The Visigothic Kingdom of Toledo

An Epitome

by Paulo Henrique Pachá


The Third Council of Toledo, 589, as imagined in 1862


The history of the Visigothic Kingdom of Toledo is a history of conflicts – both past and present. The Arab Conquest in 711 still is presented today simultaneously as an enigma and as a catastrophe. The Conquest is the starting point for most characterizations of Visigothic society – its history, therefore, appears as the history of its fall.

The conflicts in the past were real, but their centrality can only be explained by the centrality of the Visigothic Kingdom of Toledo in the conflicts of the present. Nationalism in the last two centuries fused the history of (modern) Spain with the history of the Visigothic Kingdom of Toledo. The result was the development of rival characterizations of Visigothic society – each one related with a specific strand of Spanish nationalism. Both of them accepting the Conquest as its central element, varying in its explanation and judgment. To characterize the Kingdom, therefore, is to move in between the past and present conflict’s.

This books aims to be a useful resource for undergraduate students and the general public. It is a short introduction to central themes of Visigothic society and the contemporary historiography about it. In its brevity, it deals with a large scope of themes and characterizations: the monarchy, economy and social structure, Christianity and the relationships between the Visigoths and their neighbors. In this way, this books aims to be as much a synthesis of current interpretations of Visigothic society as it is an examination of the historiography developments in the last century.