I had to get past some difficult El Cid casting issues … i.e., Heston was the real El Cid and Loren the real Doña Ximena, but get past that and enjoy the epic vista. The epic is plenty of good reason to soak up the second season series.
Dark age legends are challenging to appreciate fully. The legend of El Cid of Spain is much akin to the Legends of Arthur. But, as with so much, nothing is what it appears today. The Arthur legend in time and place was really about the last stand of the Xtian Roman Britons fighting pagan non-Roman hordes from Denmark and popularly known as the first wave of Anglo-Saxons. As it happens, the Anglo-Saxons (pre-Vikings) were invited into Britania by a loose association of Roman Briton tribal leaders in the East (kings in name only), lacking legitimacy and warriors and not caring a wit about Pagans. We don't call white Britons Roman. Anglo-Saxons replaced them. William of Normandy had not yet conquered and slain Harold in the time of the El Cid legend. As we might recognize it, England would not appear until the Plantagenets some hundreds of years later than El Cid.
Supposing history and historical travel is your thing, deep-dive Spain circa 700-1100. The history of the period offers an understanding of the fascinating strangeness of the El Campeador legend. Of course, the real story might be even more interesting than the legend if someone was literate enough to write it down at the time, but no one did.
As with the Heston/Loren version, the missing story ingredient is the background against which to introduce the epic. Although historians, especially Spanish historians, might disagree, I'm settled that El Cid was the leading edge of the last Visigoths. El Cid was not yet a Spanish story. There was no concept of Europe, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, or France. Europeans and Moors shared common Roman citizenship. The Moors converted to Islam which didn't change the socio-economic reality that they were fellow Romans.
In time and place, the Roman Empire never fell. A Roman Fall is an 18th-century French construct that has been wildly misconstrued to this very day. If the Roman Empire fell, no one at the time noticed it. There is no written history to tell the tale of this last Visigothic claim to nationhood under the Kings of Leon. It's a legend with just the slightest hint of historical authenticity.
So what was the deal among the crazy siblings of the Kings of Leon? The Kings of Leon inherited title according to Salic agnatic law. Salic agnatic succession guaranteed continued Dark Age disaster in Western Europe. Salic agnatic law was perhaps the root cause of the Dark Ages lasting 500, barely recorded, super-violent years (30% of grave inhabitants died a violent death, another 30% reveal violent related injury). A Salic agnatic kingdom was divided among all the sons (legal and recognized bastard) upon the king's death. The internecine wars were always among siblings and never about the working man, nationality, or ethnicity. Human calamity was never left to chance. Charlemagne's first EU of Germany, France, Italy, and Low Countries instantly crumbled under the divide it all up succession tradition. The whole of Europe is likewise sub-divided into incompetent regions and city-states. The reason? Salic primogeniture succession had not yet been invented.
Amazon's "Legend of El Cid" is very impressive for its attention to time and place nuance. The sites are real, though wholly 'modernized' in the 12th-14th centuries. There remains a handful of examples of 'pure' period architecture in Spain today. Primitive is an understatement, but you be the judge.
I really enjoyed the historical accuracy, interesting elements, and the peculiar.
The Galicians play battle bagpipes! Galicia was Celtic in origin and isolated behind mountains from the Iberian main. Their major trading partner for millennia with a common Celtic trade tongue was Ireland and Scotland. These are the ancestors of modern Basques.
Alfonso's Mercian shield-maiden wife Berta was an arranged 'power' marriage. Perhaps arranged by Harold Godwinson for a future alliance against the Franks before the Norman Conquest … Alfonso chose poorly retrospectively. Berta, whom everyone has to like here, vanishes from history. Alphonso went on to have many wives in the Visigothic tradition.
Chimneys hadn't re-emerged … indoor cooking over the fireplace was just short of a family and friends smothering.
As the RCC priest said, "Blinding or banishment was the reward for a king brother defeated in combat by a brother." Still, it wasn't a Roman philosopher's wild tale, as the priest told Urraca. It was, in fact, existing Eastern Roman-Byzantine law and western European common law of a sort widely applied across the old Roman Empire.
A second priestly error violated a Visigothic succession law. Upon public tonsuring (a huge deal akin to blinding among Visigoths), Garcia was forever condemned in the same manner as being banished or blinded. That he wasn't buried alive or starved to death in a hermit hole is the surprise. Only uncut, long-haired males could rule Visigoths.
So far, we have not seen bio-facilities. Facilities in Visigothic Iberia hadn't been 're-discovered. Like the Sun King's Versailles, you just went over to a corner, any corner, to take care of business.
The real enemy of the 400 year Moorish/Visigothic Iberian alliance was against the Franks to the north. The Franks had fought an endless war with the Visigothic/Moorish alliance since Charles Martel at Tours. That Martel fought raiding party from an alliance of Visigoths+Moors at Tours in 732 is no longer a popular narrative. As the Kings of Leon remind us here, the Franks had ripped Catalonia (including Barcelona) from Visigoths and Moors.
How bad was it, really? Drive the France A61 and A64 to catch a glimpse. You can still see the period's "Maginot Line" of massively fortified walled cities (e.g., Carcassone et al.) against the threat of the Visigothic/Moorish invasion.
Anyway ... we don't call the Spanish, Moorish Visigoths anymore.