Today I am delighted to celebrate a new book by fellow author Stuart Rudge, Master of Battle which is the exhilarating fourth instalment of the Legend of the Cid.
Peace reigns in the Kingdom of Leon-Castile, and Antonio Perez returns to his native Asturias to discover the fate of his remaining family. Whilst there, he reconnects with Jimena, his childhood companion and the girl he once loved. But when his loyal friend Rodrigo and Jimena fall in love, Antonio is consumed by jealousy. As the wedding of two of his closest companions approaches, Antonio must battle his enemies and his inner demons, lest it lead to the ruin of all he holds dear.
Having secured his borders, Alfonso VI of Leon-Castile pushes south against the Moors. When a raid by the Moors threatens Castile, Rodrigo leads his men on a daring campaign of vengeance. But with the venture a credible threat to the uneasy peace Alfonso has brokered with the taifa kings, Rodrigo’s bravado could have dire consequences to himself and the security of the kingdom. With enemies old and new circling, will Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar find greatness on the battlefields of Hispania, and cement his reputation as one of the most feared warriors in the land, or will his actions lead to his ruin?
Stuart’s excellent series focuses on the hero, El Cid who is one of the most famous warriors of his age and of course, every great warrior has to have a great sword!
El Cid and Tizona
Many warriors of renown and legend have a named blade which strikes fear in enemies and courage in allies in equal measure, such as King Arthur’s Excalibur, and Charlemagne’s Joyeuse. Fans of fantasy will recognise Aragorn’s Anduril from Lord of the Rings, or Jon Snow’s Longclaw in A Song of Ice and Fire. The blade of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, El Cid Campeador, can almost certainly be included in a list of revered weapons. The older perception of Tizona is that of a weapon which inspired the men of Hispania to drive the Moors from Spain. But where did it come from, and how did the Cid receive it? This article hopes to sift legend from mystery and discover the origins of Tizona.
The sword believed to be Tizona in the Museum of Burgos
The name of the sword of the Cid first appears in the Cantar del mio Cid, where it is called Tizon; the poem dates to around 1160-1200 AD, just a few generations after the Cid lived, and though some historians doubt its existence, it seems highly likely to me that he carried a blade of that name. The Thesaurus of Castilian or Spanish Language claims Tizon comes from the Latin titio, which means ’embers, burning wood’, whilst in other sources it has been stylised as ‘firebrand, burning torch’. Though a real sword with the same name is currently housed in the Museum of Burgos, it is most certainly not the original. An examination of the blade in 2001 suggested it could have originated in the eleventh century, but the cross guard and pommel are of a Gothic style and date to a few centuries later; the scholar Ramón Menéndez Pidal claims the entire sword is a fraud. I believe the sword is not the one which the Cid would have carried, mainly because the blade does not look Moorish in design, and it was said to have been made from Toledo steel, so more than likely would have carried some sort of Moorish decoration or, because smiths who could craft Toledo steel were few and far between, a mark or signature of the smith would perhaps be present.
But if the Cid did have a blade names Tizona, where did it come from? He had a military career spanning nearly four decades, and fought countless battles, so it is almost impossible to say. It could have been taken from a Moorish captive after some raid or significant battle; it may have been a gift from the amir of Zaragoza when he was employed after his exile by Alfonso, or from al-Mutamid of Seville after the battle of Cabra. The Cantar del mio Cid claims he won it from the King Yusuf of Valencia. As a historical fiction writer, I have used a little bit of research and creativity to produce an original origin story for the Cid’s acquisition of Tizona.
El Cid with Tizona
The Historia Roderici claims that the Cid did battle and defeated a champion of Medinaceli, but does not provide a date as to when this duel allegedly took place. Medinaceli is a town in eastern Spain in what was the kingdom of Toledo, and the name derives from the Arabic Medina Salim, which meant ‘the safe city’ as it was perched on top of a hill, surrounded by a stout wall and protected by a castle. In the year 1080, a raiding party of Moors proceeded north from Medinaceli, or the area around it, and attacked the fortress of Gormaz, at that time under Castilian control, and laid waste to it. In retaliation, El Cid led an attack of his own and devastated the Moorish countryside, taking many slaves back to Castile with him. In popular tradition this is the final straw for Alfonso, who already had a strained relationship with the Cid, and exiled him from Leon-Castile. During the Cid’s act of retribution against the Moors, is this where he faced the champion of Medinaceli? It seems entirely plausible, and so in Master of Battle, it was all too tempting to include the duel and have the Cid take the sword of his adversary as his own.
We will likely never know how the Cid came into possession of his legendary blade Tizona, but its existence in his literature highlights his qualities as a warrior of great renown. What makes the Cid so extraordinary is that he has an epic poem written about him, as well as several histories, and a legendary sword which became synonymous with him just as his faithful stead Babieca has. Some Spaniards would argue the Cid’s importance as a legendary figure just as much as an Englishman would stake a case for that of King Arthur and Excalibur. What sets him aside is that he was a real man, and his deeds helped inspire the warriors of Hispania, both Christian and Muslim, to face their enemies with courage and zeal, under the light of the legendary Tizona.
About Stuart Rudge
Stuart Rudge was born and raised in Middlesbrough, where he still lives. His love of history came from his father and uncle, both avid readers of history, and his love of table top war gaming and strategy video games. He studied Ancient History and Archaeology at Newcastle University, and has spent his fair share of time in muddy trenches, digging up treasure at Bamburgh Castle.
He has worked in the retail sector and volunteered in museums, before working in York Minster, which he considered the perfect office. His love of writing blossomed within the historic walls, and he knew there were stories within which had to be told. Despite a move into the shipping and logistics sector (a far cry to what he hoped to ever do), his love of writing has only grown stronger.
Rise of a Champion and Blood Feud are the first two instalments of the Legend of the Cid series. He hopes to establish himself as a household name in the mould of Bernard Cornwell, Giles Kristian, Ben Kane and Matthew Harffy, amongst a host of his favourite writers.
You can find Stuart on social media and his website: