A History of Aragon and Catalonia: Romans and Goths. Books.book Aragon in English. Spain.

A History of Aragon and Catalonia: Romans and Goths. Books. book History Aragon Aragon

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Romans and Goths

[1] Early inhabitants. The Carthaginians. The Roman occupation. Its influence. Christianity. The Barbarian invasions The Visigothic occupation. Its culture. Church influence. Legal codes. Causes of Visigothic weakness and collapse.

The medieval chroniclers retrace the history of Spain to the great-grandson of Noah; a modern historian can find no definite starting-point before Ph?nician times. Who the Iberians were and what kind of fusion with the Celts produced the so-called Celtiberian race; who precisely were the Ilergetes, the Sedetani, the Cosetani and a number of other peoples whose tribal names appear within the limits of Catalonia and Aragon; these are problems rather for the ethnologist and the folklorist than for the historian. The Ph?nicians are said to have entered Spain in the eleventh century B.C. and were followed by the Greeks in 630 B.C., Phocæans and Rhodians, if Herodotus can be trusted; the Greeks settled on the east coast, where the towns of Rosas and Ampurias retain their Greek names and provide the earliest known specimens of Spanish coinage; the famous Saguntum, afterward Murviedro, situated further south, was also a Greek colony. The Greeks are said to have improved the agricultural wealth of the peninsula by introducing the vine and the olive. Then came the Carthaginians who were invited by their Ph?nician relatives about the end of the fifth century to support them in a quarrel with the native Spaniards. The Carthaginians settled in the country [2] and gradually subdued the Tyrian colonists. These were all commercial enterprises, the promoters of which clung to the coast-line, made little attempt to penetrate into the interior and avoided collision as far as possible with the native populations.

Hamilcar Barca began a new policy after the close of the First Punic War, which had ended in 242 B.C.with the Roman conquest of Sicily. He considered that Spain might be made a counterpoise to the Italian peninsula and become a suitable base of operations from which to attack Rome and restore Carthaginian supremacy in the Mediterranean, a policy continued by his son-in-law Hasdrubal and his son Hannibal. The main centre of Carthaginian occupation was naturally in the south; as soon as the question of a land route to Southern Gaul and Italy came under consideration, the Carthaginians attempted to secure a foothold un the north eastern district of the peninsula. Hamilcar is said to have defeated the Ilergetes and to have founded a second Carthage somewhere south of the Ebro; the site has been variously identified with those of the modern Villafranca del Panadés, Tortosa, Cantavieja and other places. He pushed northward towards the Pyrenees, attracted not only by strategical considerations, but also by the gold and silver mines which were worked by the colonists of Ampurias, the vigorous resistance which he encountered from the native tribes obliged him to secure a definite base of operations which he found on the site of the modern Barcelona, to which he gave his own name, Barcino. It is not likely that so commodious a harbour or so convenient a site would have been overlooked by earlier settlers and there was probably a Phocæan colony already in occupation. These attempts to consolidate the Carthaginian power were continued by Hasdrubal and Hannibal; they attacked such tribes and settlements as were in alliance with Rome, and Hannibal's siege and capture of Saguntum became the occasion of the Second Punic War in 218 B.C. Scipio Africanus entered Spain in 209 B.C. and completely defeated the Carthaginians. The Roman occupation of Spain then began.

The Catalan district was the first part of Spain to come under Roman occupation, and Tarragona became its administrative centre. The native populations were inclined to [3] support Rome in her struggle with Carthage; Rome professed readiness to leave them in the enjoyment of their own laws and customs, as far as was compatible with her task of maintaining peace; Carthage regarded them rather as a source of wealth for exploitation; Rome suggested liberty; Carthage denoted subjection; and the conciliatory policy of Scipio secured for the moment the support of all who regarded the Carthaginian power as dangerous to themselves. The Greek and Carthaginian settlements along the eastern coast were also prepared to accept the Roman rule, for the reason that they were incompetent to protect themselves from the natives of the interior who eventually became a source of continual trouble to Rome. The Iberian tribes had developed a civilization with a character of its own, though little is known of it in detail. Polybius speaks in high terms of the condition of agriculture and cattle-breeding in Spain; the Turdetani in the region of Seville, who appear to have been the most civilized of the native tribes, are said to have possessed a written legal code and to have employed mercenaries to carry on their wars. Herodotus describes them as enjoying a civilised rule under a king, Argarthonius, who welcomed Phocæan colonists in the fifth century B.C. To some extent, therefore, the ground had been prepared for the reception of Roman culture, which was readily adopted by the southern and eastern districts, and the process of latinization proceeded more rapidly in the larger Spanish towns than in any other of the Roman possessions overseas. Roman money, for instance, was in circulation in Spain at an earlier date than in any other Roman province; and Spanish native coinage, struck in imitation of the Roman, appeared about 195 B.C. The territory which Rome gained from the Carthaginians was divided into Further and Hither Spain, Hispania Ulterior and Citerior, the former including the modern provinces of Andalusia and Granada, with a coastline from Huelva to Port Aguilas, while the latter was composed of the province of the Ebro, the modern Aragon and Catalonia, Murcia and Valencia, which had been the headquarters of the army in Spain during the Second Punic War. In 205 B.C. these provinces were under separate governors with proconsular power; the fixed boundary between them appears in 197 B.C. Its existence was due to military necessities: at this [4] time the provinces were strips of coast-line so easily cut as to make two self-contained organizations necessary.

Spain produced large quantities of wheat, olives and wine in which the valley of the Baetis (Guadalquivir) was especially abundant; but the Romans were particularly attracted by the mineral wealth of the peninsula, which was to them as Peru and Mexico were regarded by sixteenth-century Spaniards. The copper mines on the Rio Tinto are among the oldest in Europe; gold and silver was found in the Sierra Morena and also in the mountains of the north. In the early days of the Roman occupation, Further Spain was much the more productive province of the two, and it was the reckless and ruthless exploitation of it which drove even the unwarlike Turditanians into revolt in 197 and brought the consul Marcus Porcius Cato to the pacification of the province. To this cause were also ultimately due the Lusitanian and Celtiberian wars in which the Romans were frequently defeated and were obliged to supplement their military incapacity with the weapons of perfidy and assassination. When Scipio, the conqueror of Carthage, had pacified Spain in 188, the process of exploitation proceeded apace. Many mining properties passed into private hands and the State seems to have retained the gold mines only. Slave labour was used and Polybius states that there were forty thousand slaves employed in the mines of New Carthage alone. These may not have been all of them Iberians, but the probability is that many of them were. Tributes were exacted by extortionate methods and the moneylenders were no less rapacious than the officials. It was not until the Augustan age that any improvement took place; it was then also that the Roman power was extended over the west and north. Here the native populations knew little of civilization and were continually engaged in intertribal warfare. When the Romans attempted their pacification, they found them to be formidable opponents, and the short two-edged sword with which the Roman infantry was subsequently armed, was a weapon first introduced to their notice by the Spaniards. These tribes were unable to combine either for military or political purposes for any length of time, and were more competent to conduct a guerrilla than a war; hence, while there was no serious menace to the Roman power, there was [5] rarely any definite state of peace; the Spaniard, as Cæsar afterwards put the case, was neither quiet in peace nor strenuous in war. The only method of pacifying such a country was a comprehensive scheme of colonization, and Rome was neither able nor willing to embark upon such an undertaking in 200 B.C., nor indeed long afterwards. Thus when a Viriathus, a Sertorius, or any leader able to impose his will upon the native populations arose to lead them against Rome, he found ample material ready for his purpose. It was left to Augustus Cæsar to consolidate the Roman power and definitely to pacify the country, and such names as Astorga (Asturica Augusta), Zaragoza (Cæsarea Augusta), Badajoz (Pax Augusta) still commemorate his achievement.

The history of these events is one rather of the colonial policy of Rome than of Spain, and contains, as has been said, some of the least creditable chapters in that narrative. The important point for us is the fact that Rome found it necessary to maintain a standing garrison of four legions in Spain, in contradiction of her usual policy of sending out troops only as and when they were required. The result for the eastern province was a permanent military occupation and the thorough romanization of such towns as Tarragona, the capital of the northern province, a fact which had its influence upon the later history of Aragon and Catalonia. Rome was forced to remain in occupation of the peninsula, for the reason that there was no native central power to whom authority could be delegated. It was possible to deal with the Numidian kingdom of Libya or with the Massiliot republic in Gaul under the forms of alliance and diplomacy; it was not possible so to deal with half a hundred petty chiefs, and to retire from Spain would have been to leave the country open to any adventurer with capacity enough to combine its divided forces. This is one of the reasons for the rapidity with which Spain absorbed Roman civilization. The depth of this influence is apparent in Spanish laws, institutions and architecture, but especially and most permanently in language; as an instance may be noted the fact that between the years 80-73 B.C. Sertorius wished to educate young Spaniards of good birth upon Roman methods and chose as a centre for that purpose the town of Huesca situated a little to the north of Zaragoza. The name itself, Osca, suggests a [6] foundation from Southern Italy; the coinage in which Spanish tribute was paid at a later date was often known as argentum Oscense, money of Osca, so that the town must have had an important mint; and in this region of Spain Menéndez Pidal finds certain dialectical peculiarities. (e.g. the reduction of nd to n, as quano for cuando) which also belong to the Osco-umbrian district of Southern Italy, though H. F. Muller regards the suggested connexion as very doubtful. In some respects, modern Spanish is nearer to Latin even than modern Italian, and the complete romanization of the country which produced this and other results was the work of the four centuries, which followed the reign of Augustus Cæsar. Spain became one of the most important provinces of the Roman Empire; Spanish corn became as indispensable to Rome as Egyptian; Spanish soldiers were as highly esteemed as were Spanish poets or rhetoricians; Cicero himself could find nothing more derogatory to say of the poets of Córdoba than that their Latinity displayed "pingue quiddam atque peregrinum"; Ovid, Maecenas and Augustus himself owed something to the teaching of Marcus Porcius Latro, a native of Córdoba. In later centuries Spain produced administrators, rulers and literary men of the highest rank; the emperors Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius were Spaniards and to their days belong the high roads, the bridges and aqueducts which still arouse the admiration of the traveller. The two Senecas and Lucan, the nephew of the younger; belonged to Córdoba; Pomponius Mela, the geographer, was from Algeciras; Columella, the agriculturist, from Cádiz; Martial was born near Calatayud and returned to die there; Quintilian's home was at Calahorra.

The condition of the north-eastern part of the country during this period calls for no special comment. The government was that of the rest of the country as regarded local and municipal administration. In the time of Hadrian, the great province of Tarraconensis was divided into three districts, Gallæcia, Tarragona and Carthagena; Tarragona was as productive as it now is; olives and vines were widely cultivated and Tarragona wines were appreciated in Rome; the local flax produced the finest linen to be found within the Empire. Tarragona itself, as the centre of administration, and the residence at different times of consuls, prætors, [7] Scipios, Augustus, Galba and Hadrian, was one of the most important towns in the peninsula. It enjoyed all the privileges of Rome, and contained a capitol, numerous ternples, a forum, palace and circus, public baths and the famous aqueduct which still rivals that of Segovia. To judge from the remains that have been discovered, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Ampurias and other places may have been equally rich in public buildings of this kind. Communication was secured by the system of high roads, the maintenance of which was always a principle of Roman administration.

Christianity gained a footing in the Spanish peninsula at an early date; St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans asserted his intention of visiting Spain, but Spanish tradition on this question has always pointed to St. James the Greater, Santiago, the patron saint of the peninsula, whose bones rest at Compostela after their miraculous transportation from Jerusalem, and to doubt this story was, in former times, to proclaim oneself no Spaniard; There are those who assert that he visited Spain in person and Catalonia first of all in order to preach the gospel. It is not antecedently impossible that the north-east province would be the first to receive Christianity, in view of its continual commercial relations with Rome by land and even more by sea; the Claudian expulsion of the Jews probably carried Christians to Spain; and the assertion of some chroniclers that St. Paul founded the Spanish Church at Tarragona in A.D. 60 with the help of his disciple Thekla is a likely conjecture, if it is nothing more. The early history of the Church in Spain is one of persecutions and martyrdoms, complicated by the medieval tendency to embroider the life of a martyr with the miraculous and, in later times, by the desire of any town of importance to find some patron saint or martyr as the central figure of the annual fiesta. There is no evidence to show that the Spanish Church was subjected to any general and systematic persecution before the time of Diocletian; the most celebrated name in the north-east is that of Fructuosus, who suffered death with some of his deacons at Tarragona under Gallienus. Gerona, Barcelona, Vich and other places have also a number of martyrdoms to proclaim. According to Prudentius, the first of Christian poets, the darkest hour came before the dawn; Diocletian's edict was executed in Spain by one Dacian, the [8] Governor of Aquitaine, who undertook to deal with the religious question in Tarraconensis, and among his victims at Zaragoza and Valencia, the most illustrious were St. Vincent and St. Lawrence. A year or two later, in 806, the edict of Constantine brought persecution to an end and a dozen years later Christianity became the religion of the Empire. About this time was held the first Christian council of which we have any record, at Iliberis, whether in the north-eastern town of that name or at the Iliberis in Bætica is uncertain. The most distinguished figure was Hosius, Bishop of Córdoba; Tarragona and Barcelona appear to have been represented in this council and also at the Council of Arles which followed it. Tarragona was the birthplace of Orosius, the opponent of Priscillianism, whose defence of Christianity against paganism was famous in the Middle Ages. Marcus Aurelius Prudentius, the greatest poet of the early Christian Church, was born at Calahorra, on the borders of Navarre; but he held an official post at Tarragona before he went to the Emperor's court at Milan. A patriotic Roman citizen, and a convinced Christian, he had also a love of art and a spirit of toleration which enabled him to see that paganism had produced some achievements worthy of preservation; he reveals to us something of the manners and customs of his age, of the feelings and practice of early Christianity, and the lyrical fervour of his thought has secured him a place in every collection of early Latin poetry.

In 406 the crumbling defences of the Roman Empire were broken down by successive waves of invading barbarians from the north of Europe, and Spain underwent two invasions of this kind. In 409 the Suevians, Vandals and Alans overran the greater part of Galicia, Lusitania and Bætica; in 414 the Visigoths conquered part of Catalonia; the name is said to represent Goth-Alaunia. The Visigoths then entered into alliance with the Roman Empire, and fought to expel the other barbarians from Spain, with intervals of fighting on their own account and for their own benefit. The downfall of the Western Empire in 476 left the Visigoths in independent occupation of the country; they had already annihilated the Alans and had driven the other barbarians into Africa; in 585 they destroyed the Suevian kingdom of Galicia. In 554 they had called in a number of auxiliary troops from [9] the Byzantine Empire, who occupied a considerable portion of the coastlands for nearly a century until they were expelled by King Suintila at the outset of the seventh century; to this incident may be retraced in part the Byzantine element in early Spanish art.

Spain, which had given endless trouble to Rome at the height of her power, thus offered no greater resistance to the barbarian invaders than she showed at a later date to the Muslim attack. There were two reasons for this apparent pusillanimity. The real fighting power of the country had disappeared. Spain had given her best soldiers for years to the Roman legions and Rome had scattered them over the face of Europe. From the furthest limit of Northern Britain, where Spanish legions kept the Roman wall against the Picts, to the Danube provinces, whither Latin was carried by Spanish troops, the Spanish soldier had fought and died. His own country had seen no fighting for four centuries, and the garrison that sufficed for the preservation of order in this, the most peaceable of the Roman provinces, was not composed of Spaniards, but of degenerate provincials who could not be trusted in posts of danger upon the outskirts of the Empire. Further, there was little or no sense of nationalism in the country; slaves and paupers formed too large a part of the population of Spain. Latifundia perdidere Italiam, said Pliny, and the explanation is applicable, in part, at least, to Spain. The growth of large estates worked by slave labour, the expropriation of the small landholder and the demoralizing effect of slavery in the towns had ruined the manhood of the nation. Those, moreover, who had anything to lose had groaned for years under an iniquitous and oppressive system of taxation: of what use to be Roman citizens, if they had to pay dues as such in addition to their taxes as provincials? If they had in any case to support a horde of rapacious officials, no change could matter much and any change might be for the better. The native Spaniard had little for which to fight and less inclination to fight for it.

The Visigothic rule is usually stated to have extended from 415 to 711, during which period thirty-five kings are named. Thirteen of these died violent deaths and the fact that ten of these deaths took place before 555 is sufficient to show the unsettled nature of the early Visigothic period, when Franks, [10] Alans, Suevians, Vandals and Huns were attempting to secure dominion in various parts of the old Roman Empire. Generally speaking, the Visigoths accepted the Roman culture which they found in Spain and which they had already experienced elsewhere. The impression which they made upon Spain in general and upon the north-east part of it in particular was not very profound. But two points should be noted. In the first place, the early Visigothic kingdom regarded Spain as a part of a wider dominion; Spain could be ruled from Toulouse by Theodored or from Arles by Euric. The notion that political frontiers should be determined by geographical boundaries is weakened, and hence-forward we find the Aragonese and. Catalan districts constantly conjoined with Septimania in. subordination or in predominance, as political changes might determine. This fact implied continual traffic across the Pyrenees by one or other of the three passes at the east of the range and its effect upon the civilization of North-East Spain should not be left out of consideration.

The second point of importance is the growth of church influence and wealth which is one of the outstanding features of the Gothic period. The conversion of Reccared in 587 put an end to dissension upon the Arian question; it was a conversion due rather to political necessity than to religious conviction. By the end of the sixth century Gothic nationalism had been profoundly modified by Roman civilization, which was gradually welding the diverse elements of Spanish society into something more homogeneous; intermarriage between Roman and Visigoth was forbidden by law until 652, when it was authorized by Reccaswinth, but there is no doubt that it was frequent before that date and that his authorization merely recognized what could no longer be prevented nor ignored. It was clear that Arianism was not likely to survive the changes that were passing over society in general. There were more definite political reasons for orthodoxy; the Gothic monarchy was elective, the elector nobles, were inclined to regard their nominee rather as their agent than their ruler, and had become wealthy, turbulent and disloyal. It was not possible for the King to solve the problem as Isabella afterwards did by turning to the towns for popular support; the small farmer class had almost [11] disappeared and the lower classes were generally in a state of serfdom. The one power that could be used to check the aggression of the nobles was the Church, and when the Church had been given an official position by this public abjuration of Arianism, she was able to absorb much of the political power and influence that the nobles had hitherto monopolized. In 633 the Fourth General Council of Toledo assumed the right of confirming the King's election to the throne and claimed to assert that right in the case of his successors; the Church was also ready to use the weapon of excommunication against recalcitrant rulers; she was now able to take part in the royal councils, and the chief ecclesiastics were consulted upon questions of policy and legislation. From the fourth century the Church had continued to acquire the privileges and the wealth which afterwards made it a power in the land, and its progress was now accelerated. Whereas in early Christian times bishops were elected by the people, from the seventh century the right to elect was exercised by the King or in his absence, by the metropolitan bishop of Toledo, who became the head of the Spanish Church after the removal of the capital from Seville; the number of episcopal sees amounted to some eighty; in the province of Tarraconensis there were bishops of Tarragona, Barcelona, Gerona, Lérida, Tortosa, Vich, Urgel, Ampurias, Tarrasa, Zaragoza, Tarazona, Huesca, Pamplona and Calahorra. The diocese in those days was rather in the nature of one large parish and tithes were paid directly to the bishop. Thus, when the Church became the King's counterpoise to the nobles, the influence which might be exerted by such bishops as Leander of Seville and his younger and more famous brother, Isidore, was almost unbounded. The first mention of monastic life occurs in a canon of the Council of Zaragoza, in 880, forbidding clerics to become monks; early foundations of monasteries are said to have been made in Gerona, Barcelona, Tarragona and Montserrat under regulations resembling the Benedictine rule, though some authorities deny that this rule was known in Spain until after the Visigothic period. Provincial Church councils were not infrequent; eight were held in Tarraconensis between 464 and 615, which seem to have been attended by most of the bishops in the province. Much of their energies were spent [12] in reforming the manners of the clergy; the Council of Lérida, held in 546, ordains penalties for clergy who commit homicide, even upon their enemies, or who quarrel with one another, imposes celibacy upon them, requires obedience to canonical law, and forbids them to take part in the dances held at Christian marriages, though they may share in the marriage feast with the decency becoming to Christians; runaway slaves are to have the right of asylum in churches, and intercourse with heretics and the unbaptized is forbidden.

The unifying policy denoted by the introduction of ecclesiastical uniformity was also carried out as regarded law. The Visigoths had as much respect for law as the Romans themselves and some of their kings were energetic legislators. The Breviarium of Alaric II, prepared shortly before his death in 506, became the nucleus of additions made by successive rulers until Chindaswinth established a code which attempted to reconcile the differences between Gothic and Roman law; this was revised by his son, Reccaswinth, and promulgated as the Lex Visigothorum; known as the Fuero Juzgo, it remained in force throughout the greater part of Spain, even after the downfall of the Visigothic rule. To the desire for uniformity may also be ascribed the persecutions of the Jews which began after Reccared's conversion. Numbers of them escaped across the Pyrenees and settled in the south of France, where their co-religionists were both numerous and prosperous. To this movement may be due the strength of the Jewish population in Aragon at a later date; some fugitives found a temporary refuge near the Pyrenees, across which they could escape, if conditions became too severe; others drifted back from France, when the storm of persecution had blown over.

The Gothic kingdom collapsed before the Muslim attack even more rapidly than the Roman power had fallen before the barbarians. Similar causes were at work in both cases. The Visigoths had been regarded by the Spanish population as friends rather than as foes, as deliverers rather than as conquerors; they were the most civilized of all the barbarian invaders, they had entered Spain as the nominal allies of Rome and their eventual assumption of power was rather a change of government than a conquest. Great had been their opportunities. For nearly three centuries the peninsula [13] had been undisturbed by invasion; internal convulsions had been few; the civil wars, the family disputes, the divisions and revolutions of the Frankish kingdoms were unknown in Spain. Under the inestimable advantage of political unity, the Visigoths governed one of the richest countries in Europe, inhabited by a hardy and frugal race; yet they were swept aside in a moment by a handful of African marauders. Once again, there was no sense of nationalism in the country nor was the Gothic system of government calculated to produce any such feeling. The legal codes were primarily directed to secure the maintenance and preservation of privilege obtained by the accident of birth; the Fuero Juzgo divided society into Nobiles, subdivided as primates and seniores, all of whom were Goths; the Hispano-Roman population were Viliores, divided into lngenui or free-born, Liberi or freedmen, and Servi who were boni or viles. Intermarriage had helped some of the Ingenui to improve their condition and status; but for the lower classes there was no prospect. Immediately below the state of freedom came that of patronage; the patron professed certain responsibilities towards the client, securing him in the possession of his land in return for half the produce of it, and protecting his family in the event of the client's death. A slave who obtained freedom was obliged to enter the state of patronage and was unable to change his patron, as the freeman could do. His evidence was not accepted against that of a freeman, nor might he marry without his patron's permission; the Fuero Juzgo strongly prohibited any kind of marriage that tended to break down class distinctions. Slaves existed by birth, though reduction to slavery as a punishment was not uncommon; their condition was little better than that of cattle; they could accumulate no property, for all that they had belonged to their masters, who could dispose even of their children as they pleased; the Fuero Juzgo certainly forbade the use of mutilation as a punishment for slaves, but short of this, any other form of cruelty was permissible.

The Church was incompetent to produce any improvement of these conditions. Bishops were themselves landholders and therefore slaveowners; their influence upon the kings was either disastrous or negligible. If they censured the members of a faction which sought to depose the reigning [14] monarch, so soon as the revolution had been accomplished, they were equally ready with fulminations against future disturbers of the new occupant of the throne. In peaceful times the principle of election to the throne greatly diminished the power of the kings. If in early days the King had been elected by the free Visigoths only in the later period the Council had secured the right of approving such election, and the Crown lost the independence that the hereditary principle might have secured for it. The councils had no national authority behind them; they were assemblies of Churchmen and of a few court official and landed nobles allowed by the weakness of successive kings to assume political, and legislative powers which they exerted with little sense of responsibility. Apart from a few men of learning and piety, the majority of the Church appear to have been as ignorant as they were bigoted; the Fuero Juzgo condemns those who use incantations to bring hail upon the crops of their enemies or who invoke the devil and his satellites with charms and sacrifices; the prevalence of such superstitions is no good testimonial to the efficiency of Church teaching. The vigour of municipal life had been weakened during the Roman administration, which saw in city independence a menace to the power of the central authority; the Visigoths did nothing to strengthen it and continued the system which they found in existence. The towns were left in the hands of the nobles, who administered their affairs through officials nominated by themselves, and a clause in the Fuero Juzgo suggest that they were inclined to tax the towns for their own profit to a ruinous extent.

The rank and file of the army was chiefly composed of slaves. In the reign of Wamba legislation had been passed determining in what order and to what extent the several classes of the nation should serve. But the arrival of contingents was dependent upon the will of the nobles, who preferred a semi-independent existence upon their own estates with their own bands of retainers; if they were disaffected or indolent, the system broke down. Such was the case when the hour of trial arrived, and the army that Roderic led to the banks of Lake Janda was beaten before it set out, composed as it was of men who had nothing to gain by victory and who felt that a change of masters consequent upon defeat might be [15] rather a gain than a loss. The Visigoths had been tried and found wanting; with the exception of their legal codes, they had no contribution to make to Spanish history; their influence upon the language or the art of the country was negligible; they were caretakers who had not even maintained the house in repair; unable to improve or even to continue the Roman civilization which had absorbed them, it was time that they should make way for a new order, and if centuries of confusion followed their disappearance, yet from these birth-pangs came forth the Spanish nation of to-day.

This work was originally published by Methuan Publishing Ltd. in 1933.
Pagination of the original edition is indicated set off in brackets, as in [19].

Ample your information on Aragon

If you want to extend your information on Aragon you can begin crossing another interesting route is the Mudejar, Patrimony of the Humanity, also you can extend your cultural knowledge on Aragon examining its municipal and institutional heraldry without forgetting, of course, some of its emblematics figures as Saint George Pattern of Aragon also book of Aragon.

Also Aragon enjoys a diverse and varied Nature where passing by plants, animals or landscapes we can arrive at a fantastic bestiario that lives in its monuments.

The information will not be complete without a stroll by its three provinces: Zaragoza, Teruel and Huesca and his shines, with shutdown in some of its spectacular landscapes like Ordesa, the Moncayo or by opposition the Ebro.

Also you can dedicarte to the intangible ones: from the legend compilation that also does to universal Aragon you can persecute the presence of del Santo Grial in Aragon.

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