It seems like in every battle El Cid fought his troops had very high morale and fought above and beyond their abilities. Why did El Cid's troops have such high morale? I would understand the high morale if he were always leading coreligionists but he led armies from Muslim and Christian kingdoms throughout his life and they all fought with bravery bordering on fanaticism.

I got the impression his troops had such high morale from this KingsAndGeneral video.

  • 1
    Morale arises from many factors, including the skill and charisma of the leader. I lack the skills to figure out what the bias of the kings and general's channel is, or how rigorous their scholarship is.
    – MCW
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 19:58
  • 4
    I'm not terribly familiar with El Cid myself, but it has been my impression that compared to the king he served, he's been portrayed relatively well in historiography. I'd therefore question whether there was an actual difference in morale, which we can't quantify, over how El Cid was written into history.
    – gktscrk
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 20:13
  • 1
    @gktscrk that is a good point given he has been used for propaganda so much throughout history. My question doesn't portray this but I asked it because I was skeptical about how his forced were portrayed in my source to always fight so hard.
    – Max Young
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 20:14
  • 2
    @gktscrk - Just from looking over his WP page, I'd say his personal affect on morale definitely seems to have been A Thing. The story about his besieged city weekend-at-Bernie-ing his corpse around after he died seems to attest to that.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 20:23
  • 2
    This may be a case of "History is written by the victorious", even more so when it comes to morale, no-ones going to grumble about being on the winning side. It might even be a case of selection bias: In every battle that El Cid won, his men had good morale, when they stopped having good morale, he stopped winning (in a pretty 'final' way)
    – JeffUK
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


I don't think there's anything particularly remarkable about that. Rodrigo was a soldier of fortune, a profesional warrior since he was a child, and as such, a quite competent one. Battle-hardened in the Castile civil wars, he spent the rest of his life as a mercenary fighting for whoever who hired him.

He's far from being the only one mercenary who has kept by his side a fanatically loyal army of followers. Apparently he was a good commander, won most of the battles he fought and managed to cover his loses when not. That's enough to keep morale high. Soldiers do appreciate serving under capable commanders who either win or retreat without much carnage.

I don't think we can answer in a more authoritative way than this, though, since most of what we know about the person himself is a complete fantasy novel known as "El Cantar del mío Cid". The true(ish) facts about his life and deeds are known, but offer no insight about his personal charisma, or even his tactics and capabilities as a commander. The most trustworthy account on his life is the Historia Roderici, which is very scarce on descriptions on Rodrigo as a person, but at least seems to get the facts right - and acknowledges its own unaccuracy, which is always a sign of integrity.

For example, the main text about the Cid, the Cantar del mio Cid presents Rodrigo as a member of the aristocracy (there are no traces of his family name among the known records of Castillian nobility), who had two daughters, Sol and Elvira (they were indeed two, but their names were Maria and Cristina) and fights defending the Christian faith (no mention of his lenghty time at the service of Muslim rulers) alongside his closest advisor, Álvar Fáñez (who actually didn't follow Rodrigo to exile, staying in Castile all his life). Modern historians tend to concede between "zero" and "nil" credibility to the poem, whose only merit consists in being one of the earliest compositions in castillian language.

  • 2
    The first two paragraphs are excellent general analysis; yet the third really needs more explicit references as back up. I'll withhold my up-vote for a bit as incentive to straighten up the final paragraph. Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 15:03
  • 2
    I'm more than willing to believe that a professional soldier is more likely to inspire morale than co-religionists.
    – MCW
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 15:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.