Walt's Reviews > The Poem of the Cid

The Poem of the Cid by Anonymous
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's review
Nov 05, 2011

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bookshelves: classics, history-medieval
Read in November, 2011

This book would have benefited from a greater analysis of the historical characters, rather than some cursory observations about the historiography. King Alfonso is generally remembered as a conniving treacherous lord and the Cid was something of a rogue warrior often at odds with this kingdom. Some of this is evident in the story as the banished Cid (no clear reason why "good Alfonso" banished him) wonders across Spain raiding and fighting Christians and Muslims, Spaniards and Catalans. His only quest appears to be warfare. That makes him little better than a drunken soccer hooligan.

Full of warfare and glory that is difficult to believe, there are some interesting observations. There is a great amount of fighting between cross and crescent, but there is no discussion of politics, religion, economics, or society. It is just something Spaniards do. The crux of the story was the weakness of the princes of Carrion, Christians. Consequently, the poem itself seems to showcase societal rivalry between the nobility and the lower classes. There may be some geopolitical rivalry too as the Cid was from Castille, and the princes were from Leon. The role of women is also shown in stark reality as property, not individual human beings. It is certainly strange to people in 21st Century America reading that the Cid appears to be more outraged that his sons-in-law had kept his prized swords - which he gave to them as presents - than he was in their treatment of his daughters. Weird.
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