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later, evidently recognizes the validity of their appointment by royal
warrant alone. Some have referred this innovation back to the despotic
rule of Theodoric the Ostrogoth, at the beginning of the sixth century;
others to the sudden accumulation of vacant sees on the fall of Arianism
in Spain. Another important power possessed by the kings was that of
convoking these national councils, and confirming their acts.

[1] In 531 A.D.

[2] Monk of Silo, sec. 14, who follows Sebastian of Salamanca;
Robertson, iii. 6. We learn from the "Chron. Sil," sec. 27,
that Fruela (757-768) forbade the marriage of clergy. But these
accounts of Witiza's reign are all open to suspicion.

[3] Robertson, "Hist. of Christian Church," vol. iii. p. 183.

The sudden surrender of their Arianism by the Gothic king and nobles is
a noticeable phenomenon. All the barbarian races that invaded Spain at
the beginning of the fifth century were inoculated with the Arian
heresy. Of these the Vandals carried their Arianism, which proved to be
of a very persecuting type, into Africa. The Suevi, into which nation
the Alani, under the pressure of a common enemy, had soon been absorbed,
gave up their Arianism for the orthodox faith about 560. The Visigoths,
however, remained Arians until a somewhat later period - until 589
namely, when Recared I., the son of Leovigild, held a national council
and solemnly abjured the creed of his forefathers, his example being
followed by many of his nobles and bishops.

The Visigoths, while they remained Arian, were on the whole remarkably
tolerant[1] towards both Jews and Catholics, though we have instances
to the contrary in the cases of Euric and Leovigild, who are said to
have persecuted the orthodox party. The latter king, indeed, who was
naturally of a mild and forgiving temper, was forced into harsh measures
by the unfilial and traitorous conduct of his son Ermenegild. If the
latter had been content to avow his conversion to orthodoxy without
entering into a treasonable rebellion in concert with the Suevi and
Imperialists against his too indulgent father, there is every reason to
think that Leovigild would have taken no measures against him. Even
after a second rebellion the king offered to spare his son's life - which
was forfeit to the State - on condition that he renounced his
newly-adopted creed, and returned to the Arian fold. His reason - a very
intelligible one - no doubt was that he might put an end to the risk of a
third rebellion by separating his son effectually from the intriguing
party of Catholics. To call Ermenegild a martyr because he was put to
death under such circumstances is surely an abuse of words.

[1] Lecky, "Rise of Rationalism," vol. i. p. 14, note, says
that the Arian Goths were intolerant; but there seem to be
insufficient grounds for the assertion.

With the fall of Arianism came a large accession of bigotry to the
Spanish Church, as is sufficiently shewn by the canon above quoted from
the Sixth Council of Toledo. A subsequent law was even passed forbidding
anyone under pain of confiscation of his property and perpetual
imprisonment, to call in question the Holy Catholic and Apostolic
Church; the Evangelical Institutions; the definitions of the Fathers;
the decrees of the Church; and the Sacraments. In the spirit of these
enactments, severe measures were taken against the Jews, of whom there
were great numbers in Spain. Sisebert (612-621) seems to have been the
first systematic persecutor, whose zeal, as even Isidore confesses, was
"not according to knowledge."[1] A cruel choice was given the Jews
between baptism on the one hand, and scourging and destitution on the
other. When this proved unavailing, more stringent edicts were enforced
against them. Those who under the pressure of persecution consented to
be baptised, were forced to swear by the most solemn of oaths that they
had in very truth renounced their Jewish faith and abhorred its rites.
Those who still refused to conform were subjected to every indignity and
outrage. They were obliged to have Christian servants, and to observe
Sunday and Easter. They were denied the _s connubii_ and the _ius
honorum_. Their testimony was invalid in law courts, unless a Christian
vouched for their character. Some who still held out were even driven
into exile. But this punishment could not have been systematically
carried out, for the Saracen invasion found great numbers of Jews still
in Spain. As Dozy[2] well says of the persecutors - "On le voulut bien,
mais on ne le pouvait pas."

[1] Apud Florez, "Esp. Sagr.," vol. vi. p. 502, quoted by
Southey, Roderic, p. 255, n. "Sisebertus, qui in initio regni
Judaeos ad fidem Christianam permovens, aemulationem quidem
habuit, sed non secundum scientiam: potestate enim compulit,
quos provocare fidei ratione oportuit. Sed, sicut est scriptum,
sive per occasionem sive per veritatem Christus annunciatur, in
hoc gaudeo et gaudebo."

[2] "History of Mussulmans in Spain," vol. ii. p. 26.

Naturally enough, under these circumstances the Jews of Spain turned
their eyes to their co-religionists in Africa; but, the secret
negotiations between them being discovered, the persecution blazed out
afresh, and the Seventeenth Council of Toledo[1] decreed that relapsed
Jews should be sold as slaves; that their children should be forcibly
taken from them; and that they should not be allowed to marry among

[1] Canon 8, de damnatione Judaeorum.

[2] For the further history of the Jews in Spain, see Appendix

These odious decrees against the Jews must be attributed to the dominant
influence of the clergy, who requited the help they thus received from
the secular arm by wielding the powers of anathema and excommunication
against the political enemies of the king.[1] Moreover the cordial
relations which subsisted between the Church and the State, animated as
they were by a strong spirit of independence, enabled the Spanish kings
to resist the dangerous encroachments of the Papal power, a subject
which has been more fully treated in an Appendix.[2]

[1] The councils are full of denunciations aimed at the rebels
against the king's authority. By the Fourth Council (633) the
deposed Swintila was excommunicated.

[2] Appendix B.



The Gothic domination lasted 300 years, and in that comparatively short
period we are asked by some writers to believe that the invaders quite
lost their national characteristics, and became, like the Spaniards,
luxurious and effeminate.[1] Their haughty exclusiveness, and the fact
of their being Arians, may no doubt have tended to keep them for a time
separate from, and superior to, the subject population, whom they
despised as slaves, and hated as heretics. But when the religious
barrier was removed, the social one soon followed, and so completely did
the conquerors lose their ascendency, that they even surrendered their
own Teutonic tongue for the corrupt Latin of their subjects.

[1] Cardonne's "History of Spain," vol. i. p. 62. "Bien
différens des leurs ancêtres étoient alors énervés par les
plaisirs, la douceur du climat; le luxe et les richesses
avoient amolli leur courage et corrompu les moeurs." Cp.
Dunham, vol. i. 157.

But the Goths had certainly not become so degenerate as is generally
supposed. Their Saracen foes did not thus undervalue them. Musa ibn
Nosseyr, the organiser of the expedition into Spain, and the first
governor of that country under Arab rule, when asked by the Khalif
Suleiman for his opinion of the Goths, answered that "they were lords
living in luxury and abundance, but champions who did not turn their
backs to the enemy."[1] There can be no doubt that this praise was well
deserved. Nor is the comparative ease with which the country was
overrun, any proof to the contrary. For that must be attributed to
wholesale treachery from one end of the country to the other. But for
this the Gothic rulers had only themselves to blame. Their treatment of
the Jews and of their slaves made the defection of these two classes of
their subjects inevitable.

The old Spanish chroniclers represent the fall of the Gothic kingdom as
the direct vengeance of Heaven for the sins of successive kings;[2] but
on the heads of the clergy, even more than of the king, rests the guilt
of their iniquitous and suicidal policy towards the Arians[3] and the
Jews. The treachery of Julian,[4] whatever its cause, opened a way for
the Arabs into the country by betraying into their hands Ceuta, the key
of the Straits. Success in their first serious battle was secured to
them by the opportune desertion from the enemy's ranks of the
disaffected political party under the sons of the late king Witiza,[5]
and an archbishop Oppas, who afterwards apostatized; while the rapid
subjugation of the whole country was aided and assured by the hosts of
ill-used slaves who flocked to the Saracen standards, and by the Jews[6]
who hailed the Arabs as fellow-Shemites and deliverers from the hated
yoke of the uncircumcised Goths.

[1] Al Makkari, vol. i. p. 297. (De Gayangos' translation).

[2] "Chron. Sil.," sec. 17, "recesserat ab Hispania manus
Domini ob inveteratam regum malitiam." See above, p. 7, note 2.

[3] Arianism lingered on till the middle of the eighth century
at least, since Rodrigo of Toledo, iii., sec. 3, says of
Alfonso I., that he "extirpavit haeresin Arianam."

[4] For Julian, or, more correctly, Ilyan, see De
Gayangos' note to Al Makkari, i. p. 537, etc.

[5] Called Ghittishah by the Arabs. For the Witizan party see
"Sebast. Salan," sec. 7; "Chron. Sil.," sec. 15. The daughter
of Witiza married a noble Arab. The descendants of the King,
under the name Witizani, were known in Spain till the end of
the eighth century at least. See Letter of Beatus and Etherius
to Elipandus, sec. 61; "Multi hodie ab ipso rege sumunt nomen
_Witizani_, etiam pauperes." See also Al Makkari, ii. 14.

[6] The Jews garrisoned the taken towns (Al Makkari, i. pp.
280, 282, and De Gayangos' note, p. 531). Even as late as 852
we find the Jews betraying Barcelona to the Moors, who slew
nearly all the Christians.

Yet in spite of all these disadvantages the Goths made a brave stand - as
brave, indeed, as our Saxon forefathers against the Normans. The first
decisive battle in the South[1] lasted, as some writers have declared,
six whole days, and the Arabs were at one time on the point of being
driven into the sea. This is apparent from Tarik's address to his
soldiers in the heat of battle: "Moslems, conquerors of Africa, whither
would you fly? The sea is behind you, and the foe in front. There is no
help for you save in your own right hands[2] and the favour of God." Nor
must we lay any stress on the disparity of forces on either side,
amounting to five to one, for a large proportion of Roderic's army was
disaffected. It is probable that only the Goths made a determined stand;
and even after such a crushing defeat as they received at Guadalete, and
after the loss of their king, the Gothic nobles still offered a stubborn
resistance in Merida, Cordova, and elsewhere.[3] One of them,
Theodomir, after defending himself manfully in Murcia for some time, at
last by his valour and address contrived to secure for himself, and even
to hand down to his successor Athanagild, a semi-independent rule over
that part of Spain.

[1] Generally called the battle of Guadalete (Wada Lek, see De
Gayangos on Al Makk. i. pp. 524, 527), fought either near Xeres
or Medina Sidonia.

[2] "Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem." See Al Makk. i.
p. 271; Conde i. p. 57 (Bohn's Translation).

[3] We must not forget also that the mild and politic conduct
of the Saracens towards the towns that surrendered, even after
resistance, marvellously facilitated their conquest.

But the great proof that the Goths had not lost all their ancient
hardihood and nobleness, is afforded by the fact that, when they had
been driven into the mountains of the North and West, they seem to have
begun at once to organize a fresh resistance against the invaders. The
thirty[1] wretched barbarians, whom the Arabs thought it unnecessary to
pursue into their native fastnesses, soon showed that they had power to
sting; and the handful of patriots, who in the cave of Covadonga
gathered round Pelayo, a scion of the old Gothic line, soon swelled into
an army, and the army into a nation. Within six years of the death of
Roderic had begun that onward march of the new Spanish monarchy, which,
with the exception of a disastrous twenty-five years at the close of the
tenth century, was not destined to retrograde, scarcely even to halt,
until it had regained every foot of ground that had once belonged to the
Gothic kings.

Let us turn for a moment to the antecedents of the Arab invaders.
History affords no parallel, whether from a religious or political point
of view, to the sudden rise of Mohammedanism and the wonderful conquests
which it made. "The electric spark[2] had indeed fallen on what seemed
black unnoticeable sand, and lo the sand proved explosive powder and
blazed heaven-high from Delhi to Granada!" Mohammed began his preaching
in 609, and confined himself to persuasion till 622, the year of the
Flight from Mecca. After this a change seems to have come over his
conduct, if not over his character, and the Prophet, foregoing the
peaceful and more glorious mission of a Heaven-sent messenger, appealed
to the human arbitrament of the sword: not with any very marked success,
however, the victory of Bedr in 624 being counterbalanced by the defeat
of Ohud in in the following year. In 631, Arabia being mostly pacified,
the first expedition beyond its boundaries was undertaken under
Mohammed's own leadership, but this abortive attempt gave no indications
of the astonishing successes to be achieved in the near future. Mohammed
himself died in the following year, yet, in spite of this and the
consequent revolt of almost all Arabia, within two years Syria was
overrun and Damascus taken. Persia, which had contended for centuries on
equal terms with Rome, was overthrown in a single campaign. In 637
Jerusalem fell, and the sacred soil of Palestine passed under the yoke
of the Saracens. Within three years Alexandria and the rich valley of
the Nile were the prize of Amru and his army. The conquest of Egypt only
formed the stepping-stone to the reduction of Africa, and the victorious
Moslems did not pause in their career until they reached the Atlantic
Ocean, and Akbah,[3] riding his horse into the sea, sighed for more
worlds to conquer. We may be excused perhaps for thinking that it had
been well for the inhabitants of the New World, if Fortune had delivered
them into the hands of the generous Arabs rather than to the cruel
soldiery of Cortes and Pizarro.

[1] Al Makk., ii. 34. "What are thirty barbarians perched upon
a rock? They must inevitably die."

[2] Carlyle's "Hero Worship" ad finem.

[3] Cardonne, i. p. 37; Gibbon, vi. 348, note.

In 688, that is, in a little more than a generation from the death of
Mohammed, the Moslems undertook the siege of Constantinople. Fortunately
for the cause of civilisation and of Christendom, this long siege of
several years proved unsuccessful, as well as a second attack in 717.
But by the latter date the footing in Europe, which the valour of the
Byzantines denied them, had already been gained by the expedition into
Spain under Tarik in 711. The same year that witnessed the crossing of
the Straits of Gibraltar in the West saw also in the East the passage of
the Oxus by the eager warriors of Islam.

There seems to be some ground for supposing that the Saracens had
attacked Spain even before the time of Tarik. As early as 648, or only
one year after the invasion of Africa, an expedition is said to have
been made into that country under Abdullah ibn Sa'd,[1] which resulted
in the temporary subjugation of the southern provinces. A second inroad
is mentioned by Abulfeda[2] as having taken place in Othman's reign
(644-656); while for an incursion in the reign of Wamba (671-680) we
have the authority of the Spanish historians, Isidore of Beja and
Sebastian of Salamanca, the former of whom adds the fact that the
Saracens were invited in by Erviga, who afterwards succeeded Wamba on
the throne - a story which seems likely enough when read in the light of
the subsequent treason of Julian. These earlier attacks, however, seem
to have been mere raids, undertaken without an immediate view to
permanent conquest.

By way of retaliation, or with a commendable foresight, the Goths sent
help to Carthage when besieged by the Arabs in 695; and, while Julian
their general still remained true to his allegiance, they beat off the
Saracens from Ceuta. But on the surrender of that fortress the Arabs
were enabled to send across the Straits a small reconnoitring detachment
of five hundred men under Tarif abu Zarah,[3] a Berber. This took place
in October 710; but the actual invasion did not occur till April 30,
711, when 12,000 men landed under Tarik ibn Zeyad. There seems to have
been a preliminary engagement before the decisive one of Gaudalete (July
19th-26th) - the Gothic general in the former being stated variously to
have been Theodomir,[4] Sancho,[5] or Edeco.[6]

[1] See De Gayangos' note on Al Makkari, i. p. 382.

[2] "Annales Moslemici," i. p. 262.

[3] The names of Tarif ibn Malik abu Zarah and Tarik ibn Zeyad
have been confused by all the careless writers on Spanish
history - _e.g._ Conde, Dunham, Yonge, Southey, etc.; but Gibbon,
Freeman, etc., of course do not fall into this error. For
Tarif's names see De Gayangos, Al Makk., i. pp. 517, 519; and
for Tarik's see "Ibn Abd el Hakem," Jones' translation, note

[4] Al Makk., i. 268; Isidore: Conde, i. 55.

[5] Cardonne, i. 75.

[6] Dr Dunham.

It will not be necessary to pursue the history of the conquest in
detail. It is enough to say that in three years almost all Spain and
part of Southern Gaul were added to the Saracen empire. But the Arabs
made the fatal mistake[1] of leaving a remnant of their enemies
unconquered in the mountains of Asturia, and hardly had the wave of
conquest swept over the country, than it began slowly but surely to
recede. The year 733 witnessed the high-water mark of Arab extension in
the West, and Christian Gaul was never afterwards seriously threatened
with the calamity of a Mohammedan domination.

The period of forty-five years which elapsed between the conquest and
the establishment of the Khalifate of Cordova was a period of disorder,
almost amounting to anarchy, throughout Spain. This state of things was
one eminently favourable to the growth and consolidation of the infant
state which was arising among the mountains of the Northwest. In that
corner of the land, which alone[2] was not polluted by the presence of
Moslem masters, were gathered all those proud spirits who could not
brook subjection and valued freedom above all earthly possessions.[3]
Here all the various nationalities that had from time to time borne
rule in Spain,

"Punic and Roman Kelt and Goth and Greek," [4]

all the various classes, nobles, freemen, and slaves, were gradually
welded by the strong pressure of a common calamity into one compact and
homogeneous whole.[5] Meanwhile what was the condition of those
Christians who preferred to live in their own homes, but under the
Moslem yoke? It must be confessed that they might have fared much worse;
and the conciliatory policy pursued by the Arabs no doubt contributed
largely to the facility of the conquest. The first conqueror, Tarik ibn
Zeyad, was a man of remarkable generosity and clemency, and his conduct
fully justified the proud boast which he uttered when arraigned on false
charges before the Sultan Suleiman.[6] "Ask the true believers," he
said, "ask also the Christians, what the conduct of Tarik has been in
Africa and in Spain. Let them say if they have ever found him cowardly,
covetous, or cruel."

[1] Al Makkari, ii. 34.

[2] According to Sebastian of Salamanca, the Moors had never
been admitted into any town of Biscay before 870.

[3] Prescott, "Ferdinand and Isabella," seems to think that
only the lower orders remained under the Moors. Yet in a note
he mentions a remark of Zurita's to the contrary (page 3).

[4] Southey, "Roderick," Canto IV.

[5] Thierry, "Dix Ans d'Études Historiques," p. 346. "Reserrés
dans ce coin de terre, devenu pour eux toute la patrie, Goths
et Romains, vainqueurs et vaincus, étrangers et indigènes,
maîtres et esclaves, tous unis dans le même malheur ... furent
égaux dans cet exil." Yet there were revolts in every reign.
Fruela I. (757-768), revolt of Biscay and Galicia: Aurelio
(768-774), revolt of slaves and freedmen, see "Chron. Albeld.,"
vi. sec. 4, and Rodrigo, iii. c. 5, in pristinam servitutem
redacti sunt: Silo (774-783), Galician revolt: also revolts in
reigns of Alfonso I., Ramiro I. See Prescott, "Ferd. and
Isab.," p. 4.

[6] Or his predecessor, Welid, for the point is not determined.

The terms granted to such towns as surrendered generally contained the
following provisions: that the citizens should give up all their horses
and arms; that they might, if they chose, depart, leaving their
property; that those who remained should, on payment of a small tribute,
be permitted to follow their own religion, for which purposes certain
churches were to be left standing; that they should have their own
judges, and enjoy (within limits) their own laws. In some cases the
riches of the churches were also surrendered, as at Merida,[1] and
hostages given. But conditions even better than these were obtained from
Abdulaziz, son of Musa, by Theodomir in Murcia. The original document
has been preserved by the Arab historians, and is well worthy of

"In the name of God the Clement and Merciful! Abdulaziz and Tadmir make
this treaty of peace - may God confirm and protect it! Tadmir shall
retain the command over his own people, but over no other people among
those of his faith. There shall be no wars between his subjects and
those of the Arabs, nor shall the children or women of his people be led
captive. They shall not be disturbed in the exercise of their religion:
their churches shall not be burnt, nor shall any services be demanded
from them, or obligations be laid upon them - those expressed in this
treaty alone excepted.... Tadmir shall not receive our enemies, nor fail
in fidelity to us, and he shall not conceal whatever hostile purposes he
may know to exist against us. His nobles and himself shall pay a tribute
of a dinar[2] each year, with four measures of wheat and four of barley;
of mead, vinegar, honey, and oil each four measures. All the vassals of
Tadmir, and every man subject to tax, shall pay the half of these

These favourable terms were due in part to the address of Theodomir,[4]
and partly perhaps to Abdulaziz's own partiality for the Christians,
which was also manifested in his marriage with Egilona, the widow of
King Roderic, and the deference which he paid to her. This predilection
for the Christians brought the son of Musa into ill favour with the
Arabs, and he was assassinated in 716.[5]

[1] Conde i. p. 69. This was perhaps due to Musa's notorious

[2] Somewhat less than ten shillings.

[3] Al Makkari, i. 281: Conde, i. p. 76.

[4] Isidore, sec, 38, says of him: "Fuit scripturarum amator,
eloquentia mirificus, in proeliis expeditus, qui et apud Amir
Almumenin prudentior inter ceteros inventus, utiliter est

[5] Al Makkari, ii. p. 30. He was even accused of entering into
treasonable correspondence with the Christians of Galicia; of
forming a project for the massacre of Moslems; of being himself
a Christian, etc.

On the whole it may be said that the Saracen conquest was accomplished
with wonderfully little bloodshed, and with few or none of those
atrocities which generally characterize the subjugation of a whole
people by men of an alien race and an alien creed. It cannot, however,
be denied that the only contemporary Christian chronicler is at variance
on this point with all the Arab accounts.

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