Pledge Letter of El Cid

Pledge Letter of El Cid

Spain — 11th century

Written July 19, 1074 and first rediscovered in 1596: one of the few personal documents of the Spanish knight and national hero

  1. El Cid – Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (ca. 1045–1099) – was a Castilian knight during the Reconquista who became the Spanish national hero in the modern era

  2. The 11th century marriage contract between El Cid (ca. 1043–99) and his wife Doña Jimena was rediscovered in 1596

  3. It is one of the few surviving documents with an unmediated connection to the figure of El Cid

Pledge Letter of El Cid

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Pledge Letter of El Cid

Numerous fascinating legends and myths have grown around the Spanish national hero El Cid. The Castilian knight and mercenary captain fought in the 11th century for both the Christians and the Moors, became lord of Valencia, and even dared to pick a quarrel with the king. In the Burgos Cathedral, where he is buried, a unique piece of Spanish history is housed: the so-called Pledge Letter of El Cid and Doña Jimena. With this parchment, composed on the occasion of their marriage in 1074, they sealed the deal by pledging their goods and properties would remain in the family. A medieval wedding contract…

Pledge Letter of El Cid

The Spanish national hero El Cid is entwined in many myths and legends. The Castilian knight and mercenary captain fought in the 11th century for both the Christians and the Moors, became Lord of Valencia, and even dared to pick a quarrel with the king. A unique piece of Spanish history is housed in the Burgos Cathedral, where he is buried: the so-called Pledge Letter of El Cid and Doña Jimena. With this parchment, composed on the occasion of their marriage in 1074, they secured the retention of their goods and property within the family. A medieval wedding contract...

El Cid and Doña Jimena

The Pledge Letter of El Cid and Doña Jimena was first rediscovered in the archives of the Burgos Cathedral in the year 1596. The document is dated the 19th of July, 1074 and contains conditions for the mutual dowry of the spouses. Titled as the kartula donacionis vel profiliacionis, it additionally retains that their combined property would go to their children. In the case that all of these children were dead or too far away from home, then the inheritance was to be sold. The Pledge Letter was stored in Burgos for the legitimation of the buyer and was guarded like a treasure.

El Cid, Spanish National Hero

It is presumed, that the historically significant document is found in the famous chest Cofre de El Cid in the Chapel of Corpus Christi in the Burgos Cathedral. It is one of the few surviving documents with an unmediated connection to mythical figure of El Cid. This knight, honored in Spain as a national hero, can be named in the same breath as figures like King Arthur or Richard the Lionheart. Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (ca. 1045–1099) was the son of a minor nobleman from Castile. He was closely befriended with the late King Sancho II, with whom he was raised at the court of King Ferdinand. Already in his youth, he gained fame as a warrior and was named First Knight of Castile. His nickname El Cid is from Arabic and means the lord.

Antagonist of the King

A historical myth has wrapped around a historical incident from the year 1072. El Cid compelled the new King Alfonso II to a degrading oath, before he himself was ready to spear an oath of allegiance. Alfonso was made to swear on the Bible that he was not complicit in the murder plot, of which his brother Sancho II had been a victim. After this humiliation it was some years before King Alfonso could avenge himself through intrigue. El Cid was dishonored and dispossessed and made himself independent as a mercenary captain with his loyal men. The infamous knight was immediately active in the service of the the Moorish Prince of Saragossa and also fought against Christians. As the frightening host of the North African Almoravids occupied territory, only El Cid could strike back at them. From 1094 on he ruled Valencia himself, which he has reconquered, and died there in 1099. El Cid was buried in his Castilian homeland in the Monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña near Burgos, today he is entombed in the cathedral.
The myth-wrapped figure of El Cid entered into literature and art. The legends and myths around his person have been spread in heroic medieval epics as well as modern films. Yet, here the Pledge Letter of El Cid and Doña Jimena offers the fascinating opportunity to get to know the historically documented side of the Spanish national hero.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Carta de Arras de El Cid y Doña Jimena
Pfandbrief von El Cid
Origin
Spain
Date
11th century
Style
Language

Available facsimile editions:
Pledge Letter of El Cid – Catedral de Burgos (Burgos, Spain)
Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 1999
Limited Edition: 1099 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Carta de Arras de El Cid y Doña Jimena

Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 1999

Publisher: Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 1999
Limited Edition: 1099 copies
Binding: Presented in a case
Commentary: 1 volume by Juan J. García Gil and Pablo Molinero Hernando
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
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