CUISH. Armor piece protecting the thigh (also cuisse).

DATHAN. Jewish traitor named in the Bible, and considered in the Middle Ages as being tormented in hell for all eternity.

DESCANT. Song or melody.


DINERO. Smallest coin unit of currency. There were ten dinero to a maravedi.

DISPEEDED. Dispatched.

DISSEIZED. Deprived.

DOBLA. Old Spanish gold coin. Five gold doblas were worth one silver mark, and 12 silver doblas were worth one silver mark. A mark was eight ounces of gold or silver.

DOMINICUM. Seat of the Lord; cathedral.

EGYPT. The medieval writers know of mummification, although the practice had been dead for 700 years.

EL MAESTRAZGO. A mountain range above the Valley of the Ebro.

ELECTUARY. A medicine, usually a powder mixed with honey or syrup.

ELPHA. Possibly an elf or wood nymph, thought to inhabit river banks and caverns.

ENGLAND. In the Cidís time, England had been conquered by the Normans, descendants of Northmen from Scandinavia who had resided in the Normandy peninsula of France for generations.

ESCANFORTE. Sturdy fabric.

ESTRADO. Dais, raised platform.

FANEGA. Grain measure (about 1.6 bushels).

FEATLY. Elegantly.

FIFTH. It was customary in Christian Spain that a fifth of the spoils would go to the King. The same proportion is required in the Koran to be given to the community as well.

FLORENCE. On 4 June 1055 Pope Victor II held a major synod in Florence, attended by Henry III and 120 bishops, at which King Ferdinand of Spain was threatened with excommunication if he did not swear allegiance to Henry. Ferdinand submitted.

FRANCE. In the time of the Cid France was ruled by Philip I (1060-1108). The Counts of Catalonia were vassals of Philip (hence the Catalonians are sometimes referred to as the French).

GALIANA. Palace in Toldeo.

GAMBAX. Stuffed jacket worn beneath the coat of mail (also gambaj).

GERMANY. The Pope at the time of the Cid was Pope Victor II, a German, and made pope by Henry III, the Holy Roman emperor.

GIPION. A quilted garment often worn over (originally under) armor (also gipon).

GLEEMAN. Minstrel.

GOSSIP. Godparent.

GOTHS. Modern Name: Visigoths. Dark Age rulers of Spain. The Gothic Kings had in old time made a constitution for themselves, that the kingdom and empire of Spain never should be divided, but remain one dominion under one Lord.

GRAMERCY. Archaic English exclamation of surprise or gratitude, from old French grand merci, great thanks.

GREAT GARDEN. Moorish garden outside of the walls of Valencia, with thick shade, bound by the sea.

GREECE. At the time of these events, part of the Byzantine empire. The first military defeats against the Seljuks in Asia Minor would come just seven years later.

GRIEVE. Leg armor (also greave).

GRIS. Fur used in ceremonial costume.

GUAZIL. Officer (also Alguazil, Alguacil).

GUERDON. Reward.

HIDALGO. Also Fijos díalgo. Member of the lesser Spanish nobility. Lowest class of Spanish nobility.

HOUR OF SEXTS. Fourth of the seven canonical hours; 12 noon.

HOUR OF TRIECE. Third of the seven canonical hours; 9 a.m.

HOWSEL. To be given the Eucharist (also housel) .


INFANTAZGO. Territory of an Infante or Infanta.

INFANZONES. The middle class of Spanish nobility. There were three ranks: the Ricos Omnes (consisting of condes and podestades); the yfancones (infanzones), and fijos díalgo (hidalgos).

IRELAND. Crusaders from Ireland were part of the forces that had won the city of Antioch, and now lay before Jerusalem.

ISIDRO. Full Name: St. Isidro. Saint Isidore was bishop of Seville 599-636. His relics were moved to Leon by King Ferdinand I in 1063.

ITALY. In the Cidís time Italy was divided, with states held by the German Holy Roman Emperor to the north, and various independent states to the south.

JERUSALEM. Just at the end of the Cidís life, the Crusaderís battle to seize Jerusalem from the Moslems was under way. An emissary from the Sultan of Persia attempted to dissuade the Cid, the greatest warrior in Christendom, from joining the Crusade.

JEWS. In the chronicle and song of the Cid, Jews appear as moneylenders, pawnbrokers, and corrupt tax receivers. This reflected the basically negative attitude and handling of the Jews by the Christians of Medieval Spain.

JOCULAR. Jester; minstrel.

JUDAS. The Biblical archetypal traitor, believed in the Cidís time to be burning in hell for all eternity for his betrayal of Jesus.

KORAN. The book of the law of the Moors.

LANCIER. Knight, warrior.

LATIN. The common people of 11th Century medieval Spain spoke numerous dialects, derived from Latin and Celtic, influenced by Arabic, that had become nearly mutually unintelligible. Latin was used as a common language by the clergy and nobility.

LEASING. Lying; deceitful.

LETTER OF CREDENC. Letter of introduction.

LINSEY-WOOLSEY. Coarse fabric.

LOMBARDY. In the Cidís time, this referred to all of northern Italy.

MAHOMMED. The prophet of the Moors.

MAJORCA. Modern Name: Mallorca. Islands in the Mediterranean off the east coast of Spain. From 1015, Mallorca was ruled by the Moorish King of Denia, and from 1087-1114 it was an independent Moorish kingdom.

MARAVEDI. Gold coin struck in Spain by the Visigoths and Moors, and briefly by Aragon and Castile. There were ten dinero to a maravedi.

MARK. A mark was eight ounces of gold or silver. Therefore 100 marks of silver would be equivalent to $4,000 at 21st Century prices, and 100 marks of gold, $400,000.

MAUGRE. In spite of.

MENEVER. Fur used in ceremonial costume (also minever).

MONTES CLAROS. Modern Name: Atlas Mountains. Name used for the Atlas mountain range in North Africa. Also used for a range of mountains in Guadalajara province.

MOOR. Name applied by the Christians of Spain to the Moslems of North Africa that occupied the peninsula for seven centuries.

MOROCCO. Northwest corner of North Africa, homeland of the Moors that occupied Spain.

MOUNTAINS OF OCA. Full Name: Oca. Region in Burgos province.

MUDO. Stutterer.

MUZARABES. Modern Name: Mozarabs. Christians living under Muslim rule. They retained their own mozarabic religious rite and a unique language.

NONES. Ninth hour; 3 p.m.

OOITRAL. Horseís breastplate (also poitrel).

ORATORY. Place of prayers.

ORGULLOUS. Proud; haughty (also orgulous) .

PAINICK. Millet.

PANILLA. Oil measure (one-quarter pound).

PATRIARCH TUBAL. Biblical Patriarch credited with being the first person to inhabit Spain after the Flood of Noah. The year 1072 was reckoned to be 3197 years from the arrival of Tubal in Spain.

PAVAIS. Large shield (variant of pavis) .

PERSIA. The Sultan of Persia brings gifts to the Cid in a legend recounted in the Chronicle. But at the time this occurred, the Seljuk empire had fragmented, and the Sultan who controlled the holy lands was different from that who ruled Persia.

PETER. Prince of the Apostles, keeper of the keys to Heaven, who appeared to the Cid thirty days before his death.

POSADA. Home; dwelling.

POSTERN. Back door or gate.

PRIMES. Canonical office for the first hour of the day.

PUERTO DE ALUCANT. Arabic Name: Alucat. A mountain pass, probably that located northeast of Gallocanta.

PULSE. Plant with edible seeds, such as peas, beans, etc.

QUINQUAGESIMA. The Sunday before Lent.

QUINTAL. A hundred pounds.

RANZAL. Choice fabric.

REED. Advice; explanation (also rede).

REFORM OF CLUNY. Hieronymo, the historical Jerome de Perigord, was first sent to Spain from France in about 1096 to assist in enforcing the Reform of Cluny. This was a stricter, more authoritarian form of organization for the Benedictine monasteries.

REGIDOR. Councilman.

RICO-OMES. Full Name: Ricos-omes. Grandees; peers of the realm; highest class of Spanish nobility (literally, rich-men; also Ricohombres, Rico-omes, Ricos Omnes).

ROME. Location of the Holy See.

ROSEROS. Gate of Valencia, leading towards Castille.

ROYAL LETTER. There is no historical evidence for this decree, or indeed of the use of such mandato reals until the next century.

SAN PEDRO DE VALENCIA. The main church of Valencia for the short period that the Cid ruled there.


SANTA SABINA. Full Name: St. Sabina. Modern Name: Santa Sabina all'Aventino. Church in Rome, dating back to the Fifth Century.

SAVOY. A region that encompasses southeastern France and northwestern Italy, stretching from modern Switzerland to the Mediterranean.

SEIGNORY. Domain (also seigniory).

SENDAL. Choice silk fabric (also sandal).

SERRA DA ESTRELLA. Modern Name: Serra da Estrela. Mountain range that includes the highest (and coldest) part of Portugal, the only place where it snows regularly.

SIB. Related by blood.

SICILY. Island south of Italy. In the Cidís time it was ruled by Muslim and Greek Christian rulers nominally vassals of the Sultan of Tunis, but was progressively reconquered in 1061 to 1090 by the Norman prince Roger I (1031 - 1101).

SIENA. Town in Italy, in the Cid's time ruled by the prodigious military leader Matilda of Tuscany (1046 - 1115). The reference here is to the loss of Siena by the Spanish to French-sponsored local insurrectionists in August 1552.

SIERRA. Full Name: Sierra de San Pedro. Alfonso made his disastrous retreat from Sagrajas, near Badajoz, northward over the Sierra de San Pedro to Coria, on 23-25 October 1086.

SIERRA DE ELVIRA. The Sierra de Elvira is only 18 square kilometers in extent and is located 10 km northwest of Granada.

SIERRA DE MIEDES. Modern Name: Sierra de Pela. Identified with the mountain range currently known as Sierra de Pela.

SIESTA. Hottest part of the day.

SNAFFLED. Shuffled.

SOUSAS. Noble lineage of Portugal.

SPAIN. Name derived from the Roman province of Hispania, which occupied the Iberian peninsula in antiquity. Despite the nationalist bent of historian Mendendez Pidal, and the movie El Cid, the concept of Spain as a nation did not exist in the Cid's day.

SPINAR DE CAN. Unknown place, evidently the pass in the mountains south of Silos. Literally, ĎSpine of the Dogí.

SPOIL. Pillage; plunder.


ST. PEDRO. Modern Name: Eglise San Pedro. The church of San Pedro in Brihuega.

SUEVI. Germanic people who controlled northern Spain until overthrown by King Leovegildo. Their descendents are the Schwaben of modern Baden-Wuertemberg. Their cultural remnants are perhaps visible in the fachwek houses of Galicia.

SUMPTER BEASTS. Pack animals.

SYRIA. Area controlled by the Seljuks in the Holy Land.


TARTARI. Costly silk fabric.


TIZONA. The Cid won in battle from King Yucef, the good sword Tizona, which is to say, the firebrand. Soon after the Cidís death, Tizona became one of the most precious possessions of the Castilian royal family.

TROBADOR. Troubadour, traveling singer.

TRUE-MEN. Official judges (of a combat).

VAL DE ENDRINAS. Valley southeast of Medina Celi.

VAL DE ESGUEVA. Valley leading to Penafiel.

VALTOME. Mountain range, called later Sierra del Dragon.

VEEDOR. Overseer of rents of a town.

VELMEZ. Tunic.

VISAGRA. Gate of Toledo.

WHITSUNTIDE. Modern Name: def. The week beginning the seventh Sunday after Easter.

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