historical snapshots between barbarians and civilisation
I. Sixty years before Don Pelayo
Each chief — or duke (dux) — was king in his own district, and free to lead a life of idleness and crime. If the Goths still fought well, it was only against each other
From the 33 recognised kings, only 15 died peacefully.
Chindasuinth (642–653) strengthened the monarchy at the expense of the nobility, he executed some 700 nobles, forced dignitaries to swear oaths, and in the seventh council of Toledo laid down his right to excommunicate clergy who acted against the government.
King Ervig (680–687) held further church councils and repealed the previous harsh laws of Wamba, though he still made provisions for the army. Ervig had his son-in-law Egica made king. Despite a rebellion by the bishop of Toledo, the 16th council, held in 693, denounced the bishop's revolt. The 17th council in 694 passed harsh laws against the Jews, citing a conspiracy, and many were enslaved, especially those who had converted from Christianity.
II. Waiting for the Arabs
Following Goth las, the king couldn't be a bloind man; so the rulers mangaed to put out the eyes of possible conspirators who were blinded....
The enmity between the royal families of Chindasuintho and Wamba was one main cause of the destruction of the kingdom, the latter party having assisted in be* traying their country to the Moors for the gratification of their own revenge. Theodofred and Favila were younger sons of King Chindasuintho ; King Witiza, who was of Wamba's family, put out the eyes of Theodofred, and murdered Favila, at the instigation of that Chieftain's wife, with whom he lived in adultery. Pe- layo, the son of Favila, and afterwards the founder of the Spanish monarchy, was driven into exile. Roderick, the son of Theodofred, recovered the throne, and put out Witiza's eyes in vengeance for his father
Why was this? The chroniclers gave answer without hesitation--"Peccatis exigentibus, victi sunt Christiani." The Goths (as they proudly called themselves) "have so offended Thee, O Lord, by their pride, that they deserved a fall by the sword of the Saracen."
III. Barbarian at the eyes of the others.
In the year 1064 a.d. the Aragonese town of Barbastro was taken by an army made up ...before whom there appeared a Jew, commissioned to ransom the daughters of the ... 84 From this chronicle it was copied by Ibn Bassam:
When the French crusaders captured Barbastro in northeast Spain in 1064 each of the principal knights received a house with all that it contained, women, children and furniture.
Ibn Bassam has preserved the report of a Jewish envoy who was sent to the town to ransom the daughters of one of the leading citizens. He found the crusader in Moorish dress seated on a divan surrounded by Moslem girls who were waiting for him.
He refused all the offers of the Jew on the ground that he had married the daughter of the former owner and hoped that she would him descendants.
"Her Moslem ancestors did the same to our women when they possessed themselves of this country. Now we do likewise. Thus do we succeed." He then turned to the girl and in broken Arabic said: take your lute and sing some songs for this gentleman". The Jew adds: I was surprised to see the count show great enthusiasm as if he understood the words, though he continued drinking."
Medieval Essays (The Works of Christopher Dawson - page 199)
Some cultural consequences: one of the crusaders was Guillaume VIII, duke of Aquitania, father of the first troubadour. (N Davies - Vanished Kindgdoms -page 167)