A hero needed a wife and El Cid was married in either in1074 or 1075 to Doña Ximena of Oviedo, a city in the modern day Principality of Asturias in the north of Spain but in the eleventh century part of Alfonso VI’s Kingdom of Leon and Castile.
The anonymous Latin prose history of the life of El Cid, the’ Historia Roderici’ identifies Ximena as the daughter of a Count Diego of Oviedo, but there is no evidence to confirm this and the later Poema de Mio Cid names her father as an equally unknown Count Gomez de Gormaz and some historians have laterly concluded that this is one and the same person. Tradition states that when the Cid laid eyes on her for the first time he was overcome by her great beauty and fell in love with her on sight.
El Cid and Ximena had three children. Their two daughters Cristina and María both married high nobility; Cristina to Ramiro, Lord of Monzón, grandson of García Sánchez III of Navarre and María, first to a prince of Aragon and second to Ramón Berenguer III, count of Barcelona. El Cid’s son Diego Rodríguez was tragically killed while fighting against the invading Muslim Almoravids from North Africa at the Battle of Consuegra in 1097.
His own marriage, and that of his daughters, increased his status by connecting El Cid to royalty and even today, it is said that all European monarchies descend in some way from El Cid, through his daughter Cristina’s son, king García Ramírez of Navarre and the royal blood lines of Navarre in northern Spain and Foix, a medieval fiefdom in southern France.
Ximena is an old Spanish form of the name Simone, a female version of Simon which is a Hebrew name that means listener. It may also be a form of Xenia, a Greek name meaning guest or stranger from the same root as the term xenophobia. In the film ‘El Cid’ Ximena is played by the actress Sophia Loren and the Rank Organisation used the alternative spelling for her name, Jimena. Whichever way it is spelt, Ximena or Jimena, has become the modern Spanish surname of Jimenez so it might well be possible that the golfer Miguel Angel is a descendent as well.
Aged only 56, El Cid was shot by a stray arrow in a battle on July 10th 1099 and he died shortly afterwards. After his death Ximena ruled in his place for three years until the Almoravids once again besieged the city. Unable to hold it, she abandoned the city and organised the evacuation of the Christians. King Alfonso ordered the city to be destroyed to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Almoravids and what was left of Valencia was captured by Masdali on May 5th 1102 and would not become a Christian city again for over one hundred and twenty five years. Ximena fled north with the Cid’s body to Burgos where he was originally buried in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña but his body now lies at the centre of the Burgos Cathedral.
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