Christianity and Islam in Spain (756-1031) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 176 pages of information about Christianity and Islam in Spain (756-1031).

    [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.

CHAPTER II.

The Saracens in Spain.

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 differens des leurs ancetres etoient alors enerves 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.

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Christianity and Islam in Spain (756-1031) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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