Visigothic Kingdom

Visigothic Kingdom

Infobox Former Country
native_name =
conventional_long_name = Visigothic Kingdom
common_name = Visigothic Kingdom
continent = Europe
region = Iberian Peninsula
country = Spain
government_type = Monarchy
event_start = Visigoths was awarded land in Gallia Aquitania by the romans
year_start = 418
event_end = Conquered by the Umayyads
year_end = 721
p1 = Western Roman Empire
image_p1 =
s1 = Umayyad Caliphate
flag_s1 = Umayyad_Flag.pngs2 =
flag_s2 =

image_map_caption = Greatest extent of the Visigothic kingdom of Toulouse, c. 500.
common_languages = Gothic
capital = Toulouse, Toledo
religion = Arianism, Nicene Christianity, Roman Catholic, and Judaism.|
leader1 = Wallia
year_leader1 = 418-419
leader2 = Ardo
year_leader2 = 714-721
title_leader = King
The Visigothic kingdom was a Western European power from the fifth to eighth century, one of the successor states to the Western Roman Empire, originally created by the settlement of the Visigoths under their own king in Aquitaine (southern Gaul) by the Roman government and then extended by conquest over all of the Iberian peninsula. The kingdom maintained independence from the Byzantine Empire, the attempts of which to re-establish Roman authority in Iberia (Spania) failed. But by the early sixth century in Gaul the Franks had conquered all of the kingdom save Septimania. The whole kingdom eventually collapsed during a series of Islamic invasions from Morocco. The Kingdom of Asturias eventually developed a conscious identity as the Visigothic successor state.

The kingdom was ruled by an elected monarch, who had to be a Goth, with the advice of the "senate", comprised of the bishops and the lay magnates. Though several kings attempted to establish dynasties, none were successful. The early kings were Arian Christians and conflict with the Church was not unheard of, but after the Visigoths converted to Nicene Christianity, the Church exerted an enormous influence on secular affairs through the Councils of Toledo. Nonetheless, the Visigoths developed the most extensive secular legislation in Western Europe, the "Liber Iudiciorum", which formed the basis for Spanish law throughout the Middle Ages.

Kingdom of Toulouse

Federate kingdom

From 407 to 409 the Vandals, with the allied Alans and Germanic tribes like the Suevi, swept into the Iberian peninsula. In response to this invasion of Roman Hispania, Honorius, the emperor in the West, enlisted the aid of the Visigoths to regain control of the territory. In 418, Honorius rewarded his Visigothic federates by giving them land in Gallia Aquitania on which to settle. This was probably done under "hospitalitas", the rules for billeting army soldiers (Heather 1996, Sivan 1987). The settlement formed the nucleus of the future Visigothic kingdom that would eventually expand across the Pyrenees and onto the Iberian peninsula.

Kingdom independent of Rome

The Visigoths' second great king, Euric, unified the various quarreling factions among the Visigoths and, in 475, forced the Roman government to grant them full independence. At his death, the Visigoths were the most powerful of the successor states to the Western Roman Empire.

The Visigoths also became the dominant power in the Iberian Peninsula, quickly crushing the Alans and forcing the Vandals into north Africa. By 500, the Visigothic Kingdom, centred at Toulouse, controlled Aquitania and Gallia Narbonensis and most of Hispania with the exception of the Suevic kingdom in the northwest and small areas controlled by the Basques.

Frankish conquest

In 507, the Franks under Clovis I defeated the Visigoths in the Vouillé and wrested control of Aquitaine. King Alaric II was killed in battle.

Kingdom of Toledo

Kingdom at Narbonne and Barcelona

After Alaric's death, Visigothic nobles spirited his heir, the child-king Amalaric, first to Narbonne, which was the last Gothic outpost in Gaul, and further across the Pyrenees into Hispania. The center of Visigothic rule shifted first to Barcelona, then inland and south to Toledo.

From 511 to 526, the Visigoths were closely allied to the Ostrogoths under Theodoric the Great.

upremacy of Toledo

In 554, Granada and southernmost Hispania Baetica were lost to representatives of the Byzantine Empire (to form the province of Spania) who had been invited in to help settle a Visigothic dynastic struggle, but who stayed on, as a hoped-for spearhead to a "Reconquest" of the far west envisaged by emperor Justinian I.

The last Arian Visigothic king, Liuvigild, conquered the Suevic kingdom in 585 and most of the northern regions (Cantabria) in 574 and regained part of the southern areas lost to the Byzantines, which King Suintila reconquered completely in 624.

Muslim conquest

The kingdom survived until 711, when King Roderic (Rodrigo) was killed while opposing an invasion from the south by the Umayyad Muslims in the Battle of Guadalete on July 19. This marked the beginning of the Muslim conquest of Hispania in which most of the peninsula came under Islamic rule by 718.

A Visigothic nobleman, Pelayo, is credited with beginning the Christian "Reconquista" of Iberia in 718, when he defeated the Umayyads in battle and established the Kingdom of Asturias in the northern part of the peninsula. Other Visigoths, refusing to adopt the Muslim faith or live under their rule, fled north to the kingdom of the Franks, and Visigoths played key roles in the empire of Charlemagne a few generations later.

The Visigothic Code of Law ("forum judicum"), which had been part of aristocratic oral tradition, was set in writing in the early 7th century— and survives in two separate codices preserved at the Escorial. It goes into more detail than a modern constitution commonly does and reveals a great deal about Visigothic social structure.

Kingdom of Asturias

The Kingdom of Asturias was established by Pelayo as the first Christian political entity to be established in the Iberian peninsula after the collapse of the Visigothic Kingdom. This followed the defeat of King Roderic at the Battle of Guadalete and the subsequent Islamic conquest of Hispania. Kingdom of Asturias continue as the Kingdom of León.

Foundation of cities

The Visigoths founded the only new cities in Western Europe between the fifth and eighth centuries. [ [ Arte Visigótico: Recópolis] ] It is certain (through contemporary Spanish accounts) that they founded four and there is a possible fifth city ascribed to them by a later Arabic source. All of these cities were founded for military purposes and three of them in celebration of victory.

The first, Reccopolis, was founded by Leovigild in 578 after his victory over the Franks, near what is today the tiny village of Zorita de los Canes. He named it after his son Reccared and built it with Byzantine imitations, containing a palace complex and mint, but it lay in ruins by the ninth century (after the Arab conquest).

At a slightly later date Leovigild founded a city he named "Victoriacum" after his victory over the Basques.Thompson, "The Barbarian Kingdoms in Gaul and Spain".] Though it is often supposed to survive as the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, contemporary twelfth-century sources refer to this city's foundation by Sancho VI of Navarre.

Leovigild's son and namesake of the first Visigothic city founded his own sometime around 600. It is referred to by Isidore of Seville as "Lugo id est Luceo" in the Asturias, built after a victory over the Asturians or Cantabri.

The fourth and possibly final city of the Goths was "Ologicus" (perhaps "Ologitis"), founded using Basque labour in 621 by Suinthila as a fortification against the recently-subjected Basques. It is to be identified with modern Olite.

The possible fifth Visigothic foundation is "Baiyara" (perhaps modern Montoro), mentioned as founded by Reccared in the "Geography" of Rawd al-Mitar. [Lacarra, "Panorama de la historia urbana en la Península Ibérica desde el siglo V al X," "La città nell'alto medioevo", 6 (1958:319–358), in "Estudios de alta edad media española", p. 48.]



*Bachrach, Bernard S. "A Reassessment of Visigothic Jewish Policy, 589–711." "American Historical Review" 78, no. 1 (1973): 11–34.
*Collins, Roger. "The Arab Conquest of Spain, 710–797". Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1989. Reprinted 1998.
*Collins, Roger. "Law, Culture, and Regionalism in Early Medieval Spain". Great Yarmouth: Variorum, 1992. ISBN 0 86078 308 1.
*Collins, Roger. "Visigothic Spain, 409–711". Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. ISBN 0 631 18185 7.
*Heather, Peter. "The Goths". Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996.
*James, Edward, ed. "Visigothic Spain: New Approaches". Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980. ISBN 0 19 822543 1.
*Lacarra, José María. "Estudios de alta edad media española". Valencia: 1975.
*Sivan, Hagith. "On "Foederati", "Hospitalitas", and the Settlement of the Goths in A.D. 418." "American Journal of Philology" 108, no. 4 (1987): 759-772.
*Thompson, E. A. "The Barbarian Kingdoms in Gaul and Spain", "Nottingham Mediaeval Studies", 7 (1963:4n11).
*Thompson, E. A. "The Goths in Spain". Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969.
*Wallace-Hadrill, John Michael. "The Barbarian West, 400–1000". 3rd ed. London: Hutchison, 1967.
*Wolfram, Herwig. "History of the Goths". Thomas J. Dunlap, trans. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

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