The Transformation of Frontiers from Late Antiquity to the Carolingians

By Walter Pohl; Ian Wood et al. | Go to book overview

ON THE SUPPOSED FRONTIER BETWEEN THE
REGNUM VISIGOTHORUM AND BYZANTINE HISPANIA

Gisela Ripoll Lopez


Preliminary Questions

This work aims to analyze the problems posed by the existence or nonexistence of a frontier between what was the regnum Visigothorum and the Byzantine enclaves in Hispania.1 I will not add to certain controversies of a historical nature concerning the Byzantine presence, nor will I expand upon all the events involved, since there exist other studies which deal with them.2 Moreover, from my point of view, this occupation was not as extensive as has been implied until now. Be that as it may, certain subjects necessary to any consideration of the question of whether such a frontier existed and to the definition of the extent of the Byzantine possessions will inevitably arise in the course of this study.3

Some present-day scholars start by assuming the definite existence of a frontier or a frontier line even though we have neither documentary nor archaeological evidence for one.4 Others argue in favour of the

1 The text here presented forms part of the European Science Foundation project enti-
tled The Transformation of the Roman World. It has greatly benefitted from having been
read by many colleagues, for whose contributions and comments I would like to express
my gratitude; particular mention should be made of the researchers belonging to the
Imperium, gentes et regna group and of Drs. J. Arce, P. Díaz, J.M. Gurt, A. Jiménez
Garnica, T. Marot and I. Velázquez. I would also like to express my thanks to Dr.
P. Banks for translating this text from Spanish into English.

2 Fr. Görres, “Die byzantinischen Besitzungen an den Küsten des spanischen-west-
gotischen Reiches (554–624)”, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 16 (1907), pp. 515–538; P. Gou-
bert, “L'Administration de l'Espagne: les gouverneurs de l'Espagne byzantine”, Revue
des Études Byzantines 3 (1945), pp. 126–142; id., “Administration de l'Espagne Byzantine:
Les Provinces”, Revue des Études Byzantines 4 (1946), pp. 71–133. K.F. Stroheker, “Das
spanische Westgotenreich und Byzanz”, Bonner Jahrbücher 163 (1963), pp. 252–274;
M. Vallejo Girvés, Bizancio y la España tardoantigua (ss. V–VIII): Un capítulo de historia
mediterránea (Alcalá de Henares, 1993).

3 On the idea of the frontier and its various possible ideological concepts the fol-
lowing works should be consulted: C.R. Whittaker, Frontiers of the Roman Empire. A Social
and Economic Study (Baltimore and London, 1994); Frontières terrestres, frontières célestes dans
l'Antiquité, ed. A. Rousselle (Paris, 1995); Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity, eds. R.W.
Mathisen and H.S. Sivan (Brookfield and Vermont, 1996).

4 In this respect E.A. Thompson, The Goths in Spain (Oxford, 1969), p. 330: “But the

-95-

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