Theodulf, Goths and Garrisons

There are a number of precepts (that is, in this instance, royal charters) from the Carolingian kings of the Franks to the Spanish March of their empire, Catalonia more or less, that are addressed to or refer to people called Goths. They are often paired with ‘Hispani‘, which appears to refer fairly clearly to people who had come from the Muslim-occupied part of the Iberian peninsula, unfailingly named as Hispania in Latin sources from within and without the area.1 That’s simple enough, but who are the Goths?

Romantic depiction of the sack of Rome by Alaric's Gothic army

How some see the sack of Rome in 410 by the Goths. I reckon this is unfair on the Vandals' 455 attempt myself.

By the time that Charles the Bald was praising these people for their loyalty to him during the rebellion of 874-5, there had been a group of people called ‘Goths’ in what we now call Spain for more than four centuries. That is, roughly, sixteen generations, which makes any actual ethnic continuity in a land where the immigrants can never have been more than a tiny minority a challenge to assert or explain, however hard your Traditionskerne might be.2 If it were earlier we might be able to line up those weary opponents, Heather and Halsall, and Peter Heather would presumably tell us that a migrating people really can retain an identity that is more than pure assertion, somehow, and Guy Halsall would probably make a detailed case that might be ultimately brewed down to “for heaven’s sake, they’re an army with a name, that’s all”, but neither of them, I imagine, would want to maintain their irreconcilable views past not just the conversion of the Visigoths to Catholicism in 589, the abolition of the legal distinction between Goths and Romans in the Visigothic kingdom in circa 650, the Muslim conquest of the peninsula in 711 (and of what would become Catalonia in 714), the Frankish move into once-`Gothic’ Septimania in 759 and finally the conquest of Barcelona in 801.3 Even if someone was calling themselves a Goth at that point, it would be a claim with a very different value to claiming membership of Alaric’s warband. Among those differences would be residence versus immigration, difference of ethnicity from the king rather than sharing it with him, use of the Visigothic Law versus a presumably-Roman military discipline, and we could think of more I’m sure. The values of claiming this status had changed, a lot. So, who were they who so claimed?

Arabic manuscript recording the Pact of Tudmir, by which Murcia was incorporated into al-Andalus

Arabic manuscript recording the Pact of Tudmir, by which Murcia was incorporated into al-Andalus and the Goths left their own law

One suggestion might be that they were the people who lived by the Visigothic Law, a kind of personality-of-the-law argument in reverse, but that fails to explain the differentiation from Hispani, who presumably also did that as the Muslims had protected the Christians’ law in their various pacts of settlement.4 The traditional answer has been that the Goths were the resident, as opposed to immigrant, population of Barcelona and its environs, but this is substantially powered by neo-Gothic agendas imagined into the sources by twentieth-century historians, I feel; there was a lot of interest in managing to claim a Gothic inheritance, and it gets used to explain far too many things.5 There must be a lot of people not covered by that, and why it was sensible or advantageous for the Carolingians to stress what could be seen as a rival identity even as late as Charles the Bald is hard to explain. (And let’s remember that to the Muslims, these guys were all al-Franja, the Franks.) But it keeps turning up: in 759, the Chronicle of Moissac says, it was the ‘Goths’ who expelled the Muslims from Narbonne for the Franks, in 801 it was the ‘Goths’ and the Franks who retook Barcelona according to the Life of Emperor Louis by the Astronomer, in 827 it is the ‘Goths’ who have to be pacified in the rebellion of Aizó and apparently, in 844 and 874, it was ‘Goths’ whom instructions of Charles the Bald to Barcelona would reach.6

Cathedral of SS Just & Pastor, Narbonne

One suggestion to this dilemma came from the famous scholar of Spanish monasticism, Jesus Lalinde Abadia, who came up with the following ingenious idea: the first Gothic settlers were based on fiscal land from which they drew renders as federate soldiers, he said, but these grants, once for service, presumably became hereditary before very long. If those lots were somehow kept in being, and somehow continued to be associated with military service, he argued, then they would conceivably be the lands of the Goths, and someone who held them, who would presumably do so by a claimed hereditary descent, would then be a ‘Goth’, albeit more by reason of occupation and dwelling place than actual biology.7 He backed this up by pointing out that the term only crops up referring to groups in cities, basically at Narbonne, Girona and Barcelona, and suggested that what we actually have here is the city garrisons. It’s as if, for Londoners and those who’ve visited the Tower of London, `Beefeater‘ was an ethnicity, or had been mistaken for one, or perhaps more contemporaneously, as if the Varangian Guard in Constantinople claimed to all be from Sweden.8

Yeomen Warders at the Tower of London

Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London in ancient tribal costume. It's a little known fact that the E II R legend actually stands for "East of the Rhine", the middle two minims symbolising a bridge.

Let’s go back to Narbonne for a moment, though. Passing through there at an uncertain date early in the ninth century while operating as a missus dominici for Emperor Louis the Pious, Bishop Theodulf of Orléans penned a few lines on the place, and he was a Goth himself (whatever he meant by that) and so ought to have been informed. He does not, however, say that Narbonne was a Gothic city, it’s more complicated than that. Here it is:

Mox sedes, Narbona, tuas urbemque decoram

Tangimus, occurrit quo mihi læta cohors

Reliquiae Getici populi, simul Hespera turba,

Me consanguineo fit duce læta sibi

I won’t try and translate his verse as a whole—there are other people who do that better than I can—but the key phrase is “cohors reliquiae Getici populi”, ‘a band of the remnant of the Gothic people’.9 That is, pace the nationalists, not a regional identity, no blanket coverage of the inhabitants of an ancient Gothic territory; clearly, not everyone in Narbonne is a Goth, what with that `Hesperian crowd’ also milling around. It might easily be read as the garrison, however, especially as cohors is a military term. But Theodulf seems to be claiming kinship with these people, and he was not a military man. I don’t see how this can be read as anything other than an ethnic, read descent, community, whether claimed or somehow real, and whether or not it’s confined to a band of soldiers. Given all this, I can’t now take either `professional’ or `descent community’ reading by themselves; they must be assumed together. We might here picture the sort of British upper-class member who will tell you that his or her family came over with the Conqueror. That’s even more generations involved, and I think it now fairly ridiculous to care about, but these `Goths’ were in positions of power, and kings addressed them: even if we now think it really very unlikely that they could genuinely have been and have any basis to think of themselves as descendants of Alaric’s warband – “my family came over the mountains with Euric, you know” – we probably shouldn’t assume that it was a silly thing to claim in those days. Maybe, ultimately, the upper class here was as nutty about descent as ours are. We don’t have to believe them to believe they believed it.

Post scriptum: matters of barbarians have become an Internet hot topic these last few days following Guy Halsall’s challenge to battle that you can read here. There are reasons I don’t want to speak to that debate that you can all probably work out, but if I were to follow the suggestion of Steve Muhlberger in response to it and say, “what did these people need the barbarians for?”, I think I would say this is not about barbarians. Theodulf was proud to own to belonging among these people and I don’t think he saw himself as a barbarian. I think it’s more about an identity that has the venerability of age and a Classical heritage to it, however paradoxical that may seem to those who think Goths = 410. I might suggest that for the people in this period the way they escaped that category is by seeing conversion as a redemption from barbarism as well as paganism, but that would be much more hypothetical; Isidore of Seville seems to lean that way but he was not, dammit, spokesman for the whole early Middle Ages. So as close as I’m going to get to that debate right now is that I might suggest that by this time, Theodulf didn’t need the barbarians; he needed the Goths and those weren’t the same thing for him. But this is the ninth century, and the game had clearly long changed by then.


1. The Frankish royal documents to Catalonia were all edited by Ramon d’Abadal i de Vinyals in his Catalunya Carolíngia II: els diplomes carolingis a Catalunya (Barcelona 1926-1952), and the ones that mention Goths are Arles III (Louis the Stammerer, 878), Particulars XXI (Charles the Bald, 854), XXII (Charles the Bald, X858) & XXIII (Charles the Bald, 858), Sant Julià del Munt I (Charles the Bald, 866, to some Goths and Basques who’ve just founded a monastery) & app. V (Charles the Bald, 844, but probably using a text of Charlemagne’s as model) & VII (Charles the Bald, 874). The apparent genesis of this usage in Charles the Bald’s time should be nuanced by the fact that very few documents from his predecessors survive, though many are known to have existed. On the other hand, it possibly is significant for what I’m about to argue that when addressing the citizens of Barcelona direct in 877 (ibid., ap. VIII) Charles didn’t use these terms. On the usage of Hispania for Muslim Spain, see most sanely Ann Christys, “The Transformation of Hispania after 711″ in Hans-Werner Goetz, Jorg Jarnut & Walter Pohl (edd.), Regna and Gentes. The Relationship between Late Antique and Early Medieval Peoples and Kingdoms in the Transformation of the Roman World, Transformation of the Roman World 13 (London 2003), pp. 219-241.

2. The idea of Traditionskerne goes back to Reinhard Wenskus, Stammesbildung und Verfassung. Das Werden der frühmittelalterliche Gentes (Köln 1961), cit. G. Halsall, Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568, Cambridge Medieval Textbooks (Cambridge 2007), p. 14 n. 26.

3. Peter Heather’s arguments are easiest to find with reference to the Goths in Heather, The Goths (Oxford 1996), unsurprisingly; for Guy, see Barbarian Migrations, esp. pp. 189-194 but also passim.

4. The pact of Tudmir for Murcia is translated as “The Treaty of Tudmir” in Barbara Rosenwein (ed.), Reading the Middle Ages: Sources from Europe, Byzantium, and the Islamic World (Peterborough ON 2006), p. 92. On it see Roger Collins, The Arab Conquest of Spain, 711-797 (Oxford 1989), pp. 39-41.

5. Observe the contest for the Gothic legacy between Castile and Catalonia in L. Suárez Fernández, “León y Catalunya: paralelismos y divergencias” and Federico Udina i Martorell, “El llegat i la consciència romano-gòtica. El nom d’hispània”, both in Udina (ed.), Symposium Internacional sobre els Orígens de Catalunya (segles VIII-XI) (Barcelona 1991, 1992), also published as Memorias de le Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona Vols. 23 & 24 (Barcelona 1991 & 1992), II pp. 141-157 & 171-200 respectively; cf. Christys, “Transformation”, or Peter Linehan, History and Historians of Medieval Spain (Oxford 1993) for detached perspectives.

6. G. H. Pertz (ed.), “Chronicon Moissacense…” in idem (ed.), Monumenta Germaniae Historica…  (Scriptores in folio) I (Hannover 1826), pp. 280-313, s. a. 759; ‘Astronomer’, “Vita Hludowici imperatoris“, ed. & transl. Ernst Tremp in Tremp (ed./transl.), Thegan: Die Taten Kaiser Ludwigs. Astronomus: Das Leben Kaiser Ludwigs, Monumenta Germaniae Historica…  (Scriptores rerum germanicum in usum scholarum separatim editi LXIV (Hannover 1995), pp. 278-558, at cap. 13; Annales Regni Francorum, ed. F. Kurze in idem (ed.), Annales regni francorum inde ab a. 741 usque ad a. 829. Qui dicuntur Annales laurissenses maiores et Einhardi, MGH SRG VI (Hannover 1895), s. aa. 826, 827; and Abadal, Cataluna Carolíngia II, app. V & VII as above.

7. Jesus Lalinde Abadia, “Godos, hispanos y hostolenses en la órbita del rey de los Francos” in Udina, Symposium Internacional II, pp. 35-74.

8. For the Varangians you can now, I discover, see Raffaele d’Amato, The Varangian Guard, 988 – 1453, Men at Arms (Oxford 2010). I haven’t seen this but I’ve used other things from the series and they’re often surprisingly good considering they’re essentially non-academic in desired audience.

9. Theodulf of Orléans, “Versus contra iudices”, ed. Ernst Dümmler in idem (ed.), Poetae latini ævi karolini Vol. I, Monumenta Germaniae Historica…  (Poetae latini medii ævi) I (Berlin 1881), pp. 493-517 at p. 497.

55 responses to “Theodulf, Goths and Garrisons

  1. Fascinating!

    You know what I love about your posts in general? I love that I can know little to nothing about the subject except in the broadest strokes (and that’s usually true in the subjects you cover) but I can follow the ins and outs of the arguments you’re presenting, even though they’re covering some specialist ground. It’s like a really good lecture in a really good class.

    Also, just thinking about the Beefeaters as an ethnicity is cracking me up! That picture and caption are priceless — watch it become a legend now because of you! :) (Oh, and thanks for letting me know by that picture that there are women Beefeaters now. I totally want to be a Beefeater — where do I sign up?)

  2. There’s only the one, and web-searching for images threw up a number of stories that indicate she has not had an easy time of it, unfortunately. I’d suggest you join up in solidarity except that there is an awkward `long service in the Royal Army’ requirement you might not be able to spare the time for just now…

    Also, thankyou for the compliment: that is extremely good to hear as it’s the standard I’ve always aimed at, and it’s nice to know I might be close to it :-)

  3. Mark Handley

    The meaning of ‘Goth’ in Spain was not much of a constant at any period. In the late sixth-century the greek and latin-speaking, Constantiniople visiting, Catholic bishop, history writing John of Biclarum describes himself as a ‘Goth’. It would strain credultiy to think that he was linking himself to Alaric in any way. He’s just about the only person in Visigothic Spain to describe HIMSELF as a Goth. The late sixth-century Catholic bishop of Merida is described by the author of the Lives of the Fathers of Merida as a ‘Goth’, and I think a dowry document from the Formulae Visigothicae describes the bride as one of the ‘Getae’, and one epitaph also uses this classicism, but actually ethnic lables attached to individuals are farely rare in Spain. By the mid to late seventh century the sources give the impression that pretty much everyone was a ‘Goth’. The doing-away with the Roman law Breviary and replacing it with a unified Forum Iudicum (aka Lex Visigothorum) in the mid 7th century is part of that (but note that this is not the same as saying that the legal distinction between Goths and Romans was abolished). In legal terms Goth/Roman had ceased being a binary long before. The one Spanish manuscript of the Breviary of Alaric contains a law issued by King Theudis at Toledo in the 540s on the costs of litigation. Is that a Roman law or a Gothic law?

    All of this just goes toward saying that aren’t the ‘Goths’ simply the local inhabitants. What is also interesting in the sources you mention is that it appears that some people are not ‘Goths’ – had they become ‘Franks’ so soon? It might be of interest that Visigothic sources (most notably Julian of Toledo’s History of Wamba) refer to the inhabitants of Septimania as ‘Gauls’. This is clearly meant as an insult, and to distinguish them from the ‘real’ Goths. In turn the inhabitants of Septimania would strss their Gothicness in ways that the rest of the Visigothic kingdom didn’t bother with (using Visigothic regnal dating on inscriptions being the most obvious (to me) example), so perhaps this was a region used to stressing being a ‘Goth’?

    • Weirdly, `Franks’ is a term hardly ever used in these documents. We get `Gothi‘ and we get `Hispani‘, and very occasionally `Vascones‘ and `Franci‘ but only, as far as I know, of settlers. Given that `Hispani‘ are also supposed to be immigrants, you might be right that local usage of `Gothi‘ in my documents is simply “the people who belong here” (despite their sometimes Basque, Frankish or occasionally Arabic names!), but that plainly isn’t what Theodulf was seeing in Narbonne, nor does it explain the urban focus of the usage. I agree entirely that it’s always changing, though, especially while there’s an actual functional `Gothic’ kingdom for whom inclusion must be a political agenda!

  4. On the lone woman Beefeater’s hard time of it and the need for long service in the Royal Army: damn it all!

  5. Doesn’t Theodulf’s claim to be a member of the Getae give him and his connections a place in classical literary/historical learning?

    • Oh, certainly! But the question remains, why did some of Narbonne’s population qualify for this term in his eyes and others not? I’m not saying that we can generalise from his usage of the term, at all, just that its sophistication opens up questions that might tell us something, and I’ve had a small go at suggesting what that is.

      • IMO, one of the keys, is to remember that ‘Goths’ were never an politically/ideologically homogeneous group; another being to realice that noble families mixed for centuries blurring the lines between ie:’franks-goths’.

        For the Theodulf’s case, it must be stressed that he played a clearly ‘pro-frankish’ agenda, so his ‘gothicness’ assertions cannot be interpreted directly but in relation to his audience/context.

        About the assertion of the urban nature of the use of the term, I don’t buit-it, only with a very selective/biassed prunning of the evidence is possible such a reductive position.

        • You may be right about the urban question; Sr Lalinde, sadly, cannot now answer the point. As to the more general question, of course any `Gothic’ identity conceived in purely ethnic terms must have been very very admixed by now, but that just makes the question of what stating such an identity meant the more intriguing. It might also make it easier to `switch codes’ if one had ancestors from both sides of course…

          Theodulf’s agenda here is very hard to grasp. He is writing a lengthy and vicious condemnation of local officialdom as met by him on a tour of the south-west of Francia, and so although he is obviously of a Frankish court party, he is currently away from that court, and I think that when we find him praising Goths and identifying with them, it is probably meant to mark him (and them) apart from the corrupt everymen he’s otherwise tearing to bits, and they are in some ways connected to the court since they represent the king’s justice. In other words, I think he may be using Gothic idealism as a way to taunt the `Franks’ back at the court with the fact of their moral agenda’s inefficacy. But there are other ways to read this too. Is he trying to goad the court into setting about reforms? Is he just showing off his moral sense? One thing it isn’t, though, is straightforward propaganda.

          • Right, a very complex and apparently contradictory scene. Maybe a possible parallel of this double gothfrank / goth(under-frank)goth dicothomy, (albeit a remote one) could be found in the I aC Josefo’s writings and figure.

            Perhaps with one difference, at the start of IXaC (some?) gothic nobilty was highly appreciated and integrated in the frankish court (that is, as long as they dind’t question king’s authority, and played the catholic/orthodox card); IaC jews dind’t had this proximity/familiarity with roman emperors.

            • It’s an interesting point, though, and one that we could parallel from other areas being integrated into the Empire who did have that kind of access, for example Gauls vs. Gallo-Romans.

  6. I’d buy the self identification hypothesis aka ‘my ancestors came over with William’.

    Analogy is always a dangerous thing, but if one looks at societies with a large amount of recent migration, eg Australia, one sees two things

    1) ancestral ethnic identities persist across generations, even though a degree of blending has taken place, eg people who identify themselves as Lebanese despite having a mother whose maiden name was O’Flaherty

    2) assumption of venerability – that your family has been here longer than everyone else and is connected with a seminal historical event (eg one of my ancestors came over on the first fleet or my great grandfather was a Gallipoli)

    Put the two together and one could imagine a population of nominally gothic origin who self identified as Gothic, and claimed a greater connection and right to land than some more recent arrivals …

    • Absolutely, I think that all makes sense. There’s another step to reason out though, which is that this is not just self-identification, but also how a distant government chooses to see these people, and who that government is including in that category.

  7. Pingback: Theodulf, Goths and Garrisons « A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe | What's going on in the Sigalon Valley | Scoop.it

  8. highlyeccentric

    On the topic of extreme gullibility… it took me far too long to be *certain* that the caption on the Beefeaters was a joke.

  9. Pingback: Contagions Round-up 14: Medievals, Microbes and Methods « Contagions

  10. Cullen Chandler

    I’ve been trying to figure out if it wasn’t just a royal-court-imposed label, as opposed to one being claimed by those holding on proudly to some sort of legacy.

    • Now, that I could see sense in, because I can’t think of any uses in the local documentation except to refer to the Law. There might be some, but it must be vanishingly uncommon, whereas it’s quite a feature of the royal legislation. That does again raise the question of what Theodulf’s apparent double game is about, though.

      • Cullen Chandler

        I was looking a bit at Theodulf, briefly and quite a while ago, but I seems to recall that other people labeled him a Hispanus. Am I mis-remembering? I wonder, if that memory is not made up or based on what moderns have said, what that means for his self-identification. Hispani and Gothi both were heirs, to some sense, of the Visigothic legacy, and so I wonder if they saw as much difference between themselves as others saw between them. Could it be, in other words, that a person (e.g., Theodulf), whom others saw as a Hispanus, could see himself as a Goth and be seen as a Goth by other Goths? Or by Hispani, who might then also call themselves Goths? Or would other Hispani even see themselves as Goths? Do they use the label Hispani on themselves when not interacting with the royal court? I’m trying to remember how Prudentius handles this issue in his section of the AB…

        • I don’t know either, but I do know that Oxford have just bought me access to your thesis (among however many other thousand things are in the same database). I shall look forward to seeing how much of my Leeds paper you already thought of…

          • Cullen Chandler

            Oh, probably not much. I always said I would something–or lots of things–with ‘identity’ that never got done. Then I did a paper at Kalamazoo that hit on ‘identity’ and was basically told not to argue against something that nobody anymore thinks existed. So I dropped it. But this summer I’ve been reading and writing again–feels good to do it–and I want to pick ‘identity’ back up and make something of it. But how do I fit it in when I have to finish this book up and send it off in a couple of weeks?!

            • Oh wow, that close already? Excellent, I look forward to seeing it! That makes the thesis somewhat passé I suppose!

              I think that this thread shows there’s a lot of mileage still in identity here. The thing is that it’s been pretty much treated for fifth to sixth, maybe sometimes seventh and very rarely eighth centuries, I think, and some Carolingian-era political identities have been crunched a bit but as usual Catalonia gets left out of the Carolingian group-think. It’s clear that the words meant something that made them worth using, at least; so I don’t think saying identity just didn’t exist solves that problem, myself. This might be one of the points where we can agree usefully.

              • Cullen Chandler

                Perhaps we can agree! I’m on Jesús Lalinde Abadía, “Godos, hispanos y hostolenses en la órbita del rey de los francos,” right now, in order to work a discussion like this somewhere into the book–as I had intended to do for the dissertation. But I followed the principle that the only good dissertation is one that’s finished, and I had a job to go to the following fall, so it didn’t get done then.

                Now is the time to polish off this project, at long last. It must be done before classes begin, and that’s the 29th. I have 24 days to finish this up and get prepared for the onslaught!

  11. Maybe it’s already knew, but I’ve just received and read that yesterday morning: Els hispani: emigrats hispanogots a Europa (segles VIII-X).

  12. Cullen Chandler

    OK, so I’m reading Abadia, and looking at it together with your closing thoughts here on claiming descent from the Goths made me think of a piece by Matthew Innes I read some time ago, ‘Teutons or Trojans? The Carolingians and the Germanic past,’ in Y. Hen and M. Innes, ed. The Uses of the Past in the Early Middle Ages (Cambridge UP, 2000), 227-249. Then I looked up my notes to that article. He is arguing that it was guys in Theodulf’s time and just after who made descent from ‘Germanic’ folk into something important. It was, he says, from the eighth century that Rome was no longer the civilization to be descended from, at least in certain quarters.

    Maybe that has some pertinence to Theodulf claiming kinship with the Goths? Their civilization–espeically as opposed to that of the Franks–was something worth claiming, for Theodulf, at least at that place and time (maybe he was like a rock star performing in Cleveland shouting out “Thank you, Cleveland, you rock!”, but then offering similar praise to the locals when in Albuquerque). And I often get the sense that Charlemagne, Louis, and others saw ethnic distinctions–thus they used labels, or had people use them in documents–but that the labels and distinctions didn’t matter. All were loyal subjects, whether gothi or hispani, or even the odd Irishman or Northumbrian. I think that the Carolingians were in some sense self-consciously mutli-national, with Christian belief superseding ethnicity, whatever that meant to them and their contemporaries.

    But it’s just like me to try to look at the royal court’s point of view rather than what the people so-labeled would say about themselves.

    • Talking about Trojans, let’s remember that goths choosed the Heracles ascent instead (a mite orthogonal to Troy).
      IMO the important point is to remember that at the end of VIIIth, start of IXth century, there were different ways to be ‘goth’. Theodulf is playing the catholic/isidorian card; a role actively sustented by the carolingian court, but there were already other ‘goths’ , other ‘gothicities’ probably not that proper to the ideology of the line Reims-Roma.

      • Do you think there were still different ways to be Goth by then? What sort of categories do we mean here, like the Leonese/Adoptionist sort of alternative to the Carolingian court as new rulers of Gothia that Julio Escalona’s suggested? (I’m sure he’s not the only one, but he’s the one I’ve noticed doing it…) If not that, what is the other way to be Goth?

        • I didn’t read Escalona’s work (do you have some reference?).

          It’s a very broad question, but what makes you think there were only one way to be ‘goth’? The ‘unity of goths’ only existed in the catholic rethoric, they were famous for his disgregational tendences (ie: morbus gothorum). Let my try to resume my take on this topic:

          Goths were never politically and/or ideologically monolithic. The
          catholic conversion only started at the end of VIth , after 300 years of arrianism and was contested politically at least two times in the VII century (ie: note the role of the jews in the Paulus rebellion according to Julian). Heretic (in a broad sense of the word) tendencies never dissappeared.

          Geographically, Tarraconense and Gothic Gallia have a distinctive cultural & material tradition (ie: the use of the era notation). Note how Isidor and his catholic rethoric followed the roman Hispania/Gallia division tradition , and almost always used the former word for his kingdom (with and obliged addenda to the later); they didn’t talk that much about Gothia as the founding gothic kings did.

          VIII century mixed things, refugges from the peninsula go up noth and took his culture with them (ie: the hispani of the sources). It seems that they were mostly of catholic adscription (ie: Theodulf for instance) and played a major role in the formation on frankish catholic legimitation (ie: the false decretals, libri carolini,etc) (not that they were the only isidorian source, of course, ie: the ‘celtic’ route galicia-ireland-fulda).

          So my opinion is that Theodulf in this text is praissing the ‘good’ goths (ala Alcuin), against those unjust and heretic local (ergo goth) judices that even tried to bribe him. Let’s remember that his mission to septimania played a significant role in the adoptionism contest.

          But it’s quite difficult to describe the gothicness of non catholic goths in VIII-IXth as you demand. AFAIK there are no direct sources , so it has to be read/derived between the lines of the surviving rethoric. One late example could be the ‘unorthodox’ cristianism of Dudoa, and his ‘antichrist’ (acording to Ratbertus) husband Bernard.

          Some references, surely already knew.

          Isidor in Ireland : On the Earliest Irish Acquaintance with Isidore of Seville

          About the use of the era : Tiempo e identidad : la datación por la Era en las inscripciones de la España tardoromana y visigoda

          Material culture : L’Europe héritiére de l’Espagne wisigothique : colloque international du C.N.R.S. tenu à la Fondation Singer-Polignac

          Theodulf : Theodulf of Orleans : a Visigoth at Charlemagne’s Court

          Theodulf’s Mythical Silver Hercules Vase, Poetica Vanitas, and the Augustinian Critique of the Roman Heritage

          • The Escalona paper I mean is the one I cite, and talk about a little, in this post.

            You make some good points here, and I need to rephrase what I was trying to get at. I am stuck on the fact that, after a certain point, we only see people described as Goths by others. The Asturian and Leonese kings (some of them!) talk about doing things in a Gothic way or like the Goths, or even succeeding to the Goths, but they don’t say, “we are the Goths”. In Catalonia, even more and the point of this post of course, the kings and various Northern Franks talk about the Goths who live in the south, but those supposed Goths don’t seem to use those terms of themselves. The thing that interests me about Theodulf’s take, therefore, is that he sees Goths as a tiny population on the way out, or seems to: you say the judges, being local, must be Goths but he doesn’t say this, and he is clear that Narbonne has few Goths left in it. (Who exactly the Hespera turba are is another question of course: the term seems to imply just Latin-speakers, doesn’t it, so, Romanised Gauls like the ones Christian Lauranson-Rosaz and Elisabeth Magnou-Nortier argue for?)

            I certainly don’t mean to argue that Goths were ever a unified group when there was still a population that so identified itself. But once only other people are using the term, how many different meanings can there be in play?

            • we only see people described as Goths by others.

              I don’t think this is a exact assertion. There are a lot of references of ‘princeps gothorum’, places named ‘gothorum’, and other indirect but not minor references (ie: lex gothorum) in the IX-X sources. Pretending that there were self-proclamed princeps of goths without existing goths, it’s simply too convoluted.

              Maybe this perceived ausence of self-references could be correlated with the lack of a writing/narrative traditon ?

              About this ‘Hespera turba’ I thought it to be an isidorian ellipsis for hispanis=south of pyrenees (but without proper checking). Hardly a gaulish one, Hesperia afaik was the west of the mediterraean sea, Magna Grecia/Italy first, Iberian peninsula later.

              As for the judices being or not goth: I can only understand Theodulf mission in the context of the ‘gothic’ adoptionism controversy, and he is playing an ‘inquisitorial’ role. A possible approach: some documents of IX-Xth difference between ‘judices’ aka salic law, and ‘judicum’ aka gothic law ones; maybe it could be traced to Theodulf time? I didn’t check the text..

              • Pretending that there were self-proclamed princeps of goths without existing goths, it’s simply too convoluted.

                I know of three uses of this term, all to Borrell II and only one of them genuine. None of them are in his voice and he signs all those documents comes et marchio. Do you know of others? I think that for our guys as for Theodulf, `Goth’ is an old identity not a current one.

                Gaulish is not quite what I mean, which is why it’s not what I said; I agree that it refers to Italy, and so I was taking it really to mean `Romans’, as far as that’s a category that works in the South of Gaul. But you know that there is, as I say, an argument for a long-lived Roman identity in this zone, even if not part of the Empire or anything, just `not yet Frankish’.

                Theodulf’s poem is the result of a tour he was doing as missus dominicus, so, checking on the local administrators. But if he finds Goths only in Narbonne, then those elsewhere are presumably not Goths…

                I don’t understand the iudices/iudicum distinction you make there; these are just two cases of the same word, surely. Can you give me an example where it makes a difference?

              • This thread of discussion now taken to e-mail!

    • It’s not just pure Christianity though, Helmut Reimitz especially but also McKitterick would put a lot of stress on the idea of Franks-as-chosen-people, which is I think how the replacing-the-Romans idea is allowed to work; this is the new new covenant and the new Rome and the new City of God and so on. I think there’s a lot of mileage there and these must have been things that Theodulf was aware of. I do think, the more I ponder this, that he is using Gothicness as a rival and possibly more ancient gens as part of his `these Franks have a few things to sort out yet’ pitch about corruption and injustice in the work as a whole. So I think you are probably right to see this as part of a general Gemanising of universal history, but I’m not sure Theodulf is playing along, rather than playing with, the idea.

      • Cullen Chandler

        I just re-checked a reference to Alcuin, who praises the ‘gens bona Gothorum’ (MGH Poet. lat. aevi Carol. 1, p 244). Must have been before his spat with Theodulf!

        That also poses a problem for the idea that Gothicness is always a counter to Frankishness, either in the context of Adoptionism or that of Theodulf one-upping the Franks.

        And can you supply a reference to published work by Reimitz? I saw his talk at Kalamazoo (must have been 2010), but I haven’t been able to read anything at this point.

        • That is very odd, considering not just Theodulf but, well, as you say, Adoptionism. I’d have thought Alcuin spent more time explaining why certain Goths were wrong than almost any of his contemporaries! So now I wonder what the context of Alcuin’s poem was. This is the trouble with using poetry as evidence, it needs so much interpretation because it’s already deliberately compressed… I’m not sure that this prevents Theodulf spinning it differently, though, and I find it hard to see what he’s doing with it in Versus contra iudices if it’s not a claim of superiority or, at least, antiquity. I think it’s actually a claim of nobilitas in fact, isn’t it? Proud descent and appropriately distinguished behaviour…

          As to Helmut, I was thinking of that same paper I’m afraid, and the version of the same which he gave at the immediately following Leeds, but a rapid stab at the RI Opac makes it look as if that paper or one very like it is now out, “Nomen Francorum obscuratum. Zur Krise der fränkischen Identität zwischen der kurzen und langen Geschichte der ,Annales regni Francorum’” in Völker, Reiche und Namen im frühen Mittelalter, edd. Matthias Becher & Stefanie Dick, Mittelalterstudien 22 (München 2010), pp. 279-296, and there’s a few other maybe more obtainable things in that list that look relevant. Not seen any of them myself though!

  13. Curiously enough, “godo” remains a term used largely pejoratively to identify, upper-class, Hispanophile, and generally right-wing people in contemporary Colombia. I presume this derives from snidely subversive views on a fashion amongst aristocratic Spaniards for claiming Gothic ancestry. Possibly “godo” has a similar usage elsewhere in Latin America (and Spain?), but I’ve no idea!

    • How interesting! I’m pretty sure that’s not the use in Bolivia, at least, or my anthropologist of resort would probably have mentioned it by now. I’m fairly sure there is a much riper term, in fact, but I can’t find it where I know where to look. I wonder if the revolutionary legacy reset the clock somehow. That is the only comparator I have, though.

    • At least in some parts of Spain, for some people, it still has a pejorative sense, yes (learning the list of gothic kings was a topic in the Franco’s dictatorship school). Anyway, newer generations probably have no idea about it.

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  18. I have just noticed this post – a brilliant one! As someone who uses a lot of borderline anachronistic comparisons in her teaching, I really like your Beefeater / Norman-blooded toff analogies.

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  20. Pingback: Because if that’s Gothic this must be Roman | A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

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