The Badass of the Week.

Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar,
El Cid Campeador


Mister Señor Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar El Cid Campeador Esquire of Locksley DDS was born in present-day Spain to a family of lesser Castillian nobility in the early 11th century.  During his wild, wacky and excellent adventures hacking up soldiers of all races, shapes, nationalities and ethnicities across the Iberian Peninsula he would grow to be a peerless warrior, a ball-grabbingly tough military commander, and one of the most legendary knights to ever live.

Rodrigo's dad was a big dog under King Ferdinand the Great of Spain and the two often spent their days together watching bullfights, drinking Sangria and trying to push the Muslim Moors out of Iberia in a series of excruciatingly bloody wars known as the Reconquista.  When Ferdinand eventually kicked the bucket, instead of having one of his sons or daughters claim the throne of Spain for themselves he decided it would be a really fucking brilliant idea to divide the country into several different kingdoms with each one ruled by one of his offspring.  Obviously, his oldest son Sancho got the royal screw-job (no pun intended) in this deal, and so of course he immediately decided to reclaim all of Christian Spain for himself and rule the kingdom that he believed was rightfully his.  His first acts as King were to appoint young Rodrigo as standard-bearer of his army and immediately declare war on all of his younger siblings.

The first time El Cid shows up in history in any meaningful capacity is during the Battle of Graus in 1063, when Sancho's Castillian army (aided by their Moorish allies) were mixing it up with the Aragonese.  This battle kind of went down like the first stage of Wizards & Warriors II:  Ironsword for the NES, and El Cid proved himself by jumping around like a madman in a full suit of armor kicking the asses of birds, anthropomorphic bouncing rocks and Aragonese footmen.  He really got a chance to display his badassery when the bravest and strongest of the Aragonese knights came forward to try and gank Cid's flag away from him.  El Cid simply smashed this jerk knight in the solarplexus with the back end of his flag pole, whipped out his sword and busted out a flying, jump-spinning 360-degree sword maneuver known as the "Whirlwind Slash", effectively slicing this supposedly-hardcore knight up like a band saw through a can of Thanksgiving Day cranberry sauce.  From that day forth, Rodrigo was known by his countrymen as "El Campeador" meaning "The Champion".  He was officially promoted to commander-in-chief of Sancho's army, and would go on to lead the Castillian troops to victory time and time again.

The campaign to reunite Christian Spain mainly on the plain wasn't in vain.  Cid went up against seemingly impossible odds at the battles of Llantada and Golpejera, but still managed to whip the asses of Sancho's dumbass brothers and conquer the kingdoms of Leon, Galicia, and Toro.  He beseiged and captured Zamora in 1072 by completely surrounding the city walls and blasting Puya's song "Oasis" at maximum volume (cranked to the proverbial eleven) twenty-four hours a day for like two weeks straight.  Unfortunately right as his men were seizing final victory from the hands of his hated enemies, King Sancho's cardiovascular system was seizing up as a result of multiple stab wounds to the back while he was being murdered by an assassin.

After Sancho died, the next heir to the throne was his brother Alfonzo, a dude who already had his ass royally whupped up on by Mr. El Cid and who had spent the past few years living in exile.  Alfonzo returned to accept his coronation as the new King of Spain, but El Cid wasn't the sort of dude who was going to sit around and watch injustice being committed.  Rumors had been circulating that Alfonzo was behind the assassination of Sancho, and El Cid demanded to know the truth - he wasn't the sort of badass who was going to kneel before an corrupt ruler.  At a time when all the other sniveling spineless nobles lacked the balls to stand up and say something, El Cid kicked down the door to Alfonzo's hotel room, grabbed him by the arm, dragged him to the Burgos Cathedral and made him publicly swear on the Bible in front of statues of the saints and the Virgin Mary that he had nothing to do with Sancho's murder.  Alfonzo swore it, so El Cid decided to let him live and pledge his allegiance to him.  That, my friends, is how badasses handle shit.




While Cid certainly handled things in an honorable manner, you can pretty much guess that Alfonzo wasn't a huge fan of being called out in front of all of his subjects.  He also wasn't super fond of El Cid having shoved his sword up his ass and forced him into exile either, so it shouldn't come as an earth-shattering surprise that Cid was demoted and replaced as commander-in-chief of the army.  The guy who took over was some douchecasket named Count Ordonez.  Well in 1079 El Cid was hanging out in Seville getting his hair cut and collecting taxes when all of a sudden he decided to beat the shit out of Ordonez and his ally, the Emir of Granada.  Cid's men went up against the combined might of two armies and beat them both down like an MMA bout between a rugby hooligan and a third grader.  Near the end of the battle El Cid met Count Ordonez in a short-lived duel.  Ordonez attacked, El Cid blocked the attack with his sword, swung it around and disarmed the Count.  Then he made two more slashes and the Count's pants fell down to reveal polka-dot boxer briefs.  Defeated and humiliated, the Count then found himself the prisoner of El Cid Campeador.

This was fucking it for El Cid in Christian Spain.  Alfonzo blew a gasket and sent Cid off into exile.  But of course it's going to take more than exile to keep a real badass down (for more info see:  Bonaparte, Napoleon), so Cid decided to go around the country like a wandering D&D-style adventurer, taking quests at the local Hero's Guild, following up on leads he received from shady innkeepers and rescuing damsels-in-distress from the clutches of two-headed ogres and fire-breathing Red Dragons.  Eventually he signed on Blackwater-style as a mercenary working for the Moorish kingdom of Zaragoza, serving the Emir for ten years, winning many battles and defending Zaragoza from invaders while also carving out a small fiefdom for himself in his spare time.

Throughout his career, El Cid Campeador was never bested on the battlefield.  Riding on his white stallion Babieca (Spanish for "stupid", which is kind of like how I have a cat named "Bozo") and flourishing his sword La Tizona, Cid was an unequalled warrior and commander.  He could not be defeated in single combat, he frequently used unorthodox tactics to achieve victory, and he used to get his troops super mega pumped-up for war by loudly reading to them about the heroic deeds of ancient Greek and Roman badasses, which is awesome.



La Tizona, the sword of El Cid.

(Long Sword +4, Protection from Evil 10', Bless 1x/Day, Dispel Evil 1x/Day)


In 1086 Spain was invaded by a group of people called the Almoravids - Muslim warriors from present-day Morocco.  Basically the Almoravids swept across Gibraltar and started KICKING THE ASS of everyone they came across.  King Alfonzo went out to face them at the Battle of Sagrajas with a force of 60,000 men and limped home with only 100 knights remaining under his command.  He knew there was only one motherfucker in Spain who could lead the Christians to victory against the Almoravids, and that was El Cid Campeador.  He immediately sent a messenger to Zaragoza to beg Cid to come back to Spain.

For obvious reasons Cid had no love of Alfonzo, but he decided this would be a good opportunity to grab some land for himself.  Serving Alfonzo in name alone, El Cid led a huge army comprised of Christians and Moors alike on campaign to conquer the incredibly wealthy Muslim-controlled kingdom of Valencia in 1091.  He of course met with success, and in the span of only a few years he managed to wrest control of the strongholds of Barcelona and Valencia from the Almoravids.  Obviously they were pretty pissed about this so they mounted a huge assault on Valencia.  In 1094 El Cid Campeador went head-to-head with the (until now) invincible Almoravid army and despite being more outgunned than an X-Wing facing a Star Destroyer El Cid managed to kick their asses and steal their lunch money.  This marked the first time the Spanish had been able to defeat the Almoravids, and greatly boosted the confidence of Christian knights across Iberia.  Three years later the Almoravids tried again to take Valencia, but running into El Cid's army is like running at top speed face-first into a brick wall with poisonous spikes on it and then having your impaled body shot with a flamethrower and catapulted into a black hole.  The Almoravid invasion did not advance past Valencia as long as El Cid was alive.

However I should mention that El Cid was only alive for like another two years after that battle, finally passing away in 1099.  When the Almoravids heard the news of his death, they immediately decided to launch another balls-out attack on Valencia in an effort to finally capture it once and for all.  When Mrs. El Cid saw a shitload of enemy soldiers charging full-speed at the castle, she went and got her husband's dead body and tied it up to his horse Weekend at Bernie's-style so it looked like he was still alive and well.  She then sent the horse out into battle alongside Cid's soldiers.  The Spaniards and Moors saw their commander riding beside them and were pumped up by the prospect of fighting alongside Zombie Cid, but as soon as the Almoravids saw their hated enemy trotting towards them they all crapped their collective pants and made a run for it.  Even after he was dead, nobody could take El Cid in a fight.

Basically El Cid is the fucking man.  Not only was he a fusion-powered juggernaut on the battlefield, but he had all the qualities that make him a true historical badass.  He was just, he was honest, he was loved by the peasantry and nobility alike, and was considered honorable and noble by everyone he met.  Despite being a hardcore Christian in a time where religion was a good a reason as anyone to kill people, he was especially tolerant of the Moors, as evidenced by the fact that many Muslims served in his army and in the administrative aspects of his kingdom.  He was mutually respected by both sides of the conflict, called "Campeador" (Champion) by the Spaniards and "Al-Cid" (Chief/Lord) by the Moors, and his legend lives on today as he is still recognized as the National Hero of Spain.




Links:

Catholic Encyclopedia

The Battles of Rodrigo Diaz







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