Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/562

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HISTORY]
541
SPAIN


paid by the Christian than for his conversion. The Spanish Roman and the Visigoth, so-called, of that epoch of poorness of spirit, accustomed as he was to compound with one master after another, saw nothing dishonourable in making' such an arrange- ment. That it was made is matter of record. In Murcia the duke whom the Arabs knew as Tadmir became a tributary prince, and his family retained the principality for generations. He no doubt contrived to induce the Arabs to recognize him as the owner of what had been public domain, and made an excellent bargain. The family of Witiza did obtain possession of an immense stretch of the land of the state in Andalusia on condition of paying tribute. One of them, by name Ardabast, was deprived of his holding at a later date on the ground that he held more land than could be safely left in the hands of a Christian. Every- where landowners made the bargain, and the monasteries and the cities followed their example. Nor was submission and pay- ment of tribute all that they were prepared to give. Many pro- fessed themselves converts to Mahommedanism. In the north one great Visigoth family not only accepted Islam, but founded a dynasty, with its capital at Saragossa, which played a stirring part in the 8th and 9th centuries, the Beni-Casi, or Beni-Lope. To the mass of the population the conquest was, for the present, a pure gain. The Jews, escaped from brutal persecution, were the eager allies of the Arabs. As the conquerors swept away the Roman fiscal system, which the Visigoths had retained, and re- placed it by a poll tax (which was not levied on old men, women, children, cripples or the very poor) and a land tax, the gain to the downtrodden serfs of the fisc was immense. They acquired personal freedom. Add to this that a slave who professed Islam could secure his freedom, at least from slavery to a Christian master, that Arianism had not been quite rooted out, that the country districts were still largely pagan, and it will not appear wonderful that within a generation Mahommedan Spain was full of renegades who formed in all probability a majority of its population and a most important social and political element. The Arabs at first were content to take a fifth of the land to constitute the public domain, or khoms, out of which fiefs held on military tenure were provided for the chiefs of the conquering army.

If this moderate policy had been or could have been steadily pursued, the invaders would in all probability have founded a lasting state. But it could not be pursued, since it required for its application a consistency, and a power to act on a definite political principle, of which the Mahommedan conquerors were absolutely destitute. Nor had Spain been conquered by a single race. The invaders were a coalition of Arabs, Syrians and Berbers. The Arab was incurably anarchical, and was a noble who had no political idea except the tribal one. That their personal dignity must be asserted and recognized was the first article in the creed of these descendants of the heroes of the desert. They looked down on the Syrian, they thought the Berber a lout and a plebeian, they scorned the renegade, and called him a slave and son of a slave. They fought out the old tribal rivalries of Arabia on the banks of the Guadalquivir and on the Vega of Granada: They planted the Berber down on the bleak, ill- watered, and wind-swept central plateau. He revolted, and they strove to subdue him by the sword. He deserted his poor share of the conquered land, and in many cases returned to Africa. The conflict for the caliphate (<?.».) between Omayyad and Abbasid removed all shadow of control by the head of the Mahommedan world, and Spain was given up to mere anarchy. The treaties made with the Christians were soon violated, and it seemed as if Islam would destroy itself. From that fate it was preserved by the arrival in Spain of Abdurrahman (Abdarrah- man b. Moawiya) the Omayyad (758), one of the few princes of his house who escaped massacre at the hands of the Abbasides. With the help of his clansmen among the Arabs, and to a large extent of the renegades who counted as his clients, by craft, by the sword, by keeping down the fanatical Berber element, and by forming a mercenary army of African negroes, and after thirty years of blood and battle, Abdurrahman founded the independent amirate, which in the 10th century became the caliphate of


Cordova. It was an Oriental monarchy like another, strong when the amir was a strong man, weak when he was not, but exception- ally rich in able men. Its rulers had to fight the Arab nobles as much as the Christians, and the real basis of their power was their slave army of negroes, or of Christian slaves, largely Slavonians sold by their German captors to the Jew slave traders of Verdun, and by them brought to Spain. These janissaries at first gave them victory, and then destroyed them.

Such a kingdom as this needed only attack from a more solidly organized power to be shattered. The Christian enemies of the Mahommedans were for long weak and no less Christian anarchical than themselves, but they were never States of altogether wanting, and they had, what the Arab ibe North. and Berber had not, a tradition of law and a capacity for form- ing an organized polity and a state. They are to be sought for along the line of the mountains of the north. In the centre were the Basques, dwelling on both sides of the Pyrenees, who kept against the Mahommedan the independence they had vindicated against the Visigoth. On the east of the Basques, along the line of the Pyrenees, were others of kindred blood, who also kept a rude freedom on the slopes and in the valleys of the mountains. The Arab passed through them, going and returning to and from Gaul, but he never fully conquered them. The names of their leaders Garci Jeminez and Inigo Arista are altogether legendary. But here were the roots of the kingdom of Navarre, of Sobrarbe and Aragon. In the earliest times their most pressing foe was not the Arab or Berber so much as the Carolingian. It was at their hands that Charlemagne {q.v), while returning from his expedition to Saragossa, suffered that disaster to his rearguard at Roncesvalles which is more famous in poetry than important in history. With the aid of the Spanish Moslem Beni-Casi the Basques drove off the counts and wardens of the marches of the Carolingians. On the eastern extremity of the Pyrenees the Franks found no native free population. Here, mainly under the leadership of Louis the Pious, they formed the Marca Hispanica, where Frankish counts and wardens of the marches gradually gained ground. By the reign of Charles the Fat a principality had been founded. Wilfred the Hairy — the Comes Vellosus, so called because his countship was poor and covered with scrub wood, and not because the palms of his hands were covered with hair as the legend has it— became the founder of the counts of Barcelona.

The greatest destiny was preserved for the Christian remnant which stood out to the west of the Basques, in the mountains of Asturias. Pelayo, whom they chose for king, and his victory of Covadonga, are well nigh as legendary, and are quite as obscure as Garci Jimenes and Inigo Arista. Yet it is certain that in this region were planted the seeds of the kingdom of Castile and Leon, the dominant power of the Spain of the future. The total silence of the contemporary chronicle, called by the name of Isidore of Beja, shows that in the south of Spain, where the writer lived, nothing was known of the resistance made in the north. The next Christian authorities belong to the latter part of the gth century. It is therefore with the warning that the dates can only be given as probably correct that the three first Christian kings can be said to have reigned from 718 to 757. Pelayo (718- 737), his brother Favila (737-739) — of whom we only know that he is said to have been killed by a bear while hunting — and Alphonso I., the Catholic (739-757), stand as little more than names. While the invasion of Gaul was still going on Manuza, the chief of the Berbers settled in north-western Spain, had revolted against the caliph's lieutenants. In 740 came the great general revolt of the Berbers. In 7 50 plague, following on drought and famine, swept away thousands of conquered and conquerors alike. Amid the general desolation Alphonso I. duke of Cantabria and son-in-law of Pelayo, constituted the kingdom which the Arabs called Gallicia. It answered a ^°" ° closely to the old Roman province of the same name- — extending from the Bay of Biscay to the line of the Duero, from the ocean to the foot of the mountains of Navarre. Internally it was divided into two belts. Along the shores of the bay, and in the valleys of the mountains to the north and west it was inhabited;