Discussion:
Patrilineal ancestry of El Cid
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taf
2017-06-02 08:21:21 UTC
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I have just seen a new paper addressing the male-line ancestry of El Cid, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar. He was maternal grandfather of king García Ramírez of Navarre, in turn the great-grandfather of Fernando III, and via his daughter Eleanor of Castile, the ancestor of all of the English kings from Edward II.

He was a minor nobleman, and his ancestry is recorded in a genealogy found in the Historia Roderici, which dates from not long after his death. It shows a dual descent from a legendary Castilian 'judge', Laín Calvo. He is given two sons, Fernando Laínez and Bermudo Laínez, these being parents of Laín Fernández and Rodrigo Bermúdez. Laín Fernández is given a son Nuño Laínez, who married his second-cousin-once-removed, Eilo Fernández, daughter of Fernando Rodríguez and granddaughter of Rodrigo Bermúdez.

Nuño Laínez and Eilo Fernández are given a son, Laín Núñez, father of Diego Laínez, who was father of Rodrigo Díaz, El Cid. Of these, historians such as Menéndez-Pidal had identified very few records, one for El Cid's father, and oone for his grandfather, the others being entirely unknown.

This changed when Margarita Torres-Sevilla noticed a correspondence between the generations of this pedigree and the line of the well-known Flaínez family, one of the premier families in Castile. While the name forms are different, she saw an identity in the two descents. As a reminder, El Cid's male lineage runs:

Laín - Fernando - Laín - Nuño - Laín - Diego - Rodrigo

The Flaínez line runs:

(Fernando ?)- Flaín- Munio- Flaín

She thus hypothesized that, while his own father was somewhat obscure, El Cid was grandson of a great nobleman, Flaín Muñoz. (Note that this Flaín Muñoz was grandfather of Diego Fernández, identified with El Cid's father-in-law.)

The paper I just got hold of is from Castilian historian Gonzalo Martínez Diez, and was published in 2007, but they have a 10-year paywall so it just became available online today. Basically, he dismisses the hypothesis of Margarita Torres-Sevilla. Specifically, he raises the issue that we talked about at an early time here, the distinct character of the names Nuño and Munio. While these names are thought to share a common origin, the interpretation of them as distinct names has changed over time. For much of the previous centuries, they were thought to be variations of the same name, but there grew a realization that the two names were actually distinct (with examples being cited of brothers named Nuño and Munio). This was not as straightforward as it could have been, because scribal error or lack of a recognition of the distinction could cause the names to be exchanged. The Torres-Sevilla reconstruction would require a historical Munio Flaínez to be the same as the Historia's Nuño Laínez.

Martínez Diez concludes that the names were truly distinct, and at least at the time were rarely if ever confused. Every refernce that survives of Munio Flaínez shows him under this name, never Nuño. He goes through other Munios and again sees them always as Munio, with only extremely rare exceptions. Further, he notes that Munio Flainez's documented wife is the well-known Froiloba Bermúdez de Cea, (aunt of the Queen of Pamplona), while the Historia gives Nuño Lainez the wife Eilo Fernández. Finally, he points out that the children of Flaín Muñoz seem to eb well documented, and there is no Diego among them, as the Torres-Sevilla reconstruction would require.

He concludes, then, that the seeming similarity between El Cid's Laínez ancestry and the Flaínez pedigree is coincidental.

Though he only mentions him in passing, there is another case where the distinction between Nuño and Munio has been minimized is in the Sánchez de Mora reconstruction of the Lara origins. The earliest known Lara is Gonzalo Núñez de Lara. The currently preferred reconstruction would make him son of a Munio González, which again would seemingly violate this rule.

Martínez Diez clearly thinks this man was Gonzalo Núñez, and hence he could not be Muñoz. This would trow a spanner in the wheel.

taf
taf
2017-06-02 08:28:47 UTC
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I forgot to throw in the citation::

http://riubu.ubu.es/handle/10259.4/2345

Gonzalo Martínez Díez, 2007, "Ascendientes de Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar", Boletín de la Institución Fernán González, 86 (234): 31-52
J.L. Fernandez Blanco
2017-06-02 23:31:51 UTC
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Post by taf
http://riubu.ubu.es/handle/10259.4/2345
Gonzalo Martínez Díez, 2007, "Ascendientes de Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar", Boletín de la Institución Fernán González, 86 (234): 31-52
Wow! Thank you for the link. I wasn't aware of the 10-year paywall. I've downloaded it to read as I was not very convinced by Margarita Torres-Sevilla's reconstruction, even though it has acquired a status of "almost definitive."
Thanks again.
taf
2017-06-03 00:59:46 UTC
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Post by J.L. Fernandez Blanco
Wow! Thank you for the link. I wasn't aware of the 10-year paywall. I've
downloaded it to read as I was not very convinced by Margarita Torres-
Sevilla's reconstruction, even though it has acquired a status of "almost
definitive."
I too was never entirely comfortable with her reconstruction, for one of the reasons Martinez Diez mentioned - the children of Flain Munoz, by both wives, seemed to be well documented with no Diego, and he just seemed to be forced in. That and a resistence to the general pattern where every noble family is made a younger branch of a small number of premier families. (For example, in Ireland, the way every family is made to descend from the kings one wonders who exactly they ruled over).

That being said, I don't for a minute think the descent of El Cid from Lain Calvo can be taken for granted, based on the testimony of Historia Roderici. I don't know where the historical horizon is (the point at which authentic historical memory ends and before which is legend and tradition), but I doubt it is that far back, especially when we have the parallel of the Lara pedigree, which is completely fantastical. In one of the last papers Martínez Díez published, he went back over some of Menéndez Pidal's identifications in the Siete Infantes tale and concluded the only named figures that can be considered fully historical are count Garcia Fernandez, Almanzor, and one Cordoba general, Ghalib al-Nasiri.

Gonzalo Martínez Díez, El Cantar de los siete infantes de Lara: la historia y la leyenda. Cahiers d'études hispaniques médiévales. no. 37:171-189 (2014). [http://www.cairn.info/article.php?ID_ARTICLE=CEHM_037_0171]

taf
J.L. Fernandez Blanco
2017-06-03 19:55:18 UTC
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Post by J.L. Fernandez Blanco
Wow! Thank you for the link. I wasn't aware of the 10-year paywall. I've
downloaded it to read as I was not very convinced by Margarita Torres-
Sevilla's reconstruction, even though it has acquired a status of "almost
definitive."
I too was never entirely comfortable with her reconstruction, for one of the reasons Martinez Diez mentioned - the children of Flain Munoz, by both wives, seemed to be well documented with no Diego, and he just seemed to be forced in. That and a resistence to the general pattern where every noble family is made a younger branch of a small number of premier families. (For example, in Ireland, the way every family is made to descend from the kings one wonders who exactly they ruled over).
That being said, I don't for a minute think the descent of El Cid from Lain Calvo can be taken for granted, based on the testimony of Historia Roderici. I don't know where the historical horizon is (the point at which authentic historical memory ends and before which is legend and tradition), but I doubt it is that far back, especially when we have the parallel of the Lara pedigree, which is completely fantastical. In one of the last papers Martínez Díez published, he went back over some of Menéndez Pidal's identifications in the Siete Infantes tale and concluded the only named figures that can be considered fully historical are count Garcia Fernandez, Almanzor, and one Cordoba general, Ghalib al-Nasiri.
Gonzalo Martínez Díez, El Cantar de los siete infantes de Lara: la historia y la leyenda. Cahiers d'études hispaniques médiévales. no. 37:171-189 (2014). [http://www.cairn.info/article.php?ID_ARTICLE=CEHM_037_0171]
taf
Well, if it serves for something, one of my great-aunts (a sister to my paternal grandmother) who was illiterate half of her life (she started school at 45 and died at 92), could recite her paternal ancestry upto the 6th generation, spouses included, and on her maternal side, she could do the same upto the 7th generation. When I was I child I used to go to her house and we (my cousins, my brother and I) would sit under a centenarian apple-tree and she'd tell us those stories. Except for me, who always brought a notebook and a pen to take notes (at 8 years old!), the rest of the lot couldn't care less. When I grew up, I found out that all she knew, except in just one case (the first name, but not the last, which was correct) of one of her ancestress on the maternal side, at the 6th generation level, she had memorized (remember, she started as illiterate and never was a genealogist) all that vast information in an astonishingly accurate way. Even the places where they had been born were pretty accurate. She even knew the names of all her kinship on both sides of the family starting with her third cousins. That was prodigious for me. And a blessing because when I grew up I could start working--even though I had not much faith in what I had written down--with some material. To my completely disbelief, she was right! Her line of the family is the one I know the best. My mother only remembers her grandparents and my brother and cousins don't even know who their grandparents were.

This is not to say that the Historia Roderici is accurate but she came from an area not disimilar to the one where the Cid's family belonged. She was from the mountains in Asturias (de Oviedo), and her family owned lands both in the mountain and the valleys and in some surrounding villages. When I traveled to Spain in my late 20's doing research, I was amazed at the memory the older generations still had. Now, when I went to Avilés, where one of my uncles lived, he didn't even know the name of his grandparents. Maybe the isolation, the fact that both her paternal and maternal families were patrons of churches, where many of those ancestors are interred, and who knows what else, were all contributing factors for her to learn the stories handed down generation after generation in those horrid winter nights in the mountains. Nothing to do, what else than tell stories about the family? The difference among her sides of the family and my mother's is that my mother grew up in a city, La Coruña.

Well, after this little story, I'm going to read the other link you sent, which I was not aware of. For years now, I've been mostly dealing with European genealogies and haven't focused so much on Spain...maybe it's time to return to it!

Thanks again.
taf
2017-06-03 23:18:45 UTC
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Post by J.L. Fernandez Blanco
Well, if it serves for something, one of my great-aunts (a sister to my
paternal grandmother) who was illiterate half of her life (she started
school at 45 and died at 92), could recite her paternal ancestry up to the
6th generation, spouses included, and on her maternal side, she could do
the same up to the 7th generation.
Sounds like a special person. On the other hand, I have seen visitation pedigrees that are completely false beyond the grandfather.

taf
Peter Stewart
2017-06-03 23:30:56 UTC
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Post by taf
Post by J.L. Fernandez Blanco
Well, if it serves for something, one of my great-aunts (a sister to my
paternal grandmother) who was illiterate half of her life (she started
school at 45 and died at 92), could recite her paternal ancestry up to the
6th generation, spouses included, and on her maternal side, she could do
the same up to the 7th generation.
Sounds like a special person. On the other hand, I have seen visitation pedigrees that are completely false beyond the grandfather.
Special in the degree of her interest and willingness to share it, but
not unique and perhaps not all that exceptional as to her accuracy. I
don't doubt there would be young people in Spain today who could recount
as many details (mutatis mutandis) about their Facebook friends.

One major difference between the great-aunt and many visitation
informants is in the coherence of her family background - she was not a
person on the make with ancestors who were equally on the make. There
were surely fewer multiple marriages and half-blood kinships in a social
milieu with less mercenary priorities for marriage and reproduction.

Peter Stewart

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