The Battle in the Pine Wood of Tevar, 1094

“Let us leave words behind, and as befits brave knights settle this quarrel between us with the noble encounter of weapons.  Come, do not delay.  You will be paid the wages which I usually deal out to you.”

-challenge from El Cid to the Count of Barcelona, from the Historia Roderici

This was a game put on by myself and Andy Hawes at Partizan 2010. I’d found out about the battle from my background reading for El Cid and had a hankering to play it; fortunately, Andy had been working on an exquisite Aragonese army which was pretty much perfect for the Count of Barcelona’s forces. We used the Warhammer Ancient Battles rules with, unsurprisingly, the lists from the El Cid supplement. Here are some shots and background from the show (apologies for the poor light. Old Partizan venue Kelham Hall wasn’t the best for photos.)

Above: The Count of Barcelona’s forces close in on El Cid’s camp below the Pine Wood of Tevar. Labels indicate the names of main characters.

The Battle of the Pine Wood of Tevar is a little-known, but well-documented, incident in the later career of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, better known as ‘El Cid.’  Mainly famous for his defeat of the Almoravids at Valencia in 1094 (as memorably dramatised in the 1961 film starring Charlton Heston), El Cid fought Christians as well as Moors.  Following one of his periods of exile from the court of Leon & Castile, the Cid had made an enemy of the powerful Count of Barcelona. 

Operating as a freelance warlord in the east of Spain in 1090 AD, El Cid had asserted himself by making himself the protector of the Muslim city-states of Denia and Valencia.  Denia was nominally under the control of the Count of Barcelona, who had already been humiliated and captured by the Cid in battle eight years previously.  He had need of no further provocation to take the battle to Rodrigo.

The two leaders exchanged letters, insulting each other and challenging the other to battle.  They had the desired effect, though perhaps not as the Cid planned it.  During the night, the Count of Barcelona sent a detachment of his men to take and hold the high ground above El Cid’s camp.  At dawn, Rodrigo found himself under attack from both sides, but quickly called his men to arms.

The Cid led the first charge, which scattered the enemy, but fell from his horse and was wounded in the fight that followed.  It speaks volumes for his leadership that his men fought on and defeated the Count of Barcelona’s army.  Many were killed, but more importantly, valuable prisoners were taken; the Count of Barcelona and another leader were ransomed for an astonishing 80,000 gold marks.  The victory made El Cid the undisputed warlord of the area, and provided his first stepping-stone to his ultimate goal, the conquest of Valencia four years later.

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