The Song of El Cid is an Epic Spanish poem based on the Story of a medieval warrior from the era of Alfonso II’s reign between 1072 and 1109, Rodrigo de Viva “El Cid,” who lived between 1043 and 1099 as a knight. He fought for the Christians and sometimes for the Muslims during the Spanish Reconquest (Reconquista) and conquered the King of Valencia, which has been in the hands of Arab leaders. This earned him a great reputation, leading to his name as El Cid or “The Lord.” The Story of El Cid lends itself to analysis based on several issues. However, perhaps the most important aspect in the story is that of relationships. At the tumultuous age of the El Cid, Christians, Muslims and Jews shared the region of the Iberian Peninsula, in the land known as “Al-Andalus.” On the other hand, the relationship between seigneurs (lords) and vassals (servants) was equally intriguing because it is critical in the conquests that were not uncommon during the time of El Cid. This essay examines the relationship between seigneurs and vassals in The Song of El Cid.
First, the poem depicts a relationship of mutual gain between vassals and seigneurs. Before examining instances of this mutual gain in this poem, it is important to understand that, in the feudal system, vassals of a given lord could also have vassals themselves. For example, Cid is very respectful towards his vassals, and this is particularly shown well through the relationship that El Cid has with Alvar Hañez. Hañez is depicted as the happiest among all vassals. He is honored and enriched by El Cid. He also believes that the Cid would do the right thing and that all he should think about I show to serve Rodrigo as much as he is able. Alvar and Rodrigo bring riches and glory to each other and live harmoniously. The Cid (Rodrigo) is generous to his vassals and listens to their advice. This makes them serve him with honor and dedicatio2n. Rodrigo often sends Minaya to deliver messages: “Let them ride beside Minaya, each valiant cavalier” (Rose and Bacon 4). Minaya fulfills this duty obediently. The vassals fight for the honor of their lord Rodrigo after his daughters are dishonored and injured by the heirs of the Carrion. Minaya’s eagerness to be in the middle of this battle is an act of honor towards the Cid because he believes that his lord would do the same for him.
Secondly, there is distrust between some of the vassals and their seigneurs. The Cid is a vassal to King Alfonso. Alfonso treats Rodrigo unfavorably and questions his loyalty. This is caused by the fact that his enemies have created a rift between him and Kind Alfonso. As a result, he is exiled. By exiling him, Alfonso relieves the Cid Rodrigo of his obligations towards him and gives him the right to earn his living as he chooses. This is portrayed by the words, “the King Alfonso hath banished in disgrace One whom men call my lord the Cid” (Rose and Bacon 3). This is a sign that Alonzo does not regard Rodrigo highly and sees him unfit to serve him. Another instance of this is when Rodrigo sends Alvar Hañez, his vassal, to King Alfonso with a gift of fine horses. Alonso does not accept the horses as being a gift from Rodrigo, but from Alvar. Such gifts were only given to lords from their vassals. This would be a sign that he had taken Rodrigo back as his vassal. However, his greed makes him take the horses, asserting that the gift was from Alvar and not Rodrigo. Despite this disrespect, however, the Cid continues to honor and respect his king by sending him the spoils of war. Another instance of distrust is when Garcia Ordonez questions the integrity of the Cod’s exploits by hinting to King Alonso that the Cid was only driven by the need to enrich himself.
Thirdly, the relationship between seigneurs and vassals is that of respect. For example, after the Cid Rodrigo is accused by of wanting to enrich himself through his conquests, King Alfonso comes to his defense, stating that Rodrigo is bringing him more honor than Garcia is, through his conquests of the Moorish lands. Alfonso admits that Cid, through his actions, was acquitting himself well. Eventually, he returns the Cid to his favor and repeatedly announces that Cid had made great accomplishments. He also allows Cid to name the time that they would meet. The King crosses the stream to meet Rodrigo rather than the other way round. This is a sign of great respect to a vassal from a King because Alonso treats Rodrigo as an equal rather than a low-born vassal.
The Song of El Cid is a famous Spanish poem based on the story of Rodrigo de Viva “El Cid,” who was a knight. Rodrigo, famously referred to as El Cid due to his many successful conquests, was a lord as well as a vassal. His relationship with his King, Alonso and his vassals such as Alvar Hañez portrays the relationship between lords and vassals at the time. This essay explores the relationship as one based on mutual gain, distrust or respect depending on the different instances in the poem. Undoubtedly, this poem has great philosophical meanings which may be explored.
Rose, R. Selden , and Leonard Bacon. "The Lay Of The Cid." The Lay Of The Cid. Version 1. sacred-texts.com, 2 Apr. 2010. Web. 24 Mar. 2014. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cid.htm>.