Tag Archives: Charlton Heston

El Cid, the Film, Fact and Fiction

In March 2009 I visited the town of Belmonte in Castilla-la Mancha and visited the castle were some of the scenes for the film El Cid were shot.  On the way back down after visiting the castle I crossed the exact spot where Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren filmed the closing scenes of El Cid.

El Cid is the national hero of Spain, a bit like our Queen Elizabeth I or Winston Churchill.  He was a warrior, a nobleman, a knight, and a champion.  He became a legend within only a few years of his death and most Spaniards know about him because at school they read an epic poem called El Cantar de Mío Cid.  It is the first great poem in the Spanish language and was written about 1140, only fifty years or so after he died.

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El Cid and the Spanish Reconquista

El Cid 1

The seven hundred year period between 722 and 1492 has long been known to historians of Spain as the ‘Reconquista’ and the Spanish have organised their medieval history around the drama of this glorious event which over time has become a cherished feature of the self-image of the Spanish people.  It has become embellished into a sort of organised Catholic national crusade and although there is some truth in this much of it in reality was simply due to the expansionist territorial ambitions of competing northern Spanish kingdoms such as Asturias and León.

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