In our school manuals we can read that the Visigoths conquered Spain in the 5th century, after defeating Vandals and Alans, cornering the Suevi and seizing the remains of the Roman Empire. Reality, as always, was more complex, random and bloody and the forging of the kingdom of Toledo, of the first Spain, was a long process, marked by continuous military campaigns, warrior kings and the achievement of an extremely modern purpose for Europe. of the time and in which Spain was a pioneer: the political unity and legal equality of all its inhabitants regardless of the region in which they lived or the town to which they belonged as described in “Empires and barbarians. The war in the dark ages”(Desperta Ferro), by Professor José Soto Chica (University of Granada).
In 406, on the most apocalyptic New Year's Eve of all time, Vandals, Alans and Suevi crossed the frozen Rhine and overflowed the Roman defenses. Two and a half years later they went to Hispania and sowed desolation. The Empire then resorted to the Visigoths. They had sacked Rome in 410, but by 416 they were aware that it was unfeasible to survive without first reaching a pact with the Romans. The pact was simple: annihilate the barbarians installed in Hispania. The Goths did it and in return they received land in southern Gaul.
During the following decades the Goths focused on Gaul. It is true that from time to time they sent a warrior expedition to the chaotic Hispania to accommodate the suevos, but only from 497 and as the so-called Caesaragustana Chronicle points out, they began to settle in large numbers in a Hispania that, although formally subject to for the most part, it was indeed a convulsed and divided territory.
Indeed, the suevos still held in the northwest, and in the Cantabrian astures and Cantabrians did not support any domain. On the other hand, the vascones pushed from the French Pyrenees and Navarre, subjecting the Romanized people of what is now the Basque Country. Not only they, in Orense were the aurigenses, and on the borders of Portugal with Zamora the bellicose sappos, and in the north of León the dark runcones, while in eastern Sierra Morena the people of Orospeda were virtually independent, as they were the landowners of the aristocratic Córdoba. Spain was the country of chaos and the sword.
The chaos increased when the Goths were annihilated by the Franks in the battle of Vouillé, 507 and pushed south of the Pyrenees. The internal divisions, the Ostrogoda intervention and the civil wars seemed to predict that the history of the Visigoths would not last long, especially when in 552 they landed Byzantine troops and occupied the coastal regions from Cádiz to Denia. In fact and by 555, no one would have bet on the Visigoths. And yet they survived and won.
Goda hegemony in Spain
The person in charge was Leovigildo. It was his brutal energy, his political intelligence and his tireless activity that saved the Goths and forged a powerful kingdom. Year after year the king would launch a warrior expedition after a warrior expedition, and at the same time he consolidated the institution of the monarchy by surrounding it with a splendor and rituals copied from Constantinople, founded cities and led his kingdom towards unity by promulgating a legal code that forced equal to godos and hispanorromanos.
From 570 to 577, Leovigildo was permanently campaigning against the Byzantines, Cordoba, Sappos, Runcones, Cantabrians, Suevos and Vascones. War after war, they were submitted and in 585, his deed culminated conquering the kingdom of the suevos. Leovigildo was no longer the lord of a kingdom condemned to disappear, but the king of a powerful land and as such he did what no German law had done so far: found a city. He called it Recópolis and with it he showed himself as a true successor of Rome.
After crushing the rebellion of his son Hermenegildo and conjuring a second Byzantine intervention, Leovigildo bequeathed his son and successor, Recaredo, a consolidated kingdom that achieved his religious unity in 589 and successfully faced the enterprise of destroying the Byzantine domain in the Peninsula and demonstrate to the bellicose Franks that attacking the Godo kingdom of Hispania was no longer a good idea.
It was Sisebuto and Suintila the kings who managed to complete the work of Leovigildo. Sisebuto snatched Malaga from the Byzantines in 613 and in 625 Suintila conquered their capital: Cartagena. Suintila also forced the vascones to a deditio or unconditional surrender. Except for the "Byzantine Gibraltar," Algeciras, and Ceuta and the Balearic Islands, all of Hispania now formed a single kingdom. It was the most powerful, cultured and rich kingdom in Europe.
Leovigildo, a warrior king
Leovigildo was a true "warlord." His brother, Liuva, entrusted him with a violent and disintegrated Hispania and Leovigildo, impetuous, fierce, unstoppable, was dominating him campaign after campaign. In 570 he led his warrior host against the Byzantine Spania and sacked the fields of Baza and Malaga. The following year, in a "command operation," he took the formidable fortress city of Medina Sidonia. In 572 Leovigildo managed to seize Córdoba with a nightly hand strike and a brutal looting campaign. In 573 the king turned northwest and subdued the Sappos of Savaria, in what are now the border regions of Zamora and in 574 he conquered the Cantabrians, and then, in 575, dominate the aregenses, in Orense. Moreover, Leovigildo achieved in 576 that the king of the suevos asked for peace and in 577, taking his troops back south, towards Sierra Morena, conquered the Orospeda. Not even the sullen and anarchic Basque escaped the edge of his sword. Leovigildo fought hard against them and founded the city of Vitoriacum to stop their raid raids through the Ebro Valley. In the end, in 586 with a "lightning campaign" in which land and naval troops participated, he conquered the suevos and with it catapulted his kingdom into the category of great power. Something that was demonstrated with the strong defeat that his son Recaredo inflicted on the Franks.