Álvar Fáñez was a Leonese nobleman and military leader under Alfonso VI of León and Castile, becoming the nearly independent ruler of Toledo under Queen Urraca. He became the subject of legend, being transformed by the Poema de Mio Cid, Spain’s national epic, into Álvar Fáñez Minaya, a loyal vassal and commander under Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, El Cid, during the latter’s exile and his conquest of Valencia.
Álvar Fáñez, called Minaya, passed quickly into one of the heroic legends of the era, being a main character in Poema de Mio Cid. There, he is transformed from his historical role as loyal vassal and general of Alfonso VI to a similar role in the retinue of El Cid, often given military command when Cid splits his forces, and accompanying him during his exile, particularly in the campaign that made his uncle lord of Valencia (this in spite of historical records that show he remained in the kingdom of Leon/Castile at the time) and serving as his envoy to the royal court. He is a paragon of loyalty, not only being true to his uncle El Cid, but also unwavering in his defense of his kinsmen, El Cid’s rivals, the Infantes de Carrión, a conflict perhaps based on the historical antagonism between El Cid and Álvar’s father-in-law Pedro Ansúrez, uncle of the Infantes. Of particular note, he is credited with the reconquest of Guadalajara, Spain, where a Moorish tower, the Torreón de Álvar Fáñez, is named after him.