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Visigoths

The Visigoths[]

History[]

The Kingdom of the Visigoths occupied what is now southwestern France and the Iberian Peninsula from the 5th to the 8th centuries. One of the Germanic successor states to the Western Roman Empire, it was originally created by the settlement of the Visigoths under King Wallia in the province of Aquitaine in southwest France by the Roman government and then extended by conquest over all of the Iberian Peninsula. The kingdom lost much of its territory in Gaul to the Franks in the early 6th century, save the narrow coastal strip of Septimania, but the Visigoth control of Iberia was secured by the end of that century with the submission of the Suebi. The kingdom of the 6th and 7th centuries is sometimes called the regnum Toletanum after the new capital of Toledo. The ethnic distinction between the indigenous Hispano-Roman population and the Visigoths had largely disappeared by this time (the Gothic language lost its last and probably already declining function as a church language when the Visigoths converted to Catholicism in 589). Liber Iudiciorum (completed in 654) abolished the old tradition of having different laws for Romans and for Visigoths. Most of the Visigothic Kingdom was conquered by Arab Umayyad troops from North Africa in 711 AD, with only the northern reaches of Spain remaining in Christian hands. These gave birth to the medieval Kingdom of Asturias when a local landlord called Pelayo, most likely of Gothic origin, was elected Princeps by the Astures. The Visigoths and their early kings were Arians and came into conflict with the Catholic Church, but after they converted to Nicene Christianity, the Church exerted an enormous influence on secular affairs through the Councils of Toledo. The Visigoths also developed the highly influential law code known in Western Europe as the Liber Iudiciorum, which would become the basis for Spanish law throughout the Middle Ages.

Leovigild[]

History[]

Leovigild was the Visigothic King of Hispania and Septimania from 568 to April 21, 586. From 585 he was also king of Galicia. Known for his Codex Revisus or Code of Leovigild, a unifying law allowing equal rights between the Visigothic and Hispano-Roman population, his kingdom covered modern Portugal and most of modern Spain down to Toledo. He initiated the first of several campaigns to expand the territory of the kingdom of the Visigoths, which Peter Heather describes as a "list of striking successes". His first strike was in 570, when he "laid waste the region of Bastetania and the city of Malaga, defeating their soldiers", and on the following year he captured Medina Sidonia, eventually seizing Córdoba from the Byzantine Empire. His campaigns continued on an annual basis over the next five years. Though constantly at war with the Byzantines in southern Hispania, Liuvigild accepted the administration of the Byzantine Empire, adopted its pomp and ceremony, the title Flavius, the throne, crown, scepter, and purple mantle, and struck gold coins in his own name.

Unique Components[]

Gardingo[]

The gardingos were personal military retainers of the Visigothic king in Spain. They were wealthy noblemen who led retainers of their own into battle, and as the military elite of the Visigothic kingdom, likely fought mounted and well armoured.

Ashlar Church[]

The Visigoths entered the Iberian peninsula in 415, and rose to be the dominant people there until the Moorish invasion of 711 brought their kingdom to an end. With them, new architectural styles were brought to Spain and Portugal; Horseshoe arches mistakenly credited to the Moors, ashlar bricks, columns, basilican layouts and much more. Some churches built by the Visigoths in Spain remain standing to this day.

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