Spain Becomes Part of the Visigoth Empire

During the 4th Century A.D. the Iberian Peninsula was invaded by Germanic tribes ( Suevi, Vandals and Alans ).The Roman Empire was in decline and by the start of the 5th Century they had lost all but Tarraconensis ( Tarragona). In order to try and regain control of Hispania the Romans made a pact with the Visigoths who in 415 A.D. drove the Alans and Vandals out of the central part of the peninsula.

By the latter part of the 5th Century, having achieved independence from the Romans, the Visigoth kingdom of Tolosa ( with its capital in Toulouse) controlled the southwest of France and most of the Iberian Peninsula. The Suevi maintained control of what is now Galicia and the Cantabrians and Basques held on to the Cantabrian mountains, as they had under the Romans.

In the 6th Century the Franks drove the Visigoths out of France and the Byzantines siezed control of the southern coastal strip of Spain. The Visigoths moved their capital first to Barcelona and finally to Toledo where they became more powerful and during the reign of King Leovigild, were able to conquer the Suevi.

In 587 A.D. King Leovigild's son Reccared converted from Arianism to Catholicism, as did the other Visigoth Nobles, thus creating religious unity between the ruling Visigoths, the church and the Hispano- Roman population. During the reign of King Suintila they reconquered the area previously lost to the Byzantines meaning that the Visigoths controlled the entire Iberian Peninsula (apart from the Cantabrian mountains). The 7th century however saw internal conflicts between different Visigoth factions. Successive kings were either usurped or assassinated and this combined with an ongoing economic crisis meant that the Umayyad Muslims met with little resistance when they invaded Spain at Gibraltar in 711.

A few years later it was a Visigoth Noble (Pelayo) who in 718 A.D founded the Christian Kingdom of Asturias after beating the Umayyads in the battle of Covadonga which was the start of the Christian Reconquest of Spain.

Medieval History