El Cid’s "Tizona" Letter Opener

14.50€

The Castilian knight Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, known as "El Cid Campeador", is a Spanish national hero from the 11th century. He is portrayed as the prototype of the loyal knight and vassal, an extremely successful soldier who apparently never lost a battle, but also a maveric and a opportunist who changed allegiances as the winds changed. Rodrigo was in service to the Castilian king Sancho II, and was worth a thousand men, helping him crush competition from the kings brothers among others. At the suspicious sudden death of Sancho in 1072, the kingship passed to his brother Alfonso VI, whom our hero had earlier gone to battle against. Needless to say that Rodrigos loyalty was more than questioned, and eventually he was exciled. He then put his military genius at the service of the emir of Zaragoza, who bestowed upon him the title of a lord as-sayyid. This title turned to El Cid in the mouths of the spaniards.

The Reconquest, or the wars against the Moors on the Iberian peninsula, were originally mere wars of conquest. The conquest of Toledo by Alfonso in 1085 marked the first time a major city in Al-Andalus was captured by Christian forces, and it served to sharpen the religious aspect of the conquest. Naturally this heightened the tensions, and soon a Holy War was waged by both sides. Independent kingdom after another was forced to abandon old non-religious alliances as the situation polarized. Papal indulgencies were granted for fighting religiously justified wars of liberation, both in the holy land as well as on the Iberia peninsula, all of which eventually culminated in the First Crusade in 1095. After losing a major battle, Alfonso VI grudgingly invited El Cid back to his side, and his expertise was in such a demand that he was promised he could keep all the lands he was able to conquer from the Moors. El Cid Campeador, the champion, conquered Valencia in 1094 nominally for his king Alfonso, but in reality for himself, and ruled the area until his eventual death.

Two of El Cid Campeadors alledged swords, the Tizona and the Colada, have survived. The Colada is displayed in the Real Armeria in Madrid, and the Tizona, of which our letter opener is a replica of, was until recently in the army museum Museo del Ejército in Toledo, and is now in the Museo de Burgos. According to legend its power depends on whoever wields it, frightening unworthy opponents and performing miracles, even after El Cids death. Like with the swords of many famous heroes, the attribution is often shaky at best. The original sword has a broad type XIII blade with the inscription "I am the Tizona, who was made in the year 1040". The hilt is of a hispano-arab style with an elaborate curved crossguard the likes of which were used at late medieval times and at the beginning of the renaissance. Setting the blade aside, most of the other details would date the sword closer to the time of the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, some centuries after El Cid. But conceding those facts would just spoil a good story, and who wants that! Certainly not the museum which paid over 1,5m€ for the sword.

Made by Marto of Toledo. Overall length 26 cm. Silver Finish hilt. Stainless Steel Blade.





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