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Visigothic division and Muslim preservers of order.

A History of Early al-Andalus: The Akhbar Majmu'a is an anonymous anthology of texts ranging from the eighth to the eleventh century. Early Islamic Spain: The History of Ibn al-Qutiya is a collection of the teachings of the Ibn al-Qutiya (895977), a descendant of the Visigothic King Witiza. The manuscripts of these texts are bound together, and they represent some of the earliest versions of the legend of Rodrigo and Florinda (James 4). The seventh to eleventh centuries were a period of transition in Arab culture where written communication slowly gained equal footing with oral transmissions (Sayeed 108). Earlier, oral traditions had been considered more reliable than written ones because of the value of face-to-face communication and the prestige this lent to the information (Sayeed 88). As a result, the fact that the manuscripts are several centuries removed from their original sources does not undermine their value.

These two sources describe the conquest of Hispania from a Muslim point of view with the rhetorical purpose of legitimizing Umayyad control of al-Andalus. Originally, the Umayyads had created a caliphal regime based in Damascus beginning in AD 661/Hijri 41. However, in AD 750/Hijri 132, the Iraqi 'Abbasids rebelled against the Syrian Umayyads. Their uprising gained widespread support due to tensions over the unequal treatment given to new converts, the heavy taxes imposed on non-Arabs, and the use of public funds to purchase land that was only given to Umayyad supporters instead of being more equally divided among the different tribes (Marin-Guzman 73-75). The 'Abbasids managed to kill all but one of the Umayyad princes, 'Abd al-Rahman I. He escaped Damascus, made his way to Africa, and eventually entered al-Andalus in AD 756/Hijri 138. 'Abd al-Rahman I and his successors ruled al-Andalus as emirs until, in the tenth century, 'Abd al-Rahman III declared himself caliph. By this time, the 'Abbasid's power had weakened, and the African Fatimids had also declared their own caliphate. 'Abd al-Rahman III claimed that the Damascan Umayyad caliphate had continued in al-Andalus and was the true caliphate. This move was calculated to undermine the 'Abbasids and dissuade the Fatimids from attempting any incursions into Umayyad territory.

An important part of 'Abd al-Rahman Ill's legitimizing efforts lay in emphasizing the Muslim conquest of al-Andalus as an event that happened under the leadership of the Umayyads. This was a period of great expansion of Muslim territory into Asia, Africa, and al-Andalus. These successes brought an influx of material wealth and land. According to Marin Guzman, the motivation for these impressive expansions was overpopulation, lack of food and resources, and limited opportunities (61). Nevertheless, the conquests are usually presented as examples of the Umayyad caliphate's prosperous leadership and the significant economic benefits reaped from the military successes during their rule in Damascus and al-Andalus (Ardzrooni 438). The successful annexation of new territory implies the stewardship of these caliphs was divinely favored, ultimately meaning the 'Abbasid rebellion was unsanctioned and illegitimate. This is the aspect 'Abd al-Rahman III focused on, and his patronage of al-Andalus' historians ensured they would highlight the benefits of Umayyad leadership. Both the final compiler of the Akhbar Majmu 'a and Ibn al-Qutiya belong to this period of historical efforts.

Both sources refer to the legend of Rodrigo and Florinda. They present it as an example of a great Muslim victory and imply that the Christians' defeat is the result of divine judgment for moral corruption. They create a set of contrasting foils between Rodrigo, the last Visigothic king, and the Umayyad caliph, Khalid ibn al-Walid. Rodrigo is a prideful and destructive ruler. He betrays his subjects' trust by putting his own desires before their safety, which lead the Visigothic nobility to seek help from the Muslims in order to restore justice and order. Rodrigo's conduct contrasts with the morality and loyalty depicted between the Muslims and their Umayyad caliph al-Walid to the extent that the caliph will not risk his soldiers' safety even for the promise of riches. Al-Walid shows more concern for his distant subjects in Africa than Rodrigo does for the people in his palace. The Muslims are presented as successful in the conquest because they are morally strong and have divine favor.



The only extant copy of the anonymous The Akhbar Majmu 'a dates from the fifteenth century (James, A History of Early al-Andalus 13). However, most scholars agree that the text comes from a collection of sources from the eighth to the eleventh centuries. Although the author is unknown, historian Dolores Oliver Perez posits the idea that it may have been written by Tammam B. 'Alqama's and his relatives as a family archive (Oliver Perez). She bases this theory on internal references to Tammam and the access he and his relatives had to the Cordovan court. There is a lot of speculation surrounding the manuscript, but little is known for sure. However, Luis Molina points out that it is valued for its historical weight because of its detailed narration of what happened in the first century of Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula and because it has yet to be replaced with more reliable sources from the 8 th century (513).


In this version of the legend, Musa, the leader of the Muslim expansion into Africa, is unable to annex Ceuta. Julian, Ceuta's governor, receives supplies and reinforcements from the king of al-Andalus, Witiza. However, once Witiza dies, the people elect General Rodrigo as king because they dislike Witiza's sons, Sisibert and Oppa. Regretfully, Rodrigo improperly uses his position to take advantage of the daughter of one of his nobles while she is in his care at court. According to their customs, the Visigothic aristocracy send their children to the royal court in Toledo to serve the king. The sovereign is then in charge of educating them and arranging their marriages to suitable spouses. Rodrigo rapes Julian's daughter instead of marrying her to a noble. Julian receives news of the incident through a letter, and he decides to get revenge and "deprive the king of his kingdom" (49). As a result, Julian gives his allegiance to Musa and invites him to add al-Andalus to his territory.

Musa writes to the calif al-Walid to inform him of Julian's offer, and he receives a warning not to endanger the soldiers on the sea. Musa must first send Tarif with 400 men and 100 horses as a scouting party to determine the risks of the crossing. Tarif's landing is successful, and he returns home safely in AD 710/Hijri 91. Musa then sends Tariq with an army of 7,000 soldiers. Rodrigo hears of the Muslim arrival while he is in the far north attacking Pamplona, so he gathers his 100,000 man army and moves south to meet Tariq's forces. In preparation for the encounter with Tariq, Rodrigo places Sisibert and Oppa, Witiza's sons, in charge of his left and right flanks. However, when Sisibert and Oppa see the Muslim forces, they persuade the Visigothic nobles to defect. These aristocrats resent Rodrigo because he is not of royal blood and because they think the Muslims will only plunder the land and then leave: "This son of a whore overthrew our lord. He is not from the royal family only one of our menials. Now this band are not interested in taking over our land: they only want booty and then they will leave us. Let us desert this son of a whore when we meet him in battle" (50). Consequently, Rodrigo and the remaining middle column are defeated. After the fighting ends, the king is nowhere to be found. The Muslim army finds his horse, cape, and boot stuck in mud, but they never find Rodrigo's body.


The legend of Rodrigo and Florinda and the conquest of al-Andalus only makes up a small portion of this text. The majority of it describes the intrigues, civil wars, and frequent revolts in al-Andalus prior to the arrival of the Umayyads. These years of instability are contrasted with the cultured and orderly presentation of the Umayyad emirate and caliphate in order to promote Umayyad rule. This civilizing view is created through the text's inclusion of administrative letters, love poems, and literary contemplations written by Umayyad leaders as well as through the description of the successful conquest of al-Andalus, which takes place while the Umayyads are the caliphs in Damascus. The text is quick to note the political instability that led to civil war in al-Andalus occurred under the leadership of men who had not been personally appointed by Umayyads: "all were appointed by Bishr ibn Safwan without the authority of the caliph" (59). The legend is instrumental to reinforce the legitimacy and benefits of Umayyad leadership. One way this theme is developed is through the contrast between the caliph and Rodrigo.

Rodrigo is presented as a bad leader. Medieval Muslim leaders were expected to behave in a manner that agreed with religious mores because their worldview interpreted events as signs of divine favor or punishment. Within the History of Early al-Andalus: The Akhbar Majmu'a is an example of this rationale when Governor Yusuf makes a clear connection between his divinely arranged defeat and his moral failure of killing two of his men: "I fear God has sent a disaster upon us [himself and his supporters] for killing those two" (89). This contrasts with the good leadership of the Umayyad emir, Hisham ibn 'Abd al-Rahman, who is described as "virtuous, liberal and generous; dealing with his subjects well and protecting the Marches" as well as sending money bags to mosques on rainy days in order to encourage attendance (113-14). Good leaders follow the religious mores in place, and bad leaders are divinely punished for deviating from those standards. This makes the reference to the legend of Rodrigo and Florinda a didactic lesson about the negative effects of moral laxness. Rodrigo's lasciviousness opens the door to the destruction of his people, and this allows the legend to function as a very strong prohibition against immorality and supporting corrupt leaders.

Rodrigo's defeat also emphasizes the results of bad leadership because he does not foster loyalty from his subordinates. The caliph's ability to direct the invasion from Damascus demonstrates the obedience, devotion, and power he commands. In contrast, the very aristocrats who have personal contact with Rodrigo plot his defeat. Musa's inability to take Ceuta until Julian changes his allegiance underscores Julian's good leadership and fidelity to his sovereign. It is only after his daughter is abused that he capitulates and proposes the idea of invasion to Musa. This demonstrates the need for gaining the support of subordinates in order to foster order and maintain a leader's control of his territory. Julian's new alliance works against Rodrigo's sovereignty, proving the impact only one defection can have.

Witiza's sons also abandon Rodrigo, and their behavior emphasizes the losses that arise from lack of strong leadership. Rodrigo's nobles withdraw from the battle, and this literal lack of order among the troops causes Rodrigo's defeat. This demonstrates the effects of chaos on the Visigothic kingdom and supports the Umayyad promotion of order as essential to civilization (Safran 129). Witiza's sons justify their defection due to Rodrigo's illegitimate rule. They claim he usurped the throne, and they encourage the other nobles to abandon Rodrigo. The Umayyad caliphate was based on heredity. However, the Visigothic kingship was based on election.

According to the Visigothic religious code, Article III of the Fifth Council of Toledo (AD 636), kings needed to come from good families, be of good character, and they specifically needed to be elected by the people or be given the kingdom by the Visigothic nobles (Coleccion de canones 320). A History of Early al-Andalus: The Akhbar Majmu'a states that Rodrigo is elected by the people; however, it does not explicitly say whether the Visigothic nobles elected him. Therefore, it seems Rodrigo legally complies with the requirements for being elected king even if Witiza's sons do not approve. Regardless of whether or not the Visigothic nobles themselves specifically elected him as king, as a good leader, Rodrigo should have gained their loyalty. Instead, it seems that he succeeds in alienating them. The manner in which Rodrigo treats his ward, Julian's daughter, demonstrates a disregard for the people under his care. Rodrigo's actions against Julian's trust lend themselves to the insinuation that the king may have been in the habit of placing his personal goals above the allegiance of his aristocracy. That would explain his inability to garner their loyalty and the ease with which they desert him.

Rodrigo cannot even keep the fidelity of subordinates who have had personal contact with him, yet the caliph considers the safety of soldiers he has never even met: "Do not endanger the Muslims on a sea of terror!" (49). In reality, al-Walid's fear of losing troops loyal to the Umayyads was probably due less to a sincere concern over his soldiers' lives than the threat to his power which could result if he over-taxed his armies, which already stretched from Asia to Africa (Marin Guzman 17). Nevertheless, the caliph is a much better leader and a more desirable ruler than Rodrigo. Caliph al-Walid's concern for his armies, Hisham ibn 'Abd al-Rahman's generosity, and King Witiza's support for Julian in Africa all demonstrate that loyalty can be created by showing care for subordinates. This agrees with both Muslim and Christian teachings that leaders are stewards. The Umayyad caliphs comply with this leadership philosophy and expand their domain. Rodrigo does not follow this teaching, and he loses his kingdom. Lack of unity opens the door to invasion and defeat. Rodrigo's weak leadership and morals lead to his consequent removal. This reinforces the ideology that corrupt leaders will be divinely judged and removed from power.

The care the caliph demonstrates for his client troops and the consequent miraculous conquest of al-Andalus present the Umayyads in good light in this version of the legend. The text's description that the largely outnumbered Muslim forces defeated the Visigoth's 100,000-man army reveals divine favor. According to Safran, the description of the incredibly large Visigothic army that fought against the comparatively few Muslim troops helps augment the glory of the conquest and of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid who authorized it (115). The legend promotes the Umayyad's right to rule, especially given the fact that the conquest of al-Andalus originally occurred under their leadership.

Despite the disgruntled nobles, the text presents Rodrigo as the sole leader of the Visigothic kingdom. It describes Hispania as a very populous unit which still has a 100,000 man army even after half of the population has died in a recent famine: in AD 709/Hijri 90 "there was a plague in which half or more of the population died" (A History of Early al-Andalus 50). This describes Hispania as a good place to settle because it can support a large amount of people. The mention of a recent famine that killed half of the population agrees with historical data that frequent famines and pestilences affected Hispania towards the end of the Visigothic reign, but the reference to it seems to serve rhetorical purposes apart from simply conveying historical data. If the Visigoth population had recently been halved, the conquest would have been easier to accomplish than one that confronted a strong, healthy Visigothic force. However, this interpretation does not fit the rest of the text's context of presenting the taking of al-Andalus as a miraculous show of divine favor. Instead, the reference serves to further critique Rodrigo's bad leadership in not preventing the death of so many people. Such a staggering loss of life works as an indictment against him. Because of the uncontrollable nature of famines, they are often associated with heavenly retribution, and this again works to make the Umayyad presence in al-Andalus appear beneficial. It implies that their assumption of power in the region was divinely arranged in order to rid the area of the ineffective, despotic rule of Rodrigo.

With respect to blame associated with the other main characters, the presentation of Julian in this version of the legend is fairly neutral. He is loyal to the good King Witiza, and initially he is also obedient to Rodrigo. He only changes allegiance once the king takes advantage of his daughter. Witiza's sons have a more problematic position. They conspire for the armies to abandon Rodrigo during battle due to what appears to be jealousy. In fact, none of the characters who are described as suffering from jealousy end well. For example Musa, who becomes jealous of Tariq's success and mistreats him, is heavily fined and imprisoned for his abuses. Musa, like Rodrigo, is presented in a negative light and as a bad leader who is removed from power. Interestingly, the caliph al-Walid also suffers from jealousy, and this leads him to recall Musa, but he dies before Musa and Tariq arrive. This demonstrates that even good leaders can be corrupted by jealousy and be removed from power.



David James refers to Muhammad Ibn Umar Ibn al-Qutiya's untitled manuscript as Early Islamic Spain: The History of Ibn al-Qutiya. It is also known as Ta'rikh Ibn al-Qutiya. The text is based on the oral teachings of Ibn al-Qutiya (AD 895-977/Hijri 282-367). According to Jose Antonio Maravall, this text represents one of the oldest descriptions of the conquest from a Muslim point of view (204). It is unknown if this history was copied from a manuscript that Ibn al-Qutiya read aloud to his students while he was teaching or whether it is a compilation and summary of notes collected by his students (James, Early 29). Ibn al-Qutiya describes himself as the descendant of the last legitimate Visigoth king, Witiza via his son Almund and his granddaughter Sara. Although Roger Collins casts doubt on the veracity of this by stating that Ibn al-Qutiya is "a self-proclaimed descendant of the Visigothic king Wittiza [sic]," this is accepted by several historians including David James, Jose Antonio Maravall, and Dolores Oliver Perez (Collins 35). Ibn al-Qutiya lived during a time when the history of al-Andalus had recently started to be collected and studied under the patronage of 'Abd al-Rahman III (AD 912-961/Hijri 300-350) and al-Hakam II (AD 961-976/Hijri 350-366). These histories were important not only in promoting the cultural heritage of al-Andalus but also in spreading 'Abd al-Rahman Ill's political agenda. Even though Ibn al-Qutiya's teachings are anecdotal and morally didactic, James states that "Ibn al-Qutiya wants to show the power of the Umayyads is divinely given, but can only be maintained if they govern with justice" (41). Both this source and A History of Early al-Andalus: The Akhbar Majmu'a promote the idea that the Umayyad's successful expansions marks them as good moral examples. The prosperous Umayyad leadership contrasts with the results of Rodrigo's disastrously amoral one.


According to Ibn al-Qutiya's text, the last king of the Visigoths is Witiza. When Witiza dies, he is survived by three young sons: Almund, Rumulu, and Artabas. Because they are too young to rule, their mother becomes regent. However, Rodrigo, the army commander, rebels and seizes Cordova. When Rodrigo comes to power, he does two things that are forbidden: he places a crown on his head and he opens the temple in Toledo. This temple is where the ark containing the Four Gospels used for royal oaths is kept and where the names of the dead kings are inscribed. It is kept locked because of its sacredness. When Rodrigo opens the temple, he sees pictures of turbaned Arab archers. An inscription below the image foretells that al-Andalus will be conquered by the people depicted in the pictures.

Julian is a widower and Christian merchant who buys animals from North Africa for Rodrigo. Because he does not have anyone with whom to leave his beautiful daughter while he is away, Rodrigo allows her to stay at the palace. He then falls in love with her and seduces her. When her father returns, she tells him what happened. Julian then tricks Rodrigo into funding a return trip to Africa. Once in Africa, Julian contacts Tariq to try and convince him to conquer al-Andalus by describing all of its weak points. Tariq writes to Musa and receives permission to go. Tariq also sees Mohammed in a dream and interprets this as a good omen of his success. After his first victory, Tariq orders that some of the prisoners be killed and their bodies cooked in a large pot. He then releases the rest of the prisoners in order to allow them to go out and spread stories of what appear to be anthropophagi (51).

When Rodrigo hears that Tariq is in al-Andalus, he writes to the sons of Witiza to ask for their help. They go to Secunda but do not enter the city because they do not trust him and consider him as nothing more than their father's underling. That night, the three brothers contact Tariq requesting safe conduct and assurance of being allowed to possess their father's estates. This request is granted, and the next morning, during the battle, the brothers switch their support to the Muslim side. Rodrigo's demise at the Guadalete River is described in this manner: "God defeated [Rodrigo]. Weighed down with weapons he threw himself in the river and was never found" (51). The outcome of the battle was divinely influenced against Rodrigo.


This source is very specific in calling Witiza, not Rodrigo, the last king of the Visigoths. It does not refer to Rodrigo as king. Rodrigo's illegitimate reign is emphasized by his first two acts after his ascension. The sacred place Rodrigo enters is a temple in Toledo whose treasure is specifically identified as an ark containing the Gospels used to swear in kings. The description of the temple as the one in Toledo is very important because Toledo was established as the Visigothic capital by Leovigild, and it was the one place where legitimate kings could be crowned (Collins 71). It was also an important intellectual and religious center where kingdom-wide church councils, known as the Councils of Toledo, met to review doctrinal beliefs and sacred rites including kingly election. As a result, Rodrigo's swearing in and crowning at Toledo would symbolically legitimize his rule. However, Rodrigo's illegal entry into the temple desecrates it, and this logically annuls the validation of his crowning. Ibn al-Qutiya's text describes Rodrigo's vow upon the Gospels as weightless, sacrilegious, and not in keeping with the standard procedures for kingly election.

An additional profanation is Rodrigo's donning of a crown. In A History of Early al-Andalus: The Akhbar Majmu'a, Rodrigo's widow marries Musa's son and convinces him to wear a crown because she says it is the manner in which he can identify himself as king: "a king who has no crown is a king who has no realm" (History of Early al-Andalus 56). 'Abd al-Aziz's acquiescence to wear a crown leads to his identification as a Christian convert and to his murder for apostasy. The wearing of crowns is associated with Christian kings.

The Visigothic tradition of votive crowns is historically controversial with respect to whether or not crowns were made expressly for the purpose of donation to churches or whether they also might have been worn by regents prior to their dedication to the church. Nevertheless, there is agreement that votive crowns were widely used by the Visigoths. Revelation 4:10 includes a scene where twenty-four elders take off their crowns and throw them down in front of the throne of God in acknowledgment of their dependence. This led to the tradition among many different Christian kingdoms of consecrating crowns as a recognition that "el monarca es, efectivamente, un servidor de Dios y solo por su voluntad divina esta sentado en el trono" (Molina Gomez 465). Among the Visigoths, the donation of crowns predates the wearing of crowns as a regnal marker, a practice which is associated with Leovigild's desire to create a hereditary kingship and his attempts to distinguish his family from other noble families (Miles 22). Visigothic coins portray regents wearing crowns, so Rodrigo's mere assumption of a crown cannot be the censured action here. However, Rodrigo's right to wear a crown, a mark of divinely invested leadership, is questioned.

In fact, Rodrigo's arrogance closely parallels the sacrilege Julian of Toledo (AD 642-690) ascribes to the dux Paul during his rebellion against King Wamba in his Historia of Wambae regis, a source to which authors of the conquest narratives and the legend of Rodrigo and Florinda had access. Paul's "election" by the people in Narbonne is presented as invalid because it is preceded by force and because Paul is nominated by one of his fellow traitors. Julian of Toledo goes on to call Paul sacrilegious because he steals from the churches in order to fund his rebellion and irreverently appropriates for himself the crown, which King Reccared had donated to Saint Felix (215). It is possible that Ibn al-Qutiya is claiming that Rodrigo not only forced his swearing in but also took a donated crown to wear as a sign of his kingship. This would be a supreme religious infraction because it would turn a symbol of subservience to heavenly authority into a sign of Rodrigo's spiting both celestial and terrestrial election. The description of these two actions points to Rodrigo's violation of Visigothic and religious laws in order to leave no question of Rodrigo's illegitimacy. The use of force to attain illegal investiture of power also parallels the Umayyad view of the 'Abbasid revolt, and this presentation of Rodrigo's ascension may have been expressed to elicit emotional connections between the two regimes.

Rodrigo's death also works to vilify him because it is related to his pride, as he seems to have drowned due to a choice to jump into a river. This action is cowardly and desperate. Visigothic kings were expected to be strong warriors: those who proved to be weak in battle were often murdered by their own men (Collins 36). Jumping into a river to escape portrays Rodrigo as both a bad king and an incompetent general. That he drowns because his weaponry weighs him down emphasizes his cowardice in valuing his life over his mobility. Soldiers are expected to be able to carry the weight of their weapons and armor. Rodrigo's inability to do so insinuates that he is wearing a lot of protective gear, and this would have limited in his ability to effectively do battle. It paints the picture that Rodrigo is preoccupied with his survival and depends on his soldiers to do most of the fighting. Unfortunately for him, Witiza's sons also value their survival and decide they have more to gain by siding with the Muslims and regaining control of their father's estates than they do by helping Rodrigo. This decision implies that Rodrigo is not following the regulations of Article II of the Fifth Council of Toledo which states that the inheritance and lands that a previous king leaves to his family and servants cannot be taken from them by force (Coleccion de canones 320). Unlike History of Early al-Andalus: The Akhbar Majmu'a, which describes Witiza's sons plotting against Rodrigo out of jealousy, this version presents Witiza's sons receiving justice at the hands of the Muslims because it is through them that they regain control of their inheritance. Their defection, as well as Julian's, is the result of Rodrigo's mistreatment of them. While the acts of treason that Witiza's sons and Julian commit are not applauded, they also are not condemned. Rather, they are depicted as examples of the chaos that can result from the lack of good leadership. This version of the legend agrees with A History of Early al-Andalus: The Akhbar Majmu'a by presenting the Muslims as people of order and justice. The Muslim assumption of control in the Iberian Peninsula works in favor of the Visigothic nobles.

Although Rodrigo is an illegitimate ruler, Hispania is identified as a single unit, and no concurrent rulers are identified. This unified presentation of the Visigothic kingdom is consistent throughout the different versions of the legend. From a Muslim perspective, the relatively easy conquest of an entire kingdom adds to the value of their success. However, the integrity of the kingdom becomes a very important ideal in the Christian versions of the legend as a call to arms with the goal of restoring the Visigothic realm. One interesting detail in this version is the description of Cordova as Rodrigo's center of power and first seized city. A History of Early al-Andalus: The Akhbar Majmu'a says Toledo is the citadel and location of the royal court, which is historically true, but it also says Cordova is the strongest city and the location of the main garrison (51). It makes sense then, that Rodrigo, a military commander, would first establish control of the main base in order to obtain military support before moving to Toledo, the religious and legislative center. Historically, Cordova has a record of supporting Visigothic insurgents and of separating itself from the Visigothic kingdom. For example, the city successfully rebelled during Agila's reign (AD 549-554) and was not regained by the Visigoths until Leovigild's campaigns in AD 572. In AD 584, Catholic renegade Hermengilio briefly settled there. The Cronica de Alfonso III describes Cordova as the location of Rodrigo's palace because he and his father, the exiled Prince Teodofredo, lived there (164-65).

In terms of blame, Rodrigo is described as culpable. His removal from an illegal position of authority and replacement by the orderly Muslims is described as justice. Returning to the parallel between Rodrigo and Paul's seizures of power, during Paul's rebellion, Wamba "the pious king" is successful in quelling the rebellion because he is a just and moral king (Julian of Toledo 214). The descriptions of Paul's irreverent actions create the anticipation that he will be defeated. The same expectation exists of Rodrigo. The medieval Muslim worldview teaches that bad and immoral actions will be punished, so Rodrigo's behavior immediately marks him as a responsible party. What is interesting is Ibn al-Qutiya's declaration that the catalyst for the invasion was Rodrigo's rape of Julian's daughter (51). The descriptions of his usurpation, especially the implied desecration by appropriating a votive crown for his personal use, are enough to merit divine condemnation, yet the action that cinches his demise is the abuse of Julian's daughter. In an allegorical sense, she represents Rodrigo's abuse of the Visigoths. She, like the Visigothic people, finds herself left in his care, and his leadership results in her harm. Rodrigo violates Visigothic law by illegally assuming the throne, and the long-term effect of his arrogance is destructive to the Visigothic kingdom.

Witiza's sons play key roles in Rodrigo's military defeat by defecting from him with all of their supporters. This remains the same in both sources. However, Julian's role is diminished. He is no longer identified as the governor of Ceuta, and his participation in the conquest is not mentioned even though the text does say that Julian told Tariq "of its splendor and the weaknesses of its people and their lack of courage" (52). In A History of Early al-Andalus: The Akhbar Majmu'a, Julian is in Hispania during the conquest and he is associated with Tariq's progress: "they also had [Julian] with a force of locals who could inform them of the enemy's weak points and supply them with information" (50). However, Ibn al-Qutiya's description of the conquest and the events leading up to it are not presented in chronological order and are very brief. What is emphasized instead is Tariq's ingenuity. He comes across as an Odysseus due to his cunning. Tariq employs the use of physiological scare tactics in his warfare to make the Visigoths think the Muslims are cannibals. This works to inspire the fear and respect his numerically small troops would not have been able to produce. It prevents small-scale skirmishes and confrontations with the numerous locals. Muslim success is highlighted through this astute trick, and it augments the prestige of their conquest.


Although the legend of Rodrigo and Florinda only makes up a small portion of the two texts described, both sources concur in their negative presentation of Rodrigo. They contrast his corrupt rule, which results in the destruction of the entire Visigothic kingdom, with the miraculous victory entrusted to the Muslims under the orderly leadership of the Umayyads. For the Muslims, the Umayyad role in the annexation of al-Andalus becomes symbolic of their divine election as caliphs and as the rightful rulers of al-Andalus. Interestingly, the Christian versions will also use this legend to legitimize their claims to the conquered lands as the contrite heirs to the Visigothic kingdom. Both sides agree that the Visigoths were defeated due to divine judgment. The Muslims interpret this as a sign that they have been appointed as the rulers of the new territory. A History of Early al-Andalus: The Akhbar Majmu'a and Early Islamic Spain: The History of Ibn al-Qutiya present Hispania as a single unit; they become rulers over all al-Andalus and not just small regions of it. Rodrigo is responsible for the invasion due to his abuse of Julian's daughter. Julian's description is neutral, and Witiza's sons, though guilty of jealousy, are not entirely vilified. Both they and Julian belong benefit from the Muslim arrival by relieving them from Rodrigo's tyranny. It is also important to note that in both sources, Julian's daughter is presented as an innocent victim and symbolically represents the harm done to the Visigoths under Rodrigo's leadership.

Sara Gottardi

North Central Texas College


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Author:Gottardi, Sara
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Date:Dec 1, 2016
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