Visigoth Kingdom in Spain: Rise and Fall / Christians, Jews, and Fakes / Jerez de la Frontera 711 Defeat Culmination of 300 Years of Preparation
In the 300s, the Goths (an East Germanic tribal grouping) had been living in the fertile areas on the north shore of the Black Sea. The summers are beautiful, and the winters mild. It was an attractive neighborhood.
UNDER PRESSURE FROM EASTERN INVADERS
The Huns were Asian nomads. They had grown tired of the cold winters out on the steppes, and wanted to move in on the Gothic territories. The Goths wanted to stop them, and lost two kings in the wars.
While some stayed and fought, a large group decided it would be safer in the Roman lands. In 376, they traveled to the Danube river frontier, and asked to enter the empire.
WHEN THE GUESTS GET TOO COMFORTABLE
The Romans let them in, and soon found they had taken on a bigger problem than they thought. In 378, the Goths defeated Emperor Valens, the ruler of the eastern lands in the Roman Empire, along with two thirds of his army. (Peter Heather, The Goths, Wiley, 1996, p 1)
The Goths smelled weakness, so followed up with the storming of Rome on 24 August 410. (Peter Heather, The Goths, Wiley, 1996, p 2)
The climate in Italy was better. But when you get right down to it, the winters in Spain are even milder.
TAKING OVER THE IBERIAN PENINSULA
And so they moved into the territory now occupied by Portugal and Spain, together with the province of Narbonne (in France). Their center of empire was located in Toledo. (Hermann Schreiber, Auf den Spuren der Goten, Weltbild, 1973, p 304) The provinces included Gallaecia, Tarraconensis, Lusitania, Baetica, and Carthaginiensis.
TRADERS BRING VALUABLE COMMODITIES -- AND MORAL FILTH -- TO THE NEW EMPIRE
Jewish traders brought international commerce to the empire, but with this trade came problems: "the perfidious Jews attempt, when and wherever they can, secretly to pervert Christians and to attract them to the Jewish perfidy." (Bernard Gui, Practica Inquisitionis hereticae pravitatis)
WHEN PERVERSION FLOODS A NATION
"Read under the table by a generation of pubescent Israelis, often the children of survivors, the Stalags were named for the World War II prisoner-of-war camps in which they were set. The books told perverse tales of captured American or British pilots being abused by sadistic female SS officers outfitted with whips and boots. The plot usually ended with the male protagonists taking revenge, by raping and killing their tormentors."
"the Stalags, a peculiar Hebrew concoction of Nazism, sex and violence, are re-emerging in the public eye. And with them comes a rekindled debate on the cultural representation here of Nazism and the Holocaust, and whether they have been unduly mixed in with a kind of sexual perversion and voyeurism that has permeated even the school curriculum." (Isabel Kershner, Israel’s Unexpected Spinoff From a Holocaust Trial, New York Times, 6 September 2007)
CHURCH COUNCIL ADDRESSES PROBLEM -- SORT OF
The atmosphere of perversion caused the Catholic church to act. At a council at Elvira in Andalusia in 306, the clergy decreed that Catholic women would not be allowed to marry Jews. Married Catholics who had sex with Jews could be punished. (Hermann Schreiber, Auf den Spuren der Goten, Weltbild, 1973, p 293)
SO THE KING HAD TO ACT
The church rules didn't solve the problem, so the civil authority was forced to act. In 506, King Alaric II took these actions: 1) Intermarriage of Jews and Christians was banned; 2) Jews were excluded from public office, since they were forbidden from having positions of power from which they could harm Christians; and 3) Jews couldn't build new synagogues. (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, p 130)
TWO HUNDRED YEARS PASSED -- PROBLEM DIDN'T CHANGE
The laws of 506 didn’t have the desired effect. Consequently, the Third Council of Toledo in 589 prohibited the Jews yet again from having Christian wives or mistresses.
The Jews were a real problem in the Narbonne area (Septimania), which was scornfully referred to as a brothel of blaspheming Jews. The eight bishops in this area met in Narbonne in 589 to enact laws for the Jews. The laws had little effect. The Jews continued with their Zionist agitation, boldly displaying Hebrew signs in public. (Edward James, Visigothic Spain: New Approaches, Clarendon Press, 1980, p 224)
COULD BAPTISM CURE BLASPHEMY?
These laws didn’t do much good either, so King Sisebut (612 – 621) ordered all Jews to become Christians.
SERIOUS ABUSE OF CHRISTIAN SLAVES
The Goths thought it was wrong that Christians slaves should have to serve the perverted desires of their Jewish masters. (Hermann Schreiber, Auf den Spuren der Goten, Weltbild, 1973, p 294) One of the laws the Jews most disliked came from King Sisebut. He said the Jews couldn't own Christian slaves any longer. (Edward James, Visigothic Spain: New Approaches, Clarendon Press, 1980, pp 164, 165) If a law like this was really implemented, the Jews would have been out of work, since “medieval histories, if they mention Jews at all, refer to them almost exclusively as money-lenders or involved in slavery“. (Norman Roth, Medieval Jewish civilization: an encyclopedia, Routledge, 2003, p 189)
WHY NOT JUST BAPTIZE THEM?
King Sisebut was an “educated” king. He gave the Jews two choices: 1) leave the country (Hermann Schreiber, Auf den Spuren der Goten, Weltbild, 1973, p 294), or get baptized (Hermann Schreiber, Auf den Spuren der Goten, Weltbild, 1973, p 295).
One of Sisebut's rules was that if a Jew failed to get a child or servant baptized within one year,
the Jew would be punished with 100 lashes, lose all his possessions, and be expelled from the country. The laws were relatively effective, in that some 90 000 Jews got baptized. (Julius Furst, The Jews in Spain Under the Visigoths, The Occident and American Jewish Advocate, November 1849)
THAT BAPTISM WATER DRIED OFF PRETTY QUICKLY
Getting Jews baptized was much easier than helping them to live a Christian life. While these Jews would publicly claim to be Christians, in secret they continued their Jewish rituals. (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, p 131) So much so that the Seventh Council of Toledo denounced the "abominable and impious faithlessness of the Jews". (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, p 132)
King Reccesuinth passed the Law Code of 654. He tried to stop the judaizing. No more passover. No more ritual sex mutilation. No more ritual slaughter of animals. (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, p 133)
King Recared I made laws prohibiting baptized Jews from offending against the Christian faith (blasphemy), as well as ritual sexual mutilation of children. (Julius Furst, The Jews in Spain Under the Visigoths, The Occident and American Jewish Advocate, November 1849)
The Catholic leaders came together at the Ninth Council of Toledo in 654. They decreed that Jews had to spend all Christian feast days in the presence of the bishop so he could verify they were celebrating properly. (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, p 133)
In 638, the Jews of Toledo promised to give up judaizing (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, p 137). But this didn’t happen. In 654, the baptized Jews promised not to associate with unbelieving Jews. They specifically stated that any Jew who went back to the old life could be stoned to death or burnt alive. (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, p 138)
These promises were not meant sincerely, as King Ervig found the Jews had engaged in “perfidy and unfaithfulness”. (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, p 135)
King Ervig banned celebration of the Sabbath and all other Jewish rituals. He decreed that the Jews could not work on Sundays or Christian feast days. (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, p 133) He further required Jews to keep a copy of the royal laws on their person at all times. If they engaged in ritual sexual mutilation or ritual slaughter, Jews would be punished by 100 lashes. These measures were formally confirmed by the bishops at the XII Council of Toledo in January 681. (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, p 134)
THE PERSISTENT PROBLEM OF JEWISH SLAVE TRADING
The laws were not respected, so in 694 it was decided that the Jews were no longer owners of the property they had. It was decreed, yet again, that Christian slaves were to be liberated. (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, p 135)
The basis for the severe laws of 694 was that Jews were conspiring with external powers to overthrow the kingdom. (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, pp 135 - 136) Naturally, the Jews denied this. The pretension was that they were loyal citizens. But they were lying.
TERRORISM A.D. 612
When a king was too strict with the Jews, he often died an untimely death. Like King Gundemar, whose reign lasted for only two years -- between 610 and 612. Another damaging factor was that the Jews were in the money business, and the princes were often in need. Like the gothic noble Froga, who supported the Jews for pecuniary reasons. (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, p 137)
INFILTRATION OF CATHOLIC CHURCH
In 680, the baptized Jew Renegat managed to became the archbishop of Toledo. (Hermann Schreiber, Auf den Spuren der Goten, Weltbild, 1973, p 295) He called himself Julian, and ruled until 690.
These Jews pretended to be Christians. But when pressed to actually live according to Christian principles, the Jews were generally unable to do so. Rather than reform their lives, they took off for their ancestral home in north Africa. (Hermann Schreiber, Auf den Spuren der Goten, Weltbild, 1973, p 296)
On arrival in north Africa, the Jews worked together with the Moslems to prepare an invasion of Spain. King Egika recognized this danger in 694, when he stated in Toledo: “We have recently learned from reliable sources that the Jews in Spain are working with Jews in other countries to conspire against the Christians.”
Arab historians all agree that the Jews, both inside and outside of Spain, helped to arrange the Islamic conquest of Spain. (Hermann Schreiber, Auf den Spuren der Goten, Weltbild, 1973, p 298) Jews traveled freely between Spain and North Africa, and spied on the Gothic armies and military arrangements.
They stirred up trouble in the Basque areas of northern Spain. When the Jews knew that King Roderic and his military were busy in the north,
JEWISH COMBAT TROOPS INVADE SPAIN
an Arab army commanded by Tarik ibn Ziyad crossed over to the Bay of Gibraltar. Things looked safe, so the main wave of Jewish fighters came over in a second wave commanded by Kaulan al Jahudi. These two armies, Jewish and Arab, marched off to Cordoba. (id., p. 299) Tarik ibn Ziyad was "a Berber recognized as Jewish of the tribe of Simeon". (Spanish-Jewish Chronology, http://sefarad.rediris.es/english/cronologia_english.htm)
On 19 July 711, the big battle took place at the mouth of the Rio Salado. The battle lasted six or seven days, and was decided
when Jews arranged for a wing commander of the Gothic army to defect to their forces. This was the battle of Jerez de la Frontera. (Hermann Schreiber, Auf den Spuren der Goten, Weltbild, 1973, p 300)
JEWISH GARRISONS / MOP UP
In many cases, when the Arab soldiers had conquered a city, they left it in care of the Jews, and moved on to conquer other cities. Jews had always lived in cities, and they had their
OPENING THE GATES, JUST LIKE IN JERUSALEM
settlements in all cities of any commercially-significant size. (Hermann Schreiber, Auf den Spuren der Goten, Weltbild, 1973, p 298) Some cities seemed to have almost completely Jewish populations, like Granada and Lucena.
The reader is invited to compare this development with the aftermath of the 614 conquest of Jerusalem.
The Visigoths were driven out of their homes and palaces by those people they had sheltered and tolerated for hundreds of years. People who had claimed to be Christians. (Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain, MacMillan Press, 1983, p 131) The sort of people who had taken over management of the Catholic church in Toledo. (Hermann Schreiber, Auf den Spuren der Goten, Weltbild, 1973, p 295) But had all the time been conspiring to damage and enslave the Christians (per King Egika cited in Hermann Schreiber, Auf den Spuren der Goten, Weltbild, 1973, p 298).