Friday, February 05, 2016

Follow-Up on a Recent Post about Spain

After seeing a recent post by Matthew Alderman entitled “A Visigothic Hermitage in the Province of Burgos”, reader Mervyn Samuel was kind enough to send in the following photographs and some information about them. Mr Samuel is a member of a cultural association in Spain called Urbs Regia, which seeks to promote great knowledge and appreciation of the Visigothic culture and its role in the formation of Spain. Their website is currently being redone; we will post notice when it comes back online. Of course, we have written here from time to time about one of the most important survivals of Visigothic Spain, the Mozarabic Liturgy.

“I was pleased to see your recent mention of the Visigoths in Spain in relation to the little church of Nuestra Señora de las Viñas. They were so important in Spanish and European history yet are little remembered nowadays. Precisely for this reason an association, Urbs Regia, has been established in the Visigothic capital, Toledo, to examine what remains of their culture in Spain and other countries (a previous capital was Bordeaux).

We have recently visited the ruins of the palatine city of Recopolis (in the modern province of Guadalajara), and the Visigothic section of the National Archaeological Museum here in Madrid. A few photos are attached.

Above all, I would suggest that the Visigoths were in no real sense ‘barbarians’ when they came into Hispania as allies of Rome to try to prop up Roman civilisation in this peninsula. Originally Arian heretics, they accepted full Christianity in its Catholic form as a result of the conversion of King Recaredus I, formalised at the 3rd Council of Toledo in 589. They included such glorious figures of European culture as Saint Isidore, Archbishop of Seville. They united Hispania for the first time by overcoming the Suevians in the north-west, and expelling the Byzantine or Eastern Roman forces from the south-east. Always a small proportion of the total population, they allowed the long-established Hispano-Roman cities to continue under Roman Law, while their own affairs were governed by Germanic Common or Customary Law.

The two remaining arms of a processional cross (third photo) are of such high quality that they were probably saved from Toledo Cathedral during the Islamic invasion of 711 and hidden with the remainder of the Guarrazar Hoard. The fourth photo shows votive crowns from the same hoard, probably also from the Cathedral; the fifth shows the votive crown of King Recesvintus.”

Kind Recaredus speaks to the bishops at the Third Council of Toledo

Remains of a basilica at Recopolis
Remains of a palace

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