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docoflove1974

Religious orthodoxy in Iberia?

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I'm looking for answers where there may not be any, but what the heck...it's worth a shot ;)

 

I'm brushing up on my early Medieval European history, reading Chris Wickham's The Inheritance of Rome, and I'm thoroughly intrigued by the behavior of the Iberian Germano-Roman peoples, particularly when it comes to clerics and religious orders. I knew that more modern Iberian (particularly Spanish/Castilian) culture has been quite centered on religious orthodoxy since the days of Queen Isabel (King Ferdinand wasn't so much into religion, and left that realm to his bride), and I figured that there were deeper roots. In various chapters, Wickham describes how in Iberia from the 4th-9th centuries there is a fervor to religion that doesn't seem to exist to that extent either in Francia/Gaul or Italy, let alone in the British Islands. There are true parallels to what we would later know as Cardinal Torquemada's Inquisition, including attacks on Jews in the 7th century. (There are other examples, such as the frequency of councils with bishops by the kings, but I won't belabor the point any further.)

 

It got me to thinking...was there already a precedence for strong religious orthodoxy in Iberia before the Visigoths came along? Was Roman society in Iberia more prone to, what I like to call, "

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I think the Catholic Church got a central role in Iberia during the conflict between the Arian Visigoth rulers and the catholic conquered roman population. After the Goths converted to catholicism the state becomes very close to a theocracy with bishops and Church Councils playing a very important role. This catholic identity was only straightened by the Islamic invasion and Reconquista.

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Well, yes, to a degree, Kosmo. The Visigothic kings made it a strong habit to hold numerous councils with the major bishops of Iberia--both Arian and Catholic--on both religious and secular issues, much more than the Frankish kings or the Ostrogothic kings/leaders; this is the picture that Wickham paints, and it's one that I've read before. The Catholic identity of Iberia (Castile seems to have the strongest Catholic identity, but Asturias and modern Galicia are strongly linked, too) isn't in question; it's the culture prior to the Visigoths coming in.

 

It's been a long time since I studied anthropology, but in the back of my mind I remember that religious-type behavior isn't something that tends to be a trend--meaning, if a group of people tends to be more 'orthodox' or 'narrow-minded' in their approach to religion, that this is something that is part of their identity, and therefore it does not often get introduced by a conquering culture. But like I said, I could be way off base here, and that's why I had the question of Roman Iberia. Certainly in the Iberian culture from the Visigoths and after, the religious orthodoxy persists, regardless of the religion of the ruling class. In reading the chronicles of both the Ibero-Romance peoples under Moorish rule and after the Reconquest, the fervor of conviction on all religious matters is quite strong, and in some ways it hasn't changed much over the centuries. It makes me wonder why, is all.

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Interesting theory. You may be right and then the position of Theodosius the Great in favor of orthodoxy both against pagans and against heretics could be rooted in religious attitudes in his Iberic homeland.

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