Visigoths

In Spain

Under Ataulf the Visigoths left (412) Italy and went into S Gaul and N Spain. They increased their territories in Spain (which was evacuated by the Vandals), acquired Aquitaine, and extended their influence to the Loire valley, making Toulouse their capital. The height of Visigothic power was reached under Euric (466–84), who completed the conquest of Spain. In 507, Alaric II was defeated at Vouillé by the Franks under Clovis, to whom he lost nearly all his possessions N of the Pyrenees. Toledo became the new Visigothic capital, and the history of the Visigoths became essentially that of Spain.

Weakened by warfare with the Franks and the Basques and by Byzantine penetration in S Spain, the kingdom recovered its vigor in the late 6th cent. under Leovigild and under Recared, whose conversion to Catholicism facilitated the fusion of the Visigothic and the Hispano-Roman populations of Spain. King Recceswinth imposed (c.654) a Visigothic common law on both his Gothic and his Roman subjects, who previously had lived under different codes (see Germanic laws). The church councils of Toledo became the main force in the government, and the royal power was weakened accordingly.

King Wamba, who succeeded Recceswinth, was deposed after a civil war, and thereafter the kingdom was torn by civil strife. When the last king, Roderick, seized the throne, his rivals appealed to the Muslim leader Tarik ibn Ziyad, whose victory (711) in a battle near Medina Sidonia ended the Visigothic kingdom and inaugurated the Moorish period in the history of Spain.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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