Visigoths  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Visigoths were one of two main branches of the Goths, an East Germanic tribe; the Ostrogoths being the other. Together these tribes were among the barbarians who disturbed the late Roman Empire during the Migration Period. The Visigoths first emerged as a distinct people during the fourth century, initially in the Balkans, where they participated in several wars with Rome. A Visigothic army under Alaric I eventually moved into Italy and famously sacked Rome in 410.

Eventually the Visigoths were settled in southern Gaul as foederati of the Romans, the reasons for which are still subjects for debate among scholars. They soon fell out with their hosts and established their own kingdom with its capital at Toulouse. They slowly extended their authority into Hispania, displacing the Vandals and Alans. Their rule in Gaul was cut short in 507 at the Battle of Vouillé, when they were defeated by the Franks under Clovis I. Thereafter the only territory north of the Pyrenees that the Visigoths held was Septimania and their kingdom was limited to Hispania, which came completely under the control of their small governing elite, at the expense of the Byzantine province of Spania and the Suebic Kingdom of Galicia.

In or around 589, the Visigoths, under Reccared I, formerly Arians, converted to the Nicene faith. In their kingdom, the century that followed was dominated by the Councils of Toledo and the episcopacy. Historical sources for the seventh century are relatively sparse. In 711 or 712 the Visigoths, including their king and many of their leading men, were killed in the Battle of Guadalete by a force of invading Arabs and Berbers. The kingdom quickly collapsed thereafter, a phenomenon which has led to much debate among scholars concerning its causes. Gothic identity survived the fall of the kingdom, however, especially in the Kingdom of Asturias and the Marca Hispanica.

Of what remains of the Visigoths in Spain and Portugal there are several churches and an increasing number of archaeological finds, but most notably a large number of Spanish, Portuguese, and other Romance language given names and surnames. The Visigoths were the only people to found new cities in western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire and before the rise of the Carolingians. Until the Late Middle Ages, the greatest Visigothic legacy, which is no longer in use, was their law code, the Liber iudiciorum, which formed the basis for legal procedure in most of Christian Iberia for centuries after their kingdom's demise.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Visigoths" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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