Living History: Part II in a Series...
What would have happened if El Cid met Saladin?

El Cid!   Saladin!   Two great leaders, both of them mighty warriors, both heros of their respective cultures! El Cid ('The Lord') was the hero of Valencia, who liberated his people from the Moors. Saladin (Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub) was the inspired military and political leader who unified his people to resist the invading Crusaders. But what would have happened if these two figures had met? Which one would have triumphed, and which one would have gone down in defeat?

With modern analytical techniques, we can determine the answers to questions like these. If we compare a few figures, we discover the following. (Note that it is difficult to find reliable technical specifications for El Cid, so the estimates below are based on average figures for pre-industrial Spain.)

El Cid
El Cid monument from wikipedia
The El Cid monument in Burgos (image from wikipedia)
  • Place of manufacture: Valencia, Spain
  • Date of manufacture: 1040 (approx.)
  • Weight: 75 kg
  • Length: 0.2 m
  • Width: 0.6 m
  • Height: 1.6 m
  • Crew: 1
  • Armour: up to 1.4 mm
  • Primary armament: 1m steel sword
  • Secondary armament: dagger
  • Engine: trained muscles 0.25 hp (0.18 kw),
    increases to 1 hp (0.72 kw) with auxiliary horse
  • Power/weight: 3.33 hp/tonne
  • Suspension: 2 feet
  • Operational range: 30-60 km
  • Speed: 6-12 km/h
Saladin armored car from wikipedia
Saladin armoured car (image from wikipedia)
  • Place of manufacture: Coventry, UK
  • Date of manufacture: 1965 (approx.)
  • Weight: 11.6 t
  • Length: 4.93 m
  • Width: 2.54 m
  • Height: 2.39 m
  • Crew: 3
  • Armour: up to 32 mm
  • Primary armament: 76 mm gun
  • Secondary armament: 2 x machine gun
  • Engine: Rolls-Royce B80 Mk.6A, 8 cyl petrol
    170 hp (127 kW)
  • Power/weight: 15.5 hp/tonne
  • Suspension: 6x6 wheel
  • Operational range: 400 km
  • Speed: 72 km/h

In view of the above, I'd have to give the edge here to Saladin, except in muddy terrain or dense vegetation, where El Cid could use its lighter weight and superior off-road mobility to the advantage.