Medieval Spanish chivalry came into being directly as a result of the fierce and ongoing conflict between the Moorish rule in southern Spain and the Christian kingdoms towards the north. The conflict began in the 7th century and continued all the way until the later part of the medieval period.
During this time, a number of Spanish knights earned renown and fame in their valour against Moorish armies in the battlefield. Many of these knights went on to amass enough political and military leverage to carve out their own independent dominions or to exert significant influence over one of the already existent Christian kingdoms.
The most notable and well-known medieval Spanish knight was Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, more popularly known as El Cid. El Cid hailed from Castile in the 11th century and was originally allied with Sancho, the ruler of Castile. On Sancho’s behalf, he waged war against Sancho’s brothers as well as against the Muslim kingdoms in the neighbouring regions, successfully expanding the Castilian kingdom.
Later when Sancho was killed, his brother ascended the throne and exiled El Cid. El Cid offered his services to the Muslim rulers of Zaragoza. During this period, he led many military campaigns and earned more repute for valour and military excellence. Towards the later part of his life, El Cid successfully carved his independent rule in Valencia where he ruled with nominal allegiance to Alfonso.
Reverter de La Guardia
Reverter de La Guardia was a 12th century knight who hailed from Barcelona and was one of the foremost warriors of the period. The early period of his life didn’t include any significant military accomplishment, although he fell into the hands of the Almoravids sometime around 1126. He then spent a decade in captivity before being offered by the Almoravids to serve in the Muslim army against the Almohads.
Reverter agreed and proved a formidable warrior in the subsequent battles between the two Muslim armies. According to some historical sources, he also probably led the entire Almoravid army at one period during this conflict. It has been speculated that his military prowess was one of the key factors that sustained the Almoravid dynasty in its final years. He was killed in battle sometime around 1142 and his death led to the rapid collapse of the Almoravids.
Suero de Quinones
Suero de Quinones was an extraordinary knight in medieval Italy. He existed in the 15th century and rose to fame as a result of a single yet remarkable incident. According to historical sources, Quinones was known as a very pious character who decided to take hold of the Orbigo Bridge in Castile. Quinones aimed to hold the bridge and challenge every knight who passed through it to a jousting match.
Since the bridge was part of a very popular pilgrimage route, Quinones and his companions soon had their hands full with enough jousting opponents. Quinones originally vowed to break 300 lances before leaving the bridge. However, he and his companions had been through 166 jousting matches that they were so injured that they could no longer continue the matches. His account became famous as a result of a narrative detailing the incident written sometime after it.