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Conquerors and Chroniclers of Early Medieval Spain by Kenneth Baxter Wolf

By Kenneth Baxter Wolf

From the viewpoint of the Hispano-Romans, the Visigoths who invaded Spain within the mid-fifth century have been heretical barbarians. yet Leovigild's army luck and Reccared's conversion to Catholic Christianity resulted in extra confident checks of the Gothic position in Iberian historical past. John of Biclaro (c.590) and Isidore of Seville (c.625) authored histories that projected the Gothic achievements again directly to their doubtful beginnings, remodeling them from antagonists of the Roman Empire to protagonists of a brand new, self sufficient Chistianity in Spain.

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22 HistGoth 5; cf. HistGoth 4. 23 HistGoth 12. 24 HistGoth 21. 25 HistGoth 21–2. 26 HistGoth 23–4. 27 HistGoth 25. 28 HistGoth 39. indd 15 23/02/2011 10:17 16 CONQUERORS AND CHRONICLERS Isidore did not try very hard to balance the image of the Goths as a tenaciously independent people whose ‘liberties’ were won from the Romans in battle rather than negotiated in peace,29 with that of the Goths as viable imperial allies. He did not really need to because neither stance vis-à-vis the empire was uncomplimentary to the Goths.

Yet unlike Isidore they did not enjoy the luxury of identifying religiously with the victors. 1 We know nothing about its author. The first entry, which records the death of Reccared, suggests that the author regarded his work as a continuation of John of Biclaro’s c­ hronicle. But the dissimilarities between the two works stand out more than the similarities. For one thing, the chronicler of 741 was not nearly as interested in Gothic history as was John of Biclaro. Having begun with notices about Reccared’s death and the subsequent accessions of Liuva and Witteric, the author promptly turned his attention to the east: to Heraclius’ rebellion against the emperor Phocas in 610 and his campaigns against the Persians and Arabs.

62 See, for instance, Chr754 9, 88. The distinction that Barkai makes between the use of regnum in reference to the caliphate by the chronicler of 741 and the absence of the term in the Chronicle of 754 is not supported by the texts, where regnum appears with similar frequency. Refer to the concordance in López Pereira’s Crónica mozárabe de 754, p. 159. ). 64 The capital of the Arab province of Ifriqiya, located in modern Tunisia. 65 Chr754 91. 66 Chr754 57. Barkai did not take this into account when hypothesizing, on the basis of the accuracy of the transliterations, that the author of the Chronicle of 754 knew Arabic.

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