The blow was very rough. The monarchy with Gaul lost its center; and not only did he not have the strength to win her back, but he saw his very existence in danger. The Iberian Peninsula, on which by now he had to rely almost exclusively, was a country of too recent conquest to be able to immediately become its valid support. Moreover, since Clovis’s conversion to Catholicism had given Gaul a new direction to the traditional policy of the barbarian monarchies towards the Catholic populations of the invaded countries, their natural desire for redemption had strengthened in the latter, and therefore had surrendered. the coexistence of the Aryans with the Catholics is more difficult and the life of the states, such as that of the Visigoths, in which Arianism was the religion of the invader, is precarious. And finally, the disputes for the succession to the throne, habitual among the peoples, such as the Visigoths, whose monarchy was elective, and now made more serious by the defeat, had weakened the power of the government and facilitated the march of the enemy who, pushed up to Narbonne, he seemed far from willing to put an end to his conquests. The intervention of Theodoric was then timely, rushed to the aid of his nephew Amalaric and effectively remained in government until his death (526). The Visigoths, it is true, lost Provence, which the Ostrogothic ruler took for himself; but the Frankish advance was stopped and at least a relative order was established in the country. The rest was done, on the one hand, by the supervening certainty that it was impossible to take away the fruit of their victories from the now overly strengthened Franks: which persuaded the defeated to abandon the program of revenge, to retreat from their old positions, to seek stable accommodation in the Iberian Peninsula; and, on the other hand, the ability to firm up in a country of Roman civilization and the flexibility in knowing how to adapt to the situation, which were not lacking in the Visigoths.
In fact, even before their arrival in Gaul, they had felt the influence of that civilization, and then had increasingly benefited from it in their centuries-old residence in the new headquarters. And indeed here they had had the opportunity to acquire experience in the art of organizing the state, when, from the continuous progress of their life led to gradually modify its military constitution, on the principle coexisting with the Roman political-administrative one of the invaded country, and reduce the detachment with its residents, they had been forced to face the complex problem and had begun to solve it by increasingly attenuating the political dualism, among other things by entrusting many public offices to the provincial aristocracy, and by setting out to ensure a base territorial to its own state.
After the Ostrogoth protection, the success did not reach the policy of approaching the Merovingians attempted by Amalaric, and the fate of arms was also adverse to him: defeated by Childebert, the king was killed by his soldiers. Then, forced to change this line of conduct, his successor Teudi (531-48) began to follow a peculiarly Spanish one. Thus, while inside he revealed himself to be a worthy continuer of Theodoric’s peacemaking work, in his external relations the new sovereign did not limit himself to rejecting the Franks who had come up to the walls of Zaragoza, but he also turned his gaze to the southern border of the state and, to secure it against a possible Byzantine offensive, he moved against Mauretania in a vain effort to take it away from the Vandals, whose future was already marked. Afterwards, Agila (549-54) tried to take a step forward, and tried, but with little luck, to take possession of the territories of Betica and Carthaginian which were still in the domain of the Spanish-Roman nobility. Finally the radical transformation of the government directives was hastened by the very serious upheavals that provoked and accompanied the coup d’etat carried out by Atanagildo, when the Roman Catholic element rose up against Agila’s attempt and, called by the usurper for help, the Byzantines they penetrated precisely into the regions where the struggle was most intense and increased its intensity: and all this, while on the borders the pressure of the Franks became dangerous again and the Suevi reappeared threateningly, who, converted to Catholicism under King Theodomir (559-70), they began to play a part in the life of the peninsula again, and, throwing themselves into the dispute with the ardor of neophytes, they seemed to want to quickly regain what they had lost a century earlier. Then, from the very bosom of the monarchy came the decisive salutary reaction.
At first steps were taken to strengthen the authority of the monarch and to extend it over the whole peninsula, creating a solid Iberian unity: naturally, in this first phase the movement took on the character of a Visigothic national recovery. Atanagildo himself (554-67), having obtained the throne, moved against his ancient allies, that is, against the Byzantines and the Roman Catholic nobility; he eliminated the frank danger by establishing kinship relations with the Merovingians; he chose Toledo, in the center of the peninsula, as the capital of his state. Then, the military and territorial consolidation of the monarchy was accomplished under Leovigild (567-86), who thus acquired the reputation of being its true founder. In continuous struggle against internal and external enemies, largely united with each other, it vigorously repressed the city revolts of the nobility;Montes Aregenses (perhaps the current province of Orense), and the Oróspeda province; reduced the conquests of the Byzantines; he took a large part of their centuries-old daring from the Basques, who were driven back to the mountains and held in check by the fortress of Vittoriaco (Vitoria) built against them (581); it strengthened the diîesa of the possessions that the Visigoths kept in Gaul to protect the Pyrenees; in 585 he put an end to the Swabian kingdom and occupied its territories.
At the death of the sovereign the monarchy now embraced the whole peninsula: the Byzantines, reduced to the coasts, which began to flow, also from here will be expelled in about thirty years by Sisebuto (612-20) and by Suintila (621-31), and the latter against the Basques will build Oligitum (Olite?) . It was necessary to provide for its internal organization.
In the fervor of the struggle, Leovigild had sharpened the detachment between the Visigoths and the indigenous population: to the former he had given a systematic reform of the code of Eurico, perhaps modeled on the Justinian example, and towards the latter he had shown himself to be an irreducible opponent of Catholicism. But once the victory was achieved, it was no longer possible to insist on this line of conduct. Even if defeated, the Hispano-Roman element was still the predominant in number, wealth, civilization; its strength had grown after the annexation of the kingdom of the Swabians, already converted; and religious difference, as in the past, was destined to deepen civil strife. Moreover, Catholicism had long since entered the ranks of the Visigoths, and during the reign of Leovigild it had conquered the soul of his son Ermenegildo, who, rising up against his father, he had fallen in the struggle and had been raised to the honors of the altar. Furthermore, the reaction of the Visigoths itself was to be considered fleeting, because by now their national sentiment had been too weakened by the Romanization, and their moral and material detachment from the surrounding Roman world became less and less. And, finally, in order to suffocate the spirit of revolt typical of the Visigothic nobility, traditionally inclined to regicide, an ecclesiastical aristocracy had to end up considering it useful. Thus Recaredo (586-601), son of Leovigild, converted to Catholicism; he called the third council of Toledo (589), with which the official participation in the government of the high clergy began; the repression of the Aryan revolts began, then continued by his successors. Another step forward was made later with Chindasvindo (641-52), who from the beginning of his reign wanted to be rejected in the judiciary what was the result of violence and arbitrariness on the part of the judge, and with his constitutions he prepared the abolition of the duality of rights. And this work of unification, which nullified the differences in race, was completed by his son Reccesvindo (649-72), who allowed mixed marriages, and around 654 published the Liber iudiciorum (the Lex Visigothorum par excellence), which was extended to the two peoples. Roman law, it is true, was then abrogated; however, many of its elements had long since penetrated into Visigothic legislation, to which, after religious conversion, canon law had made its contribution.
Thus the Visigothic state saw the perfection of the regulations that it had gradually given itself, adapting the customs of the ruling people and the needs of the moment to the particular conditions in which the invader had found the country, already overwhelmed by the crisis that had hit the whole empire. The monarchy remained elective. The social inequalities existing in the last days of the empire were preserved: indeed, ever greater constraints limited personal freedom; the “colonato” had great development; owing to the scarce protection that the state could grant to its subjects, the search for a “patron” on the part of small owners or free workers was anxious. The process of centralization of the landed property in a few hands continued, and therefore the extension of the estates grew, that had begun to form before the invasions. Once these became centers of life, the decline of the city worsened, already exhausted of men and resources, and now neglected by the invader who had no city traditions. The scant industrial work continued to be organized with the corporate system. The Roman traditions about the exploitation of some mines and the working of fabrics and metals were only partially preserved. But in this way, more than healed, the effects of the crisis that the Visigoths had found in place upon their arrival ended up being stabilized, and, in some respects, even aggravated. Moreover, once the peninsula was unified, any possibility of further expansion ceased for the invading people; for the improvement of organization of the state on the basis of a commonality of life and interests with the indigenous peoples, its condition of privilege also waned; and for it began the era of withdrawal from the previous avant-garde positions and therefore of disarmament. Finally, the indigenous people, already removed from political life in the early days of the invasion, disinterested in the new state which was not their work or were unable to strengthen it: for example, ecclesiastical policy tending to give effective power to the monarch failed, constantly fighting with the nobility; and therefore useless, sometimes harmful, the councils of Toledo proved to be, in which the aristocracy, the officials of the highest rank, always the high clergy, participated, and which, consultative bodies, freely summoned by the sovereign to have their opinion and help, at least in theory they should not have diminished their authority and indeed should have allowed the more powerful and cultured classes to have some part in the government and to collaborate in the life of the new political body. At that time, the crisis, which had already caused the end of the empire, due to the diversity of the situation assuming new forms in the political field, had the same deleterious consequences for the Visigothic state.
According to FASHIONISSUPREME.COM, King Wamba (672-80) tried to stem it by organizing the country militarily; and for this purpose he imposed a kind of compulsory service and imposed the penalty of infamy for the dodgers. But his law aroused general protests, not excluding those of the Church, which had seen in the draft including its own servants; and so strong was the opposition and so high the number of deserters that King Ervige (680-687) had to abrogate it, stating that otherwise the threatened punishment would have hit the majority of the people. Then it was no longer possible to curb the turbulence of the nobility and the high clergy, who began to dispose of the royal purple and to legislate in councils; religious intemperance, which at the end of the seventh century became ferocious against the Jews and from this time began to give a peculiar character to the history of Spain, increased the number of internal enemies; and the banning of those, like the Jews, who dominated the country’s finance, made the general economic crisis more acute.
Very little is known about the last years of the monarchy’s life: it seems that, to prevent their revolt, Witiza (701-09) had the walls of most of the cities demolished, and the fault of an incorrect policy towards the Church and sad accusations of debauchery were attributed and addressed to him and his successor Rodrigo, who took the throne in 710 for a coup. Only one bitter truth cannot be doubted : the rapid conquest that the Arabs could make of the peninsula.