The Suebis and Visigoths in Portugal. Al-Andalus - “land of the vandals" - During the Dark Ages following the fall of Rome, Germanic tribes controlled the territory between the 5th and 8th centuries, including the Kingdom of the Suebi centred in Braga and the Visigothic Kingdom in the south.
In 409, with the decline of the Roman Empire, the Iberian Peninsula was occupied by Germanic tribes that the Romans referred to as barbarians. In 411, with a federation contract with Emperor Honorius, many of these people settled in Hispania. An important group was made up of the Suebi and Vandals in Gallaecia, who founded a Suebi (from the Elbe river region) Kingdom with its capital in Braga. They came to dominate Aeminium (Coimbra) as well, and the Visigoths occupied the south after they were routed from Gaul in 507.
The Suebi and the Visigoths were the Germanic tribes who had the most lasting presence in the territories corresponding to modern Portugal. Roman institutions disappeared in the wake of the Germanic invasions with the exception of ecclesiastical organizations, which were fostered by the Suebi in the fifth century and adopted by the Visigoths afterwards. Suebi and Visigoths adopted Catholicism from the local inhabitants. St. Martin of Braga was a particularly influential evangelist at this time.
In 429, the Visigoths moved south to expel the Alans and Vandals and founded a kingdom with its capital in Toledo. From 470, conflict between the Suebi and Visigoths increased. In 585, the Visigothic King Leovigild conquered Braga, annexing Gallaecia, unifying the Iberian Peninsula and ruling Septimania in SW France.
Within the newly formed Visigoth kingdom, a new class emerged, unknown in Roman times: a nobility, which played a tremendous social and political role during the Middle Ages. Also under the Visigoths the Church began to play a very important part within the state. Since the Visigoths did not learn Latin from the local people, they had to rely on Catholic bishops to continue the Roman system of governance. The laws established during the Visigothic monarchy were thus made by councils of bishops, and the clergy started to emerge as a high-ranking class. The Code of Leovigild allowed equal rights between the Visigothic and Hispano-Roman people.
The election of Roderic, the “last king of the Goths” to rule from Toledo, was disputed – the north and northeast revolted, and the kingdom effecviely split. His kingdom came under raids and attacks in the south from Arabs and Berbers (Moors), who were attacking and destroying towns.
The Berber commander Tariq ibn-Ziyad led a small force that landed at Gibraltar on 30 April 711, and after a decisive victory over Roderic at the Battle of Guadalete on 19 July 711, Tariq ibn-Ziyad, joined by the Arab governor Musa ibn Nusayr of Ifriqiya, Battle of Guadalete on 19 July 711, Tariq ibn-Ziyad, joined by the Arab governor Musa ibn-Nusayr of Ifriqiya, brought most of the Visigothic kingdom under Muslim occupation in a seven-year campaign.
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