Friday, November 20, 2009

SPANISH HISTORY-Visigothic Kingdom

By the 5th century A.D., the Visigoths were already a romanized poeple who considered themselves the heirs of the defunct imperial power. Around the middle of this century, the threefold prossures of the Suevi, from the west (Galicia), the Cantabrian-Pyrenaic herdsmen from the north and the Byzantines from the south, the Betica, forced them to establish their capital in Toledo, in the centre of the Peninsula. This decision had implications of great significance; in the first place, because, instead of an east-west delineation of the Peninsula, pivoting between Lisbon and Cartagena, a north-south delineation from Cantabria to the Strait of Gibraltar was created.

In the second place, it was significant because it constituted a first attempt at Peninsular unity idependent of the rest of the empire, and therefore the Visigoths have been considered, practically to up to the present day, the creators of the first Peninsular kingdom, Moreover the Visigothic kingdom would serve, time and again, as the source of legitimacy for any power which tried to unite Hispania; and thirdly, because the Pyrenees and Gibraltar, no longer considered mere places of passage or points within a larger imperial circuit, became the limits or frontiers of a state to be defended.

The Visigoths defended themselves well against the Suevi in Galicia and subdued them in the 6th century A.D.; however, in the north, the Basques, Cantabrians and Asturians were more successful in resisting the Visigoth onslaught than they had been in resisting the Romans, and were almost as adept as they would be against the Moors. The Betica, from the 6th to the 11th century A.D., constituted an exception within western Europe. Facinf a continental Europe which was increasingly closed and fragmented, it would maintain its urban culture and its commercial and cultural connections within the Mediterranean domain; firstly, with the eastern Roman Empire, with Byzantium and later with the Muslim Caliphate.

Significant dates of this period are:

587: Recared, Leovigild's heir, is converted to Catholicism and removes the barriers between Goths and the Hispano-Romans.

633: The 4th. Synod of Toledo takes on the right to confirm elected kings. The Jews are obliged to be baptized. The vernacular language, of Latin origin, prevails over that of the Visigoths.

711: The Muslim troops cross the Strait of Gibraltar and defeat the Visigoth king Rodrigo at the battle of Guadalete.

712: Muza ben-Nosair completes the Muslim conquest. End of Visigothic period.

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