Crucifix carried into battle by El Cid is found hanging in Spanish cathedral

Crucifix carried into battle by El Cid is found hanging in Spanish cathedral

A quest to find the relics of El Cid - a Castilian nobleman and undefeated military leader in medieval Spain and during the golden age of the Templars, - has uncovered his crucifix in a cathedral in Salamanca, northwestern Spain.

The discovery was made by Alberto Montaner, a professor of Spanish literature at the University of Zaragoza.

'A 14th-century letter of King Alfonso XI explains that El Cid carried a crucifix when he went out to fight,' Mr Montaner told The Times. 'It would have been a kind of talisman for him. We can surmise that it may have been given to him by Dona Jimena [his wife].'

The crucifix was suspected to have been linked to El Cid, but a letter discovered by Montaner in the British Library from King Alphonso XI confirmed its origins.

El Cid's real name was Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, and was given his nickname by The Moors, and meant 'The Lord', while the Christians called him 'El Campeador' which loosely means 'The Champion' but literally translates to 'The Master of the Battlefield,' showing his reputation as a fierce warrior and commander. 

He won his nickname later in his life in 1091 after the conquest of Valencia, but was originally from more humble beginnings when he was born in 1943 to a family of minor nobles.

Surprisingly for such a prolific warlord, El Cid died in 1099 of natural causes. Three years later his remains were moved from his original tomb in Valencia cathedral to a monastery in San Pedro de Cardeña, and buried beside his wife.

Centuries later during the Peninsular War that spanned 1808 to 1814, the monastery was sacked by Nepoleon's troops, scattering his remains and relics across the continent. Thus began a quest to recover the lost relics which has led to this discovery.