Format Hardcover
Publication Date 11/05/24
ISBN 9781639366460
Trim Size / Pages 6 x 9 in / 400

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El Cid

The Life and Afterlife of a Medieval Mercenary

Nora Berend

Exploring the creation of the El Cid legend over the centuries, this masterful and evocative biography peels away the layers of myth to reveal the real-life historical figure.

El Cid was perhaps the most famous warrior involved in the indiscriminate fighting—irrespective of religion—on the Iberian Peninsula during the eleventh century.

In the centuries after his death, he was transformed into a perfect Christian knight. In modernity, he was seen as the incarnation of Spain’s special national character—Franco chose El Cid as the emblem of Nationalist Spain. Yet not only those on the political right, but many others, including academics and those on the political left, were in his thrall. He has been promoted both as the forerunner of white supremacists and of multiculturalism.

How can we explain such a stupendous afterlife, and how can El Cid be a hero for so many different people? To begin to understand that, we must try to understand the truth buried beneath the myth.

Nora Berend explores the creation of the legends over the centuries and reveals those active in its making. Medieval monks, the women in El Cid’s family, a playwright, and a historian are among the creators of the mythic Cid. This riveting narrative seeks to explain their motives, and in so doing peels away the layers of legend to evoke the real-life historical figure.

Nora Berend is a professor of European history at the University of Cambridge. She has published extensively on medieval history and has written for History Today among other journals. El Cid will be her first full-length narrative book for the trade. She lives in Cambridge, England.

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