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VISIGOTH RULE - REPRESSION AND FORCED CONVERSIONS (5TH CENTURY TO 711)
Wikipedia


Barbarian invasions brought most of the Iberian Peninsula under Visigothic rule by the early 5th century. Other than in their contempt for Catholics, who reminded them of the Romans,[34] the Visigoths did not generally take much of an interest in the religious creeds within their kingdom. It wasn't until 506, when Alaric II (484–507) published his Breviarium Alaricianum (wherein he adopted the laws of the ousted Romans), that a Visigothic king concerned himself with the Jews.

The tides turned even more dramatically following the conversion of the Visigothic royal family under Recared from Arianism to Catholicism in 587. In their desire to consolidate the realm under the new religion, the Visigoths adopted an aggressive policy concerning the Jews. As the king and the church acted in a single interest, the situation for the Jews deteriorated. Recared approved the Third Council of Toledo's move in 589 to forcibly baptize the children of mixed marriages between Jews and Christians. Toledo III also forbade Jews from holding public office, from having intercourse with Christian women, and from performing circumcisions on slaves or Christians. Still, Recared was not entirely successful in his campaigns: not all Visigoth Arians had converted to Catholicism; the unconverted were true allies of the Jews, oppressed like themselves, and Jews received some protection from Arian bishops and the independent Visigothic nobility.

While the policies of subsequent Kings Liuva II (601–604), Witteric (603–610), and Gundemar (610–612) are unknown to us, Sisebut (612–620) embarked on Recared's course with renewed vigor. Soon after upholding the edict of compulsory baptism for children of mixed marriages, Sisebut instituted what was to become an unfortunate recurring phenomenon in Spanish official policy, in issuing the first edicts against the Jews of expulsion from Spain. Following his 613 decree that the Jews either convert or be expelled, some fled to Gaul and North Africa, while as many as 90,000 converted. Many of these conversos, as did those of later periods, maintained their Jewish identities in secret. During the more tolerant reign of Suintila (621–631), however, most of the conversos returned to Judaism, and a number of the exiles returned to Spain.

In 633, the Fourth Council of Toledo, while taking a stance in opposition to compulsory baptism, convened to address the problem of crypto-Judaism. It was decided that, if a professed Christian were determined to be a practicing Jew, his or her children were to be taken away to be raised in monasteries or trusted Christian households. The council further directed that all who had reverted to Judaism during the reign of Swintila had to return to Christianity. The trend toward intolerance continued with the ascent of Chintila (636–639). He directed the Sixth Council of Toledo to order that only Catholics could remain in the kingdom, and taking an unusual step further, Chintila excommunicated "in advance" any of his successors who did not act in accordance with his anti-Jewish edicts. Again, many converted while others chose exile.

And yet the "problem" continued. The Eighth Council of Toledo in 653 again tackled the issue of Jews within the realm. Further measures at this time included the forbidding of all Jewish rites (including circumcision and the observation of the Shabbat), and all converted Jews had to promise to put to death, either by burning or by stoning, any of their brethren known to have relapsed to Judaism. The Council was aware that prior efforts had been frustrated by lack of compliance among authorities on the local level: therefore, anyone — including nobles and clergy — found to have aided Jews in the practice of Judaism were to be punished by seizure of one quarter of their property and excommunication.

These efforts again proved unsuccessful. The Jewish population remained sufficiently sizable as to prompt Wamba (672–680) to issue limited expulsion orders against them, and the reign of Erwig (680–687) also seemed vexed by the issue. The Twelfth Council of Toledo again called for forced baptism, and, for those who disobeyed, seizure of property, corporal punishment, exile, and slavery. Jewish children over seven years of age were taken from their parents and similarly dealt with in 694. Erwig also took measures to ensure that Catholic sympathizers would not be inclined to aid Jews in their efforts to subvert the Council's rulings. Heavy fines awaited any nobles who acted in favor of the Jews, and members of the clergy who were remiss in enforcement were subject to a number of punishments.

Egica (687–702), recognizing the wrongness of forced baptism, relaxed the pressure on the conversos, but kept it up on practicing Jews. Economic hardships included increased taxes and the forced sale, at a fixed price, of all property ever acquired from Christians. This effectively ended all agricultural activity for the Jews of Spain. Furthermore, Jews were not to engage in commerce with the Christians of the kingdom nor conduct business with Christians overseas. Egica's measures were upheld by the Sixteenth Council of Toledo in 693.

As demonstrated, under the Catholic Visigoths, the trend was clearly one of increasing persecutions. The degree of complicity which the Jews had in the Islamic invasion in 711 is uncertain. Yet, openly treated as enemies in the country in which they had resided for generations, it would be no surprise for them to have appealed to the Moors to the south, quite tolerant in comparison to the Visigoths, for aid. In any case, in 694 they were accused of conspiring with the Muslims across the Mediterranean. Declared traitors, the Jews, including baptized ones, found their property confiscated and themselves enslaved. This decree exempted only the converts who dwelt in the mountain passes of Septimania, who were necessary for the kingdom's protection.

The Jews of Spain had been utterly embittered and alienated by Catholic rule by the time of the Muslim invasion. To them, the Moors were perceived as, and indeed were, a liberating force.[45] Wherever they went, the Muslims were greeted by Jews eager to aid them in administering the country. In many conquered towns the garrison was left in the hands of the Jews before the Muslims proceeded further north. Thus was initiated the period that became known as the "Golden Age" for Spanish Jews.

The Eastern Roman Empire sent its navy on numerous occasions at the end of the 7th and beginning of the 8th centuries to try and instill uprisings in the Jewish and Christian Roman populations in Spain and Gaul against Visigoth and Frankish rule, which was also aimed at halting the expansion of Muslim Arabs in the Roman world.

In 694, at the Council of Toledo, Jews were condemned to slavery by the Visigoths because of a plot to revolt against them encouraged by the Eastern Roman Empire and Romans still residing in Spain.

THE JEWS THAT OPENED THE GATES OF TOLEDO

Judaism Islam   October 10, 2012


During the 7th and 8th centuries Iberia (Spain and Portugal), was a divided kingdom ruled by the Catholic Visigoths, the region was home to a Jewish minority who suffered intolerable persecution under these Christian rulers.

In the spring of 711, a Muslim army invaded Iberia led by Tariq ibn Ziyad, serving the Arab governor Musa ibn Nusayr, at Guadalete they swiftly defeated Roderick (Luthariq) the Visigoth King and then marched northward to the Visigoth capital of Toledo. Both Latin and Arabic chroniclers record that the Jews of the city “opened the gates of Toledo” to Tariq, who conquered the city. With more cities to take Tariq left Toledo and entrusted its protection to a garrison of Jewish soldiers, whom had rose up against the Catholic Visigoths and opened the gates.

When Tariq’s master, Musa ibn Nusayr, arrived in Iberia with a large Arab force he seized Seville and like Tariq before him, he entrusted the city to its Jewish inhabitants until his return.

Had the Jews of Iberia not been the victims of such continuous barbarity from their Christian neighbours it is unlikely they’d have turned on them, but with the Muslim invasion this oppressed people tasted a freedom they hadn’t for centuries. There is no greater example of Jewish and Muslim coexistence than al-Andalus, the Jews not only fought side by side with their Muslim cousins, but under the caliphates born out of the conquests the Jews lived as a free and protected people who were able reach the highest of positions in this new society.


VISIGOTH KING ENSLAVES THE JEWS

Haaretz,   David B. Green Nov 09, 2015

Hispanic edicts against the Jews were sporadic in nature and observance, but this one was indeed upheld, certainly in Toledo

On November 9, 694, C.E., the Seventeenth Council of Toledo convened, in the eponymous capital of Visigoth Spain, and passed a wide-ranging series of restrictions on the Jews of the kingdom. The rules and prohibitions were a continuation of an ongoing effort to lessen the influence of Jews and their religion on society, but ratcheted the pressure on the Jews up a notch by adding a new, political rationale for the measures.

The Visigoth kingdom of Hispania lasted from the fifth century to 712, when an army of Arabs and Berbers defeated King Roderic at the battle of Guadalete.

Currying favor with the church fathers.  Initially, these German tribes subscribed to a form of Christianity defined by its “Arian” theology, which distinguishes between Jesus Christ the son of God and the figure of God himself. This is as opposed to belief in the unified nature of the Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost – as adopted by all mainstream forms of Christianity at the Nicene Council in 325 C.E.

In 589, Visigoth King Reccared embraced the trinitarian Nicene Creed, and declared Arian doctrine to be heresy. From here on, the Visigoth monarchs cooperated with the Church Fathers to strengthen the faith and limit the influence of Jewish beliefs.

One principal source of information about the kingdom is the detailed records kept of the Councils of Toledo, which were synods convened by the king that dealt with matters of both spirit and state. The first was held in 400, and the 18th, final council was held in 702.

The restrictions on Jews had intensified and lessened depending on the hostility of the particular king who convened a particular council. At times, all Jews were commanded to convert; at other times, they were not permitted to hold slaves or to give testimony in civil courts. Intermarriage was also prohibited. These measures were observed and disregarded to different degrees over time and in different locales.

Conspiracy theory  In Egica, the monarch who called the 17th Council of Toledo, the Jews of "Hispania" (as the Visigoth realm in Iberia was called) encountered a king who was determined to finally rid his domain of Jews. He imposed a set of especially severe anti-Jewish decrees.

Egica (c. 610 – c. 702) ruled from 687 until his death. When he opened the 17th Council of Toledo, he began by revealing that he had learned of  a conspiracy between the Jews of his kingdom and their brethren across the narrow straits dividing Spain from North Africa, who were then under Muslim control. According to the intelligence that had come into his hands, the Jews of both continents were preparing to make common cause with the Muslim armies that were poised to conquer Iberia.

This Jews’ readiness to enter into such a traitorous alliance demanded harsh measures against them. Thus the 17th Council of Toledo declared that all Jews, other than those residing in Narbonensis (that part of Hispania to the northeast, in modern-day France), should be made slaves, and given into possession of Christian masters in different parts of the kingdom. Those masters would now be responsible for insuring that they no longer observed any Jewish customs.

Their property was also to be confiscated by the crown. Any Jewish-born children under age seven would be taken from their parents and raised as Christians.

Aside from the records of the Councils of Toledo, which were frequent, historical material on the Visigoth period in Spain is hard to come by. But historians suggest that the measures ordered by Egica were indeed in part implemented, certainly in Toledo, the capital.

But it was also clear by now that the Visigoth empire was on its last legs, and in fact it was only 18 years later that it collapsed altogether, with its lands conquered by Muslim invaders.


LINKS

The Jews in Spain Under the Visigoths The Occident and American Jewish Advocate

THE

INCREDIBLE

STORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE



SPAIN, VISIGOTHS AND THE JEWS

Visigoth Rule - Repression
and Forced Conversions
(5th century to 711)

The Jews
that Opened the Gates of Toledo

Visigoth King
Enslaves the Jews

Links