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Spania
Spania
(Latin: Provincia Spaniae) was a province of the Byzantine Empire from 552 until 624[1] in the south of the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
and the Balearic Islands. It was established by the Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
in an effort to restore the western provinces of the Empire.

Contents

1 Background 2 Conquest and foundation 3 Extent and geography 4 Administration

4.1 Secular government 4.2 Ecclesiastical government

5 Culture 6 Decline and Visigothic conquest 7 Sources 8 Notes

Background[edit] In 409 the Vandals, Suevi
Suevi
and Alans, who had broken through the Roman border defences on the Rhine
Rhine
two years before, crossed the Pyrenees into the Iberian peninsula. Nevertheless, effective Roman rule was maintained over most areas through the death of Emperor Majorian
Majorian
in 461.[2] The Visigoths, vassals of the Roman Empire who had settled in Aquitaine
Aquitaine
by imperial invitation (416), increasingly filled the vacuum left as the Vandals
Vandals
moved into Africa. In 468 they attacked and defeated the Suevi, who had occupied Roman Gallaecia
Gallaecia
were threatening to expand. A large scale migration of the Visigoths
Visigoths
into Iberia began in 494 under Alaric II, and their overlordship of most of the eastern and central peninsula was established by 476. The Visigoths
Visigoths
ended the Roman administration in Spain
Spain
in 473, but they did not replace it with a provincial administration of their own until the early 6th century. Conquest and foundation[edit] In 534, Roman general Belisarius
Belisarius
re-established the Byzantine province of Mauretania
Mauretania
with the conquest of the Vandal Kingdom
Vandal Kingdom
in northern Africa. Despite his efforts, the Vandal king Gelimer
Gelimer
had been unable to effect an alliance with the Gothic king Theudis, who probably took the opportunity of the collapse of Vandal authority to conquer Ceuta (Septem) across the Straits of Gibraltar
Gibraltar
in 533, possibly to keep it out of Byzantine hands. This citadel was nevertheless seized the following year by an expedition dispatched by Belisarius. Ceuta
Ceuta
(which was briefly recaptured by the Visigoths
Visigoths
in 540[3]) became a part of Mauretania. It was an important base for reconnaissance of Spain
Spain
in the years leading up to the peninsula's invasion by Justinian's forces in 552. In 550, in the reign of Agila I, Spain
Spain
was troubled by a series of revolts, two of which were serious. The citizens of Córdoba rebelled against Gothic or Arian rule and Agila was roundly defeated, his son killed, and the royal treasure lost. He himself retreated to Mérida.[4] The date of the other major revolt cannot be arrived at precisely. Either at the commencement of his reign (549) or as late as 551, a nobleman named Athanagild
Athanagild
took Seville, capital of Baetica, and presumed to rule as king in opposition to Agila. Exactly who approached the Byzantines for assistance and when is also disputed; the primary sources are divided.[5] Even the name of the general of the Byzantine army is disputed. Although Jordanes
Jordanes
wrote that the Patrician Liberius was its commander:

He [Theudis] was succeeded by Agila, who holds the kingdom to the present day. Athanagild
Athanagild
has rebelled against him and is even now provoking the might of the Roman Empire. So Liberius the Patrician is on the way with an army to oppose him.[6]

James J. O'Donnell, in his biography of Liberius, casts doubt on this statement, since the patrician was an octogenarian at the time, and Procopius
Procopius
reports he had returned to Constantinople
Constantinople
when the Byzantines invaded Hispania
Hispania
and could not have led the invasion. O'Donnell states that " Jordanes
Jordanes
may have heard that Liberius' name was being mentioned for commander of the Spanish expedition, but, in the end, the fact of his relief from command of the forces in Sicily makes the story of his voyage to Spain
Spain
incredible."[7] However, according to Isidore of Seville
Seville
in his History of the Goths, it was Athanagild, in autumn of 551 or winter of 552, who begged Justinian for help. The army was probably sent in 552 and made landfall in June or July. Roman forces landed probably at the mouth of the Guadalete
Guadalete
or perhaps Málaga
Málaga
and joined with Athanagild
Athanagild
to defeat Agila as he marched south from Mérida towards Seville
Seville
in August or September 552.[8] The war dragged on for two more years. Liberius returned to Constantinople
Constantinople
by May 553 and it is likely that a Byzantine force from Italy, which had only recently been pacified after the Gothic War, landed at Cartagena in early March 555 and marched inland to Baza (Basti) in order to join up with their compatriots near Seville. Their landing at Cartagena was violent. The native population, which included the family of Leander of Seville, was well disposed to the Visigoths
Visigoths
and the Byzantine government of the city was forced to suppress their freedoms, an oppression which lasted decades into their occupation. Leander and most of his family fled and his writings preserve the strong anti-Byzantine sentiment. In late March 555, the supporters of Agila, in fear of the recent Byzantine successes, turned and assassinated him, making Athanagild the king of the Goths. Quickly the new king tried to rid Spain
Spain
of the Byzantines, but failed. The Byzantines occupied many coastal cities in Baetica
Baetica
and this region was to remain a Byzantine province until its reconquest by the Visigoths
Visigoths
barely seventy years later.

The Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
at its greatest extent under Justinian I. Justinian's inherited empire in red with his conquests, including Spania, in orange. It is the westernmost province.

Extent and geography[edit] The Byzantine province of Spania
Spania
never extended very far inland and received relatively little attention from East Roman authorities, probably because it was designed as a defensive bulwark against a Gothic invasion of Africa, which would have been an unnecessary distraction at a time when the Persian Empire was a larger threat in the East.[9] The most important cities of Byzantine Spania
Spania
were Málaga
Málaga
and Cartagena, the probable landing sites of the Byzantine army, which was renamed from Carthago Nova to Carthago Spartaria. It is unknown which of those two cities was the provincial capital, but it was almost certainly one of them. The cities were the centres of Byzantine power and while a few were retaken by Agila, the ones which were retained were a bulwark against Visigothic attempts at reconquest. The Goths easily ravaged the countryside of Spania
Spania
but were inept at sieges and the fortified towns were safe centres of Roman administration.

Spania
Spania
at its greatest extent, with cities indicated and lost territory.

There are few cities which can be confidently considered to have been under Byzantine government in the period. The city of Medina Sidonia (Asidona) was held until 572, when it was reconquered by Leovigild. Gisgonza (also Gigonza, ancient Sagontia)[10] was also held until the reign of Witteric
Witteric
(603–610) and it indicates that the south of the province of Baetica
Baetica
was completely Byzantine from Málaga
Málaga
to the mouth of the Guadalete. In the province of Carthaginiensis, wherein lay Cartagena and of which it was capital, the city of Baza was also Byzantine and it probably resisted the inroads of Leovigild
Leovigild
into that territory in 570, though it was Visigothic by 589. Among the cities which have been disputed as being Byzantine, Córdoba is the greatest. Some historians have suspected it of being the first capital of the province of Spania
Spania
and ascribed the cities of Ecija (Astigi), Cabra (Egabra), Guadix
Guadix
(Acci), and Granada
Granada
(Illiberris) to the Byzantines on this basis, but there is no positive evidence in the sources of Roman rule in any of these cities. Córdoba was in a state of rebellion, briefly joined by Seville
Seville
from 566–567, until Leovigild
Leovigild
put it down in 572. It may have had a local government during this period, or may have recognised Byzantine suzerainty.[11] Aside from the southern parts of the provinces of Baetica
Baetica
and Carthaginiensis
Carthaginiensis
(the southern Levante), the Byzantines also held Ceuta across from the Gibraltar
Gibraltar
and the Balearic Islands, which had fallen to them along with the rest of the Vandal kingdom. Ceuta, though it had been Visigothic and was destined to be associated with the Iberian peninsula for its subsequent history, was attached to the province of Mauretania
Mauretania
Secunda. The Balearics with Baetica
Baetica
and Carthaginiensis formed the new province of Spania. By the year 600 Spania
Spania
had dwindled to little more than Málaga
Málaga
and Cartagena and the Balearics; it extended no further north than the Sierra Nevada. George of Cyprus recorded only one civitas (city, people) in the province: the "Mesopotamians", though the meaning of this is uncertain. Administration[edit]

The Lápida de Comenciolo, an inscription from Cartagena recording the patriciate of Comenciolus

Secular government[edit] The chief administrative official in Spania
Spania
was the magister militum Spaniae, meaning "master of the military of Spain." The magister militum governed civil and military affairs in the province and was subordinate only to the Emperor. Typically the magister was a member of the highest aristocratic class and bore the rank of patrician. The office, though it only appears in records for the first time in 589, was probably a creation of Justinian, as was the mint, which issued provincial currency until the end of the province (c. 625). There were five known magistri in the history of the province, though this certainly does not represent the whole. Two are passingly mentioned by Isidore as successive governors in the time of Suinthila, but he omits their names. The first known governor, Comenciolus (possibly Comentiolus), repaired the gates of Cartagena in lieu of the "barbarians" (i.e. the Visigoths) and left an inscription (dated 1 September 589) in the city which survives to this day.[12] It is in Latin and may reflect the continued use of Latin as the administrative language of the province. (It does not, however, imply that Cartagena was the capital of Spania.) Around 600 there was a governor named Comitiolus who bore the rank of gloriosus, the highest rank after that of emperor. The patrician and magister Caesarius made a peace treaty with Sisebut
Sisebut
in 614 and conferred with the emperor Heraclius, who was more concerned with matters in Mesopotamia. The border between Spania
Spania
and Visigothic kingdom
Visigothic kingdom
was not closed. Travel between the border for personal and mercantile reasons was allowed and the two regions experienced prolonged periods of peace. The ease of traversing the frontier was noted by the exiled Leander, whose brother more than once crossed it without hindrance. The border had been determined by a treaty (pacta) between Athanagild
Athanagild
and Justinian I, but the date of the treaty is still debated. It may have been part of the initial conditions of Byzantine assistance in 551 or 552 or it may have been a product of the war between Goth and Roman in 555 or later. It was certainly signed before Justinian's death in 565. The legitimacy of the pacta was recognised as late as the 7th century, which accounts for the ease of travel and trade. Ecclesiastical government[edit] The province of Spania
Spania
was predominantly Latin Christian, while the Byzantine governors were the same, though many were Eastern Christians. Despite this, the relationship between subject and ruler and between church and state seems to have been no better than in Arian Visigothic Spain. The church of Spania
Spania
was also less independent of the Papacy
Papacy
than the Gothic church, which was composed largely of Hispano-Romans. The two churches were separate. No clerics of one ever attended councils of the other. Indeed, no provincial council ever met in Spania. The theological controversies of each, however, were shared: the one stirred up by Vincent of Zaragoza's conversion to Arianism
Arianism
sparked a response from the bishop of Málaga.

Byzantine oil lamp from Cartagena

Gregory the Great interfered successfully in the various bishoprics of the province more than any pope ever did in the Visigothic kingdom. He came to the defence of the property of two deposed bishops and lorded it over the magister militum Comitiolus, whom he accused of interfering in ecclesiastical affairs. He implicitly accused Licinianus of Cartagena of ordaining ignoramuses to the priesthood, but Licinianus simply replied that to not do so would leave the diocese of the province empty: a sad commentary on the state of clerical education in Spania.[13] Culture[edit] The architectural and artistic style prevalent in Spania
Spania
was not that of Byzantium proper but rather the Byzantinist styles of northern Africa. Two churches, one at Algezares
Algezares
south of Murcia
Murcia
and that of San Pedro de Alcántara near Málaga, have been excavated and studied archaeologically. Only in the Balearic Islands
Balearic Islands
did the style of Greece and Thrace take a foothold. And though Byzantine stylistic markers are present throughout Spain, in the Gothic regions they do not share connections with the African styles prevalent in Spania. In the vicinity of Cartagena, pottery has been discovered bearing distinctively African amphorae that further testify to the close ties between the provinces of Spania
Spania
and Mauretania
Mauretania
Secunda. Cartagena has in recent years been excavated quite thoroughly and a housing complex probably created for Byzantine soldiers occupying the city discovered.[14] Many artefacts of the Byzantine presence can be seen in the Museo Arqueológico de Cartagena. Nevertheless, the city, like most in Spain
Spain
at that time was much diminished in population and area under the Byzantine government. Decline and Visigothic conquest[edit]

Spania
Spania
in 586 after the conquests of Leovigild
Leovigild
(with dates of conquest on map).

In the reigns of Athanagild
Athanagild
and Leovigild, the Byzantines were unable to push their offensive forward and the Visigoths
Visigoths
made some successful pushes back. Around 570, Leovigild
Leovigild
ravaged Bastetania (Bastitania or Bastania, the region of Baza) and took Medina Sidonia
Medina Sidonia
through the treachery of an insider named Framidaneus (possibly a Goth). He may have taken Baza and he certainly raided into the environs of Málaga, defeating a relief army sent from there. He took many cities and fortresses in the Guadalquivir
Guadalquivir
valley and defeated a large army of rustici (rustics), according to John of Biclarum, who may have been referring to an army of bandits called Bagaudae who had established themselves in the disputed buffer zone between Gothic and Roman control.[15] In 577 in Orospeda, a region under Byzantine control, Leovigild
Leovigild
defeated more rustici rebellantes, probably Bagaudae. After two seasons of campaigning against the Romans, however, Leovigild concentrated his military efforts elsewhere. During the rule of Reccared, the Byzantines again took the offensive and probably even regained or gained ground. Reccared
Reccared
recognised the legitimacy of the Byzantine frontier and wrote to Pope Gregory requesting a copy be sent from the Emperor Maurice. Gregory simply replied that the text of the treaty had been lost in a fire during Justinian's reign and warned Reccared
Reccared
that he would not want it found because it would have probably granted the Byzantines more territory than they actually then possessed (August 599). Leovigild's gains against the Roman government were greater than the Roman reconquests of Reccared's reign; the Byzantine province of Spania
Spania
was in decline. Among later kings, Witteric
Witteric
campaigned frequently against Spania, though his generals were more successful than he. The latter captured the small town of Gisgonza. Gundemar
Gundemar
moved the primatial see of Carthaginiensis
Carthaginiensis
from Byzantine Cartagena to Visigothic Toledo in 610 and campaigned against Spania
Spania
in 611, but to no effect. Sisebut
Sisebut
more than any king before him became the scourge of the Byzantines in Spain. In 614 and 615, he carried out two massive expeditions against them and conquered Málaga
Málaga
before 619, when its bishop appears at the Second Council of Seville. He conquered as far as the Mediterranean coast and razed many cities to the ground, enough even to catch the attention of the Frankish chronicler Fredegar:

. . . et plures civitates ab imperio Romano Sisebodus litore maris abstulit et usque fundamentum destruxit.

. . . king Sisbodus took many cities from the Roman empire along the coast, destroying them and reducing them to rubble.[16]

Sisebut
Sisebut
probably also razed Cartagena, which was so completely desolated that it never reappeared in Visigothic Spain. Because the Goths were unable to undertake decent sieges, they were forced to reduce the defences of all fortified places they took in order to prevent later armies from using them against them. Because Cartagena was destroyed but Málaga
Málaga
was spared, it has been inferred that the former fell first while the Byzantine presence was still large enough to constitute a threat. Málaga
Málaga
fell some time after when the Byzantines were so reduced as to no longer form a danger to Visigothic hegemony over the whole peninsula. In 621, the Byzantines still held a few towns, but Suinthila
Suinthila
recovered them shortly and by 624 the entire province of Spania
Spania
was in Visigothic hands save the Balearic Islands, which were an economic backwater in the 7th century. Like the Sardinian giudicati and Corsica in that period, the Balearics were only nominally Byzantine. They were finally separated from the Empire by the Saracen
Saracen
incursions of the 8th through 10th centuries. Sometime during the joint reign of Egica and Wittiza, a Byzantine fleet raided the coasts of southern Spain
Spain
and was driven off by a local count named Theudimer. The dating of this event is disputed: it may have occurred as part of Leontios' expedition to relieve Carthage, under assault by the Arabs, in 697; perhaps later, around 702; or perhaps late in Wittiza's reign. What is almost universally accepted is that it was an isolated incident connected with other military activities (probably against the Arabs
Arabs
or Berbers) and not an attempt to reestablish the lost province of Spania. As Professor Thompson states, "We know nothing whatever of the context of this strange event."[17] Sources[edit]

Primary

Fredegar; John Michael Wallace-Hadrill, trans. (1960). The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar
Fredegar
with its Continuations. Connecticut: Greenwood Press.  Jordanes; Charles C. Mierow, trans. The Origin and Deeds of the Goths. 

Secondary

Bachrach, B. S. (1973). "A Reassessment of Visigothic Jewish Policy, 589–711". The American Historical Review. 78 (1): 11–34. doi:10.2307/1853939.  Collins, R. (2004). Visigothic Spain, 409–711. Oxford: Blackwell.  Grierson, Philip (1955). "Una ceca bizantina en españa". Numario Hispánico. 4 (8): 305–14.  Helal Ouriachen, El Housin (2009). La ciudad bética durante la Antigüedad Tardía: Persistencias y mutaciones locales en relación con la realidad urbana del Mediterraneo y del Atlántico. Granada: Universidad de Granada.  Thompson, E. A. (1969). The Goths in Spain. Oxford: Clarendon. Cf. the appendix "The Byzantine Province", pp. 320–34.  Vallejo Girvés, Margarita (2012). Hispania
Hispania
y Bizancio: Una relación desconocida. Madrid: Akal.  Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. (1967). The Barbarian West, 400–1000 (3rd ed.). London: Hutchison.  Wood, Jamie (2010). "Defending Byzantine Spain: Frontiers and Diplomacy". Early Medieval Europe. 18 (3): 292–319. doi:10.1111/j.1471-8847.2010.00300.x. 

Notes[edit]

^ Dates vary. Some (Collins) put the date of landing as early as 551, other (Wallace-Hadrill) as late as 554. The conquest of the last vestiges of the province has been dated to 625 (Collins) or 629 (W-H). ^ Michael Kulikowski, Late Roman Spain
Spain
and its Cities (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004). ^ Thompson, p. 16. The Byzantines attacked on Sunday, while the Goths had laid down their arms to honour the Sabbath. ^ Isidore of Seville, History of the Goths, translation by Guido Donini and Gordon B. Ford, Isidore of Seville's History of the Goths, Vandals, and Suevi, 2nd revised ed. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1970), chapter 47, pp. 21f. ^ Collins, pp. 47–49. ^ Jordanes, Getica, translated by Charles Christopher Mierow, The Gothic History of Jordanes, 1915 (Cambridge: Speculum Historiale, 1966), LVIII, 303, p. 138. ^ O'Donnell, "Liberius the Patrician", Traditio 37 (1981), p. 67. ^ Thompson, p. 325, based on Isidore. ^ Collins, p. 49. ^ Long misidentified as Sigüenza. ^ Collins, p. 49, considers it unlikely that Córdoba could have been in revolt for so long without coming under Byzantine rule. Thompson, p. 322, sees the lack of primary evidence for Byzantine government in any of the aforementioned cities as conclusive that the Byzantines never could have held Córdoba directly. ^ Thompson, p. 331. The gate was augmented with towers, porticoes, and a vaulted chamber. ^ Thompson, p. 330. ^ Collins, pp. 219–20. ^ Collins, pp. 52–55. ^ Fredegar, IV, vii. ^ Thompson, p. 249.

v t e

Late Roman provinces (4th–7th centuries AD)

History

As found in the Notitia Dignitatum. Provincial administration reformed and dioceses established by Diocletian, c. 293. Permanent praetorian prefectures established after the death of Constantine I. Empire permanently partitioned after 395. Exarchates of Ravenna and Africa established after 584. After massive territorial losses in the 7th century, the remaining provinces were superseded by the theme system in c. 640–660, although in Asia Minor and parts of Greece they survived under the themes until the early 9th century.

Western Empire (395–476)

Praetorian Prefecture of Gaul

Diocese of Gaul

Alpes Poeninae et Graiae Belgica I Belgica II Germania I Germania II Lugdunensis I Lugdunensis II Lugdunensis III Lugdunensis IV Maxima Sequanorum

Diocese of Vienne1

Alpes Maritimae Aquitanica I Aquitanica II Narbonensis I Narbonensis II Novempopulania Viennensis

Diocese of Spain

Baetica Balearica Carthaginensis Gallaecia Lusitania Mauretania
Mauretania
Tingitana Tarraconensis

Diocese of the Britains

Britannia I Britannia II Flavia Caesariensis Maxima Caesariensis Valentia (?)

Praetorian Prefecture of Italy

Diocese of Suburbicarian Italy

Apulia et Calabria Campania Corsica Lucania et Bruttii Picenum
Picenum
Suburbicarium Samnium Sardinia Sicilia Tuscia et Umbria Valeria

Diocese of Annonarian Italy

Alpes Cottiae Flaminia et Picenum
Picenum
Annonarium Liguria et Aemilia Raetia I Raetia II Venetia et Istria

Diocese of Africa2

Africa proconsularis (Zeugitana) Byzacena Mauretania
Mauretania
Caesariensis Mauretania
Mauretania
Sitifensis Numidia Cirtensis Numidia Militiana Tripolitania

Diocese of Pannonia3

Dalmatia Noricum mediterraneum Noricum ripense Pannonia I Pannonia II Savia Valeria ripensis

Eastern Empire (395–c. 640)

Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum

Diocese of Dacia

Dacia Mediterranea Dacia Ripensis Dardania Moesia I Praevalitana

Diocese of Macedonia

Achaea Creta Epirus Nova Epirus Vetus Macedonia Prima Macedonia II Salutaris Thessalia

Praetorian Prefecture of the East

Diocese of Thrace5

Europa Haemimontus Moesia II4 Rhodope Scythia4 Thracia

Diocese of Asia5

Asia Caria4 Hellespontus Insulae4 Lycaonia
Lycaonia
(370) Lycia Lydia Pamphylia Pisidia Phrygia Pacatiana Phrygia Salutaris

Diocese of Pontus5

Armenia I5 Armenia II5 Armenia Maior5 Armenian Satrapies5 Armenia III
Armenia III
(536) Armenia IV
Armenia IV
(536) Bithynia Cappadocia I5 Cappadocia II5 Galatia I5 Galatia II Salutaris5 Helenopontus5 Honorias5 Paphlagonia5 Pontus Polemoniacus5

Diocese of the East5

Arabia Cilicia I Cilicia II Cyprus4 Euphratensis Isauria Mesopotamia Osroene Palaestina I Palaestina II Palaestina III Salutaris Phoenice I Phoenice II Libanensis Syria I Syria II Salutaris Theodorias (528)

Diocese of Egypt5

Aegyptus I Aegyptus II Arcadia Augustamnica I Augustamnica II Libya Superior Libya Inferior Thebais Superior Thebais Inferior

Other territories

Taurica Quaestura exercitus (536) Spania
Spania
(552)

1 Later the Septem Provinciae 2 Re-established after reconquest by the Eastern Empire in 534 as the separate Prefecture of Africa 3 Later the Diocese of Illyricum 4 Placed under the Quaestura exercitus in 536 5 Affected (i.e. boundaries modified, abolished or renamed) by Justinian I's administrative reorganization in 534–536

v t e

Spain
Spain
in the Middle Ages

Early Middle Ages

Visigoths

Visigothic Kingdom

Suebi

Kingdom of the Suebi

Province of Spania Duchy of Cantabria Duchy of Vasconia

Al-Andalus

Caliphate of Córdoba Taifas Almoravid Caliphate Almohad Caliphate Emirate of Granada

Reconquista

Kingdom of Asturias
Kingdom of Asturias
→ Kingdom of León

Kingdom of Galicia County of Castile

Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile
Crown of Castile
Crown of Castile
(Castile-León)

Marca Hispanica
Marca Hispanica
County of Barcelona
County of Barcelona
→ Principality of Catalonia Kingdom of Viguera Kingdom of Pamplona
Kingdom of Pamplona
→ Kingdom of Navarre County of Aragon
County of Aragon
Kingdom of Aragon
Kingdom of Aragon
→ Crown of Aragon

Kingdom of Majorca Kingdom of Valencia

Visigothic monarchs Suebic monarchs Monarchs of al-Andalus Monarchs of Aragon Monarchs of Asturias Monarchs of Barcelona Monarchs of Castile Monarchs of Galicia Monarchs of Granada Monarchs of León Monarchs of Majorca Monarchs of Navarre Monarchs of Valencia Military orders

Coordinates: 36°43′00″N 4°25′00″W / 36.7167°N 4.4167°W

.