Jason Osborne

A call to arms: cross-regional communication and the Visigothic military (pdf)

(*En Portugués aquí; En Español aquí; En français ici)


During the course of the sixth century the nature and organization of the Visigothic military changed substantially.  These changes were part of a larger process in which the Visigothic kingdom itself underwent a radical reorganization that included the loss of most of its Gallic territory, a few very large revolts, as well as a massive invasion by the Eastern Roman Empire as part of Justinian’s attempted reconquest of the Western Mediterranean. Possibly the most important events that occurred during this era were related to the efforts by Leovigild and Reccared to unite the Iberian peninsula under the leadership of the Visigothic monarchy. One of the key elements in this process was the establishment of cross-regional ties that served to connect regions as far apart as the Gothic territories in the south of Gaul and the western portions of the Iberian peninsula, and to bring them under the leadership of a single administrative entity, which attempted to unite its territories in political and theological purpose. This paper will analyze the role and evolution of the Visigothic military during this era and its connection to these larger events, especially in terms of that cross-regional communication and will suggest that the evidence shows the development of a high degree of native support for the ambitions of the Visigothic monarchy, which served to facilitate unification, even while that monarchy itself often faced resistance from much of the Gothic nobility.  The end result is that by the end of the sixth century the Visigothic monarchy, which had begun the century as Germanic invaders, ended the century as the legitimate rulers of a new Romano-Gothic kingdom. Looking into this topic will afford not only some suggestions as to how this process occurred, but also some insight into how a conquering horde becomes a legitimate governing body.


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