From Metapedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Visigoths were a Germanic people, one part of the Goths, who raided Roman territories repeatedly, notably defeating a Roman army and killing the Roman emperor at the Battle of Adrianoplee in 378. They took the city Rome in 410. They later established a kingdom in parts of what is now France, Portugal, and Spain (Hispania). In 711, Islamic invaders conquered this kingdom, establishing Al-Andalus. Map: The Empire of the Goths under Theoderic the Great around 523 A.D.

The Visigoths were one of two main branches of the Goths, an eastern Germanic tribe; the Ostrogoths being the other. Together these tribes were among the Germanic peoples who conquered the late Roman Empire during the Migration Period.


The famous El Cid was of Visigothic descent

The Visigoths first emerged as a distinct people during the fourth century, initially in the Balkans, where they participated in several wars with Rome. A Visigothic army under Alaric I eventually moved into Italy and famously conquered Rome (410).

Eventually the Visigoths were settled in southern Gaul as foederati of the Romans, the reasons for which are still subjects for debate among scholars. They soon fell out with their hosts and established their own kingdom with its capital at Toulouse. They slowly extended their authority into Hispania, displacing the Vandals and Alans. Their rule in Gaul was cut short in 507 at the Battle of Vouillé, when they were defeated by the Franks under Clovis I. Thereafter the only territory north of the Pyrenees that the Visigoths held was Septimania and their kingdom was limited to Hispania, which came completely under the control of their small governing elite, at the expense of the Byzantine province of Spania and the Suebic Kingdom of Galicia.

In or around 589, the Visigoths, under Reccared I, formerly Arianism, converted to the Nicene Creed. In their kingdom, the century that followed was dominated by the Councils of Toledo and the episcopacy. Historical sources for the seventh century are relatively sparse. In 711 or 712 the Visigoths, including their king and many of their leading men, were killed in the Battle of Guadalete by a force of invading Arabs and Berbers. The kingdom quickly collapsed thereafter, a phenomenon which has led to much debate among scholars concerning its causes. Gothic identity survived the fall of the kingdom, however, especially in the Kingdom of Asturias and the Marca Hispanica.

The Visigothic monarchy of Spain which flourished in the seventh and eighth centuries was the most sophisticated of the misleadingly so-called barbarian successor states which replaced the Roman Empire in western Europe. It was sophisticated in its grasp of the institutional inheritance from Rome, in its nurturing of the wealth of the rich provinces of the Iberian peninsula and in its encouragement of a lively Christian literary and artistic culture. Later generations would look back nostalgically to the revered figures of the seventh-century golden age: godly lawgiving kings like Sisebut and Wamba, towering giants of Christian learning like St Isidore of Seville and St Julian of Toledo,

the devout prelates who attended the long series of ecclesiastical councils of Toledo and elaborated the splendid liturgy of the Visigothic Church. This cultural achievement was shattered and dispersed by the Islamic conquest of Spain in the early years of the eighth century.[1]

Of what remains of the Visigoths in Spain and Portugal there are several churches and an increasing number of archaeological finds, but most notably a large number of Spanish language, Portuguese language and other Romance languages and given names and surnames. The Visigoths were the only people to found new cities in western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire and before the rise of the Carolingians. Until the Late Middle Ages, the greatest Visigothic legacy, which is no longer in use, was their law code, the Liber iudiciorum, which formed the basis for legal procedure in most of Christian Iberian Peninsula for centuries after their kingdom's demise.

See also

External links