Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Roman Empire and Germanic invasions

Hispania supplied Rome with food, olive oil, wine and metal. The emperors Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and Theodosius I, the philosopher Seneca and the poets Martial, Quintilian and Lucan were born in Spain. The Spanish Bishops held the Council at Elvira in 306. The collapse of the Western Roman empire did not lead to the same wholesale destruction of Western classical society as happened in areas like Britain, Gaul and Germania Inferior during the Dark Ages, even if the institutions, infrastructure and economy did suffer considerable degradation. Spain's present languages, its religion, and the basis of its laws originate from this period. The centuries of uninterrupted Roman rule and settlement left a deep and enduring imprint upon the culture of Spain.

The first hordes of Barbarians to invade Hispania arrived in the 5th century, as the Roman empire decayed. The tribes of Goths, Visigoths, Swebians (Suebi), Alans, Asdings and Vandals, arrived to Spain by crossing the Pyrenees mountain range. They were all of Germanic origin. This led to the establishment of the Swebian Kingdom in Gallaecia, in the northwest, and the Visigothic Kingdom elsewhere. For a while, the Germanic peoples lived under their own laws while the much larger romanized local populations continued to live under Roman-inspired law. The Visigothic Kingdom eventually encompassed the entire Iberian Peninsula with the Roman Catholic conversion of the Goth monarchs. The horseshoe arch, which was adopted and perfected by the later Muslim era builders, was in fact originally an example of Visigothic art.


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