web counter










OF the Gothic kings, it was Euric who really conquered the Iberian peninsula. We cannot indeed exactly determine the extent of his conquest. If we accepted in their literal signification the words of Jordanes, totas Hispanias, we should have to believe that Euric ruled over the whole peninsula; but those words are inexact, because we must except not only the Suevic State, but also other territories of the south and centre, which were not conquered by the Visigoths until considerably later. St Isidore, with reference to the campaigns of Euric, uses the words Hispania superior, which Hinojosa takes to mean Spain with the exception of Vasconia, Cantabria, and possibly the two Conventus of Saragossa and Clunia. Other writers allude to the conquest of districts in the north-east and south-east; and lastly, from the decrees of various councils held between 516 and 546, and from other evidence, we conclude that, near the end of the fifth century, the Visigoths held in Spain practically the whole of the ancient province Tarraconensis with the almost certain exception of part of Vasconia — most of the provinces of Carthaginensis and some portion of Baetica and Lusitania, and Galicia; while the rest of Lusitania remained in the hands of the Sueves, and the Balearic Isles still belonged to the Empire. In Gaul the Visigothic kingdom was bounded on the north-west by the Franks, on the north-east by the kingdom of Syagrius, and on the east by the Burgundians; thus it stretched from the Loire to the Pyrenees, and from the Atlantic to Arles.

International complications immediately confronted the Visigothic king, Alaric II (485-507). They originated in the ambition of the Frankish king, Clovis, whose predecessors had fought against Euric. The first encounter between the two powers was brought about by Clovis' invasion (486) of the kingdom of Syagrius, whom he defeated, and forced to take refuge in Toulouse, under the protection of Alaric. The Frank demanded his surrender. According to Gregory of Tours, Alaric was afraid of incurring the wrath of Clovis, and consented to give up Syagrius. But this docility on the part of Alaric did not deter Clovis from his determination to take possession of as much of Visigothic Gaul as possible. He could rely on a good deal of help from the outcome of his conversion to Catholicism in 496. The clergy and the Catholic inhabitants of Gaul, both in the Burgundian and in the Visigothic provinces, looked upon Clovis as the leader destined to deliver them from Arian oppression. Even during the reign of Euric, there had been serious disagreement between the Catholic element and the monarch, which had given rise to persecution. The ground was there­fore well prepared, and from the evidence of contemporary chroniclers it is clear that Clovis did not fail to take advantage of this inclination on the part of the Catholics, and that he stirred up public opinion in his favor. This led Alaric to adopt rigorous measures in the case of sundry Catholic bishops, whom he banished on the more or less well-founded charge of conspiring with the Franks. In due course Alaric prepared for war. He summoned to arms all his subjects, Visigoths and Gallo-Romans, clergy and laymen, collected sums of money, and when war was imminent (506) he tried to conciliate the Catholic clergy and the Roman element as a whole by the publication of the code which bears his name (the Breviarium Alarici), and by other demonstrations of tolerance. The code consisted of passages of Roman Law, which only applied to questions of private legislation among the non-Visigothic population. Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, who was related by marriage to Alaric and Clovis, attempted to avert war by personal mediation, to which, at his instigation, were added the entreaties of the Burgundians, Thuringians, Warni, and Heruli, old friends of Euric. This mediation, to which Cassiodorus alludes, only served to postpone the crisis.

War broke out in 507. On the part of Clovis it was a war of religion, to free Gaul from the Arian heretics. Yet his policy was not quite so effectual as we might have expected, for a considerable part of Alaric's Catholic subjects fought on his side, displaying great courage. This was the case with the people of Auvergne, who, under the command of Apollinaris, son of the famous bishop Sidonius, formed an important element of the Visigothic army. It was a short campaign. The decisive battle was fought in the Campus Vocladensis, which seems to correspond to Vouille, near Poitiers, on the banks of the river Clain. The battle proved disastrous to Alaric, who was himself slain by Clovis. As a result of this victory, the Franks possessed themselves of the greater part of Gothic Gaul. At the close of 507, Clovis seized Bordeaux; in the spring of 508, he took Toulouse, where he laid hands on the treasure of Alaric; shortly afterwards, he entered Angouleme. His son Theodoric conquered the country round Albi and Rodez, and the small towns on the Burgundian frontier. Moreover, the dioceses of Eauze, Bazas, and Auch were incorporated into the Frankish kingdom. To the Visigoths remained only the district afterwards called Septimania, bounded by the Cevennes, the Rhone, and the sea, with its capital at Narbonne.

Death of Clovis. 498-511

In addition to this war with the Franks, Alaric had to contend with a rebellion of the Bagaudae of Tarragona, whose chief, Burdurellus, was taken prisoner at Toulouse, and there slain (498). On the death of Alaric, the Visigothic magnates chose for their king his illegitimate son Gisalic, instead of Amalaric, his legitimate heir. Theodoric, the king of the Ostrogoths and grandfather of Amalaric, opposed him by armed intervention, and thus re-established the right of succession to the throne and saved the Visigothic kingdom from total destruction. Gisalic, who is represented by the historians of the period as being very wicked and cowardly, was defeated in the neighborhood of Narbonne by the Burgundians, at that time the allies of Clovis. He fled to Barcelona, whence he was expelled by the troops of Theodoric. He then took refuge in Africa at the court of the king of the Vandals, who refused to support his claims; afterwards, under the protection of Clovis, he returned to Gaul, and was killed there. Meanwhile, the Burgundians, who had taken possession of Narbonne, combined with the Franks, and besieged Arles: but they were defeated by the army of Theodoric, under command of his general Ibbas, who compelled them to withdraw from Carcassonne. Thus, almost all the cities of the province of Narbonne, including the capital, were reconquered, and the whole of Visigothic Spain was placed in subjection to Theodoric, albeit in the name of Amalaric. The final episode of the war was the raising of the siege of Arles in 510 ; this city was heroically defended by its inhabitants assisted by the Ostrogothic general Tulum. Shortly afterwards (511) Clovis died, and the city of Rodez reverted to the Visigoths. The part of Provence which Theodoric had conquered remained, for the time being, united to the other territories, but, on the death of Theodoric, it became part of the Ostrogothic kingdom in consequence of a treaty between Amalaric and Theodoric's successor Athalaric.

Amalaric. 526-533

As regards internal policy, matters were settled on the following terms: Amalaric, a minor, was to be king of the Visigoths, and his grandfather Theodoric acted as his guardian. Indeed, for fifteen years, Theodoric was the real ruler of the kingdom both in Gaul and Spain. Theodoric tried to make his rule agreeable to the Visigoths. He adhered to the system, privileges, and customs of the time of Alaric; he remitted taxation in the districts which had been especially impoverished by the war; he supplied Arles with money and provisions, and in order that his troops might not prove a burden to the inhabitants, he sent them corn and gold from Italy. His conduct as a guardian was particularly advantageous to Spain. He there displayed all the wise and vigorous policy which had rendered so illustrious his rule in Italy and which was all the more vital to Spain on account of the immorality and anarchy which had crept into the government during the decline of the Empire. Theodoric recovered for the Crown the exclusive right to coin money, which was being exercised by a few private individuals; he contrived to put an end to the extortions practiced by the collectors of taxes and by the administrators of the royal patrimony (conductores villici) to the detriment of the State funds. It appears that, in the name of Theodoric, the Peninsula was at one time governed by two officials, viz. Ampelius and Liberius, and at another by one alone, viz. Theudis. Some of the chronicles allude to these officials as consules, and it is probable that their authority extended over every branch of the administration. On the death of Theodoric in 526, his ward Am­alaric assumed complete royal power over the Visigoths. The Frankish peril, which had hitherto been held at bay by the prestige of the Ostrogoths, still presented a threatening aspect. The sons of Clovis were longing to extend their dominion in Gaul by the conquest of the part occupied by the Visigoths. Amalaric attempted to avert the danger by means of an alliance and, after repeated demands, he succeeded in obtaining the hand of Clotilda, daughter of Clovis ; but this marriage, which he had regarded as a means of salvation, supplied the Frankish kings with the very pretext they desired. Amalaric did his utmost to make Clotilda abjure the Catholic Faith and embrace Arianism, and according to Gregory of Tours actually ill-treated her. Clotilda made complaint to her brother Childebert, and he hastened to declare open war in Septimania. Near Narbonne he defeated the army of Amalaric (531); the latter fled, but, according to Jordanes and Isidore, he was shortly afterwards slain by his own soldiers. Childebert took possession of Narbonne, where he joined his sister, and seized considerable treasure.

The position of the Visigoths could hardly have been worse. Without the hope of finding a powerful defender such as Theodoric, they found themselves threatened by the Franks, a nation naturally war­like, and further emboldened by its conquest of Aquitaine. In fact, dating from the defeat of Amalaric, the Visigothic kingdom may be regarded as consisting of Spanish territory, and its capital was then transferred from Gaul to the Iberian peninsula. But they had the good fortune to find a man who was equal to the occasion. This was Theudis the Ostrogoth, who had been governor of Spain in the time of Theodoric, and who had settled in the Peninsula, where he had married a very wealthy Spanish woman, the owner, according to Procopius, of more than 2000 slaves and dependents. When Theudis had been formally elected king, he began to make preparations for the ejection of the Franks, who, in this same year (531), had entered the kingdom by way of Cantabria, and in 532 had annexed a small territory near Beziers. In 533 Childebert joined forces with his brother, Chlotar I, invaded Navarre, took possession of  Pampeluna, and marched as far as Saragossa, to which he laid siege. The inhabitants resisted bravely : thus the Visigoths had time to send two armies to their assistance; of these one was commanded by Theudis himself, and the other by his general Theudegesil. At their approach the Franks retreated as far as the Pyrenees. They were seriously defeated by the army of Theudis; but Theudegesil, whom they succeeded in bribing, permitted them to escape, and to bear with them the treasures which they had acquired during the campaign. Among these was the body of St Vincent, the martyr, for which they built near Paris a church, that afterwards known as St Germain-des-Pres. After having thus ejected the Franks, Theudis undertook an expedition to the coast of Africa, which was being conquered by the army of the Byzantines. By this expedition, made in 543, Theudis only acquired temporary possession of Ceuta, which was shortly afterwards retaken by the Emperor, for in 544 Justinian alludes to it as his own. Four years later, in 548, Theudis was assassinated in Seville by a man who pretended to be mad. His successor, Theudegesil, only reigned for sixteen months. We know nothing more of him than that he was a man of immoral conduct, and that in 549 he too was assassinated in Seville.

The fact that the Visigoths possessed Seville does not mean that they ruled over the whole of Baetica. On the contrary, the greater part of it was independent, controlled by the Spanish-Roman nobles, who since the time of Majorian, and even before, had obtained possession of the country. Agila, the successor of Theudegesil, set himself to conquer these independent territories ; he was defeated before Cordova by the Andalusians, who slew his son, and possessed themselves of the royal treasure. This defeat (which the chroniclers regard as a divine punishment for Agila's profanation of the tomb of St Acisclus), his tyrannical behavior and his hostility to the Catholics, who constituted the bulk of the Spanish population, were turned to account by Athanagild, a Visigothic noble who had designs on the crown. In order to make sure of success, he solicited the support of the Emperor Justinian, who sent him a powerful army under the command of his general Liberius (544). The Byzantines were probably assisted by the inhabitants of the country who, on account of their Catholic Faith, were bound to welcome the imperial forces and the person of Athanagild, concerning whom Isidore himself states that he was secretly a Catholic. They had, therefore, no difficulty in possessing themselves of the most important towns on the coasts of the Mediterranean, more particularly those in the east and south, i.e. the district round Valencia, Murcia, and Andalusia. Agila was defeated near Seville by the combined forces of Athanagild and Liberius, and withdrew to Merida, where he was assassinated by his own followers, who forthwith acknowledged the usurper.

Thus when Athanagild became king in 554, the power of Justinian in the Peninsula was extensive, for he was not content with playing the part of helper, but claimed a substantial acknowledgment of his services. It is probable that Athanagild rewarded him by an offer of territory, but we have no exact information on the subject, because the text of the treaty which ensued has not been preserved. But it is certain that Liberius encroached on the boundaries agreed upon, for he seized all the land lying between the Guadalquivir and the Jucar (going from west to east), together with that between the sea and the mountains of Gibalbin, Ronda, Antequera and Loja, the Picacho de Veleta, the mountains of Jaen, Segura and Alcaraz, the pass of Almansa (in the province now called Albacete), the territories of Villena, Monovar, and Villajoyosa (from the south-west and the north-east, following the line of the Penibaetian mountain range, and the continuation on the east which connects it with Iberica). The situation was all the more serious because to the great military strength of the Eastern Empire was now added the aggregate force of all the Spanish-Roman element in Baetica and Carthaginensis, that is to say, all who had remained independent of the Visigoths, and whom Agila had attempted to subdue. These Spanish-Romans who, by reason of their religion, were opposed to the Visigoths, naturally regarded the rule of Justinian as the prolongation of the Empire whereof they had formed a part until the coming of the Goths. Hence the tradition that the inhabitants of these regions rebelled against the Visigoths and proclaimed Justinian as their sovereign is most probably authentic.

Brunhild and Galswintha. 554-567

Athanagild did not submit to this treachery, but immediately proceeded to make war on the Byzantines, and established his capital at Toledo, an excellent position from the strategical point of view. He attempted to flatter the Catholics, by means of a benevolent policy, which was intended to estrange them from the Empire. The war lasted for thirteen years, that is, throughout the whole of the reign of Athanagild, who had also to fight against the Franks in order to defend Septimania, which was still in the hands of the Visigoths, and against the Vascons, who were continually struggling for independence. But this perpetual warfare did not prevent Athanagild from strengthening his kingdom from within, or from increasing its prosperity. The fame of his wealth and the splendour of his court; the fame of his two daughters, Brunhild and Galswintha, spread to the neighboring kingdoms. Two Frankish kings, Sigebert of Austrasia and Chilperic of Neustria, were inspired thereby to seek an alliance with him; the former became the husband of Brunhild and the latter of Galswintha. Of these marriages, and more particularly of the second, which took place in 567 and ended in tragedy, we possess detailed accounts in the chronicle of Gregory of Tours, and in the Carminum Liber of Venantius Fortunatus. A few months after the marriage of Galswintha, Athanagild died at Toledo (Nov. or Dec. 567).

Leovigild. The Sueves. 428-580

The throne remained vacant for several months, until the spring of 568, but we do not know the reason of this. The interregnum came to an end with the accession of Liuwa or Leuwa, a brother of Athanagild, who (why or for what purpose we are unable to say) shared the government with his brother Leovigild or Liuvigild, to whom he entrusted the Spanish part, keeping for himself the territory in Gaul. It has been observed that John of Biclar, a chronicler of the latter part of the sixth century, states that Leovigild obtained Hispania Citerior. This phrase seems to confirm what has been said before, that from the beginning of the reign of Athanagild, Hispania Ulterior, or the greater part of the districts which belonged to it, was either in the hands of the Byzantines or, at any rate, was not loyal to the Visigoths. This evidence, viewed in connection with the results of Leovigild's campaigns, shows that several districts of north-western Spain, such as Oviedo, Leon, Palencia, Zamora, Ciudad Rodrigo, etc., were independent, under petty princes or rulers, the majority of whom belonged to the Spanish-Roman nobility : it also shows that the district of Vasconia could only nominally be considered as belonging to the Visigothic kingdom.

To remedy this, Leovigild adopted as a guiding principle the ideal of hegemony in the Peninsula. He began by surrounding himself with all the external pomp which adds so much to the prestige of a sovereign; he adopted the ceremonial of the Emperors and celebrated his proclamation in Toledo by striking gold medals, bearing an effigy of himself in regal vestments. But he did this with a view to his relations towards his subjects, and took care not to arouse the jealousy of the Empire: on the contrary, he made use of it to further his own designs. He revived the former connection between the Visigothic kings and the Emperors, by communicating to Justin II the news of his election as king, and by acknowledging his authority he made a truce with the Byzantine army in the Peninsula, and persuaded it to join with him in opposing the advance of the Sueves.

We hear very little of the Sueves. Since the year 428, when they had been delivered from their barbarous enemies, the Vandals, they had been trying to obtain possession of the territories formerly occupied by the latter, which extended towards the south-east and south-west of the Peninsula. This attempt at territorial expansion gave rise to constant wars, usually between the Sueves and the Romans, sometimes between the Sueves and the Visigoths, though in some cases the two barbarian powers united. (Thus Theodoric I allied with Rechiarius the Sueve against the Romans, and in 460, Theodoric II with Remismund against Frumar, another petty king of the Sueves.) The consequence of this last alliance was that the Sueves, who were partly Catholics and partly Pagans, were converted to Arianism. In 465, Remismund, with the help of the Visigoths, took possession of Coimbra, and shortly afterwards of Lisbon and Anona. But in 466 Euric put an end to these friendly relations, and in a terrible war, to the horrors of which Idatius refers, he forced the Sueves to fall back on their ancient possessions in the north-west. There is a considerable gap in the history of the Sueves, from 468 — in which year the chronicle of Idatius comes to an end, until 550 when Carrarich appears as king. In the reign of Carrarich, or in that of Theodomir who succeeded him (559-570), this people was converted to Catholicism, through the influence of Martin, bishop of Braga (St Martin). During this same period, the Sueves had again extended their eastern and southern boundaries to the Navia in the province of Asturias, to the Orbigo and the Esla in Leon, to the Douro in the country of the Vettones, to the Coa, and the Eljas where they join the Tagus, in the direction of Estremadura (west of Alcantara), and in Lusitania to the Atlantic, by way of Abrantes, Leiria, and Parades.

Campaigns of Leovigild against the Sueves. 559-573

In 569 Leovigild began his campaign against the Sueves and the independent districts in the north-west. He very quickly took possession of Zamora, Palencia, and Leon, but Astorga resisted bravely. Nevertheless, the victories which he had gained sufficed to justify him in striking a new medal in commemoration of them. On this medal Leovigild stamped the bust of the Emperor Justin and applied to himself the adjective clarissimus. In 570 we see Leovigild, forgetful of his protestations of submission, attacking the district called Bastania Malagnena (the ancient Bastetania, which extended from Tarifa to Agra) where he defeated the imperial forces. Continuing the war in 571 and 572, he took Medina Sidonia (Asidona) and Cordova with their adjacent territories. These victories moved the Sueves, at that time ruled by King Mir or Miron, who in 570 had succeeded Theodomir and who possibly bore the same name, to make war in their turn. They therefore invaded the country round Plasencia and Coria, Las Hurdes and Batuecas—that is, the valleys of the Jerte, Alagors, and Arrago—and afterwards the territory of the Riccones.

In 573, whilst Leovigild was preparing to check the advance of the Sueves, he received the news of the death of his brother Liuwa, which left him king of all the Visigothic dominion. Immediately he made his two sons, Hermenegild and Recared, dukes of Narbonne and Toledo, although it is not certain which of the two duchies was given to which. He thus reassured himself in this direction, and, when he had secured the capital, he set forth on a new campaign in which he conquered the district of Sabaria, i.e. according to the best geographers, the valley of the Sabor, the province of Braganza, and Torre de Moncorvo, which bordered on the Suevic frontier.

These expeditions were interrupted by internal troubles for which the nobles were responsible. From the political point of view the fundamental fact on which all the history of the Visigoths turns, is the opposition between the nobles and the kings. Of these, the nobles were continually struggling to maintain their predominance, and the right to bestow the crown on any one of their members, while the kings were continually endeavoring to suppress all possible rivals, and to make the succession to the throne hereditary or at any rate dynastic. Gregory of Tours states that the kings were in the habit of killing all the males who were in a position to compete with them for the crown; and the frequent confiscation of the property of the nobles to which the laws of the period refer, shows clearly the means to which the kings had recourse in the struggle. Whether Leovigild exceeded his power by dividing the kingdom between his two sons (and this is the view taken by Gregory of Tours); or whether he tried in general to lessen the authority of the nobles — and perhaps not only that of the Visigothic nobility, but also of the Spanish-Romans — the result was that the nobles stirred up several insurrections; first amongst the Cantabri, secondly amongst the people of Cordova and the Asturians, and thirdly, in Toledo and Evora, at a time when the Sueves and Byzantines were planning attacks. Leovigild, undismayed by these manifold dangers, attended to everything and, by dint of good luck, with the help of Recared, he succeeded in subduing the rebels. He took Ammaia (Amaya), the capital of the Cantabri; he obtained possession of Saldania (Saldatia), the stronghold of the Asturians; he quelled the insurgents in Toledo and Evora (Aebura Carpetana) and in every case he sealed his victories with terrible punishments (574).

When he had suppressed these preliminary internal rebellions Leovigild proceeded to conquer various independent territories in the provinces of Galicia and Andalusia. The former consisted of that mountainous district known as Aregenses, situated in what is now the province of Orense, and of which a certain Aspidius was king. The Andalusians possessed the whole of the tract of country round the Orospeda mountains, from the hill of Molaton in the east of the present province of Albacete, to the Sierra Nevada, passing through the provinces of Murcia, Almeria, and Granada, that is to say, the lands of the Deiittani, Bastetani, and Oretani. In both parts of the country Leovigild was successful, but his victories, and especially those in the Orospeda mountains, which bordered on the Byzantine dominion, naturally excited the jealousy of the imperial governors. In order to check the progress of Leovigild, now threatening them at such close quarters, they stirred up fresh strife in the interior of the kingdom, instigating rebellions in the province of Narbonne, on the coasts of Catalonia and Valencia, and in the central region of the Ebro. Leovigild, assisted by his son Recared, also succeeded in suppressing these insurrections; he made triumphant entries into Narbonne, Saragossa, Loja, Rosas, Tarragona, and Valencia, and punished the rebels with the utmost severity. These campaigns, and the preceding ones in Galicia and Andalusia, lasted from 575 to 578. A notable incident in them — which, although it had no connection with the action of Leovigild, yet to some extent favored his design—was the attack made by the Byzantine general Romanus, son of the patrician Anagartus, on part of Lusitania, in the direction of Coimbra and the valley of the Munda (i.e. the Mondego), which at that time was governed by a Suevic duke, who bore the title of king. Romanus seized this individual, his family and his treasure, and annexed the district to the Empire. Leovigild took advantage of this reverse to attack the Suevic frontier in the direction of Galicia, and the Suevic king Mir or Miron was obliged to sue for peace. The Visigothic monarch granted him a truce for a short time and meanwhile, in the district afterwards called Alcarria, he built a fortified city to which he gave the name of Recopolis in honor of Recared. There are still a few traces of it to be seen.

From 578 to 580, there was a period of external peace, but on the other hand, these years marked the beginning of a civil war of graver import than any former one; for, in the first place, this war was concerned with religion; and in the second, with the rash ambition of one of Leovigild’s own sons. This was Prince Hermenegild; the struggle originated in the same way as the former contests between the Visigoths and the Franks. Once more, the cause of it was a Frankish princess, Ingundis, daughter of Sigebert, king of Austrasia, and of Brunhild, and therefore niece of Leovigild. In 579 Hermenegild married her, he being an Arian and she a Catholic. Immediately there was quarrelling at Court, not between husband and wife, but between Ingundis and her grandmother, Goisvintha, the widow of Athanagild, who had married Leovigild. Goisvintha was a zealous Arian and tried to convert her grand-daughter, first by flattery and afterwards by threats, ending, according to the chroniclers of the period, in violence. Nothing could shake the faith of Ingundis, but she made bitter complaints to the Spanish Catholics and the Franks. To prevent matters from going further, Leovigild sent his son to govern Seville, one of the frontier provinces. There Hermenegild found himself in an atmosphere essentially Catholic, and, at the instigation of his wife Ingundis and Archbishop Leander, he finally abjured Arianism. The news of his conversion gave fresh courage to the malcontent Spanish-Romans in Baetica, and the consequence was that Seville and other cities rebelled against Leovigild and proclaimed Hermenegild as king. The latter was rash enough to make the venture and fortified himself in Seville, with the help of the greater part of the Spanish, and of a few Visigothic nobles. It had been said that, on this occasion, Hermenegild did not receive the support of the Catholic clergy. This statement is possibly exaggerated. It is true that Gregory of Tours, John of Biclar, and Isidore condemn the revolt and call Hermenegild a usurper; but this does not mean that, at the time of the rebellion, none of the clergy took his side. It is only reasonable to infer that he did receive some support from them. Though uniformity of religion on the Arian basis may have played an important part in Leovigild's scheme of government; nevertheless, on this occasion, he did not allow himself to be led away by zeal, or by the irritation which the behavior of his son must have aroused in him. Hitherto, he had been inconsistent in his treatment of the Catholics. He had frequently persecuted them—for instance, we learn from Isidore of Seville that John of Biclar was in 576 banished to Barcelona for refusing to abjure his religion, and that, for ten years, he was subjected to constant oppression. Again, Leovigild had sometimes flattered the Catholics and complied with their desires. In 579 he adopted a policy of moderation. He sent ambassadors to his son to reduce him to submission, gave orders to his generals to act only on the defensive, and took active measures to prevent the clergy from supporting Hermenegild. The latter did not yield; on the contrary, afraid that his father would take revenge, he sought the assistance of the Byzantines and the Sueves.

Then Leovigild thought of establishing some form of agreement between Catholics and Arians, and convoked a synod, or general meeting of the Arian bishops, at Toledo, in 580. At this synod, it was agreed to modify the form to be used in the adoption of Arianism, substituting reception by the laying on of hands for the second baptism. As John of Biclar says, many Catholics, among whom was Vincent, bishop of Saragossa, accepted the formula and became Arians. Nevertheless, the majority remained faithful to Catholicism. Leovigild attempted to reduce this majority by conversions to Arianism, but when these were not forthcoming, he resorted to persecution. Isidore of Seville in his Historia says that the king banished a number of bishops and nobles, that he slew others, confiscated the property of the churches and of private individuals, deprived the Catholic clergy of their privileges, and only succeeded in converting a few priests and laymen.

Meanwhile Hermenegild had strengthened his party by winning over to his cause important cities such as Merida and Caceres. He twice de­feated Duke Aion, who had been sent against him, and in commemoration of these victories, he coined medals after the manner of his father.

Revolt of the Vascons. 579-582

But this serious struggle did not cause the king to neglect his other military duties. In 580, the Vascons rebelled once more, possibly under the influence of the Catholic insurrection in Baetica. In 581 Leovigild went against them in person, and after much trouble succeeded in occupying a great part of Vasconia, and in taking possession of the city of Egessa (Egea de los Caballeros). To clinch his success, he founded the city of Victoriacus (Vitoria) in a good strategical position. Having thus finished this campaign, Leovigild decided to take energetic action against his rebellious son. To this end, he spent several months of 582 in organizing a powerful army, and, as soon as it was assembled, marched against and captured Caceres and Merida. Whereupon the troops of Hermenegild retreated as far as the Guadalquivir, taking Seville as their centre of defense.

 Before attacking the city, Leovigild set himself to make the Byzantines withdraw from their alliance with his son, and he ultimately succeeded. According to the chronicle of Gregory of Tours, his success was due partly to motives of political expedience and partly to a gift of 30,000 gold coins. When he had thus secured himself in this direction, Leovigild, in 583, marched on Seville. The first battle was fought before the Castle of Osset (San Juan de Alf arache), which he was not long in taking. Amongst the enemy, he found the Suevic king Miron, whom he compelled to return to Galicia.  

Revolt of Hermenegild. 583-586  

The siege of Seville lasted for two years. Hermenegild was not in the city, seeing that he had left it shortly before to go in search of fresh help from the Byzantines. He cannot have been successful, since he took refuge in Cordova, whither Leovigild advanced with the army. Convinced that all resistance was in vain, Hermenegild surrendered and prostrated himself before his father, who stripped him of his royal vestments and banished him to Valencia. Shortly afterwards, for some unknown reason, he caused him to be transferred to Tarragona, and entrusted to Duke Sigisbert, whom he ordered to guard his son closely, for his escape might lead to a fresh civil war. Sigisbert confined the prince in a dungeon, and repeatedly urged him to abjure Catholicism. Hermenegild stubbornly resisted, and was finally killed by Sigisbert (13 April 585). Leovigild is accused of the crime by our earliest authority, the Dialogues of Gregory the Great, but the best opinion acquits him of it. Hermenegild was afterwards canonized by the Catholic Church.

Whilst the ambition of Hermenegild was thus ruthlessly cut short, his father's was realized in the destruction of the kingdom of the Sueves. He did not lack a pretext: a noble called Andeca who, since the death of Miron in 583, had usurped the crown, in the following year proclaimed himself king of that people, disputing the rights of Miron's son Eburic or Eboric, the ally of Leovigild, who at once invaded Suevic territory. As Isidore says, "with the utmost rapidity" he struck fear into the hearts of his enemies, completely vanquishing them at Portucale (Oporto) and Bracara (Braga), the only two battles fought during the campaign. Andeca was taken prisoner, forced to receive the tonsure, and banished to Pax Julia (Bejar). In 585, the Suevic kingdom was converted into a Visigothic province. Thus, it only remained for Leovigild to possess himself of the two districts held by the Byzantines —one in the south of Portugal and west of Andalusia, and the other in the province of Carthagena— and to make the political unity of the Peninsula an accomplished fact. But it was not given to him to effect this. He died in 586, at a time when his army, under the command of Recared, was fighting in Septimania against the Franks who had twice again made the murder of Hermenegild a pretext for invading this remnant of Visigothic land. Even during the lifetime of Leovigild, Guntram, king of Orleans, had made an invasion, and had also sent ships to Galicia to instigate an insurrection of the Sueves. The Franks were driven back by Recared and their ships sunk by the naval forces of Leovigild. After this preliminary struggle Leovigild attempted to make an alliance with Guntram, but the Frankish king rejected all his advances, and for the second time invaded Septimania. Recared was engaged in fighting against him when he received the news of his father's last illness, which caused him to return to Spain. No sooner was Leovigild dead, than Recared was unanimously elected king.

Reign of Recared. 586

His reign was very unlike that of his predecessor. Leovigild had been essentially warlike, striving for the political unification of the Peninsula. Recared fought only in self-defense against the Franks and Vascons; instead of continuing the conquest of Spain, he made peace with the Byzantines, acknowledged their occupation of certain territories, and promised to respect it. Moreover, Leovigild desired uniformity of religion, but on the basis of Arianism, whilst Recared made it his main concern, but on the basis of Catholicism. It is probable that he abandoned the warlike policy of his father, because recent events had convinced him that the greatest danger for the Visigothic kingdom lay in the discord between the Visigothic and the Spanish-Roman elements. He probably realized that the main work before him was to unite these two elements, or at least, to induce them to lay aside their discontent and jealousy. More than one reason has been alleged for the change in the religious point of view. It has been supposed that Leovigild himself turned Catholic shortly before his death, and this view is supported by a passage in Gregory of Tours, but it scarcely suits the nature of the king, as illustrated by the earlier events of his life. There is another statement, connected with the above, which has less documentary evidence to support it. It occurs in the Dialogues of Gregory the Great, and is to the effect that Leovigild charged Leander, bishop of Seville, to convert Recared. Lastly, the conjecture that Recared had secretly turned Catholic in his father's lifetime, is not supported by any contemporary documents. We are, therefore, led to suppose that this change on the part of Recared was due to one of the following causes : —(1) Reflection, which had ripened in the knowledge of the real force which the Catholics represented in the Peninsula, superior as they were in number to the Visigoths, possessed of money and property in the land, and connected with the Byzantines. (2) A change of conviction on the part of Recared himself, after his accession to the throne, which was possibly brought about by the preaching of Leander, and also by the example of Hermenegild. (3) A possible combination of both causes.

The facts are: — (1) The execution of Duke Sigisbert, which might have been either the outcome of Recared's affection for his brother Hermenegild, or in punishment of Sigisbert's transgression of his orders ; but it is noteworthy that Recared accounted for it by stating that Sigisbert was guilty of conspiracy. (2) The public and formal conversion to Catholicism of the king and his family, which, according to John of Biclar, took place in 587, ten months after Recared had ascended the throne.

Conversion of the Visigoths. 587-589

The conversion was heralded, first, by a decree which put an end to the persecution of the Catholics, secondly, by the adoption of extraordinary measures with regard to the Gothic prelates and nobles in the provinces entrusted to the king's agents (whom Gregory of Tours calls nuntios), and lastly by permission given to the bishops of both religions to hold a meeting, to the end that they might freely discuss their respective dogmas. At the conclusion of this discussion, Recared declared his preference for Catholicism and his conversion thereto, which he ratified with all due formality at the Council held in Toledo (the third of this name) in May 589. There were present at this Council 62 bishops, five metropolitans, the king, his wife, and many nobles, all of whom signed the declaration of faith. Henceforth the Catholic religion became the religion of the Visigothic State. According to John of Biclar, the king exhorted all his subjects to be converted to it.

But the faith of a people cannot be changed at the command of a king, nor could the interests which had grown up in the shadow of the ancient national religion allow themselves to be suddenly swept away. There ensued conspiracies and rebellions on the part of the Arian bishops, the nobles, and the people, who adhered to their traditional faith. Goisvintha herself, the queen-mother, who lived for some time longer, Sunna, bishop of Merida, Athelocus, bishop of Narbonne, Bishop Uldila, several counts, amongst others Segga and Witteric, Duke Argimund, and other persons of importance, made plots and conspired against the life of the king, took up arms, and sought the help of the Frankish king Guntram, who made two incursions into Septimania. On both occasions he was defeated and forced to withdraw. Moreover, Recared succeeded in suppressing all the rebellions of the Arians, punished the instigators, and caused many of the books dealing with that religion to be burnt. Nevertheless, although John of Biclar affirms the contrary, Arianism did not die out among the Visigothic people. It continued to exist until the fall of the Visigothic kingdom ; it was the cause of fresh insurrections, and, as we shall see, it was sufficiently strong to produce a temporary reaction.

Recared had still to struggle with the Byzantines, who had renewed their quarrel with the Visigoths. But through the mediation of Pope Gregory I, he made with the Emperor Maurice the treaty to which we have already alluded, whereby it was agreed that each monarch should respect the territory possessed by the other. Lastly, Recared made war on the Vascons, whom Leovigild had driven back to the further side of the Pyrenees, and who were trying, though without success, to regain the land which they had formerly held.

Laws of Recared. 587-612

Recared’s internal policy of appeasing the Spanish-Roman element manifested itself in another direction. According to Isidore of Seville, Leovigild reformed the primitive legislation of the Visigoths, which dated from the time of Euric, by modifying a few laws, suppressing others which were unnecessary, and adding some which had been omitted from Euric's compilation. Since the text of this reform has not come down to us, we know only that it actually existed.

From the tone of approval in which Isidore of Seville tells of the reforms accomplished by Leovigild, it has justly been inferred that they were a decided attempt at conciliation, and that it was intended to proceed with them until the differences between Visigoths and Spanish-Romans had been lessened or suppressed. There is more reason to suppose that Recared worked in this direction, but for this we have no such contemporary evidence as that which refers to Leovigild.

The three monarchs who successively occupied the Visigothic throne after Recared were of no great individual importance, but their history gives proof of the disturbed condition of the country. In fact, Recared's son, Liuwa II, who was elected king on the death of his father and who continued his father's Catholic policy, only reigned for two years. In 603 he was dethroned and slain in an insurrection headed by Count Witteric, who gained the support of the Arian party and attempted to restore the ancient religion of the Gothic people. In 610, in consequence of a reaction on the part of the Catholics, Witteric forfeited his crown and his life. The crown was bestowed on Gundemar, a representative of the nobles. He only reigned for two years, during which time he waged two wars, one with the ever-restless Vascons, and the other with the Byzantines. Both these wars were continued by Sisebut, who succeeded him in 612. He, like Gundemar, was a Catholic and he pursued the militant policy of Leovigild. When he had suppressed the Vascon insurrection, Sisebut marched against the imperial forces, and, in a brief campaign, after defeating their general Asarius in two battles, took possession of all the eastern provinces of the Byzantines, that is to say, of the land between Gibraltar and the Sucro (Ducar). The Emperor Heraclius sued for peace, which Sisebut granted on condition of annexing that province to his kingdom, leaving to the Byzantines only the west, from the Straits to the Algarves.

As concerns internal order, the most important event of Sisebut's reign was the persecution of the Jews. They had lived in the Peninsula in great numbers since the time of the Empire under the protection of the Laws. The Lex Romana of Alaric II had only copied those of the Roman laws which were least favourable to the Jews. It therefore preserved the separation of races, counting marriages of Jews and Christians no better than adultery, and forbade the Jews to hold Christian slaves or to fill public offices. But it upheld their religious freedom, the jurisdiction of their judges, and the use of Jewish law. But custom was more favorable to them than law, for mixed marriages took place in spite of the law, the Jews held public offices, and bought and circumcised Christian slaves. Recared put the laws in force, and further commanded to baptize the children of mixed marriages (Third Council of Toledo). Sisebut went further, and began the persecution of the Jews. He made two series of regulations on the subject. One of these, which appears in the Forum Judicum, restores and sharpens the laws of Recared; the other included an order to baptize all the Jews, under penalty of banishment and confiscation of goods.

What was the cause of this intolerance? It has been attributed to the influence of the clergy; but against this opinion we must set the disapproval of Isidore of Seville in his Historia, and of the Fourth Council of Toledo, over which the same prelate presided. Equally untrustworthy is the statement that these measures were forced upon Sisebut by the Emperor Heraclius, in the treaty made between them to which we have already alluded, for there is no text to bear out this statement, and moreover, the analogous case which Fredegar attributes to King Dagobert is equally unproved. All that we know for a fact is that Sisebut adopted the measure without consulting any Council, so that we must attribute the king's resolution either to his own inclination (Sisebut's piety led him to write Lives of the Saints, for instance, the well-known life of St Desiderius), or to the desire of obtaining possession of property by means of confiscation, or of gaining money from the sale of dispensations. Such were certainly his motives on other occasions. Moreover, he claimed religious authority for himself, for he considered that he was the ecclesiastical head of the bishops, and behaved as such. It is possible that he was also indirectly influenced by the fact that the Jews had assisted the Persians and Arabs in their wars against the Christians of the East. The immediate result of the law was that the greater part of the Jews received baptism, and that, according to the Chronicle of Paulus Emilius, only a few thousands sought refuge in Gaul. But this effect must have been short-lived, for we know that, nineteen years later, there were in Spain Jews who had not been baptized and others who had reverted to their former religion.

Swinthila. Sisenand. 621-636

Sisebut died in 621, and was succeeded by his son Recared II who reigned for a few months only. He was followed by Duke Swinthila, who had greatly distinguished himself as a general in the wars of Sisebut. He pursued and completed the military policy of the latter, conquering (629) the algarves, the last province in the possession of the Byzantines. Thus, with the exception of a few unimportant districts in the north, which had no regular government, such as Vasconia, the Pyrenees of Aragon, and possibly some other places in mountainous parts, whose inhabitants remained independent, the Goths at last succeeded in reducing the country to one united State. Swinthila also fought against the Vascons, and on one occasion defeated them. As a military base for his control over the district, he built the fortress of Oligitum, which some geographers take to be the same as the modern Olite, in the province of Navarre.

If Swinthila had stopped short at this point, he would certainly have retained the goodwill of his contemporaries, and the epithet of "father of the poor" applied to him by Isidore of Seville; but it is probable that Swinthila was too sure of his power when he ventured to deal with the problems of internal policy, and that his failure affected the judgments passed on him. As a matter of fact, Swinthila did nothing more than what Liuwa and Leovigild had done before him, when he shared the government of the kingdom with members of his own family, namely:—his son Recimir, his wife Theodora, and his brother Geila. Why was Swinthila not permitted to do this, seeing that it had been tolerated in the former kings? Whether he set about it with less caution than his predecessors, or showed more severity in suppressing the conspiracies, we do not know. The fact is that he not only lost the crown in 631, whilst struggling against the party of a noble called Sisenand, who, with an army of Franks, advanced as far as Saragossa, but that the chroniclers of the period call him a wicked and sensual tyrant. He did not die in battle — his defeat was mainly due to treachery—nor did he lose his freedom. In 633, to judge from a canon of the Fourth Council of Toledo, he was still alive, but of his end we know nothing. The political problem was still unsolved ; and we shall see that the kings did not abandon the intention of making the crown hereditary.  

Chintila. Chindaswinth. 636-646

Of Sisenand, who reigned for six years, and died in 636, we know nothing more important than that he summoned the Council already referred to, which condemned Swinthila for his "evil deeds" and passed canons relating to the Jews. These canons indicate a change of policy in the clergy, which is all the more interesting, because, as we have said before, the Council had for its president Isidore of Seville. On the one hand, in agreement with the doctrine of this prelate, it censured the use of violent measures to enforce a change of religion (Canon Lyn); but, on the other hand, it accepted and sanctioned those conversions which had been brought about through fear in the time of Sisebut. It thus obliged those who had been baptized to continue in their new faith, instead of accepting, in accordance with the views of Isidore, the Constitution of Honorius and Theodosius (416), which permitted the Jews who had become Christians by force and not from religious motives, to revert to their former religion. With regard to the succession to the throne, the principle of free election by the assembly of nobles and bishops was established by Canon LXXV. In accordance with this principle, Chintila was elected king in 636. Nothing of importance occurred during the four years of his reign except the summoning of the fifth and sixth Councils of Toledo. The canons of the first are chiefly concerned with the King, the respect due to his person, and some of his prerogatives, and furnish striking evidence of the uneasiness caused by the ambition of the nobility, who were endeavoring by violent means to wrest the crown from the elected king. The Sixth Council, held in 637, which laid stress on the same subjects, also issued a decree dealing with the Jews (Canon In), which again enacted that all who had not been baptized should be driven out of the kingdom. In order to prevent relapses to their former religion, the king forced them to sign a document (placitum) on confession of faith, in which, on the pain of the most terrible curses, they bound themselves to live in accordance with the doctrine and practices of Christianity; and to renounce Jewish customs. Moreover, to enforce this policy, the same canon obliges all future kings to swear that they will not permit the Jews to violate the Catholic Faith, nor countenance their misbelief in any way, nor "actuated by contempt or cupidity" open up the path of prevarication "to those who are hovering on the brink of unbelief."

In 640, despite Canon LXXV of the Fourth Council of Toledo, Chintila was succeeded by his son Tulga, though the outward form of election was observed. This explains why his brief reign was disturbed by conspiracies and insurrections. We do not know for certain whether it was in consequence of his death or through the success of one of these insurrections that in May 642 the throne was occupied by one of the nobles —Chindaswinth, who boldly faced the political problem with energetic measures like those of Leovigild. Thus 700 persons, of whom the greater part were nobles, chosen from amongst those who had taken the most active part in conspiracies or shown signs of political ambition, or proved themselves dangerous to the king, were slain, or reduced to slavery. Many others contrived to escape, and took refuge in Africa or in Frankish territory, and there they doubtless attempted to stir up fresh insurrections, to which reference is apparently made in one of the canons of the Seventh Council -of Toledo, summoned by Chindaswinth in 646. This canon imposed heavy penalties, viz. excommunication for life and confiscation of property, on the rebels or emigrants including the clergy, who should try to obtain the support of foreign countries against their native land; it also exhorted the monarchs of these countries not to allow the inhabitants of their dominions to conspire against the Visigoths. By this means Chindaswinth achieved his purpose, for, throughout his reign (642-653) there was not a single insurrection. On the other hand, supported by the Catholic clergy, who both from doctrinal and practical points of view had always favored the principle of hereditary succession to the throne, he in 649 admitted to a share in the government his son Receswinth or Recceswinth, who from that time onwards was virtually king, and succeeded his father in 653, without going through the form of election.

Receswinth. 642-654

When Chindaswinth died, the rebellious nobles thought that the moment had come to take revenge, and, relying on the general discontent which was due to increased taxation and on the ever-restless Vascons, they rose in arms, and with a large force advanced as far as Saragossa, under the command of a grandee called Froja. Receswinth prepared for war, and ultimately succeeded in defeating them, taking Froja prisoner. But the country must have been profoundly agitated, and the throne threatened by very serious dangers, seeing that Receswinth, instead of taking advantage of his victory to inflict severe punishment on the rebels, and subdue them once for all, came to terms with them, granted an amnesty, promised to reduce the taxes, and yielded the question of election. Hence the significance of the Eighth Council of Toledo, held in 653, at which, after having caused himself to be released from the oath which he had taken to show himself inexorable towards the rebels, he confirmed the above-mentioned Canon LXXV of the Fourth Council. By this canon it was decreed that, on the death of the King, the assembly of prelates and nobles should elect as his successor a man of high rank, and that the person of their choice should bind himself to maintain the Catholic religion and to prosecute all Jews and heretics. This latter part of the Royal oath is a revival of the anti-Semitic policy. The speech or tomus regius read before the Council is very bitter, and proves that in spite of all the preceding measures there was still in Spain a great number of unconverted Jews, or that even those converted still observed the rites of their own religion. The Council refused to take measures against the non-converted, but in 654, the king, on his own account, issued various laws which rendered more intolerable the legal position of the Hebrews of all classes. These laws obliged all Jews who had been baptized to sign a new placitum, similar to that of the time of Chintila, which imposed on apostates the penalty of being stoned and burnt alive.

Laws of Chindaswinth. c. 654  

Whilst, in this way, the Visigothic kings were gradually widening the gulf between Jews and Christians, on the other hand they were lessening the differences between the Visigoths and the Spanish-Romans, and just as Recared had arrived at uniformity of religion, so did Chindaswinth and Receswinth aim at uniformity of law. The ground was well prepared, for, on the one hand, the principles of Roman jurisprudence had gradually crept into the Visigothic private law, and on the other, the Councils of Toledo had created a common system of legislation of the utmost importance. A proof of the agreement at which the two legal systems had arrived in some cases is furnished by the Visigothic formulae of the time of Sisebut, found in a manuscript at Oviedo. According to the prevalent opinion of legal historians, this unification was completed by Chindaswinth's abolition of the Lex Romana or Breviarium of Alaric II, to which the Spanish and Gallo-Romans were subjected, and by the specific repeal of the law of Roman origin which forbade marriage between people of different races, though we know that such marriages did take place, like that of Theudis. The accepted theory has recently been modified by the revised opinion of the critics, which ascribes to Receswinth the abolition of the Lex Romana formerly ascribed to his father. In any case, the reign of Chindaswinth was a period of great legislative activity so far as unification is concerned. This activity found expression in numerous amendments and modifica­tions of the older Visigothic Laws compiled by Recared and Leovigild and in the promulgation of other new ones. Ninety-eight or ninety-nine laws, clearly the work of Chindaswinth, are recorded in the texts which have come down to us, and all of them show the predominating influence of the Roman system. Moreover, as his son Receswinth leads us to understand in one of his own laws, Chindaswinth began to make what was in fact a new code. Receswinth, therefore, did little more than conclude and perfect the work begun by his father, that is to say, he codified the laws which were in force in Spain, in their twofold application, Gothic and Roman. They formed a systematic compilation, which was divided into two books and bore the title of Liber Judiciorum, afterwards changed to that of Liber or Forum Judicum. The date of it is probably 654. Two copies of this Liber have been preserved; in the modern amended editions it is known by the name of Lex Reccesvindiana (Zeumer). It is a collection of laws made expressly for use in the courts and therefore it omits several provisions referring to legal subjects or branches of the same — for instance a great part of the political law, for as a rule this does not affect the practice of the courts. But the fifteen chapters of Book 1, which refer to the law and the legislator, form an exception to this; they are the reflection, and in some cases the literal copy of the contemporary doctrinal texts of political philosophy—for instance, of Isidore of Seville. It is probable that Braulio, bishop of Saragossa, was one of the compilers of the new code, if not the chief. Receswinth subsequently made other legal pro­visions, both in the Councils and outside them.

Wamba. 672-681

Receswinth died in 672, after reigning for 23 years. Wamba was elected as his successor. Almost the whole of his reign was spent in warfare. He fought first against the Vascons, who made a fresh rebellion, quickly suppressed; then against a general Paulus who, together with Randsind, duke of Tarragona, Hilderic, count of Nimes, and Argebald, bishop of Narbonne, had incited all Septimania and part of Tarragona to rebellion; and lastly, against the Muslims. The rebellion of Paulus was promptly quelled and punished, and Wamba recovered possession of Barcelona, Gerona, Narbonne, Agde, Magdalona, Beziers and Nimes, which had constituted the chief centres of disaffection. The war against the Muslims, who had already obtained temporary possession of North Africa, originated in their invasion of the southern coast of Spain, and in particular of the city of Algeciras. The invaders were driven back, and their fleet was destroyed. The experience gained by Wamba, especially on the occasion of Paulus' rebellion, must have shown him how necessary it was to strengthen the military organization of the State, to inspire his people with a warlike spirit, and above all, to enforce compulsory service in the army, which appears to have been evaded by some of the nobles and clergy. This need was met by a law passed in 673, which together with three others bearing on civil and ecclesiastical matters, was added to the code of Receswinth. By this law, all who refused to serve in the army and all deserters were deprived of the power to bear witness. Despite all the prestige which Wamba's victories had procured for him, and the mental energy shown in all his actions, the fundamental weakness of the Visigothic State, namely, the want of agreement between its political elements, appeared once more, and in 680 Wamba was dethroned in consequence of a conspiracy headed by Erwig, one of the nobles, with the assistance of the metropolitan of Toledo. To preserve himself from a similar fate, Erwig adopted a mild and yielding policy, and sought the help of the clergy. In accordance with this policy, he revoked the severe penalties of Wamba's military law, which had displeased the nobles, and restored its victims their ancient nobility. On the other hand, besides persecuting the partisans of Wamba, Erwig made new laws against the Jews, in order that the Judaeorum pestis might be wholly exterminated, subjecting the converts to minute regulations that he might assure himself of their religious faith, and to the non-converted he granted the term of 12 months — from 1 February 681 — in which to receive baptism under penalty of banishment, scourging, and the loss of all their hair. These laws, although very severe, were milder than those of Receswinth, seeing that they excluded the death-penalty. The Twelfth Council of Toledo accepted them in full.  

Erwig, Egica. 680-687 

By the use of similar methods, Erwig induced this Council— summoned within three months of his consecration — not only to sanction his usurpation and accept the false pretext that Wamba had become a monk of his own free will and had charged the metropolitan of Toledo to anoint him (Erwig) as his successor, but also to defame the memory of Wamba, to forbid his restoration, and to proclaim the person of Erwig and his family sacred and inviolable (Council XIII, Canon iv). Erwig was so desirous of ingratiating himself with the dangerous elements of the nation that he pardoned, not only those who had been punished in Wamba's time for their share in the rebellion of Paulus, but also all those who had been branded as traitors during the reign of Chintila, restoring to them the property, titles, and civil rights which they had forfeited (Council XIII). The second canon of the same Council continued this policy; it laid down rules for the protection of the nobles, officials of the palace, and free-born men, in their suits, so as to prevent the arbitrary degradation and confiscation of property which the kings were wont to order. But this was not the first time that the Visigothic legislation dealt with this point, and established guarantees of this nature. In 682, Erwig, by means of these laws and others, made a revised edition of the Liber Judiciorum or Judicum.

Before Erwig died in 687, he named as his successor Egica, a relation of Wamba and his own son-in-law; and in November of that year Egica was duly elected king. Notwithstanding the oath which he had taken in the presence of Erwig to protect the family of his predecessor, he at once divorced his wife Cixilona, degraded Erwig's other relations, and punished the nobles who had taken the most prominent part in the conspiracy which deprived Wamba of the throne; on the other hand he favored the partisans of Wamba, whom Erwig had persecuted. This behavior naturally led to another rebellion of the unruly section of the Visigothic nobles. In the fifth year of Egica's reign, a conspiracy was discovered of which Sisebert, metropolitan of Toledo, was the leader. The aim of this conspiracy was to slay the king, his sons, and five of the principal officials of the palace. The metropolitan was deprived of his see, excommunicated and sentenced to exile for life, with the confiscation of all his property.

Persecution of the Jews. 693-694

It seems that, during the reign of Egica, there was another more serious conspiracy, directed, not against the king, but against the Visigothic nation. Egica himself denounced it in the royal tomus which he presented to the Seventeenth Council in 694, saying, with reference to the Jews, that, "by their own open confession, it was known, without any shadow of doubt, that the Hebrews in these parts had recently taken counsel with those who dwelt in lands beyond the sea (i.e. in Africa), that they might combine with them against the Christians"; and when accused, the same Jews confirmed before the Council the justice of the charge. What was the cause and what the aim of this conspiracy? The cause may very well have been the legislation recently made by Egica with regard to the Jews, which, though very favorable to the converts who made sincere profession of the Christian Faith — seeing that it exempted them from the general taxes (munera) and from the special payments made by Jews, allowed them to possess Christian slaves and property, and to trade — was unfavorable to the non-baptized and to those who observed the rites of the Jewish Faith, they being burdened with all the taxes from which the first were exempted. We do not exactly know the aim of the conspiracy, although the understanding with the Africans and what happened later in the reign of Roderick give us reason to believe that it was intended to help the Muslims to make another invasion. The Council, regarding the crime as proved, decreed in the eighth canon that all the Jews in the Peninsula should be reduced to slavery and their goods confiscated; it authorized the Christian slave-owners to whom they were consigned to take possession of their sons at the age of seven, and educate them in the Christian Faith, and eventually marry them to Catholics. This law was not enforced in Visigothic Gaul.

During the reign of Egica, the Visigothic code was revised for the last time (693-694).2 After the manner of his predecessors, Egica admitted his son Witiza to a share of the government, entrusting to him the north-west, of which the capital was Tuy; he also stamped the effigy and name of Witiza, together with his own, on the money which was coined. Witiza was therefore allowed to succeed his father without opposition (701). The reigns of Witiza and the two following kings are very obscure. We have but scanty information, and that distorted with legends and partisan inventions. Thus, Witiza has been represented as the wickedest of kings and as a man addicted to every vice. From the testimony of the anonymous chronicler of the eighth century and of the Arab historians from the ninth century onwards, it appears that he was the exact opposite. A critical examination of the sources shows that he was an energetic and benevolent king.

Policy of Witiza. 701-709  

Witiza began by proclaiming an amnesty, which included the nobles who had been condemned by Egica. This produced an excellent effect, but did not suffice to prevent a fresh rebellion, when Witiza, following the example of his father, admitted his son Achila or Agila to a share in the government, entrusting to him the provinces of Narbonne and Tarragona under the charge of a noble, probably called Rechsind, who may have been a relative. We do not exactly know why this policy did not succeed. The chroniclers tell us little, till we come to Lucas of Tuy, who wrote in the thirteenth century, and is the first to allude to it. But we know that conspiracies were formed, that Witiza was obliged to dissolve some meeting or Council, whose attitude had given cause for uneasiness; that, according to the evidence of the anonymous Latin chronicler, he quarreled with Bishop Sindered, a man of exceptional piety, and lastly, that he punished some conspirators, amongst others Theodofred, duke of Cordova, whom he blinded, and Pelagius, another noble, whom he banished. This Pelagius, mentioned in the chronicle of Albelda —of the ninth century — is possibly the son of Fafila, or Fairla, duke of Cantabria — who had been banished from court during the reign of Egica, and who was slain by Witiza himself when governor of the north­west provinces — and therefore most likely Pelagius of Covadonga, who would naturally be opposed to Witiza as the murderer of his father. Witiza managed to escape all these dangers and died a natural death in Toledo at the end of 708 or beginning of 709. Archbishop Roderick, a chronicler of the twelfth century, is the first to relate the legend that Witiza was deposed and blinded. Shortly before his death, the Muslims again invaded the Spanish coast, and were driven back by him. According to Isidore of Pax Julia, Witiza also defeated the Byzantines, who during the reign of Egica had attempted to reconquer some of the cities of southern Spain. Witiza was succeeded by Achila; he, together with his two brothers, Olmund and Artavasdes, and his uncle, Bishop Oppas (the Don Oppas of the legend), were the males of the family of the late king. Immediately a revolution broke out, for the nobles refused to acknowledge the new king. They produced a frightful state of confusion, but did not at first succeed in deposing him. Finally, the ringleaders met in council in the spring of 710, and elected Roderick (Ruderico), duke of Baetica. Soon afterwards, Roderick defeated the army of Achila, who, together with his uncle and brothers, fled to Africa, leaving the duke of Baetica in possession of the throne.

 Roderick. 710

The reign of Roderick—the title of Don assigned to him by the later chroniclers is a pure anachronism—is still more legendary than that of Witiza, and partly from the same cause—the false reports spread by political enemies, who were afterwards to be the victors, and partly the Moorish invasion and the fall of the Visigothic kingdom. The last king of the Visigoths is enveloped in legends from his first action as a king (the legend of the Tower of Hercules) until after his death (the legend of the Penance). The most important of all is that known as the legend of Florinda, or La Cava (the harlot), which thoroughly explains the invasion of the Muslims and the cause of their expedition to Spain, which resulted in the destruction of the Visigothic kingdom. We therefore have the story in two forms.

1.-The connivance of Julian—whoever he may have been—with the Muslims, in order to effect the conquest of Spain; Julian being actuated by purely political motives, and his daughter having no connection with the matter.

2.-The explanation of Julian's connivance with the Arabs by the insult which he had sustained at the hand of Roderick.

The first Christian writer who mentions the count, and calls him Don Julian—the Don, as in the case of Roderick, is an anachronism—is the monk of Silos, who wrote at the beginning of the twelfth century. In our days it is generally admitted that this individual was called (not Julian but) Urban or Olban, and this opinion is supported by the reading of the most ancient text of the anonymous Latin chronicler, and by the Arab historians Tailhan and Codera. There is considerable difference of opinion as to who this Urban was. Some think that he was a Visigoth, others a Byzantine, but all are agreed that he was governor of Ceuta. Neither of these hypotheses can be maintained, because there is no certain evidence that Ceuta then belonged to the Byzantine Empire—still less to the Visigothic kings. Nor can the title rum given to Urban by the Arab chroniclers, which might mean a Gothic or Byzantine Christian, be taken in a definite sense. On the other hand, the anonymous Latin chronicler, as also Ibn Khaldfm and Ahmed Anasiri Asalaui, state that Urban "belonged to the land of Africa," to the Berber tribe of the Gomera, that he was a Christian and lord or petty king of Ceuta. Whoever he was, the monk of Silos is the first of the Spanish chroniclers to mention him, and to represent him as taking any part in the conquest of Spain; according to the earlier chroniclers, the only people who helped, or rather were helped by, the Arabs, were the sons of Witiza, whom Roderick had deposed. Hence, the connection between the person of Urban and the fall of the Visigothic State is now generally held by scholars to be a mere legend, perhaps derived from some Arab historian.

  The Story of Count Julian. 708-711

The second element of the legend, viz. the violation of the count's daughter, is even more doubtful. The offence committed by Roderick against the count is also, by some of the early chroniclers, attributed to Witiza, and the later chroniclers are not clear whether it was the daughter or the wife of Julian or Urban. Moreover, the monk of Silos is the first to relate this part of the legend; and the name of La Cava, by which the count's daughter is now generally known, appears for the first time in the fifteenth century, in the untrustworthy history of Pedro del Corral. Nevertheless, the more cautious of the modern critics do not consider the question as definitely settled.

A third explanation, intermediate between the two, has been set forth by Saavedra, the historian and Arabic scholar, and its main outlines are at present more or less generally accepted. He believes that, even granting that Roderick did commit this offence, it had no connection with the help given by Julian to the Arabs. According to him, Julian was a Byzantine governor of Ceuta, and received assistance from Witiza in 708, when his city was attacked by the Muslims, and was therefore bound to the Visigothic king by ties of gratitude and possibly of self-interest. On the death of Witiza, when Julian was again attacked by the Arabs, he surrendered to them on condition that, during his lifetime, he might continue to hold the city of Ceuta under the supreme authority of the Caliph. When Achila was deposed by Roderick, he sought help from Julian, who helped him by making a preliminary expedition to Spain, which was not successful. Then the family of Witiza had recourse to the Muslim chiefs, who were more powerful than Julian, and after long negotiations, thanks to his intervention, they succeeded in obtaining the support of the Arab troops of Africa, and thus managed to defeat Roderick. This connection between the Muslims and the sons of Witiza is confirmed by all the chroniclers, and forms a trustworthy starting-point for the history of the invasion. The final attack was preceded by two purely tentative expeditions, of which the first, that attributed to Julian, was made in 709, and the second, a year later, was controlled by an Arab chief called Tarif, who merely laid waste the country between Tarifa and Algeciras, and did not succeed in obtaining possession of any stronghold.

Battle of Lake Janda. 711-712

In 711, a large force of Muslim troops, commanded by Tarik the lieutenant of Musa, governor of Mauretania, who was accompanied by the count Julian or Urban of the legend, took the rock of Gibraltar, and the neighboring cities of Carteya and Algeciras. When the enemy had thus secured places to which they could retreat, they advanced on Cordova, but were detained on the way by a regiment of the Visigothic army under the command of Bencius, a cousin of Roderick. Although the Arabs defeated Bencius, his resistance enabled the king himself to arrive on the field. At that time Roderick happened to be fighting in the north of Spain against the Franks and the Vascons, whom the partisans of Achila had incited to make a fresh attack. When the Visigothic king saw this new danger, he assembled a powerful army and marched against the invaders, who, according to some historians, also increased their forces to the number of 25,000 men. On 19 July 711, the armies met on the shores of Lake Janda, which lies between the city of Medina Sidonia and the town of Vejer de la Frontera in the province of Cadiz. The river Barbate flows into this lake, and as its Arabic name of Guadibeca was misunderstood by some of the chroniclers, there arose the mistaken belief that the battle was fought on the banks of the river Guadalete. The victory was won by the Arabs, owing to the treachery of part of the Visigothic army, which was won over by the partisans of Achila. Among the traitors, the chroniclers make special mention of Bishop Oppas and Sisebert, referring to the latter as a relation of Witiza. So the king could not prevent Tarik from cutting off his retreat and dispersing his army. What became of King Roderick? The most common story in the chroniclers, both Arabic and Spanish, is merely that he disappeared, or that his end is unknown. Only a few state plainly that he perished in the battle of La Janda, and even these disagree as to the details of his death. Saavedra has thus reconstructed the history of Roderick after his defeat of La Janda. The Arabs advanced on Seville and, after another victory, they took Ecija, besieged Cordova, which held out for two months, and entered Toledo. King Roderick rallied his forces in Medina, and went to threaten the capital, which was occupied by Tarik. The Arab general asked Musa, for reinforcements; in 712 the latter came himself with a large army. After taking possession of Seville and other strongholds, he advanced on Merida, the place which the Muslims had most reason to dread. He besieged this city, which held out for a year, and was finally taken by storm.

At this point, we notice an important change in the accounts given by the chroniclers. Hitherto the invaders had met with but little resistance, and a certain amount of sympathy on the part of the towns­people, who, in some cases, had opened the gates of their cities to the foe. The Arabs had only left small garrisons in the towns which they had conquered, entrusting the protection and government of these towns to the Jews, who naturally welcomed the victorious Arabs. But, after the taking of Merida (June 713), a change appears to have set in. Possibly about that time Musa, who had seen for himself what the country was like, and what advantages he had gained, disclosed his intention of changing his tactics. The Muslim troops had hitherto acted as auxiliaries of Achila's party, but at this point Musa began to regard the victorious Muslims as fighting on behalf of the Caliph. In any case about this time the Visigoths began to offer a general resistance, which first showed itself in the revolt of Seville. Musa, sent his son Abd-al-Aziz to suppress it, and he himself advanced as far as the Sierra de Francia, not without giving orders to Tarik, who was at Toledo, to come and join him with an army in the wild mountainous country, which extends thence to the Estrella, passing through the Sierra de Gata and forming a means of communication with Portugal. Of one place, Egitania or Igaeditania (Idanha a Vella), we possess money coined by Roderick, possibly in 712. The king of the Visigoths had established himself there. Finally, the combined forces of the Muslims came up with him near the town of Segoyuela in the province of Salamanca. In the battle (September 713) Roderick was defeated, and probably slain. His corpse was perhaps borne by his followers to Vizeu, for if we believe the chronicle of Alfonso III, written in the ninth century by Sebastian of Salamanca, a tomb was there discovered with the inscriptio : "Hie requiescit Rudericus, rex Gothorum."

  The Arab Conquest.  711-713

Thus ended the rule of the Visigoths, for Musa, after the battle of Segoyuela, marched to Toledo, which had revolted on the departure of Tarik, and there proclaimed the Caliph as sovereign, dealing the death blow to the hopes of Achila and his supporters. Achila was obliged to content himself with the recovery of his estates, which had been confiscated by Roderick, and with his residence at Toledo, where he lived in great pomp. His brother Artavasdes established himself at Cordova and assumed the title of count, which he transmitted to Abu Said, his descendant. Olmund remained in Seville, and Bishop Oppas held the metropolitan see of Toledo. As for Julian, he shortly afterwards followed Musa, on his journey to Damascus, the capital of the Caliphate, and subsequently returned to Spain; according to Ibn Iyad, the Arab historian, he then established himself in Cordova, where his son, Balacayas, became an apostate, and where his descendants continued to reside. This then is Saavedra's theory.

Weakness of the Visigothic Kingdom  

The end of the Visigothic kingdom of Spain was the natural result of the political divisions and the internal strife which had undermined the State. Since the time of Recared, and even more since that of Chindaswinth, there had been no insuperable difficulty in the amalgamation of the Visigothic and Spanish-Roman elements. In recent times their opposition has been exaggerated; it has been supposed that the imperfect nature of the fusion effected by the kings betrayed itself in national weakness, that the two racial elements lacked cohesion, and therefore they could not make head against the foreign invaders. But our information proves that they were much more closely united than has generally been supposed. Moreover, the most fruitful cause of antagonism between Visigoths and Romans — the distribution of lands, houses, and slaves — was not as widely enforced in the Peninsula as in Gaul, where, nevertheless, it did not prevent the fusion of the two elements. Concerning the way in which this distribution was made in the territories ceded by Honorius to the Visigoths, by the application of the law of tenancy, contained in the code of Theodosius, we now possess exact information showing that the distribution did not apply to all the Gallo-Roman possessores. With regard to Spain, we know for a fact that the Sueves applied this law, and we have good reason to suppose that, touching the arable land and part of the forests, the Visigoths did the same, after the conquests of Euric, in the districts which they acquired. We have various data in support of this; amongst others, the fact that the laws of consortes remained in force. It is also probable that they made distribution of the houses, the slaves engaged to cultivate the fields, and the agricultural implements; but, in any case, the private property of the Spanish-Romans seems to have suffered less than that of their neighbors in Gaul.

Moreover—notwithstanding the statement apparently contained in the military law of Wamba—the fact that, up to the time of Roderick, the Visigoths were constantly engaged in warfare, seems to confute the accusation of effeminacy and military decadence which has been brought against them. The Arabs before they came to Spain had been victorious in other countries where these conditions did not prevail. The fact that they were able to effect the conquest of the Peninsula in the comparatively short space of seven years is due — apart from the prowess of the Muslims—to the political disagreements of the Visigoths, to the indifference of the enslaved classes who found it profitable to submit to the victorious Arabs, to the support of the Jews—the only element really estranged from the bulk of the nation by persecution—and lastly, to the selfishness of some of the nobles—one more proof of the political unsoundness of the State—who preferred their personal advantage to concerted action on behalf of a monarch. The internal history, the history of the Visigothic kingdom, is one long struggle between the nobility and the monarchy. The kings were supported by the clergy in their efforts to consolidate the royal power and transmit it from father to son, while the nobles strove to keep it elective, and held themselves free to depose the elected king by violence. Nevertheless, the kings gained a certain strength, especially those endowed with great personal qualities, such as Leovigild, Chindaswinth, Receswinth, and Wamba. The Visigothic king was an absolute monarch, at times despotic, notwithstanding the principle of submission to the law which, from the contemporary works on ecclesiastical politics, passed into the legislation. The king was the chief of the army and the only legislative power. The last is clearly proved by the Councils of Toledo, concerning which there have been so many erroneous opinions.

The Councils of Toledo  

It is therefore necessary to discuss in some detail the organization and authority of these Councils. The kings alone were empowered to summon them, they had also the right to appoint the bishops, and to deprive them of their sees, thus exercising in the Catholic Church the power which, in these matters, they had been wont to exercise in the Arian. Their power to summon the Councils is acknowledged in the decrees passed by each of these, with the possible exception of the seventh, which seems to leave the question undecided. On the other hand, the decree of the ninth Council clearly states that the bishops have not the power to assemble except by command of the king. The latter did not issue his summons at regular intervals. The Council was formed of two elements, the clerical and the lay. The first consisted of the bishops, who in varying numbers were present at all the Councils; the vicars, who appeared for the first time at the third Council; the abbots, who began to attend at the eighth; and the archpriest, archdeacon, and precentor of Toledo. The lay element was composed of the officials or nobles of the palace, whose presence is attested by the signatures and prefaces to the decrees of all the Councils dealing with civil matters. From these we see that the lay element is absent from the Council held in 597 (which is not numbered), from that summoned by Gundemar, also known as “Gundemar's Ordinance”, from the four­teenth and from the seventh: which merely confirmed or re-enacted a law already approved by the lay element at the Royal Council. We are left in doubt as to the presence of the lay element at the following Councils:—the tenth, where the signatures are probably incomplete; the eighteenth, of which there are no decrees in existence; and the third of Saragossa, from which the signatures are missing. As in the case of the ecclesiastics, the number of the nobles varied considerably. We see from the decrees of the twelfth and sixteenth Councils that they were chosen by the king, and we learn from those of the eighth Council that this was in accordance with an ancient custom. What part did the nobles take in the assemblies? Historians are by no means agreed; some hold that they had a voice in the discussion of lay matters only, others that they were nothing more than passive witnesses, or that their presence was a pure formality; again, others believe that they represented the king. Perez Pujol, the most recent historian of Visigothic Spain, has a convincing argument that, in matters wholly or partly lay, the nobles had the same rights to discuss and vote as the ecclesiastical members of the Council. This is the inference drawn from authentic texts of the eighth, tenth, twelfth, thirteenth, seventeenth Councils, and from the sixth, which is conclusive with regard to the vote. The difference between the respective powers of the lay and clerical elements was limited to matters wholly religious, and the right of proposing laws to the king.

With regard to lay matters, the functions of the Councils were of three kinds:

(1) Deliberative, concerning the methods of government, adoption of new laws, modification or repeal of the old ones, and their codification or compilation. On these points the king consulted the Councils, both in the tomus regius which he handed to them at the opening of the Council, and in special communications, such as the one sent to the sixteenth Council (9 May 693).

(2) The right to petition or to initiate legislation, that is to say, the right to present to the monarch, for approval, such proposals as were not included in these communications or in the tomus regius. But only the ecclesiastics were entitled to take this initiative.

(3) Judicial, that is to say, the power to act as a kind of tribunal in the case of disputes connected with the administration; this tribunal settled the complaints and charges brought by the citizens against the government officials, and possibly also against influential men. In this sense, the Council formed part of the system of the courts. It is not known whether these matters were laid directly before the Council, or whether they first passed through the hands of the king. The discussion concerning the tomus and the royal communications was followed by voting, as a result of which the original proposal of the monarch was approved or modified. He frequently entrusted to the Council, not only the adoption of specially important laws, but also the general revision of all the existing laws—as we see from the tomus regius of the eighth, twelfth, and sixteenth Councils. This added to the freedom enjoyed by the clergy with regard to legislative initiative (as expressed in the canons of the sixteenth and seventeenth Councils) and furnishes grounds for the very general opinion that the Visigothic monarchy was dominated by the clergy, and was therefore mainly ecclesiastical in character. In the different Visigothic codes, and, consequently, in the most recent versions of the Liber or Forum Judicum, there is a large proportion of laws made by the Councils on ecclesiastical initiative: further, the political and theological doctrines of the time —of which Isidore of Seville is the chief representative — are reflected at every stage in the legislation, such as the duties of the monarch, the divine origin of power, the distinction drawn between the private means of the monarch and the patrimony of the Crown, etc., and the duty of the State to defend the Church and to punish crimes committed against religion.

The Visigothic legislation was deeply imbued with the spirit of Catholicism. This was due, not only to the piety of the monarchs and upper classes, but also to the superior culture of the clergy, which gave them great authority over Spanish society, and enabled them to defend the principles of justice. Yet we have no right to suppose that, from the time of Recared, the clergy ruled the kings. We have seen that the kings controlled the bishops, that they appointed them, deprived them of their sees, and convoked them, so that they always had the means of checking any encroachment. We know that there were frequent disputes between the Crown and the prelates, that the latter often made conspiracies, headed rebellions, and were in consequence punished by the kings; we also know that for some time there was difference of opinion between the kings and the upper clergy on the subject of the Jews. Lastly, we must not forget that, in legislative matters, not only did the kings issue provisions motu proprio without consulting the Councils—there is no lack of examples—but also that, even with regard to the decisions and suggestions of the latter, they always reserved for themselves the right of approval, as we may clearly see from the royal declarations at the eighth, thirteenth, and sixteenth Councils, apart from their general power of confirmation, without which the decrees were not valid. So far as we know, the kings always enforced the decisions of the Councils; and they could well afford to do so. It was a corrupt bargain. The Councils sanctioned the worst acts of hypocritical kings like Erwig, while the kings allowed their theological and political doctrines to creep into the legislation. This appears to be the truth of the matter.

The fall of the Visigothic State did not put an end to Gothic influence in Spain. Like the Roman Empire, the Visigothic rule made a deep impression on the race and on the character of the Spanish people. Portions of Visigothic law were incorporated into their legal constitution: in the sphere of legislation, not only did their principles survive for several centuries, but some of them have come down to the present day, and are amongst those regarded as most essentially Spanish. The Forum Judicum remained in force in the Peninsula for centuries; in the thirteenth, as it was still thought indispensable, it was translated into the vernacular—that is, Castilian—and, down to the nineteenth, its laws continued to be quoted in the courts. No sooner was the new monarchy established in Asturias, than it attempted to restore the Visigothic State, seeking for precedents in the latter and claiming to be its successor. This influence is proved by various passages of the chronicles which treat of the Reconquest and by the texts of the laws of Alfonso II, Bermudo II, Alfonso V, and other kings. The word Goth survived to denote a Spanish Christian, and, in the sixteenth century, the victorious Spaniards introduced it into America.

  Influence of Spain on the Goths

It was not only on legislation and politics that the Visigothic influence left its mark. It has now been proved that the Visigothic codes, even in their final and most complete form, by no means included all the legislation which existed in Spain. Apart from the law, and, in many cases, in direct opposition to it, there survived a considerable number of customs, almost all Gothic, which were firmly rooted in the people. These, after an existence which, to the modern observer, seems buried in obscurity—for they are not mentioned in any contemporary document — came to the surface in the legislation of the medieval Fueros, which was founded on custom, as soon as the political unity of Visigothic Spain had been destroyed. It has been shown by several modern scholars who have investigated the subject, such as Pidal, Munoz, Romero, Ficker, and Hinojosa, that many of these principles or Fueros faithfully reflect the ancient Gothic law. Here, then, is a new social factor of medieval Spain, which descends directly from the Visigoths.

Conversely, in matters of social life and culture, the Visigoths were deeply affected by the Byzantine and by the Spanish-Roman element. The Roman spirit first affected them when they came in contact with the Eastern Empire in the third and fourth centuries. Afterwards in Gaul, and still more in Spain, a Western and properly Roman influence produced a much deeper effect, as is shown by the advance in their legislation. Subsequently the Byzantine influence was revived by the Byzantine conquests in south and south-east Spain (554-629), and also by the constant communication between the Spanish clergy and Constantinople; indeed, we know that many of them visited this city. Some scholars have attempted to trace Byzantine influence in matters juridical, but it is not perceptible either in Visigothic legislation, or in the formulae of the sixth century, or in the legal works of Isidore of Seville. On the other hand, the influence of Byzantine art and literature is manifest at every stage in the literary and artistic productions of the period. In the territory in subjection to the Empire, Greek was spoken in its vulgar form, and learned Greek was the language of all educated men. Moreover, Byzantine influence played a considerable part in commerce, which was chiefly carried on by the Carthagena route—this city being the capital of the imperial province—and by the Barcelona route, which followed the course of the Ebro to the coast of Cantabria.

As might have been expected, the Roman-Latin influence was more powerful than the Byzantine. On the whole, the Visigoths conformed to the general system of social organization which they had found established in Spain. According to this system, property was vested in the hands of a few, and there was great inequality between the classes. Personal and economic liberty was restricted by subjection to the curia and the collegia. The Visigoths improved the condition of the curiales, and lightened the burden of the compulsory guild, which pressed heavily on the workmen and artisans; but, on the other hand, they widened the gulf between the classes, by extending the grades of personal servitude and subjection on the lines followed by the Roman Empire in the fourth century; and these, owing to the weakness of the State, became daily more intolerable. With regard to the economic question of population, the Visigoths reversed the established Roman practice which was mainly municipal, and restored the rural system, which in their hands proved very efficient, as we see from the distribution of the local communities and from the system of local administration, although the Roman scheme of country-houses (villae) in some respects coincides with this; they also improved the condition of agriculture. With regard to the family, the Visigoths were less susceptible to Latin influence, inasmuch as they retained the form of the patriarchal family and of the Sippe, which found its ultimate expression in solidarity of the clans in matters relating to the family, to property, and to punishment of crime, etc. Nevertheless, here too Roman influence did not fail to produce some effect ; in the legislation, at least, it modified the Gothic law in an individualistic sense.

Of the original language, script and literature of the Visigoths, nothing remained. The language left scarcely any trace on the Latin, by which it was almost immediately supplanted in common use. Modern philologists believe that most of the Gothic words—a bare hundred—contained in the Spanish language have not come from the Visigoths, but that they are of more ancient origin, and had crept into vulgar Latin towards the end of the Empire, as a result of the constant intercourse between the Roman soldiers and the Germanic tribes. The Gothic script fell rapidly into disuse in consequence of the spread of Catholicism, and the destruction of many of the Arian books in which it had been used. Although there is evidence that it survived down to the seventh century, there are but few examples of it; documents were generally written in Latin, in the script wrongly termed Gothic, which is known to Spanish palaeographers as that of Toledo.

The literature which has come down to us is all in Latin, and the greater part of it deals with matters ecclesiastical. Although amongst the writers and cultured men of the time there were a few laymen, such as the kings Recared, Sisebut, Chindaswinth, and Receswinth, duke Claudius, the counts Bulgaranus and Laurentius, the majority of the historians, poets, theologians, moralists and priests were ecclesiastics; such were Orosius, Dracontius, Idatius, Montanus, St Toribius of Astorga, St Martin of Braga, the Byzantines Licinianus and Severus, Donatus, Braulio, Masona, Julian, Tajon, John of Biclar, etc. The most important of all, the best and most representative exponent of contemporary culture, was Isidore of Seville, whose historical and legal works (Libri Sententiarum) and encyclopaedias (Origines sive Etymologiae)—the latter were written between 622 and 623—reproduce, in turn, Latin tradition and the doctrines of Christianity. The Etymologiae is not only exceedingly valuable from the historical point of view as a storehouse of Latin erudition, but it also exercised considerable influence over Spain and the other Western nations. In Spain, France, and other European countries, there was scarcely a single library belonging to a chapter-house or an abbey, whose catalogue could not boast of a copy of Isidore's work. Alcuin and Theodulf took their inspiration from it, and for jurists it was long one of the principal sources of information concerning the Roman Law before the time of Justinian.

Of the artistic productions which the Visigoths left behind in Spain, there is not much to be said. In addition to the undoubted Byzantine influence, which, however, did not exactly reveal itself through the medium of Visigothic art, since it had its own province like that of other Western countries, it is possible that the work of the Visigoths showed other traces of Eastern art. We have much information concerning public buildings—palaces, churches, monasteries, and fortifications—built during the Visigothic period, and more especially during the reigns of Leovigild, Recared, Receswinth, etc. But none of these buildings have come down to us in a state of sufficient preservation to enable us to state precisely the characteristic features of the period. The following buildings, or at least some part of them, have been assigned to this period: the churches of San Roman de la Hornija, and San Juan de Balms at Palencia; the church of San Miguel de Tarrasa, and possibly the lower part of Cristo de la Luz at Toledo; the cathedral of San Miguel de Escalada at Leon; Burguillos and San Pedro de Nave, and a few other fragments. It is also thought that there are traces of Visigothic influence in the church of St Germain-des-Pres at Paris, which was built in 806 by Theodulf, bishop of Orleans, a native of Spain. But the capitals found at Toledo, Merida, and Cordova, and, above all, the beautiful jewels, votive crowns, crosses, and necklaces, of gold and precious stones discovered at Guarrazar, Elche, and Antequera, must assuredly be attributed to the Visigoths. We possess numerous Visigothic gold coins, or rather medals struck in commemoration of victories and proclamations, modeled on the Latin and Byzantine types and roughly engraved. They furnish information concerning several kings whose names do not occur in any known document, and who must probably be regarded as usurpers, rebels, or unsuccessful candidates for the throne, such as Tutila or Tudila of Iliberis and Merida, and Tajita of Acci, who are supposed to belong to the period between Recared I and Sisenand, and Suniefred or Cuniefred, who possibly belongs to the time of Receswinth or Wamba.