Spania was a province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

 of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 from 552 until 624 in the south of the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 and the Balearic Islands
Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.The four largest islands are: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. The archipelago forms an autonomous community and a province of Spain with Palma as the capital...

. It was a part of the conquests of Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 in an effort to restore the western half of the Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....


Conquest and foundation

The conquest of the Vandal
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

 kingdom in Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 and reestablishment of the Byzantine province of Mauretania
Mauretania is a part of the historical Ancient Libyan land in North Africa. It corresponds to present day Morocco and a part of western Algeria...

 by Belisarius
Flavius Belisarius was a general of the Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental to Emperor Justinian's ambitious project of reconquering much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century previously....

 was accomplished in 534 and brought the Byzantine military in contact with the Visigoths of Spain. Despite his efforts, the Vandal king Gelimer
Gelimer , King of the Vandals and Alans , was the last ruler of the North African Kingdom of the Vandals...

 had been unable to effect an alliance with the Gothic king Theudis
Theudis was king of the Visigoths in Hispania from 531 to 548. He was the sword-bearer of Theodoric the Great, who sent him to govern the Visigothic kingdom during the minority of Amalaric, the son of king Alaric II and Theodegotho, the daughter of king Theodoric.According to Procopius, during his...

, who probably took the opportunity of the collapse of Vandal authority to conquer Ceuta
Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish...

 (Septem) across the Straits of Gibraltar in 533, probably to prevent the Byzantines from using it as a launch point for an attack on Spain. This citadel was reconquered by Belisarius the next year, but Spain was not invaded. Ceuta, which was briefly recaptured by the Visigoths in 540 and lost through a subterfuge, became a part of Mauretania. It was an important base for reconnaissance of Spain in the years leading up to the peninsula's invasion by Justinian's forces in 552.

In 550, in the reign of Agila I, Spain was troubled by a series of revolts, two of which were serious. The citizens of Córdoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

 rebelled against Gothic or Arian
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 rule and Agila was roundly defeated, his son killed, and the royal treasure lost. He himself retreated to Mérida
Mérida, Spain
Mérida is the capital of the autonomous community of Extremadura, western central Spain. It has a population of 57,127 . The Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993.- Climate :...

. The date of the other major revolt cannot be arrived at precisely. Either at the commencement of his reign (549) or as late as 551, a nobleman named Athanagild
Athanagild was Visigothic King of Hispania and Septimania. He had rebelled against his predecessor, Agila, in 551. The armies of Agila and Athanagild met at Seville, where Agila met a second defeat...

 took Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

, capital of Baetica, and presumed to rule as king in opposition to Agila. Exactly who approached the Byzantines for assistance and when is also disputed; the primary sources are divided. Even the name of the general of the Byzantine army is disputed. Although Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

 wrote that the Patrician Liberius
Liberius (praetorian prefect)
Petrus Marcellinus Felix Liberius was a Late Roman aristocrat and official, whose career spanned seven decades in the highest offices of both the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy and the Eastern Roman Empire...

 was its commander:

He [Theudis] was succeeded by Agila, who holds the kingdom to the present day. Athanagild has rebelled against him and is even now provoking the might of the Roman Empire. So Liberius the Patrician is on the way with an army to oppose him.

James J. O'Donnell, in his biography of Liberius, casts doubt on this statement, since the patrician was an octogenarian at the time, and Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

 reports he had returned to Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 when the Byzantines invaded Hispania and could not have led the invasion. O'Donnell states that "Jordanes may have heard that Liberius' name was being mentioned for commander of the Spanish expedition, but, in the end, the fact of his relief from command of the forces in Sicily makes the story of his voyage to Spain incredible."

However, according to Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

 in his History of the Goths
Historia de regibus Gothorum, Vandalorum et Suevorum
The Historia ' Gothorum, is a Latin history of the Goths from 265 to 624, written by Isidore of Seville. It is a condensed account and, due to its diverse sources, somewhat inconsistent...

, it was Athanagild, in autumn of 551 or winter of 552, who begged Justinian for help. The army was probably sent in 552 and made landfall in June or July. Liberius' forces landed probably at the mouth of the Guadalete or perhaps Málaga
Málaga is a city and a municipality in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain. With a population of 568,507 in 2010, it is the second most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth largest in Spain. This is the southernmost large city in Europe...

 and joined with Athanagild to defeat Agila as he marched south from Mérida towards Seville in August or September 552. The war dragged on for two more years. Liberius returned to Constantinople by May 553 and it is likely that a Byzantine force from Italy, which had only recently been pacified after the Gothic War
Gothic War (535–552)
The Gothic War between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy was fought from 535 until 554 in Italy, Dalmatia, Sardinia, Sicily and Corsica. It is commonly divided into two phases. The first phase lasted from 535 to 540 and ended with the fall of Ravenna and the apparent...

, landed at Cartagena
Cartagena, Spain
Cartagena is a Spanish city and a major naval station located in the Region of Murcia, by the Mediterranean coast, south-eastern Spain. As of January 2011, it has a population of 218,210 inhabitants being the Region’s second largest municipality and the country’s 6th non-Province capital...

 in early March 555 and marched inland to Baza
Baza, Granada
Baza is a town in the province of Granada in southern Spain. It has 21,000 inhabitants . It is situated at 844 m above sea level, in the Hoya de Baza, a valley of the Sierra Nevada, not far from the Gallego River. This town gives its name to the Sierra de Baza...

 (Basti) in order to join up with their compatriots near Seville. Their landing at Cartagena was violent. The native Catholic population, which included the family of Leander of Seville
Leander of Seville
Saint Leander of Seville , brother of the encyclopedist St. Isidore of Seville, was the Catholic Bishop of Seville who was instrumental in effecting the conversion to Catholicism of the Visigothic kings Hermengild and Reccared of Hispania .-Family:Leander and Isidore and...

, was well disposed to the Visigoths and the Byzantine government of the city was forced to suppress their freedoms, an oppression which lasted decades into their occupation. Leander and most of his family fled and his writings preserve the strong anti-Byzantine sentiment.

In late March 555, the supporters of Agila, in fear of the recent Byzantine successes, turned and assassinated him, making Athanagild the king of the Goths. Quickly the new king tried to rid Spain of the Byzantines, but failed. The Byzantines occupied many coastal cities in Baetica and this region was to remain a Byzantine province until its reconquest by the Visigoths barely seventy years later.

Extent and geography

The Byzantine province of Spania was never extended very far inland and received relatively little attention from East Roman authorities, probably because it was designed as a defensive bulwark against a Gothic invasion of Africa, which would have been an unnecessary distraction at a time when the Persian Empire was a larger threat in the East. The most important cities of Byzantine Spania were Málaga and Cartagena, the probable landing sites of the Byzantine army, which was renamed from Carthago Nova to Carthago Spartaria. It is unknown which of those two cities was the provincial capital, but it was almost certainly one of them. The cities were the centres of Byzantine power and while a few were retaken by Agila, the ones which were retained were a bulwark against Visigothic attempts at reconquest. The Goths easily ravaged the countryside of Spania but were inept at sieges and the fortified towns were safe centres of Roman administration.

There are few cities which can be confidently considered to have been under Byzantine government in the period. The city of Medina Sidonia (Asidona) was held until 572, when it was reconquered by Leovigild. Gisgonza (also Gigonza, ancient Sagontia) was also held until the reign of Witteric
Witteric was Visigothic King of Hispania, Septimania and Galicia from 603 to 610....

 (603–610) and it indicates that the south of the province of Baetica was completely Byzantine from Málaga to the mouth of the Guadalete. In the province of Carthaginiensis, wherein lay Cartagena and of which it was capital, the city of Baza was also Byzantine and it probably resisted the inroads of Leovigilid into that territory in 570, though it was Visigothic by 589.

Among the cities which have been disputed as being Byzantine, Córdoba is the greatest. Some historians have suspected it of being the first capital of the province of Spania and ascribed the cities of Ecija
Écija is a city belonging to the province of Seville, Spain. It is located in the Andalusian countryside, 85 km east of the city of Seville. According to the 2008 census, Écija has a total population of 40,100 inhabitants, ranking as the fifth most populous city in the province...

 (Astigi), Cabra
Cabra is the Spanish word for goat. It may also refer to:*Cabra, Dublin, a district in north Dublin, Ireland*Cabra, County Down, a townland in County Down, Northern Ireland*Cabra, Spain, a municipality in the province of Córdoba, Andalucía, Spain...

 (Egabra), Guadix
Guadix, a city of southern Spain, in the province of Granada; on the left bank of the river Guadix, a sub-tributary of the Guadiana Menor, and on the Madrid-Valdepeñas-Almería railway...

 (Acci), and Granada
Granada is a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers, the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil. It sits at an elevation of 738 metres above sea...

 (Illiberris) to the Byzantines on this basis, but there is no positive evidence in the sources of Roman rule in any of these cities. Córdoba was in a state of rebellion, briefly joined by Seville from 566–567, until Leovigild put it down in 572. It may have had a local government during this period, or may have recognised Byzantine suzerainty.

Aside from the southern parts of the provinces of Baetica and Carthaginiensis (the southern Levante
Levante, Spain
The Levante is a name used to refer to the eastern region of the Iberian Peninsula, on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. It roughly corresponds to the former Xarq Al-Andalus, but has no modern geopolitical definition...

), the Byzantines also held Ceuta across from the Gibraltar and the Balearic Islands
Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.The four largest islands are: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. The archipelago forms an autonomous community and a province of Spain with Palma as the capital...

, which had fallen to them along with the rest of the Vandal kingdom. Ceuta, though it had been Visigothic and was destined to be associated with the Iberian peninsula for its subsequent history, was attached to the province of Mauretania Secunda. The Balearics with Baetica and Carthaginiensis formed the new province of Spania. By the year 600 Spania had dwindled to little more than Málaga and Cartagena and it extended no further north than the Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada (Spain)
The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in the region of provinces of Granada and Almería in Spain. It contains the highest point of continental Spain, Mulhacén at 3478 m above sea level....

. George of Cyprus recorded only one civitas (city, people) in the province: the "Mesopotamians", though the meaning of this is uncertain.


Secular government

The chief administrative official in Spania was the magister militum Spaniae, meaning "master of the military of Spain." The magister militum
Magister militum
Magister militum was a top-level military command used in the later Roman Empire, dating from the reign of Constantine. Used alone, the term referred to the senior military officer of the Empire...

governed civil and military affairs in the province and was subordinate only to the Emperor. Typically the magister was a member of the highest aristocratic class and bore the rank of patrician. The office, though it only appears in records for the first time in 589, was probably a creation of Justinian, as was the mint, which issued provincial currency until the end of the province (c. 625).

There were five known magistri in the history of the province, though this certainly does not represent the whole. Two are passingly mentioned by Isidore as successive governors in the time of Suinthila, but he omits their names. The first known governor, Comenciolus (possibly Comentiolus
Comentiolus was a prominent Eastern Roman general at the close of the 6th century, during the reign of Emperor Maurice . He played a major role in Maurice's Balkan campaigns, and fought also in the East against the Persians.- Life :...

), repaired the gates of Cartagena in lieu of the "barbarians" (ie the Visigoths) and left an inscription (dated 1 September 589) in the city which survives to this day. It is in Latin and may reflect the continued use of Latin as the administrative language of the province. (It does not, however, imply that Cartagena was the capital of Spania.) Around 600 there was a governor named Comitiolus who bore the rank of gloriosus, the highest rank after that of emperor. The patrician and magister Caesarius made a peace treaty with Sisebut in 614 and conferred with the emperor Heraclius
Heraclius was Byzantine Emperor from 610 to 641.He was responsible for introducing Greek as the empire's official language. His rise to power began in 608, when he and his father, Heraclius the Elder, the exarch of Africa, successfully led a revolt against the unpopular usurper Phocas.Heraclius'...

, who was more concerned with matters in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...


The border between Spania and Visigothic kingdom was not closed. Travel between the border for personal and mercantile reasons was allowed and the two regions experienced prolonged periods of peace. The ease of traversing the frontier was noted by the exiled Leander, whose brother more than once crossed it without hindrance. The border had been determined by a treaty (pacta) between Athanagild and Justinian I, but the date of the treaty is still debated. It may have been part of the initial conditions of Byzantine assistance in 551 or 552 or it may have been a product of the war between Goth and Roman in 555 or later. It was certainly signed before Justinian's death in 565. The legitimacy of the pacta was recognised as late as the seventh century, which accounts for the ease of travel and trade.

Ecclesiastical government

The province of Spania was predominantly Latin Christian
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

, while the Byzantine governors were the same, though many were Eastern Christians
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

. Despite this, the relationship between subject and ruler and between church and state seems to have been no better than in Arian Visigothic Spain. The church of Spania was also less independent of the Papacy than the Gothic church, which was composed largely of Hispano-Romans. The two churches were separate. No clerics of one ever attended councils of the other. Indeed, no provincial council ever met in Spania. The theological controversies of each, however, were shared: the one stirred up by Vincent of Zaragoza's
Vincent of Saragossa
Saint Vincent of Saragossa, also known as Vincent Martyr, Vincent of Huesca or Vincent the Deacon, is the patron saint of Lisbon. His feast day is 22 January in the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion and 11 November in the Eastern Orthodox Churches...

 conversion to Arianism sparked a response from the bishop of Málaga.

Gregory the Great
Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I , better known in English as Gregory the Great, was pope from 3 September 590 until his death...

 interfered successfully in the various bishoprics of the province more than any pope ever did in the Visigothic kingdom. He came to the defence of the property of two deposed bishops and lorded it over the magister militum Comitiolus, whom he accused of interfering in ecclesiastical affairs. He implicitly accused Licinianus of Cartagena of ordaining ignoramuses to the priesthood, but Licinianus simply replied that to not do so would leave the diocese of the province empty: a sad commentary on the state of clerical education in Spania.


The architectural and artistic style prevalent in Spania was not that of Byzantium proper but rather the Byzantinist styles of northern Africa. Two churches, one at Algezares south of Murcia
-History:It is widely believed that Murcia's name is derived from the Latin words of Myrtea or Murtea, meaning land of Myrtle , although it may also be a derivation of the word Murtia, which would mean Murtius Village...

 and that of San Pedro de Alcántara
San Pedro de Alcántara
San Pedro de Alcántara lies on the main Costa del Sol coastal road the N340/A7 as well as the new toll motorway the AP7, 10 km west of Marbella in Andalucia, Southern Spain....

 near Málaga, have been excavated and studied archaeologically. Only in the Balearic Islands did the style of Greece and Thrace take a foothold. And though Byzantine stylistic markers are present throughout Spain, in the Gothic regions they do not share connections with the African styles prevalent in Spania.

In the vicinity of Cartagena, pottery has been discovered bearing distinctively African amphora
An amphora is a type of vase-shaped, usually ceramic container with two handles and a long neck narrower than the body...

that further testify to the close ties between the provinces of Spania and Mauretania Secunda. Cartagena has in recent years been excavated quite thoroughly and a housing complex probably created for Byzantine soldiers occupying the city discovered. Many artefacts of the Byzantine presence can be seen in the Museo Arqueológico de Cartagena. Nevertheless, the city, like most in Spain at that time was much diminished in population and area under the Byzantine government.

Decline and Visigothic conquest

In the reigns of Athanagild and Leovigild, the Byzantines were unable to push their offensive forward and the Visigoths made some successful pushes back. Around 570, Leovigild ravaged Bastetania (Bastitania or Bastania, the region of Baza) and took Medina Sidonia through the treachery of an insider named Framidaneus (possibly a Goth). He may have taken Baza and he certainly raided into the environs of Málaga, defeating a relief army sent from there. He took many cities and fortresses in the Guadalquivir
The Guadalquivir is the fifth longest river in the Iberian peninsula and the second longest river to be its whole length in Spain. The Guadalquivir is 657 kilometers long and drains an area of about 58,000 square kilometers...

 valley and defeated a large army of rustici (rustics), according to John of Biclarum, who may have been referring to an army of bandits called Bagaudae
In the time of the later Roman Empire bagaudae were groups of peasant insurgents who emerged during the "Crisis of the Third Century", and persisted particularly in the less-Romanised areas of Gallia and Hispania, where they were "exposed to the depredations of the late Roman state, and the great...

who had established themselves in the disputed buffer zone between Gothic and Roman control. In 577 in Orospeda, a region under Byzantine control, Leovigild defeated more rustici rebellantes, probably Bagaudae. After two seasons of campaigning against the Romans, however, Leovigild concentrated his military efforts elsewhere.

During the rule of Reccared
Reccared I was Visigothic King of Hispania, Septimania and Galicia. His reign marked a climactic shift in history, with the king's renunciation of traditional Arianism in favour of Catholic Christianity in 587.Reccared was the younger son of King Liuvigild by his first wife Theodosia...

, the Byzantines again took the offensive and probably even regained or gained ground. Reccared recognised the legitimacy of the Byzantine frontier and wrote to Pope Gregory requesting a copy be sent from the Emperor Maurice. Gregory simply replied that the text of the treaty had been lost in a fire during Justinian's reign and warned Reccared that he would not want it found because it would have probably granted the Byzantines more territory than they actually then possessed (August 599). Leovigild's gains against the Roman government were greater than the Roman reconquests of Reccared's reign; the Byzantine province of Spania was in decline.

Among later kings, Witteric
Witteric was Visigothic King of Hispania, Septimania and Galicia from 603 to 610....

 campaigned frequently against Spania, though his generals were more successful than he. The latter captured the small town of Gisgonza. Gundemar
Gundemar was a Visigothic King of Hispania, Septimania and Galicia .Gundemar continued a policy of amity with Clotaire II of Neustria and Theodobert II of Austrasia. To this end, he sent grand sums of money to support their cause against their relative Theuderic II of Burgundy...

 moved the primatial see of Carthaginiensis from Byzantine Cartagena to Visigothic Toledo
Toledo, Spain
Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

 in 610 and campaigned against Spania in 611, but to no effect. Sisebut more than any king before him became the scourge of the Byzantines in Spain. In 614 and 615, he carried out two massive expeditions against them and conquered Málaga before 619, when its bishop appears at the Second Council of Seville. He conquered as far as the Mediterranean coast and razed many cities to the ground, enough even to catch the attention of the Frankish
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 chronicler Fredegar:

. . . et plures civitates ab imperio Romano Sisebodus litore maris abstulit et usque fundamentum destruxit.

. . . king Sisbodus took many cities from the Roman empire along the coast, destroying them and reducing them to rubble.

Sisebut probably also razed Cartagena, which was so completely desolated that it never reappeared in Visigothic Spain. Because the Goths were unable to undertake decent sieges, they were forced to reduce the defences of all fortified places they took in order to prevent later armies from using them against them. Because Cartagena was destroyed but Málaga was spared, it has been inferred that the former fell first while the Byzantine presence was still large enough to constitute a threat. Málaga fell some time after when the Byzantines were so reduced as to no longer form a danger to Visigothic hegemony over the whole peninsula.

In 621, the Byzantines still held a few towns, but Suinthila recovered them shortly and by 624 the entire province of Spania was in Visigothic hands save the Balearic Islands, which were an economic backwater in the seventh century. Like the Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

n giudicati
The giudicati were the indigenous kingdoms of Sardinia from about 900 until 1410, when the last fell to the Aragonese. The rulers of the giudicati were giudici , from the Latin iudice , often translates as "judge". The Latin for giudicato was iudicatus The giudicati (singular giudicato) were the...

and Corsica
Medieval Corsica
The history of Corsica in the medieval period begins with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and the invasions of various Germanic peoples in the fifth century and ends with the complete subjection of the island to the authority of the Bank of San Giorgio in 1511.-Eastern Imperial...

 in that period, the Balearics were only nominally Byzantine. They were finally separated from the Empire by the Saracen
Saracen was a term used by the ancient Romans to refer to a people who lived in desert areas in and around the Roman province of Arabia, and who were distinguished from Arabs. In Europe during the Middle Ages the term was expanded to include Arabs, and then all who professed the religion of Islam...

 incursions of the eighth through tenth centuries.

Sometime during the joint reign of Egica and Wittiza
Wittiza was the Visigothic King of Hispania from 694 until his death, co-ruling with his father, Ergica, until 702 or 703.-Joint rule:...

, a Byzantine fleet
Byzantine navy
The Byzantine navy was the naval force of the East Roman or Byzantine Empire. Like the empire it served, it was a direct continuation from its imperial Roman predecessor, but played a far greater role in the defense and survival of the state then its earlier iterations...

 raided the coasts of southern Spain and was driven off by a local count named Theudimer. The dating of this event is disputed: it may have occurred as part of Leontios'
Leontios was Byzantine emperor from 695 to 698. He came to power by overthrowing the Emperor Justinian II, but was overthrown in his turn by Tiberios III. His actual and official name was Leo , but he is known by the name used for him in Byzantine chronicles.- Early life :Leontios was born in...

 expedition to relieve Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

, under assault by the Arabs, in 697; perhaps later, around 702; or perhaps late in Wittiza's reign. What is almost universally accepted is that it was an isolated incident connected with other military activities (probably against the Arabs or Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

) and not an attempt to reestablish the lost province of Spania. As Professor Thompson states, "We know nothing whatever of the context of this strange event."


  • Thompson, E. A. The Goths in Spain. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969. See Appendix "The Byzantine Province", pp 320–334.
  • Collins, Roger. Visigothic Spain, 409–711. Blackwell Publishing, 2004.
  • Helal Ouriachen, El Housin. 2009. "La ciudad bética durante la Antigüedad Tardía. Persistencias y mutaciones locales en relación con la realidad urbana del Mediterraneo y del Atlántico." PhD thesis, Universidad de Granada, Granada.
  • Wallace-Hadrill, John Michael
    John Michael Wallace-Hadrill
    John Michael Wallace-Hadrill CBE was Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of Manchester , a Senior Research Fellow of Merton College in the University of Oxford , Chichele Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford and a Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford...

    . The Barbarian West, 400–1000. 3rd ed. London: Hutchison, 1967.
  • Bachrach, Bernard S.
    Bernard Bachrach
    Bernard S. Bachrach is an American historian and a professor of history at the University of Minnesota. He specialises in the Early Middle Ages, mainly on the topics of Medieval warfare, Medieval Jewry, and early Angevin history...

     "A Reassessment of Visigothic Jewish Policy, 589-711." The American Historical Review, Vol. 78, No. 1. (Feb., 1973), pp 11–34.
  • Wintle, Justin. The Rough Guide History of Spain. Penguin Group, 2003.
  • Jordanes
    Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

    . The Origin and Deeds of the Goths. Translated by Charles C. Mierow.
  • Fredegar. The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar with its Continuations. Translated by John Michael Wallace-Hadrill
    John Michael Wallace-Hadrill
    John Michael Wallace-Hadrill CBE was Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of Manchester , a Senior Research Fellow of Merton College in the University of Oxford , Chichele Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford and a Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford...

    . Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1960.
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