HISPANIA SANCTA :: THE SAINTS OF SPAIN
At first sight the Iberian Peninsula might not seem to be a region which is especially open to Orthodox Christianity. On the one hand, some might say, Spain is the country where the filioque was introduced into the Creed at the Council of Toledo in 589. And on the other hand, Spain in particular is the country of Inquisition, of Roman Catholic fanaticism. We feel that such charges are most unfair and ignore the authentic Hispanic Orthodox Tradition as borne by its Saints.
Firstly it must be said that the filioque that may have been introduced in Toledo at the end of the sixth century (some say that the Acts of the Council were falsified after the event) was not at all the filioque later inserted into the Creed and first defended in the Middle Ages by Anselm of Canterbury at the end of the eleventh century. The Spanish filioque which may have appeared at Toledo was designed to counter Arian claims that Christ was not truly the Son of God. The sense of the Spanish filioque was that since, according to it, the Holy Spirit proceeds not eternally or essentially from the Son (which would be absurd) but through the Son in a temporary mission, the Son is therefore clearly the Son of God and not a mere man, as the Arians claimed. Thus this filioque, if real, was an expression of Orthodox Truth. It was not aimed against the Church’s teaching on the Holy Spirit and the Holy Trinity but against Arianism. Moreover this filioque, if real, was introduced by a Saint who has long figured in Eastern Orthodox calendars, St. Leander of Seville, and defended in 650 by another Eastern Saint and champion of Orthodoxy, St. Maximus the Confessor, in his famous letter to the Priest Marinus. What we regret is that this local and temporary anti-Arian filioque was later and elsewhere deformed by power politics into an instrument whereby Christians in Western Europe were isolated from the Orthodox Church. This was none of St. Leander’s intention or doing: the Spanish filioque was clearly not that which separated Western Europe from the Orthodox Church.
As regards the charge of Spanish fanaticism linked with the Inquisition and the genocide in Latin America, we would say two things. Firstly that the Inquisition occurred after the Orthodox period of Spanish history, it was a post-Orthodox event. And secondly that the Inquisition took place in other countries too, being especially bloody in France against the Albigensians, and in Italy. But let us not forget that all Western Europe became involved in the inquisitorial blood-letting of the Crusades and then the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, in which hundreds of thousands were massacred by both sides, far more than were slaughtered in Spain. And as regards both religious fanaticism and colonial genocide, whether in North or South America or elsewhere, it must be said that Spain had no monopoly. Indeed it is our belief that the present account of the authentic and noble spirituality of the peoples of Spain, which is by definition neither filioquist nor fanatical, may help to put the situation back into a real and unprejudiced perspective.The Seven Ages of Spanish and Western History
Two thousand years ago the Iberian Peninsula, like most of Western Europe, was part of the Roman Empire and the countries of Spain and Portugal did not exist as such. The whole Peninsula was soon to become heavily Latinised with the exception of two areas, inhabit-ed by the Celts and the Basques. The former were concentrated in the north-western region known as Galicia while the latter were concentrated in the north-east, in the western Pyrenees. There is no doubt that Christianity was brought to the Iberian Peninsula in the first century, during the first period of Hispanic Spirituality, the Apostolic Age.
As in other Western European countries, this period was followed by a second age at the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth centuries when vicious persecutions took place, of which the cruellest were those under the Emperor Diocletian. This second age of Iberian Christianity, the period of the martyrs, ended with St. Constantine, who was much influenced by the Spanish St. Hosius the Confessor. St. Constantine founded a Roman Christian Empire which stretched from Asia to Europe with its capital at Constantinople.
Then opened a third age, that of monastics and holy bishops, which lasted until the early eighth century. This was somewhat interrupted in 409 when the Peninsula was invaded by Germanic barbarians, the Suebs, who settled in the Galician north-west. Soon after there came other barbarians, the notorious Vandals, who settled in the southern half of Spain and from there invaded North Africa where they also wrought havoc, bringing about the downfall of the local Roman colonies. Finally in c. 507 came yet another Germanic people, the West Goths or Visigoths, who settled in the centre of Spain making Seville and then Toledo, near modern Madrid, their capital and becoming masters of the whole of Spain. The Vandals and Visigoths were Arians and they both long resisted Christianity, bringing about new martyrdoms for the glory of the Faith. But after the Visigoths did finally accept Christianity at the end of the sixth century, there was a great Christian renaissance. This blossomed in the seventh century in the realisation of a Hispano-Gothic Christian identity and was led by great monastic figures and learned bishops, especially in Seville and Toledo. As a result the Germanic elite was assimilated into the local Latin-speaking Christian population.
This third age closed and a fourth began in 711 with the Muslim Saracen or ‘Moorish’ invasion from North Africa. Their invasion was so successful that they swept through the Iberian Peninsula into central western France as far as Poitiers. Here, however, they were defeated in 732 and pushed back into central and southern Iberia. Cordoba in central southern Spain became their capital. Christian kingdoms survived in the North, particularly in the north-east, and Christians elsewhere lived under a Muslim yoke and martyrdom and were called ‘Mozarabs’ or ‘would-be Arabs’. This was the period of Mozarabic culture, the culture of Hispanic Orthodox Christians under Muslim oppression, with their own Mozarabic liturgy and Christian customs and a great many martyrs for the Faith.
The fifth age of the Reconquest of Iberia from Islam had been presaged in the eighth century with a first victory in 722. The Reconquest would altogether take 750 years until 1492 with the fall of the last Muslim stronghold of Granada. However, by the end of the ninth century this fifth age of Reconquest had clearly begun and by 1002 with the outbreak of internecine fighting among the Muslims it was clear that Islam was in terminal decline. This era of monastic revival after the destruction of the Muslims led to the development of powerful Christian kingdoms in the north, notably Catalonia on the Mediterranean coast, further inland Aragon, still further to the east Navarre, then the Basques in the western Pyrenees on the Atlantic coast. Next came Castile to the north-east of the centre, Léon to the north of the centre, Galicia in the north-west and the area south of Galicia around Porto which would give birth to the Kingdom of Portugal.
Unfortunately, during the eleventh century, that great watershed in Western European history, a sixth age began. For it was now that the Christian heritage of the Iberian Peninsula, as of all Western Europe, would be transformed from a precious and living storehouse of early Christian culture of piety, learning, churchmanship and spiritual tradition into the uniform ‘Judeo-Christian’ Catholicism of the post-eleventh-century West. The Muslims and their Jewish allies played a fatal role in this period for it was through them that the pagan learning of the Ancient Greco-Roman world, especially the philosophy of Aristotle, was transmitted in an unChristianised form, becoming the foundation of Mediæval Scholasticism. Thus in 1049 the Bishop of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia was excommunicated by the new reformed Papacy for his claim to an Apostolic See, that founded by St. James. And in 1050 Papal legates first visited Spain bringing with them the new ideology of Papism which was then being propagated in France through the papalising Cluniac movement. It was the beginning of the end for Iberian Orthodoxy.
It may be said that this sixth age of Western history lasted from c. 1050 until the twentieth century, during which a seventh and final age began. This is that of massive and total dechristianisation, the age of Apostasy. This age is also, however, characterised by the return, albeit so far a very feeble return, of some to the fullness of the Christian Faith. This seventh and final age will be followed by an eighth age, a meta-historical age, outside time and history, the post-apocalyptical age of Eternity, when those who are deemed worthy shall yet see the Saints shining in their glory, the reflected glory of God.The Apostolic Age
Our first reference to Christianity and Iberia comes in the Epistle to the Romans when St. Paul speaks of ‘taking my journey into Spain’ (Romans 15, 24 and 28). Unfortunately there is no proof that he did so, but there are very strong traditions of his coming to Spain, then meaning the whole of the Iberian Peninsula, both in East and West. Certainly when he founded the Church in Rome we can be sure that he met Iberians and there is no doubt that Christianity reached Spain in the first century. Indeed from the same Apostolic Age we hear of St. James, brother of St. John, whose relics are still piously conserved in the town of Santiago de Compostela in the north-western corner of Spain. The very name ‘Santiago’ means ‘St. James’ and although the tradition is late we have no reason to doubt it. Certainly for centuries Santiago was the greatest pilgrimage-centre in Western Europe after Rome. However, other figures from the first century are also mentioned in the annals of the Peninsula. Firstly, there is a group of Apostolic Men, St. Torquatus at Guadix near Granada, St. Ctesiphon at Verga, St. Secundus at Avila, St. Indaletius at Urci near Almeria, St. Hesychius at Gibraltar and St. Euphrasius at Andujar, sent according to tradition to evangelise the southern half of Spain. Most of them were martyred and all are commemorated on 15 May. Secondly, we have the tradition of a missionary St. Geruntius, Bishop of Italica near Seville in southern Spain, also martyred in about the year 100, and commemorated on 25 August. And finally we have the case of St. Epitacius, also a martyr of the first century, who was the first Bishop of Tuy, a Galician town on the northern Portuguese border. His brother, St. Basil, was the first Bishop of Braga, the Portuguese Canterbury. Both are feasted together on 23 May.The Age of the Martyrs
The second period of Spanish Christianity, that of the martyrs, is witnessed to in c. 240 when a husband and wife, Sts. Orentius and Patientia (Patience) were martyred at Loret in the far north of Aragon. An interesting and ancient Spanish tradition says that they were the parents of St. Laurence, martyred in Rome in 258. Sts. Orentius and Patientia are commemorated to this day on 1 May. They were followed by the virgin St. Martha who in 251 under the tyrant Decius (249-51) was beheaded in north-western Spain at Astorga, of which she is the patron and where her relics are still enshrined. Then, according to the official account that we still possess, in 259 Fructuosus, Bishop of Taragona in present-day Catalonia, was martyred by being burnt at the stake together with his two deacons, Augurius and Eulogius. It is said that when the fire had burnt through their bonds, all three stretched out their hands in the form of a Cross and so gave up the ghost. They are remembered on 21 January. In 270 in Pamplona in Navarre in the north-east of Spain St. Honestus, a missionary from Gaul, was martyred. His feast is kept on 16 February. And in 283 Sts. Justus and Abundius were beheaded; they are feasted on 14 December. We now come to a large group of martyrs slain under Diocletian (284-313), whose first victim in Spain was in 287 and last in 307. Here follows a list:
Sts. Justa and Rufina, two sisters, martyred in 287 in Seville and now patron-saints of that city. Feast: 19 July.
St. Clement, martyred in Cordoba in c. 298. Feast: 27 June.
Sts. Claudius (Claude), Lupercus and Victorius (Victor), perhaps sons of St. Marcellus, a centurion martyred in c. 298 in Tangier. These three brothers were martyred in c. 300 in Léon and they became the patron saints of an important monastic centre in Galicia. Feast: 30 October.
Sts. Honorius, Eutychius and Stephen were martyred at Asta in Andulasia in c. 300. Feast: 21 November.
Sts. Facundus and Primitivus, born in Léon, in c. 300, were beheaded nearby, where now stands the town of Sahagun, which became an important monastic centre. Feast: 27 November.
Sts. Zoilus a youth and nineteen companions were all martyred in Cordoba in c. 301. Their relics were later enshrined at the monastery of St. Zoil near Léon. Feast: 27 June.
Sts. Vincent, Sabine and Christeta were all martyred at Avila in central Spain in 303. Feast: 27 October.
St. Leocadia, virgin, died in prison in Toledo in c. 303. Feast: 9 December.
St. Vincent, a native of Huesca in the north-east of Spain, and deacon to St. Valerius, Bishop of Saragossa (see below 315) was martyred in Valencia in 304, a year which saw a great many martyrs. After his torturers had unsuccessfully tried to crucify him, they finally killed him by burning him on a gridiron. His relics are now in Rome. He is one of the great saints of Spain and is universally commemorated. Feast: 22 January in western calendars, 11 November in eastern calendars.
St. Eulalia, a fourteen-year-old virgin-martyr of Barcelona in Catalonia, was slain in c. 304. She is one of the most popular saints of Catalonia, where she is known under various names such as Aulaire, Aulazie, Olalla. She is recorded in both eastern and western calendars. Feast: 12 February (western calendar) 22 August (eastern calendar).
Sts. Optatus, Lupercus, Successus, Martial, Urban, Julia, Quintilian, Publius, Fronto, Felix, Cecilian, Eventius, Primitivus, Apodemius and four named Saturninus were all martyred in Saragossa in c. 304 on the orders of the prefect Dacian. Feast: 16 April.
Sts. Gaius and Crementius were also martyred in Saragossa in 304. Feast 16 April.
St. Engratia (Encratia, Engracia), virgin-martyr, also of Saragossa in 304. A church still stands on the site of her terrible tortures and ‘ardour in suffering for Christ’. Feast: 16 April.
St. Victor was martyred in Mérida in 304. Feast: 24 July.
St. Cucuphas (Cugat, Cucufate), one of the most famous male martyrs of Spain, was martyred near Barcelona in 304. The monastery of St. Cugat del Valles was later founded on the site of his martyrdom. Feast: 25 July.
Sts. Centolla and Helen, virgin-martyrs in c. 304 near Burgos in Old Castile in central northern Spain. Feast: 13 August.
St. Maginus, born in Tarragoña and evangeliser of the area around this town was martyred in c. 304. Feast: 25 August.
Sts. Faustus, Januarius and Martial were atrociously mutilated and martyred in the same year in Cordoba. They were known as ‘The Three Crowns of Cordoba’ . Feast: 13 October.
In Saragossa another group of martyrs, ‘innumerable’ was martyred at about the same time, but their names were not recorded unlike the eighteen above. Feast: 3 November.
St. Eulalia of Saragossa, whose name is recorded only in eastern calendars was martyred in the same city in the same year. Feast: 11 November.
Sts. Acisclus and Victoria, brother and sister, natives of Cordoba, who had turned their home into a church, were martyred in 304. they are the main patron saints of this city which saw and was to see so many martyrs. Feast: 17 November.
St. Eulalia, probably the most famous of all Spanish martyrs and recorded in both eastern and western calendars on the same date, was a maiden from Mérida in central south-western Spain. At the age of thirteen she was burnt at the stake in that fateful year of 304. Feast: 10 December.
St. Julia suffered at the same time as St. Eulalia in the same city. Feast: 10 December.
Sts. Justus and Pastor, two brothers aged thirteen and nine, were scourged and beheaded in the town of Alcalá in c. 304. Feast: 14 December.
Sts. Vincent, Orontius and Victor, the first two brothers, came from the south of France and preached the Gospel in the Pyrenees, being martyred there in 305 at Puigcerda not far from Barcelona. Feast: 22 January.
Sts. Cyriacus and Paula were stoned to death at Malaga in 305. Feast: 18 June.
Sts. Servandus and Germanus were martyred in Cadiz on the southern coast of Spain in c. 305. Feast: 23 October.
St. Secundinus was martyred in Cordoba in c. 306. Feast: 21 May.
St. Lucretia, virgin-martyr at Mérida in 306. Feast: 23 November.
Sts. Narcissus and Felix, bishop and deacon, were martyred in c. 307 at Gerona in Catalonia. Feast: 18 March.
A number of other martyrs are recorded in the fourth century, the date of their martyrdom not precisely known, but it can be assumed that they all suffered under Diocletian. They are:
Sts. Hemiterius and Cheledonius, both soldiers, were martyred at Calahorra in Old Castile. Miracles followed at their tomb, where a baptistery was built. Feast: 3 March.
St. Felix, a deacon martyred in Seville. Feast: 2 May.
St. Anastasius, patron saint of Lerida in Catalonia and probably martyr. Feast: 11 May.
St. Marina, martyred in Orense in Galicia. Feast: 18 July.
Sts. Fabrician and Philibert at Toledo. Feast: 22 August.
St. Obdulia, virgin of Toledo, where her relics are enshrined. Feast: 5 September.
St. Peter, also martyred in Seville. Feast: 8 October.
St. Crispin, Bishop of Ecija in Andulasia, was beheaded; Feast: 19 November.
St. Eutychius (Oye), probably martyred at Mérida. Feast: 11 December.The Age of the Fathers
After this final period of Roman persecution begins an age of consolidation, of struggle against heresy, led by monastics, holy bishops and laypeople. The opening symbol of this era is St. Valerius, Bishop of Saragossa, who though he had suffered arrest and exile was not martyred like his deacon, St. Vincent (see above) and died peacefully in Saragossa in 315, his memory being kept on 28 January. His relics are now in Greece. He was followed by another highly symbolic figure, St. Hosius of Cordoba (c. 258 – c. 359). He had considerable influence over St. Constantine, indeed it was the idea of St. Hosius to call the First Oecumenical Council at Nicea just outside Constantinople in 325, which Council he presided. Not as is sometimes stated, he was firm in his support of St. Athanasius and his opposition to Arianism and for this was imprisoned at the end of his life. He reposed in c. 359 after an extraordinary episcopate of over sixty years and is commemorated in eastern calendars as a confessor on 27 August.
On 9 March we remember St. Pacian, Bishop of Barcelona from 365 to c. 390 who wrote much on church discipline and from whom there survives a work on repentance and three letters. St. Gregory of Elvira, now Granada (> c. 394), championed the Faith against the great enemy of the fourth and fifth centuries, Arianism. At the Council of Rimini in Italy in 359 he stood firm for Christianity and is feasted on 24 April. St. Dictinus, Bishop of Astorga, reposed in 420 and is remembered on 24 July.
St. Turibius, Bishop of Astorga in north-western Spain, defended the Faith against heresy during an episcopate of forty years, reposing in c. 460 and is honoured as a patron of Astorga on 16 April. St. Florentius of Seville, reposed in the same period in c. 485, is commemorated on 23 February. In about 527 St. Nebridius, Bishop of Egara near Barcelona reposed and is still remembered on 9 February. At nearby Urgel also in Catalonia the first bishop, St. Justus, is remembered by his Life written in the seventh century and his commentary on ‘The Song of Songs’. He also departed this life in about 527 and is feasted on 28 May. In 528 reposed another St. Turibius, Bishop of Palencia, who had founded a great monastic centre at Liebana in the north of Spain. He is remembered on 16 April. In c. 560 St. Victorian, born in Italy, founded a monastery at Asan, now called San Victorian, in the Pyrenees. He is feasted on 12 January. On 5 May we remember St. Sacerdos, Bishop of Murviedro on the eastern coast of Spain, who also reposed in about 560. St. Fidelis, said to have been born in the East, became Bishop of Mérida. He departed this life in c. 570 and is commemorated on 7 February. From this period of holy bishops and monastic founders, strugglers against heresies, we have one Saint who stands out in particular. This is St. Emilian or ‘Millan’, who was a shepherd in Navarre in the western Pyrenees. Born in about 474 in poverty in La Rioja near Navarre, he became a hermit and was eventually ordained priest who greatly loved the poor and gave everything he had to them. However, the Saint loved solitude and isolated himself in a remote place with some disciples. Becoming their Abbot, he so founded the great monastery of La Cogolla and is considered to be one of the patron saints of Spain. He reposed a centenarian in 574 and is feasted on 12 November. Also in the Pyrenees a monk under St. Victorian at Asan (see above), St. Gaudiosus, became Bishop of Tarazona near Saragossa, reposing in c. 585 and is feasted there where his relics still lie on 3 November.
The end of the sixth century marks a turning-point in the history of Spanish Christianity with the conversion of the Visigoths, whose capital was then still Seville in southern Spain, from Arianism to Orthodoxy. In 586 Hermenegild, the son of the then virtual ruler of Spain, Leovigild, put aside Arianism and was baptised an Orthodox Christian, taking the name John. He was disinherited by his father and imprisoned. On Easter Eve, 13 April, 586, after refusing communion at the hands of an Arian bishop, he was put to death on the orders of his stepmother. As a result of his sacrifice he was to be universally commemorated as a martyr for the Faith on 13 April in western calendars and 1 November in eastern calendars. His relics are in Seville, of which he is a patron. Three years later at the Third Council of Toledo in 589 the next King of the Visigoths, Hermenegild’s brother Recared, also converted from Arianism to Christianity. Together with the preceding period of consolidation by the holy bishops and monks listed above, this event laid the foundations for the seventh century in Spain. This age may be considered to be the golden age of Spanish Orthodoxy, marking a period of full co-operation between Church and State.
The first Saint of this period and great symbol of what was to come, is St. Leander, Archbishop of Seville (c. 540 – c. 601), the elder brother of a wonderful family of Saints, as we shall shortly see. Born of a noble family in Cartagena on the south-east coast of Spain, he entered the monastery of St. Claudius (see above c. 300) very young and, given his talent, was sent on a mission to Constantinople, where he spent several years. Here he tried to list the aid of the Roman Emperor against the Arians – aid which was later forthcoming when East Roman troops conquered southern Spain. In Constantinople he also met St. Gregory the Great, the future Pope of Rome, who became a close friend. St. Gregory later sent St. Leander an Icon of the Mother of God of Guadalupe which was much venerated in Seville. On St. Leander’s return he was appointed Archbishop of Seville, the then capital of Spain. Here he was very active, revising the Spanish liturgy, converting the above-mentioned St. Hermenegild and the Visigoths and held two Councils of Toledo in 589 and 590. It was at the first of these in May 589 that it seems the ‘filioque’was introduced as a temporary measure to convert the Arians to Orthodoxy. If, in St. Leander’s thought, the Holy Spirit comes to us through Christ, how could Christ not be the Son of God, as the Arians claimed? It was most unfortunate that this diplomatic ploy was then deformingly reinterpreted and abused at the end of the eighth century in Germany by semi-barbarians for their sinister political purposes. St. Leander is undoubtedly one of the greatest Saints of Spain, some of his many writings still survive and he is honoured universally, on 27 February in the western calendar and in the eastern calendar on 1 November together with St. Hermenegild.
The importance of the Arian problem is highlighted by other events. The first in 630 was the martyrdom of St. Vincent, Abbot of the monastery of St. Claudius (see above c. 300) in Léon, on 11 March 630. This was followed two days later by the massacre, while they were at prayer of St. Ramirus, the prior of the same monastery, and the whole community. St. Vincent is remembered on 11 September in memory of a later translation, St. Ramirus and the other fathers on 13 March. In 633, St. Severus, Bishop of Barcelona was also cruelly martyred by still Arian Visigoths who killed him by driving nails into his head. His feat of martyrdom for Christ is feasted on 6 November.
St. Helladius, Bishop of Toledo from 615, was active at the court of the Visigoths, where he was a minister. But he so loved monasticism that he quit it for the monastic life at Agalia near Toledo, and later became its Abbot before becoming Archbishop of his native city. He reposed in 632 and is feasted on 18 February. In about the same year reposed a younger brother of St. Leander, St. Fulgentius, Bishop of Ecija in Andalusia, also a leading light in the Spanish Church at that time. He is remembered on 16 January. At the same time reposed St. Renovatus, a converted Arian, who became Abbot of Cauliana (now in Portugal) and then Bishop of Mérida for some twenty two years. He is honoured on 31 March. Next in this glorious catalogue comes St. Florence (Florentina), sister of Sts. Leander and Fulgentius. She became nun and Abbess in a convent for which St. Leander wrote a still surviving and most touching rule in the form of a letter. Reposing in around 636, she is feasted on 20 June.
We now come to the greatest figure of this seventh-century golden age, the most celebrated of this holy family, St. Isidore, Archbishop of Seville (c. 560-636). He was educated by his eldest brother St. Leander, whom he suceeded as Archbishop in 600. He led the fight against Arianism, presided over many synods, founded schools, encouraged monasticism and completed the ‘Mozarabic’ liturgy. He expressed his encyclopedic knowledge in still surviving writings on theology, scripture, history, geography, astronomy and the Lives of the Saints. In his lifetime he was venerated as a miracle-worker and is feasted on 4 April.
Another considerable figure and writer of Lives of the Saints is St. Braulio, who studied under St. Isidore. A monk at the monastery of St. Engratia (see above, c. 304) in Saragossa, he was ordained deacon and priest by his own brother Archbishop John of Saragossa, whom he was later to succeed. He was Bishop for twenty years and forty-four of his letters survive. He is remembered on 26 March. Returning to the now primatial see of Toledo we come to St. Eugene, Bishop of Toledo, poet, musician and lover of the liturgy. Also a monk at St. Engratia with St. Braulio, whose archdeacon he became, he also knew St. Helladius of Toledo. In 646 he became Bishop of that city. reposing in 657: he is remembered on 13 November.
He was succeeded by his own nephew, St. Ildephonsus (Alphonse, Alonzo). Born in Toledo in c. 607, he studied under St. Isidore, became monk at the monastery of Agalia (see St. Helladius above), became Archbishop, unified the Spanish liturgy and wrote much of the Mother of God, to Whom he was especially devoted. He departed this life in 667 and is feasted on 23 January. Next we come to another monastic father, St. Nunctus, Abbot of a monastery near Mérida in Extremadura. Killed by robbers in 668, ever since he has been honoured as a martyr on 22 October.
This glorious seventh century closes in the 690’s with three representative figures. The first is St. Julian of Toledo, successor of Sts. Eugene and Ildephonsus. Of Jewish origin, he was baptised by St. Eugene and became a monk at Agalia. He was appointed Archbishop of the then capital, Toledo, in 680, presided over three councils there and was the first Archbishop to exercise authority over the whole Iberian peninsula. An outstanding and prolific writer, he presided over several synods and worked much on the liturgy. He reposed in 690 and is commemorated on 8 March. Secondly there is St. Valerius. A native of Astorga he became first monk then Abbot of the monastery of San Pedro de Montes and left us several ascetical writings. He departed this life in 695 and his memory is kept on 21 February. Thirdly we have St. Prudentius, first hermit, then priest and finally Bishop of Tarazona in Aragon, of which diocese he is a patron saint. He reposed in c. 700 and is feasted on 28 April.The Second Age of the Martyrs
The Spiritual Renaissance of seventh-century Spain comes to an end but a no less glorious period then begins. It is a second age of martyrdom, this time under the Muslim Moors or Saracens, who invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711 and showed themselves to be just as ferocious as the pagan Romans.
However, the full extent of Moorish cruelty did not become apparent until the ninth century and the eighth century is something of an overlapping period between the seventh and the ninth. Nevertheless what was to come in the ninth was presaged by the first-fruit of this age, St. Eurosia (Orosia), martyred at Jaca in the Pyrenees in 714. Here she is venerated as patron saint to this day, her feast being kept on 25 June. She was followed by two brothers and a sister, Sts. Fructus, Valentine and Engratia, the latter two being martyred at Sepulveda in Old Castile in northern Spain in c. 715. St. Fructus escaped, but died a hermit and the relics of all three are enshrined and venerated in Segovia where their memory is kept on 25 October. Not all the Saints of the eighth century are martyrs, as is proved by the case of St. Prudentius, Bishop of Tarazona in Aragon, of which diocese he is a patron saint. He reposed some time after 700 and he is feasted on 28 April. Similarly St. John de Atarés, a hermit near Jaca in the Pyrenees is not a martyr either. He built a hermitage beneath a huge rock (in Spanish la Peña) and was soon joined there by two brothers from Saragossa, Sts. Votus and Felix. This hermitage later became the monastery of St. John de la Peña, which was to become the cradle of the Christian kingdoms of Navarre and Aragon, later centres of Christian culture and resistance in an otherwise Muslim-dominated Spain. St. John and Sts. Votus and Felix reposed in c. 750 and they are remembered on 29 May.
St. Marcian, Bishop of Pamplona, very close to Jaca, reposed in around 757 and is commemorated on 30 June. During the eighth century St. Emerius, a native of France, founded another monastery, dedicated to St. Stephen the Protomartyr, at Bañoles near Gerona in Catalonia. He is recalled on 27 January, together with his mother, St. Candida, who became an anchoress near her son’s monastery and reposed in c. 798. The eighth century closes with the figure of St. Beatus (Feast: 19 February), whose famous commentary on the Apocalypse still survives in three illuminated tenth-century copies. Born in Asturias in northern Spain, he became monk and then priest at Liébana (see above). He stood for Orthodoxy against the arianising or rather nestorianising heresy of Adoptianism. This said that Christ was not the Son of God but only the adopted Son. These ideas, under clear Muslim influence, were then active in Spain. St. Beatus finally retired to the monastery of Valcavado where he departed this life in 789. In around 800 reposed St. Marinus, Abbot and Bishop of the monastery of St. Peter at Besalu in Catalonia; his memory is kept on 19 August.
To this period belong two saints of Galicia. One, St. John of Tuy, was a hermit at Tuy in Galicia on the present Portuguese border, where his relics are still enshrined. He is remembered on 24 June. The other, Alphonse, was Bishop of Astorga. He retired and became a monk at the celebrated monastery of St. Stephen at Ribas de Sil in Galicia. He is remembered on 26 January. Another hermit was a Frenchman, St. Urbitius (Urbez) who reposed in c. 805. Taken prisoner by the Moors, he escaped and became a hermit near Huesca in the Aragonese Pyrenees. He is commemorated on 15 December. Another hermit of the early ninth century, but about whom little is known is St. Daniel of Gerona in Catalonia. He is said to be of Greek origin and was martyred here by the Moors; he is feasted on 29 April.
We now come to the great period of martyrdom of the mid-ninth century, with its centre at the Moorish capital in Cordoba, a period which can only be compared with the suffering in Spain under Diocletian or with the New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke in Greece. This period lasted from 835 to 864. Here is the list of those who were martyred for the faith:
St. Pomposa, a nun at Peñamelaria near Cordoba, she was beheaded in 835. Feast: 19 September.
Sts. Adolphus and John, two brothers born at Seville of a Muslim father and Christian mother were martyred at Cordoba in about 850 under the tyrant Abderrahman II. Feast: 27 September.
St. Perfectus, a Cordoban priest, lived up to his name by being martyred on Easter Sunday 851. Feast: 18 April.
St. Sancho (Sanctus) was brought to Cordoba as a prisoner from Albi in southern France. Having become a guard at the Moorish court, in 851 he was martyred by impalement for his refusal to become a Muslim. Feast: 5 June.
Sts. Peter, Wallabonsus, Sabinian, Wistremundus, Habentius and Jeremiah were all martyred at Cordoba in 851 for publicly denouncing Islam. St. Peter was a priest, St. Wallabonsus a deacon, the others monks. Jeremiah, an old man who had founded a monastery at a nearby place called Tábanos, died during his scourging, the others were all beheaded. Feast: 7 June.
St. Sisenandus was born in Badajoz in Extremadura in western Spain but became a deacon in Cordoba at the church of St. Acisclus (see above). He was beheaded also in 851. Feast: 16 July.
St. Paul, a deacon at the monastery of St. Zoilus (see above) and was zealous in ministering to his fellow-Christians in Muslim captivity. Beheaded in 851, his relics were enshrined at St. Zoilus. Feast: 20 July.
St. Theodemir, a monk, was martyred in the same year at Cordoba. Feast: 25 July.
Sts. Nunilo and Alodia, daughters of a Muslim father and a Christian mother, were imprisoned and beheaded at Huesca in 851. Feast: 22 October.
Sts. Gumesindus and Servus-Dei (in Greek: Christodoulos), respectively a priest and a monk, were martyred at Cordoba in 852. Feast: 13 January.
St. Isaac was born in Cordoba but on account of his fluency in Arabic became a notary at the Moorish court. However he abandoned all this to become a monk at Tábanos about seven miles from Cordoba (see above). In 852 he denounced Mohammed in a public debate and was martyred in his native city at the age of twenty seven. Feast: 3 June.
Sts. George, Aurelius, Natalia, Felix and Liliosa all suffered at Cordoba, probably in 852. Sts. Aurelius and Natalia and Sts. Felix and Liliosa were husbands and wives but St. George was a monk and deacon from Palestine. Feast: 27 July.
Sts. Leovigild and Christopher, both monks, the former at the monastery of Sts. Justus and Pastor at Cordoba (see above c. 304), were martyred there also in 852. Feast: 20 August.
Sts. Emilas and Jeremiah, the former a deacon, were beheaded at Cordoba in 852. Feast: 15 September.
Sts. Rogellus and Servus-Dei, the former a monk, the latter his disciple, were also martyred in Cordoba in 852 for publicly denouncing Islam. Feast: 16 September.
St. Fandilas, originally from Andulasia, was Abbot of the monastery at Peñamelaria near Cordoba where he was beheaded in 853. Feast: 13 June.
Sts. Anastasius, Felix and Digna were all martyred in Cordoba in the same year. St. Anastasius was a deacon at the church of St. Acisclus (see above 304), but became a monk at the men’s monastery of Tábanos together with St. Felix. The latter was a Berber by origin, born in Alcalá, but he had become a monk in Asturias in northern Spain. St. Digna was a nun in the convent of Tábanos. They were all beheaded. Feast: 14 June.
St. Benildis, a laywoman of Cordoba, was so moved by the faith of preceding martyrs that she too braved death at the stake on the following day in 853. Feast: 15 June.
St. Columba, a nun at Tábanos was driven by the Muslim persecution from her monastery back to her native city of Cordoba. Here in 853 when called on to deny Christ, she denied Mohammed, for which she was beheaded. Feast: 17 September.
St. Abundius was a parish priest at Ananelos, a village in the mountains near Cordoba. In 854 he confessed Christ before the Caliph at Cordoba, was beheaded and his body thrown to the dogs. Feast: 11 July.
Sts. Amator, Peter and Luis were martyred in Cordoba in 855. St. Amator was a priest in his native town of Martos near Cordoba. St. Peter was a monk, Luis a layman. Feast: 30 April.
St. Sandila (Sandalus) was martyred in Cordoba in around 855. Feast: 3 September.
Sts. Elias, Paul and Isidore were martyred in Cordoba in 856. St. Elias was an elderly Cordoban priest, the others his young disciples. St. Eulogius (see below) has left us an eyewitness account of their martyrdom. Feast: 17 April.
St. Aurea (Aura), born in Cordoba of Moorish parents, became a Christian and a nun at nearby Cuteclara on her widowhood. She remained here for some twenty years until denounced by her own family and beheaded in 856. Feast: 19 July.
Sts. Flora and Maria, maidens of Cordoba, were both beheaded in 856. St. Maria was the sister of St. Wallabonsus (see above 851) and a nun at Cuteclara near Cordoba. After their martyrdom, which is described most beautifully by St. Eulogius (see below) St. Maria’s body was never found. Feast: 24 November.
Sts. Rudericus (Roderick) and Solomon were imprisoned and beheaded in 857. St. Rudericus was a priest at nearby Cabra and was betrayed by his Muslim brother. Feast: 13 March.
St. Argymirus was also from Cabra where he was a senior official. He lost his position on account of his Christian beliefs and became a monk. Shortly afterwards, in 858, he openly denounced Islam, confessed Christ and was beheaded. Feast: 28 June.
St. Eulogius of Cordoba, one of the most attractive of all the Cordoban martyrs, was a prominent priest in the city. Well-known for his learning and his courage, he consoled the Christians in their sufferings and encouraged the martyrs writing a book called ‘The Memorial of the Saints’ for them. In 859 he himself was scourged and then beheaded for protecting St. Leocritia (see below), a convert from Islam. Feast: 11 March.
St. Leocritia (Lucretia), a maiden of Cordoba of Moorish parents, she was converted to Christianity and driven from her home. Protected by St. Eulogius, she was flogged and beheaded four days after him. Feast: 15 March.
St. Laura was born in Cordoba but, widowed, became a nun at Cuteclara nearby. In 864 she was condemned as a Christian and thrown into a cauldron of molten lead. Feast: 19 October.
St. Laura was the last in this series of martyrs, but not the last martyr to suffer in Spain under the Moors. Indeed the next victim was St. Stephen, Abbot of the Castilian monastery of Cardena near Burgos, who was martyred with other monks in 872. They are remembered on 6 August.The Restoration of Orthodoxy
The seed of the Church is Her martyrs. So has it ever been. We now come to the final period of Spanish holiness, that sown by the martyrs and cultivated by the monastics and bishops who followed from the end of the ninth century until the downfall of Orthodox Iberia in about 1050. This last age opens with St. Vintila, a hermit who reposed at Pugino near Orense in Galicia in 890 and is feasted on 23 December. In c. 900 St. Lambert, a servant working near Saragossa, was killed by his Moorish master for being a Christian – his feast is on 16 April. A little after this in 915 the Bishop of Orense, St. Ansurius, helped found the monastery of Ribas de Sil, to where he retired as a simple monk in 922. He reposed in 925 and is feasted on 26 January. Next comes St. Tigridia who, holy Abbess of a nunnery at Oña near Burgos, reposed in c. 925. Her memory is kept on 22 November. Aged about ten, St. Pelagius (Pelayo in Spanish) was taken hostage by the Moors in Asturias in northern Spain and taken to Cordoba. Here he was offered freedom and other rewards if he would become Muslim. After three years in prison, he was tortured before finally dying at the age of thirteen in 925. He is still honoured in Spain on 26 June.
In c. 936 reposed St. Gennadius, Bishop of Astorga. As Abbot he had previously restored the monastery of San Pedro de Montes (see above) and was active in revitalising monasticism throughout north-west Spain. He was Bishop of Astorga for some thirty-six years until about 931 when he retired to live as a hermit at San Pedro. Here he reposed and is feasted on 25 May. St. Gennadius was aided by St. Urban, Abbot of Penalba in the diocese of Astorga, who departed this life in c. 940 and is remembered on 6 April. Two years later in about 942 reposed St. Hermogius, a native of Tuy in Galicia and founder of the monastery of Labrugia. Uncle to St. Pelagius (see above), he had also been taken hostage to Cordoba but was freed by the Moors. At the end of his life, he retired as Bishop of Tuy to the monastery of Ribas de Sil. St. Gennadius, whom we have mentioned above, was succeeded by a former disciple, St. Vincent, who reposed in c. 950 and is feasted on 9 May.
To prove that martyrdom had not yet finished even during this period of renewal, we have the examples of Sts. Pelagius, Arsenius and Silvanus, all hermits near Burgos in Old Castile, where they are still venerated. Martyred by the Moors in c. 950, they lived in a cell which was later to become the monastery of Artanza where their memory is kept on 30 August. St. Hermenegild was a monk at Salcedo near Tuy and helped spread monasticism in both Spanish Galicia and Portuguese Galicia with the great Portuguese St. Rudesind. He reposed in 953 and is commemorated on 5 November. Another monastic saint of this period is St. Amaswinthus, monk and Abbot for forty-two years near Malaga in Andalusia. His memory is feasted on 22 December. St. Peter (928-987), born in Venice and originally an admiral of the Venetian fleet, gave up everything to become a monk at the famous monastery of Cuxa in the Pyrenees, where he finished as a hermit. He is recalled on 10 January.
Another St. Peter, surnamed Martinez or St. Peter of Mozonzo, became a monk at the monastery of Mozonzo in Galicia in about 950. In about 986, however, already Abbot of St. Martin’s monastery in Compostela in Galicia, he was appointed Archbishop of that city. He is much venerated as a hero of the Spanish Reconquest. Especially devoted to the Mother of God, he reposed in around 1000 and is feasted on 10 September. St. Virila was Abbot of St. Saviour’s monastery at Leyre in Navarre. He reposed in c. 1000 and is remembered on 1 October. St. Froilan, also from Galicia, became monk very young and then Abbot of a monastery at Moreruela in Old Castile, before becoming Bishop of Léon. He did much to restore monastic life, creating with his helper, below, monasteries for hundreds of monks and nuns in western Spain. He reposed in 1006 and was traditionally remembered on 5 October in Léon, of which diocese he is the patron. St. Froilan was ably helped by St. Attila (Attilianus) (c. 939-1009), a former hermit who also came from Galicia. At Pentecost 990, on the same day as St. Froilan, he was consecrated Bishop of Zamora to the south of Léon. St. Attilanus is feasted on 5 October, two days after his friend.
St. Hermengaudius (Armengol in Catalan) was the very active and monastically-minded Bishop of Urgel in the Catalan Pyrenees from 1010 to 1035 when he reposed. His memory is feasted on 3 November. St. Guillermo (William) of Penacorada was monk at the monastery of Satagun in Léon. In 988 he fled the Moors and settled with other monks in Penacorada where he founded a monastery now named after him. He reposed in c. 1042 and is commemorated on 20 March. St. Atto was first a monk at Oña in Old Castile and then became Bishop of Oca-Valpusta nearby. He reposed in about 1044 and his memory is kept on 1 June. Finally we come to St. Casilda (> c. 1050). A native of Toledo and probably of Moorish origin she became Christian, a nun and then anchoress at Briviesca near Burgos where she was greatly venerated and honoured on 9 April.Conclusion :: The Hidden Land
Looking at the history of the peoples of Iberia we feel perhaps particular regret that they did not remain within the Orthodox fold. Had they done so, then not only would the Iberian Church have been adorned with many other Saints, but also all of Latin America from Argentina to Mexico, as well as many other peoples in Africa and Asia, would have have received the full light of the Orthodox Faith and the tragic bloodshed of later times would have been avoided. Never-theless, as we read through the above catalogue of over 200 individually named saints of ‘Hispania’, a Phoenician place-name which is said to mean ‘the hidden land’, we cannot but give thanks to God for such heroism and sacrifice in the name of Christ. The feats of the Saints of this ‘hidden land’ and their authentic spirituality are truly ‘the light to lighten the nations and the glory of Thy people Israel’.An Iberian Calendar
The following is a calendar, not only of the saints of Spain and those who became saints in Spain, but also including Spanish Christians who became saints outside Spain (marked *). For example we have St. Daniel of Niverta, an island off Cadiz, who at the end of the tenth century went to Egypt and became a monk there, taking the monastic name of Stephen. He is celebrated on 17 December, but only in eastern calendars. The saints of Portugal are also listed (marked **) and also a saint of the Canary Islands (marked ***) . We also list the two wonderworking Icons of Spain. These are the Icon of Abula, which was revealed in 692 and which is remembered in eastern calendars on 11 June, and the Spanish Icon (more exactly of Seville) which appeared in 792. The intercessions of the latter, portraying the Mother of God enthroned with the Christ-Child, helped the Spanish against the Moors and the Icon is still commemorated in the Orthodox East on 8 April.
10 Peter, Hermit, 987
12 Victorian of Asan, Abbot, c. 560
13 Gusemindus and Servus-Dei, Martyrs, 852
16 Fulgentius, Bishop of Ecija, c. 633
21 Fructuosus, Bishop of Taragofia, Augurius and Eulogius, Deacons, Martyrs, 259
22 Vincent the Deacon, Martyr, 304
22 Vincent, Orontius and Victor, Martyrs, 305
23 Ildephonsus (Alphonse, Alonzo), Archbishop of Toledo, 667
26 Alphonse, Bishop of Astorga, 9c.
27 Avitus ***, Apostle of the Canary Islands, 3c.? 27 Candida, Anchoress, c. 798
27 Emerius, Abbot, 8c.
28 Valerius, Bishop of Saragossa, 315
7 Fidelis, Bishop of Merida, c. 570
9 Nebridius, Bishop of Egara, c. 527
12 Eulalia of Barcelona, Martyr, c. 304
16 Honestus, Martyr, 270
18 Helladius, Archbishop of Toledo, 632
19 Beatus of Liebana, Priest and Monk, 789
21 Valerius, Abbot, 695
23 Florentius of Seville, c. 485
23 Martha, Virgin-Martyr, 251
27 Leander, Archbishop of Seville, c. 601
1 Rosendus**, Bishop of Dumio, 977
2 Paul, Heraclius, Secundilla and Januaria**, Martyrs in Porto, c. 305
3 Hemiterius and Cheledonius, Martyrs, 4c.
8 Julian, Archbishop of Toledo, 690
9 Pacian, Bishop of Barcelona, c. 390
11 Eulogius of Cordoba, Priest and Martyr, 859
13 Ramirus and Companions, Martyrs, 630
13 Rudericus (Roderick) and Solomon, Martyrs, 857
15 Mancius**, Bishop of Evora, Martyr, 5c.?
15 Leocretia (Lucretia), Martyr, 859
18 Narcissus and Felix, Bishop and Deacon, Martyrs, c. 307
20 Martin**, Archbishop of Braga, 580
20 Guillermo (William) of Penacorada, Monk, c. 1042
26 Braulio, Archbishop of Saragossa, 646
31 Renovatus, Bishop of Merida, c. 633
4 Isidore, Archbishop of Seville, 636
6 Prudentius*, Bishop of Troyes in France, 861
6 Urban, Abbot, c. 940
8 Icon of the Mother of God of Seville (‘Spanish Icon’), 792
9 Casilda, Anchoress, c. 1050
12 Victor**, Martyr at Braga, c. 300
13 Hermenegild, Martyr, 586
16 The Eighteen Martyrs of Saragossa, Optatus, Lupercus, Successus, Martial, Urban, Julia, Quintilian, Publius, Fronto, Felix, Cecilian, Eventius, Primitivus, Apodemius and four named Saturninus, c. 304
16 Gaius and Crementius, Martyrs, 304
16 Engratia, Virgin-Martyr, c. 304
16 Turibius, Bishop of Astorga, c. 460
16 Turibius of Palencia, Abbot of Liebana, c. 528
16 Fructuosus**, Archbishop of Braga, 665
16 Lambert, Martyr, c. 900
17 Elias, Paul and Isidore, Martyrs, 856
18 Perfectus, Priest and Martyr, 851
22 Senhorina**, Abbess of Basto, 982
24 Gregory, Bishop of Elvira, c. 394
24 Peter**, Archbishop of Braga, Martyr, 5c.?
28 Prudentius, Bishop of Tarazona, c. 700
29 Agapius, Secundinus, Tertulla, Antonia and Companions*, Martyrs in Africa, c. 259
29 Daniel, Hermit and Martyr, 9c.
30 Amator, Peter and Louis, Martyrs, 855
1 Orentius and Patientia, Martyrs, c. 240
2 Felix of Seville, Deacon and Martyr, c. 300?
5 Sacerdos, Bishop of Murviedro, c. 560
9 Vincent, Abbot, c. 950
11 Anastasius, Martyr in Lerida, c. 300
15 Torquatus, Ctesiphon, Secundus, Indaletius, Cecilius, Hesychius and Euphrasius, Missionaries and Martyrs, l c.
21 Secundinus, Martyr, c. 306
23 Epitacius, Bishop of Tuy, lc.
23 Basil*, Bishop of Braga, lc.
25 Gennadius, Bishop of Astorga, Hermit, c. 936
26 Guinizo*, Hermit in Italy, c. 1050
28 Justus, Bishop of Urgel, c. 527
29 Votus, Felix and John de Atares, Hermits, c. 750
1 Atto, Bishop of Oca-Valpuesta, c. 1044
3 Isaac, Monk and Martyr, 851
5 Sancho (Sanctus), Martyr, 851
7 Peter, Walabonsus, Sabinian, Wistremund, Habentius and Jeremiah, Martyrs, 851
11 Icon of the Mother of God of Abula, 692
13 Fandilas, Abbot and Martyr, 853
14 Anastasius, Felix and Digna, Martyrs, 853
15 Benildis, Martyr, 853
18 Cyriacus and Paula, Martyrs, 305
20 Florentina (Florence), Abbess, c. 636
24 John of Tuy, Hermit, 9c.
25 Eurosia (Orosia), Martyr, 714
26 Perseveranda (Pezaine)*, Nun in France, c. 726
26 Pelagius (Pelayo), Martyr, 925
26 Hermogius, Bishop, c. 942
27 Clement, Martyr, c. 298
27 Zoilus and Companions, Martyrs, c. 301
28 Argimir, Martyr, 856
30 Marcian, Bishop of Pamplona, c. 757
11 Abundius, Priest and Martyr, 854
16 Sisenandus, Deacon and Martyr, 851
18 Philastrius*, Bishop of Brescia in Italy, c. 387
18 Marina, Martyr, c. 300
19 Aurea, Nun and Martyr, 856
19 Justa and Rufina, Martyrs, 287
20 Paul, Deacon and Martyr, 851
24 Victor, Martyr, 304
24 Dictinus, Bishop of Astorga, 420
25 Cucuphas, Martyr, 304
25 Theodemir, Monk and Martyr, 851
27 George, Aurelius, Natalia, Felix, Liliosa, Martyrs, 852
4 Peregrinus, Maceratus and Viventius*, Martyrs in Gaul, 6c.
6 Justus and Pastor, Martyrs, c. 304
6 Stephen, Abbot of Cardena and Companions, Martyrs, 872
13 Centolla and Helen, Virgin-Martyrs, c. 304
19 Marinus, Abbot and Bishop, c. 800
19 Leovigild and Christopher, Monks and Martyrs, 852
22 Fabrician and Philibert, Martyrs, c. 300
25 Geruntius, Bishop of Italica, Martyr, c. 100
25 Maginus, Missionary and Martyr,’ c. 304
27 Hosius, Bishop of Cordoba, 359
27 Licerius*, Bishop of Couserans in Gaul, c. 548
30 Pelagius, Arsenius and Silvanus, Hermits and Martyrs, c. 950
1 Giles*, Abbot in Italy, c. 1050
3 Sandila (Sandalus), Martyr, c. 855
5 Obdulia, Martyr, c. 300
6 Augustine, Sanctian and Beata*, Martyrs in Gaul, 273
10 Peter, Archbishop of Compostela, c. 1000
11 Vincent of Leon, Abbot and Martyr, c. 630
15 Emilas and Jeremiah, Martyrs, 852
16 Rogelius and Servus-Dei, Martyrs, 852
19 Pomposa, Nun and Martyr, 853
25 Firminus*, Bishop of Amiens in Gaul, 4c.
27 Adolphus and John, Martyrs, c. 850
28 Paternus*, Bishop of Auch in Gaul, 2c.
1 Verissimus, Maxima and Julia**, Martyrs, c. 302
1 Virila, Abbot, c. 1000
5 Froilan, Bishop of Leon, 1006
5 Attila (Attilanus), Bishop of Zamora, 1009
8 Peter of Seville, Martyr, c. 300
13 Faustus, Januarius and Martial, Martyrs, 304
15 Callistus*, Martyr in France, 1003
19 Laura, Nun and Martyr, 864
22 Nunctus, Abbot and Martyr, 668
22 Nunilo and Alodia, Martyrs, 851
23 Servandus and Germanus, Martyrs, c. 305
25 Fructus, Valentine and Engratia, c. 715
27 Vincent, Sabina and Christeta, Martyrs, 303
29 Baldus (Bond)*, Hermit in France, 7c.
30 Claudius, Lupercus and Victorius, Martyrs, c. 300
3 Martyrs of Saragossa, c. 304
3 Gaudiosus, Bishop of Tarazona, c. 585
3 Pirmin*, Missionary-Bishop in Germany, 753
3 Hermengaudius (Armengol), Bishop of Urgel, 1035
5 Hermenegild, Monk, 953
6 Severus, Bishop of Barcelona, Martyr, 633
12 Emilian, Bishop of Tarazona, Hermit, 574
13 Arcadius, Paschasius, Probus, Eutychian and Paulillus*, Martyrs in Africa, 437
13 Eugene, Archbishop of Toledo, 657
17 Acisclus and Victoria, Martyrs, 304
19 Crispin, Bishop of Ecija, Martyr, 4c.
21 Honorius, Eutychius and Stephen, Martyrs,c. 300
22 Tigridia, Nun, c. 925
23 Lucretia, Virgin-Martyr, 306
24 Flora and Mary, Virgin-Martyrs, 851
27 Facundus and Primitivus, Martyrs, c. 300
9 Leocadia, Virgin-Martyr, c. 303
10 Eulalia of Merida, Virgin-Martyr, c. 304
10 Julia of Merida, Martyr, c. 304
11 Eutychius (Oye), Martyr, c. 300
11 Damasus*, Pope of Rome, 384
14 Justus and Abundius, Martyrs, 283
15 Urbitius (Urbez), Hermit, c. 805
17 Daniel of Niverta and Egypt (in monasticism Stephen)*, c. 975
21 Honoratus*, Bishop of Toulouse in Gaul, 3c.
22 Amaswinthus, Abbot, 982
23 Vintila, Martyr, Hermit, 890
31 Columba*, Martyr in Gaul, 273
The origin of the kingdom lies in the 5th century, when the Suebi settled permanently in the former Romanprovince of Gallaecia. Their king, Hermeric, probably signed a foedus, or pact, with the Roman Emperor Honorius, which conceded them lands in Galicia. The Suebi set their capital in the former Bracara Augusta, setting the foundations of a kingdom which was first acknowledged as Regnum Suevorum(Kingdom of the Suebi), but later as Regnum Galliciense (Kingdom of Galicia).
A century later, the differences between Gallaeci and Suebi people had faded, leading to the systematic use of terms like Galliciense Regnum (Galician Kingdom), Regem Galliciae (King of Galicia), Rege Suevorum (King of Suebi), and Galleciae totius provinciae rex (king of all Galician provinces), while bishops, such as Martin of Braga, were recognized as episcopi Gallaecia (Bishop of Galicia).
Main article: Suebic Kingdom of Galicia
The independent Suebic kingdom of Galicia lasted from 409 to 585, having remained relatively stable for most of that time.
In 409 Gallaecia was divided, ad habitandum, among two Germanic people, the HasdingiVandals, who settled the eastern lands, and the Suebi, who established themselves in the coastal areas. As with most Germanic invasions, the number of the original Suebi is estimated to be relatively low, generally fewer than 100,000, and most often around 30,000 people.They settled mainly in the regions around modern northern Portugal and Western Galicia, in the towns of Braga (Bracara Augusta) and Porto, and later in Lugo (Lucus Augusta) and Astorga (Asturica Augusta). The valley of the Limia (or Lima) River is thought to have received the largest concentration of Germanic settlers,[by whom?] and Bracara Augusta—the modern city of Braga—became the capital of the Suebi, as it had previously been the capital of Gallaecia.
In 419 a war broke out between the Vandal king Gunderic and the Suebi’s Hermeric. After a blockade alongside the Nervasian Mountains, the Suebi obtained Roman help, forcing the Vandals to flee into the Baetica. In the absence of competitors, the Suebi began a period of expansion, first inside Gallaecia, and later into other Roman provinces. In 438 Hermericratified a peace treaty with the Gallaeci, the native and partially Romanized people.
Illness led Hermeric to abdicate in favor of his son, Rechila, who moved his troops to the south and the east, conquering Mérida and Seville, the capitals of the Roman provinces of Lusitaniaand Betica. In 448 Rechila died, leaving the expanding state to his son Rechiar, who in 449 became one of the first Germanic kings of post-Roman Europe to convert to Catholicism. Rechiar married a Visigothic princess, and was also the first Germanic king to mint coins in ancient Roman territories. Rechiar led further expansions to the east, marauding through the Provincia Tarraconensis, which was still held by Rome. The Roman emperor Avitus sent a large army of foederates, under the direction of the Visigoth Theoderic II, who defeated the Suebi army by the river Órbigo, near modern-day Astorga. Rechiar fled, but he was pursued and captured, then executed in 457.
In the aftermath of Rechiar’s death, multiple candidates for the throne appeared, finally grouping into two allegiances. The division between the two groups was marked by the Minius River (now Minho River), probably as a consequence of the localities of the Quadi and Marcomanni tribes, who constituted the Suebi nation on the Iberian Peninsula. The Suebi in the north conquered Lugo, proceeding to use that city as their co-capital, while the Suebi in the south expanded into Lisbon and Conimbriga, which were assaulted, and abandoned after their Roman inhabitants were banished. By 465 Remismund, who established a policy of friendship with the Goths and promoted the conversion of his own people into Arianism, was recognized by his people as the only king of the Suebi.
See also: Britonia
Miro, king of Galicia, and Martin of Braga, from an 1145 manuscript of Martin’s Formula Vitae Honestae,now in the Austrian National Library. The book was originally dedicated to King Miro with the header “To King Miro, the most glorious and calm, the pious, distinguished for his Catholic faith”
Monastery of San Pedro de Rocas, Galicia, founded in 575 and inhabited until the early 20th century
After a period of obscurity, with very little remaining information on the history of this area, or in fact Western Europe in general,the Suebi Kingdom reappears in European politics and history during the second half of the 6th century. This is following the arrival of Saint Martin of Braga, a Pannonian monk dedicated to converting the Suebi to Nicene Christianity and consequently into allegiance with the other Nicene Christian regional powers, the Franks and the Eastern Roman Empire.
Under King Ariamir, who called for the First Council of Braga, the conversion of the Suebi to Nicene Christianity was apparent; while this same council condemned Priscillianism, it made no similar statement on Arianism. Later, King Theodemar ordered an administrative and ecclesiastical division of his kingdom, with the creation of new bishoprics and the promotion of Lugo, which possessed a large Suebi community, to the level of Metropolitan Bishop along with Braga.
Theodemar’s son and successor, King Miro, called for the Second Council of Braga, which was attended by all the bishops of the kingdom, from the Briton bishopric of Britonia in the Bay of Biscay, to Astorga in the east, and Coimbra and Idanha in the south. Five of the attendant bishops used Germanic names, showing the integration of the different communities of the country. King Miro also promoted contention with the Arian Visigoths, who under the leadership of King Leovigild were rebuilding their fragmented kingdom which had been ruled mostly by Ostrogoths since the beginning of the 6th century, following the defeat and expulsion of Aquitania by the Franks. After clashing in frontier lands, Miro and Leovigild agreed upon a temporary peace.
The Suebi maintained their independence until 585, when Leovigild, on the pretext of conflict over the succession, invaded the Suebic kingdom and finally defeated it. Audeca, the last king of the Suebi, who had deposed his brother-in-law Eboric, held out for a year before being captured in 585. This same year a nobleman named Malaric rebelled against the Goths, but he was defeated.
As with the Visigothic language, there are only traces of the Suebi tongue remaining, as they quickly adopted the local vulgar Latin. Some words of plausible Suebi origin are the modern Galician and Portuguese words laverca (lark), meixengra or mejengra (titmouse), lobio (vine), escá (a measure, formerly “cup”), groba (ravine), and others. Much more significant was their contribution to names of the local toponymy and onomastics.
|“After the death of Miroking of Galicia, and while his son Eboricand his son-in-law Audeca were fighting each other for the control of the kingdom, Leovigild subjugated the Suebi and all of Galicia under the power of the Goths.” Chronicle of Fredegar, III. p 116.|
|“Not only the conversion of the Goths is found among the favors that we have received, but also the infinite multitude of the Sueves, whom with divine assistance we have subjected to our realm. Although led into heresy by others fault, with our diligence we have brought them to the origins of truth. Therefore, most holy fathers, these most noble nations gained by us, as a holy and atoning sacrifice, by your hands I offer to God eternal.” King Reccared, Acts of the Third Council of Toledo.|
Church of Santa Comba de Bande, built c.7th century, rebuilt in the 9th century after being ruined for more than 200 years
In 585, Liuvigild, the Visigothic king of Hispania and Septimania, annexed the Kingdom of Galicia, after defeating King Audeca, and later the pretender to the throne, Malaric. Thus the kingdom of the Suebi, which incorporated large territories of the ancient Roman provinces of Gallaecia and Lusitania, became the sixth province of the Visigothic Kingdom of Toledo.
The government of the Visigoths in Galicia did not totally disrupt the society, and the Suevi Catholic dioceses of Bracara, Dumio, Portus Cale or Magneto, Tude, Iria, Britonia, Lucus, Auria, Asturica, Conimbria, Lameco, Viseu, and Egitania continued to operate normally. During the reign of Liuvigild, new Arian bishops were raised among the Suebi in cities such as Lugo, Porto, Tui, and Viseu, alongside the cities’ Catholic bishops. These Arian bishops returned to Catholicism in 589, when King Reccaredhimself converted to Catholicism, along with the Goths and Suebi, at the Third Council of Toledo.
The territorial and administrative organization inherited from the Suevi was incorporated into the new Provincial status, although Lugo was reduced again to the category of bishopric, and subjected to Braga. Meanwhile, the Suevi, Roman, and Galician cultural, religious, and aristocratic elite accepted new monarchs. The peasants maintained a collective formed mostly by freemen and serfs of Celtic, Roman and Suebi extraction, as no major Visigoth immigration occurred during the 6th and 7th centuries.
This continuity led to the persistence of Galicia as a differentiated province within the realm, as indicated by the acts of several Councils of Toledo, chronicles such as that of John of Biclar, and in military laws such as the one extolled by Wamba which was incorporated into the Liber Iudicum, the Visigothic legal code. It was not until the administrative reformation produced during the reign of Recceswinth that the Lusitanian dioceses annexed by the Suevi to Galicia (Coimbra, Idanha, Lamego, Viseu, and parts of Salamanca) were restored to Lusitania. This same reform reduced the number of mints in Galicia from a few dozen to just three, those in the cities of Lugo, Braga, and Tui.
The most notable person of 7th century Galicia was Saint Fructuosus of Braga. Fructuosus was the son of a provincial Visigoth dux (military provincial governor), and was known for the many foundations he established throughout the west of the Iberian peninsula, generally in places with difficult access, such as mountain valleys or islands. He also wrote two monasticrulebooks, characterized by their pact-like nature, with the monastic communities ruled by an abbot, under the remote authority of a bishop (episcopus sub regula), and each integrant of the congregation having signed a written pact with him. Fructuosus was later consecrated as abbot-bishop of Dumio, the most important monastery of Gallaecia—founded by Martin of Braga in the 6th century—under Suebi rule. In 656 he was appointed bishop of Braga and metropolitan of Galicia, ostensibly against his own will.
During his later years the Visigothic monarchy suffered a pronounced decline, due in large part to a decrease in trade and therefore a sharp reduction in monetary circulation, largely as a result of the Muslim occupations in the early 8th century in the south Mediterranean. The Gallaecia were also affected, and Fructuosus of Braga denounced the general cultural decline and loss of the momentum from previous periods, causing some discontent in the Galician high clergy. At the tenth Council of Toledo in 656, Fructuosus was appointed to the Metropolitan seat of Potamio after the renunciation of its previous occupier. At the same time the Will of the Bishop of Dume Recimiro was declared void after he donated the wealth of the diocese convent to the poor.
The crisis at the end of the Visigoth era dates to the reign of Egica. The monarch appointed his son Wittiza as his heir, and despite the fact that the Visigothic monarchy had been traditionally elective rather than hereditary Egica associated Wittiza during his lifetime to the throne (for example, Egica and Wittiza are known to have issued coinage with the confronted effigies of both monarchs). In 701 an outbreak of plague spread westward from Greece to Spain, reaching Toledo, the Visigothic capital, in the same year, and having such impact that the royal family, including Egica and Wittiza, fled. It has been suggested that this provided the occasion for sending Wittiza to rule the Kingdom of the Suevi from Tui, which is recorded as his capital. The possibility has also been raised that the 13th-century chronicler, Lucas of Tuy, when he records that Wittiza relieved the oppression of the Jews (a fact unknown from his reign at Toledo after his father), may in fact refer to his reign at Lucas’ hometown of Tui, where an oral tradition may have been preserved of the events of his Galician reign.
In 702, with the death of Egica, Wittiza as sole king moved his capital to Toledo. In 710, part of the Visigothic aristocracy violently raised Roderic to the throne, triggering a civil war with the supporters of Wittiza and his sons. In 711, the enemies of Roderic got a Muslim army to cross the Straits of Gibraltar and face him at the Battle of Guadalete. The defeat was the end of Roderic and of the Visigothic rule, with profound consequences for the whole of the Iberian peninsula.
|“Alfonso king of Galicia and of Asturias, after having ravaged Lisbon, the last city of Spain, sent during the winter the insignias of his victory, breastplates, mules, and Moor prisoners, through his legates Froia and Basiliscus.” Annales regni Francorum, c 798.|
|“And so, as I’ve been told, when Adefonsus departed of this world, as Nepotianus usurped the kingdom of Ramiro, Ramiro went to the city of Lugo in Galicia, and there he reunited the army of the whole province. After a while he burst into Asturias. He was met by Nepotianus, who has reunited a group of Asturians and Basques, at the bridge over the river Narcea. Nepotianus was immediately left stranded by his own people, being captured when fleeing by two counts, Sonna and Scipio.” Chronicle of Alfonso III, ad Sebastianum, 21.|
For several centuries after the defeat of the Goths, Galicia was united with other neighboring regions under the same monarchs, with only brief periods of separation under different kings. Along with the rest of the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, it was free of Arab presence from the mid-8th century, being gradually incorporated into a growing Christian state. This is usually called the Kingdom of Asturias in traditional and modern sources, although the precise historical details of these events have been obscured by the national myths leading to the construction of modern Spanish identity.
The 9th century saw this state expand southward, with Castilian and Asturian noblemen acquiring most of the northern Meseta,while in Galicia, a similar impulse led to the conquest and re-population of the regions of Astorga, southern Galicia, and northern Portugal down to Coimbra, by noblemen mostly proceeding from northern Galicia. Also significant was the pretended discovery of the tomb of Saint James the Great at what would become Santiago de Compostela; the shrine constructed there became the religious center of the nation, as well as being the destination of a major international pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James. This increased the political and military relevance of Galicia, and its noble families aspired to positions of power within the kingdom through either military force or by matrimonial alliance with the royal family. To the east, this southern expansion led the capital of the Christian kingdom to be moved to the city of León, from which time the state is usually called the Kingdom of León. This same kingdom was frequently known as either Gallaecia or Galicia (Yillīqiya and Galīsiya) in Al-AndalusMuslim sources up to the 14th century, as well as by many European Christian contemporaries.
During the Iron Age, and later during Roman and Germanic rule, Southern Gallaecia—today north Portugal and south Galicia—was the more dynamic, urbanized, and richest area of Gallaecia. This role was assumed by the rural north during the Early and High Middle Ages, as a consequence not only of the Islamic invasion, but as the final result of a continental wide urban crisis.
The old bishoprics of Braga, Ourense, Tui, Lamego, and others, were either discontinued, or re-established in the north, under the protection of Lugo—which was now a stronghold due to its Roman walls—and Iria Flavia. Dumio was re-established by the Bay of Biscayin Mondoñedo, Lugo assumed the role of Braga, and the bishops of Lamego and Tui sought refugee in Iria, where they received generous territorial grants. During the 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries most of these bishoprics were re-established in their historical sees, but at this time the bishops of Lugo, Mondoñedo, and Iria became major political players; not just as religious figures, but also as wealthy, and sometimes mighty secular powers. In particular, the bishops of Iria and Compostela were notorious warlords, due to the many fortresses and military resources they controlled as heads of a military Norman mark, as well as due to the wealth that the pilgrimages and royal grants brought to their lands.
Each bishopric was divided into a number of territories or counties, named terras,condados, mandationes, commissos, or territorios in local charters, which in the north were true continuations of the Suebic dioceses which frequently preserved old tribal divisions and denominations, such as Lemabos, Celticos, Postamarcos, Bregantinos, and Cavarcos. Rights to the tax collection and government of each territory was granted by the titular ruler—usually the king—to a count, bishopric, or large monastery, although there existed some singularities. The bishopric of Lugo was divided into counties, each one under the government of an infanzon (a lesser nobleman) as a concession of the bishop, while in the south, large and mighty territories such as the Portucalense became hereditary, passed down to the descendants of the 9th century’s conquerors. In the Terra de Santiago (Land of Saint James, the fief of the bishops of Iria-Compostela) each territory was administered by a bishop’s vicar, while justice was administered by a council composed of representatives of the local churchmen, knights, and peasants.
Each territory or county could be further divided into mandationes and decanias. The basic territorial division was the villa, centered on a church, and composed of one or more hamlets or villages, together with all its facilities, lands, and possessions. The villas perpetuated ancient Roman and Suevic foundations, and they were the base for the ecclesiastical organization, and for the economic production of the country, later evolving into the modern parroquias and freguesias (rural parishes). The local economy was subsistence, based mainly on the production of grain and beans, and notably in cattle breeding. Other valuable—though geographically restricted—products included fruits, salt, wine, honey, olive oil, horses, iron for the production of weapons and tools, and exotic oriental fabrics introduced from Spania. There were also specialized artisans who worked on demand, such as masons and goldsmiths.
While local commerce was common, long range interchanges—generally maintained by Hebrew merchants—were rare and appreciated. Monetary circulation was scarce, composed mainly of old Suebi and Visigothic coinage known locally as solidos gallicianos. War and pillaging against the thriving Al-Andalus was also a very important source for the acquisition of riches, exotic items, and Muslim serfs. Later, pilgrimage of Christians from all over Europe to Santiago de Compostela brought not only riches, but also a range of continental innovations and trends, from shipbuilding, to new architectural styles such as Romanesque art.
Romanesque cathedral of San Martiño de Mondoñedo (9th–11th centuries); first construction dates from the 6th–7th centuries
The elites were composed of counts, dukes, senatores, and other high noblemen, who were frequently related by marriage with the monarch,and who usually claimed the most powerful positions in society, either as governors, bishops, or as palatineofficials or companions of the king or queen. The Galician nobility however were also frequently found as rebels, either as supporters of a different candidate to the throne, or aspiring to it themselves, or simply as disobedient to the king’s orders and will. At the service of the noblemen were miles (knights) and infanzones; they were often found marching to war with their subalterns on behalf of a patron, or as vicars and administrators.
A sizable section of the society were churchmen—presbyters, deacons, clergymen, lectors, confessos, monks, and nuns—who frequently lived in religious communities, some of which were composed of both men and women living under vows of chastity and poverty. Most of these monasteries were directed by an abbot or abbess, ruled under a pactual tradition heavily influenced by Germanic legal traditions, with a bishop sub regula as the highest authority of the community. Other monasteries used different, sometimes antagonist rules. The Benedictine and Augustine rules were uncommon until the 11th century. As in most of Europe, the chartulary and chronicle proceedings of monasteries and bishoprics are the most important source for the study of local history.
By the 12th century the only known bourgeois were the multinational inhabitants of Compostela, by this stage a fortified and strong city. Meanwhile, the City Council of Santiago for centuries had struggled against their bishops for the recognition of a number of liberties. In the country, most people were freemen, peasants, artisans, or infantrymen, who could freely choose a patron, or buy and sell properties, although they frequently fell prey to the greed of the big owners, leading many of them to a life of servitude. Finally, servos, libertos, and pueros(serfs and slaves), either obtained in war with the Moors or through trial, constituted a visible part of the society; they were employed as household workers (domesticos and scancianes), shepherds, and farmhands. Local charters also show that, in time, they were freed.
In terms of religion, most were Roman Catholics, although the local rites—known today as Mozarabic rites—were notably different from those used in most of Western Europe. No Arian, Priscillianist, or Pagan organizations are known to have survived during the High Middle Ages. However, there were still pagans and pagan shrines in the Bierzo region during the 7th century, whilst Arian or Priscillianist tonsure—seen as long hair, with only a partial tonsure atop the head—was in use in Galicia up to 681, when it was forbidden at a council in Toledo. There were no known Muslim communities in Galicia and northern Portugal, other than Moor serfs. Records of Hebrew people are also uncommon in local charters until the 12th century, except as travelers and merchants.
Personal names in Galicia and northern Portugal were chiefly of Germanic origin, although Christian, Roman, and Greek names were also common. Names were usually composed just of a single surname, although noblemen frequently also used a patronymic. Muslim names and patronymics were rare amongst Galicians, as even serfs were frequently given a Germanic or Roman name, which is in contrast with the relative popularity of Muslim names amongst the Leonese.
- Romanesque façade in the Cathedral of Ourense (1160); founded in the 6th century, its construction is attributed to King Chararic
- Monastical church of San Miguel de Eiré, Pantón (12th century)
- Oratory of San Miguel de Celanova (first quarter of the 10th century)
- Pórtico da Groria, Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (12th–13th centuries), summum of the local Romanesque sculpture
|“When Fruela, king of Galicia, died (…) the Christians made king his brother Alfonso, who then found the throne disputed by his elder brother Sancho, who entered León, capital of the Kingdom of the Galicians, as an opponent (…) Until they decided to depose Sancho and to throw him from Leon, joining under the king Alfonso. Sancho then fled to the extreme of Galicia, where he was received and enthroned by the locals.” Ibn Hayyan, Muqtabis, V, c. 1050.|
|“I Answar, to you, our lord and most serene king Don Sancho, prince of all Galicia, and to our lady, your wife, queen Goto.” Document from the chartulary of Celanova, year 929.|
|“There king Don Sancho said (…) ‘Don Alfonso, our father because of our sins left the land poorly divided, and he gave to Don Garcia most of the realm, and thou were left the most disinherited and with less lands; and that’s why I propose to take from king Don Garcia the land our father gave to him.'” Primera Crónica General de España, 817.|
When Alfonso III of León was forced by his sons to abdicate in 910, his lands were partitioned, bringing about the first episode of a short-lived distinct kingdom of Galicia. García I obtained the Terra de Fora or León, consisting of the southeastern portion of their father’s realm, while Ordoño II held the western lands, that is Galicia (including the recently acquired lands of Coimbra) where he had already been serving as governor, and was now recognized as king in an assembly of magnates held in Lugo. The youngest brother, Fruela II, received the Asturian heartland in the northeast, with Oviedo as its capital.
From Galicia, Ordoño launched several successful raids on the Islamic south, returning with riches and Muslim serfs, and confirming himself as an able commander. At the death of García in 914, Ordoño also acquired León, and on his death in 924 his younger brother, Fruela, reunited Alfonso’s realm. Fruela’s death a year later initiated a period of chaos, with several claimants to the crown. Fruela’s son, Alfonso Fróilaz, received support from Asturias, but was captured and blinded by Sancho, Alfonso IV, and Ramiro II, sons of Ordoño, with the aid of the Basque troops of Jimeno Garcés of Pamplona. Vague and conflicting historical records make it uncertain whether Alfonso Fróilaz reigned briefly as king of the entire kingdom, or simply held a remote part of Asturias. In Galicia, Sancho succeeded, being crowned in Santiago de Compostela and marrying a Galician noblewoman. After reigning for just three years he died childless. Alfonso IV then took control of an again-reunited Kingdom of León in 929, however was forced into a monastery by their youngest brother, Ramiro, two years later.
Ramiro II had ties with the Galician nobility through kinship, marriage and patronage, and he and his son, Ordoño III, whose mother was Galician, reigned with their support. This was not the case when Ordoño was succeeded by his half-brother Sancho I of León in 956. Sancho proved unpopular and ineffectual and the Galician nobles grew fractious, forming a coalition with Fernán González of Castile to overthrow Sancho in favor of Ordoño IV, who was enthroned in Santiago de Compostela in 958.However Sancho reclaimed the crown in 960 with support from his mother’s Kingdom of Pamplona, the Leonese nobility, and Muslim assistance. His son, Ramiro III, grew increasingly absolutist, alienating the Galician nobility who also resented the lack of Leonese help when the Normans raided Galicia from 968 through 970.
The Galician nobility again rose in rebellion, in 982 crowning and anointing Bermudo, son of Ordoño III, as king in Santiago de Compostela. With their support, he first repelled the army of Ramiro in the battle of Portela de Areas and eventually made himself undisputed ruler of the Leonese kingdom. Once in control, Bermudo lost many of his Galician and Portugueses supporters by repudiating his Galician wife in favor of a new marriage alliance with Castile. His later reign was marked by the ascension of a strong military leader, Almanzor, who led a brief resurgence of the Cordoban Caliphate, reconquering Coimbra or Viseu, and even raiding Santiago de Compostela.
In the 1030s, Galicia became the sole holdout to the Leonese conquests of Sancho III of Pamplona. When the Count of Castile—nominally a Leonese vassal, but de facto independent—was assassinated in León in 1029, Sancho claimed the right to name the successor, giving it to his own son Ferdinand. Taking advantage of the youth of Leonese king Bermudo III, Sancho seized disputed border regions, formalizing the arrangement by including the lands in the dowry of Bermudo’s sister, who was married to Ferdinand in 1032. Two years later, in 1034, Sancho took Bermudo’s capital, becoming de facto ruler of most of the kingdom, whilst leaving Bermudo to rule from his refuge in Galicia. Sancho’s death the next year allowed Bermudo to regain not only the entire kingdom, but to briefly become overlord of Ferdinand’s Castile. However, in 1037, the Castilian count killed Bermudo in battle, and Galicia passed with the Kingdom of León into the hands of Ferdinand, who then had himself crowned king.
Political situation in the Northern Iberian Peninsula around 1065: Garcia II‘s domains (Galicia) Badajoz, owing tribute to Garcia Seville, owing tribute to Garcia Alfonso VI‘s domains (León) Toledo, owing tribute to Alfonso Sancho II‘s domains (Castile) Zaragoza, owing tribute to Sancho
Ferdinand’s death in 1065 led to another short-lived Galician state. In 1063 he had opted to partition his realm, giving the eastern Kingdom of Castile to his eldest son, Sancho II, along with the right to the paria(tribute) from the Taifa of Zaragoza. His second son Alfonso VI was given the Kingdom of León, representing the central portion of the old realm, with the paria from Toledo. His youngest son, García II, who had been educated in Galicia under the tutelage of bishop Cresconius of Compostela, received the western half of Bermudo’s old kingdom as King of Galicia, along with the right to parias from the Taifas of Badajoz and Seville.
As king, Garcia aimed to restore the old episcopal sees of Tui, Lamego, and Braga, which had been dissolved due to Arab and Viking assaults. The death of two of his most notable supporters, bishops Cresconius of Compostela and Uistrarius of Lugo, left the young king in a weaker position, and in 1071 the Count of Portugal, Nuno Mendes, rose in rebellion. García defeated and killed him in the same year at the Battle of Pedroso, and in recognition of his solidified control adopted the title King of Galicia and Portugal. However his brothers, Alfonso and Sancho, immediately turned on the victor, forcing García to flee, first to central Portugal and later—after defeating him near Santarém—into exile in Seville in 1072. García’s realm was divided, with Alfonso joining the county of Portugal to his Kingdom of León, while Sancho held the north.
This situation was inherently unstable, with Sancho’s lands separated by Alfonso’s León, and the two soon fought a war in which Sancho proved victorious, forcing Alfonso into exile and reuniting all of Ferdinand’s kingdom except the autonomous city of Zamora, held by his sister Urraca. While besieging this town in 1072, Sancho was assassinated, inducing Alfonso to return and claim the entire realm. García also returned in 1073 from his exile, either with the hope of re-establishing himself in Galicia, or simply having been misled by promises of safety from Alfonso, however he was imprisoned by Alfonso for the rest of his life, dying in 1091.As an aftermath to these events, before 1088 Alfonso deposed the bishop of Compostela, Diego Pelaez, who was charged “on trying to deliver the Kingdom of Galicia [“Galleciae Regnum”] to the king of the English and of the Normans [William the Conqueror], while taking it away from the kings of the Spaniards”. This reunion with the Kingdom of León would prove permanent, although both kingdoms maintained their separate personality.
Queen Urraca ruled Galicia with her husband, Raymond of Burgundy, until the death of her father Alfonso VI. Medieval portrait, Tumbo A chartulary of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
In 1091 the daughter of King Alfonso VI, infanta Urraca, married a Burgundian nobleman, Raymond of Burgundy, who had participated in the Crusades against the Almoravids. His military victories as well as his Anscarid lineage justified this union, and Alfonso bestowed on him the government of Galicia between Cape Ortegal and Coimbra, as a personal fief. This union gave rise to the House of Burgundy, which would rule in Galicia, León, and Castile until the death of King Peter.
Two years after Raymond’s marriage, in 1093, another French crusader, his cousin Henry, the grandson of Duke Robert I of Burgundy and nephew of Alfonso’s queen, was given the hand of the Alfonso’s illegitimate daughter Theresa, receiving lands in Castille. Both Burgundians were close allies in the affairs of the realm, ratifying a pact of friendship where Raymond promised his cousin to give to him the Kingdom of Toledo or the Kingdom of Galicia, together with a third of his treasure, in return for Henry’s aid in acquiring the crown as successor of King Alfonso. However, by 1097 King Alfonso granted Henry the counties of Portugal and Coimbra, from the river Minho to the Tagus, thus limiting the powers of Raymond, who by this time was securing an important nucleus of partisans in Galicia, including Count Pedro Fróilaz de Traba, whilst appointing his own notary, Diego Gelmírez, as bishop of Compostela. In successive years he also obtained the government of Zamora, Salamanca, and Ávila, but he died in 1107, two years before King Alfonso, who was now in his seventies. The government of Galicia and their other possessions was retained by Alfonso’s widow, Urraca, who styled herself Mistress and Empress of Galicia. King Alfonso, in a council held in León, asked of the magnates of Galicia to swear an oath on the defense of the rights of his grandson, Alfonso Raimúndez, to the kingdom of Galicia, in case his mother Urraca remarried.
On June 30, 1109, King Alfonso VI died. He was succeeded by Queen Urraca, who remarried in 1109 to the king of Aragon, Alfonso the Battler, a soldier by nature who was immediately received as king in Castille and León, but not in Galicia. As part of the marriage settlement, any children born to the union were to have priority over Raymond’s son Alfonso in the succession. In Galicia this union was rejected by the old party of count Raymond, now led by count Pedro Fróilaz, tutor of young Alfonso, although the partisans of Urraca also joined forces. With Leon and Castille quiet and under control, Alfonso moved on Galicia in 1110, and while he did not suffer any major defeat, he had little success, returning three months later to León. Probably as a consequence to this development, Pedro Froila drew Diego Gelmirez to his party. In 1111, the young Alfonso Raimúndez was crowned and anointed king in Compostela.