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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

On the death of the former in 573 Leovgild became sole ruler


[Sidenote:

The Visigothic invasion.]

The Visigoths were somewhat troublesome allies, for they proceeded to conquer southern France for themselves. Thereupon, war broke out with the emperor, and it was in the course of this conflict that they made their first entry into Spain. This occurred in the year 414, when Ataulf crossed the Pyrenees and captured Barcelona. Not long afterward, Wallia, a successor of Ataulf, made peace with the emperor, gaining title thereby to the conquests which Ataulf had made in southern France, but renouncing those in Spain. The Visigoths also agreed to make war on the Suevians and the other Germanic peoples in Spain, on behalf of the empire. Thus the Visigoths remained in the peninsula, but down to the year 456 made no conquests on their own account. Wallia set up his capital at Toulouse, France, and it was not until the middle of the sixth century that a Spanish city became the Visigothic seat of government.

[Sidenote: The Visigothic conquest.]

The Visigoths continued to be rather uncertain allies of the Romans. They did indeed conquer the Alans, and reduced the power of the Vandals until in 429 the latter people migrated anew, going to northern Africa. The Suevians were a more difficult enemy to cope with, however, consolidating their power in Galicia, and at one time they overran southern Spain, although they were soon obliged to abandon it. It was under

the Visigothic king Theodoric that the definite break with the empire, in 456, took place. He not only conquered on his own account in Spain, but also extended his dominions in France. His successor, Euric (467-485), did even more. Except for the territory of the Suevians in the northwest and west centre and for various tiny states under Hispano-Roman or perhaps indigenous nobles in southern Spain and in the mountainous regions of the north, Euric conquered the entire peninsula. He extended his French holdings until they reached the river Loire. No monarch of western Europe was nearly so powerful. The Visigothic conquest, as also the conquests by the other Germanic peoples, had been marked by considerable violence, not only toward the conquered peoples of a different faith, but also in their dealings with one another. The greatest of the Visigothic kings often ascended the throne as a result of the assassination of their predecessors, who were in many cases their own brothers. Such was the case with Theodoric and with Euric, and the latter was one of the fortunate few who died a natural death. This condition of affairs was to continue throughout the Visigothic period, supplemented by other factors tending to increase the disorder and violence of the age.

[Sidenote: Visigothic losses to the Franks and the Byzantine Romans.]

The death of Euric was contemporaneous with the rise of a new power in the north of France. The Franks, under Clovis, were just beginning their career of conquest, and they coveted the Visigothic lands to the south of them. In 496 the Franks were converted to Christianity, but unlike the Visigoths they became Catholic Christians. This fact aided them against the Visigoths, for the subject population in the lands of the latter was also Catholic. Clovis was therefore enabled to take the greater part of Visigothic France, including the capital city, in 508, restricting the Visigoths to the region about Narbonne, which thenceforth became their capital. In the middle of the sixth century a Visigothic noble, Athanagild, in his ambition to become king invited the great Roman emperor Justinian (for the empire continued to exist in the east, long after its dissolution in the west in 476) to assist him. Justinian sent an army, through whose aid Athanagild attained his ambition, but at the cost of a loss of territory to the Byzantine Romans. Aided by the Hispano-Romans, who continued to form the bulk of the population, and who were attracted both by the imperial character and by the Catholic faith of the newcomers, the latter were able to occupy the greater part of southern Spain. Nevertheless, Athanagild showed himself to be an able king, and it was during his reign (554-567) that a Spanish city first became capital of the kingdom, for Athanagild fixed his residence in Toledo. The next king returned to France, leaving his brother, Leovgild, as ruler in Spain. On the death of the former in 573 Leovgild became sole ruler, and the capital returned to Toledo to remain thereafter in Spain.


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