« ZurückWeiter »
Witiza had no sooner taken full posA. D.
session of the throne, than he passed an 700.
act of general amnesty, recalled a great number of exiles, cancelled all arrears that were due to the crown, and displayed such extraordia nary clemency and munificence, as enflamed his subjects with the most enthusiastic joy and loyalty: but, by the base insinuations of court sy. cophants, and by his own natural propensities, he was soon drawn aside from the path of virtue, and he eventually became the slave of lust, intemperance, and cruelty, insomuch that the general attachment of his people was converted into irreconcileable hatred, and the applauses of the nobles were succeeded by just and bitter execrations.
The degenerated monarch was so highly in-. censed at the liberty with which some of his subjects remonstrated against his conduct, that he banished many of the prime nobility from his kingdom; and exercised great severity upon all the objects of his suspicion: but, notwithstanding all his precautions, the flames of discontent be. gan to spread through all parts of the country, and a civil war broke out, which served as a pre. lude to universal anarchy and destruction.
During the violent contentions of Witiza, and of Roderic, leader of the malecontents, the Moorish governor of Mauritania commissioned Tarif Abrezara to make a descent on the penin, sula opposite to Africa; and, though historians differ with respect to the success of this project, it is generally agreed to have been the first important step which the Moors made toward the general conquest of a country which had long excited their avidity, and tempted their ambition.
Upon the demise of Witiza, and the accession of his competitor, the affairs of the Visigoths appear to have been in a most distracted situation: for the manner of Witiza's death, and the election or recognition of Roderic have been scarcely noticed by the Spanish historians. It appears, however, that the commencement of Roderic's reign was rendered peculiarly unfortunate by the defection of count Julian, who had, on former occasions, repulsed the Moors with great success; and by the intrigues of Witiza's sons, who could not, with any degree of patience, submit to the loss of all their dignities.
In this posture of affairs, the Moors made a second descent upon Spain, under the command of Tarick Abdalahi, and effected a landing at Gibraltar. Though the Saracen general had only seven thousand followers in this expedition, he resolved to attempt the reduction of the whole kingdom, and caused his fleet to be destroyed in order to prevent the desertion of his troops : but the governor of Mauritania perceived the necessity of reinforcing the invaders, and accord ingly sent over a fresh army of twelve thousand men, under Tarick Abincier, whom he entrusted with the chief command, and instructed to extend his conquests as far as might be consistent with prudence.
In the summer of 711, the Moorish general took the field, and, by the advice of count Julian, committed some dreadful cruelties upon the defenceless inhabitants of the coast. Roderic, on the other hand, having laboured to heal the intestine divisions of his country, and prevailed on the sons of Witiza to join him with all their forces against the common enemy, found him.
self at the head of a formidable army; and Aattered himself with the hope of compelling the Moors to retire to Africa. But Tarick Abincier drew over a fresh reinforcement; and acted with such extraordinary conduct and resolution, that the Visigoths were defeated with prodigious slaughter; and their unfortunate king was obliged to take refuge in a monastery, where he died shortly after, either of his wounds, or of grief for the loss of his dominions.
After this decisive battle, which was fought in a plain near Xeres de la Frontera, on the banks of the Guadalete, the Moorish general led his vietorious forces against the cities of Seville and Cordova; committed the most horrid outrages upon the inhabitants without distinction of age or sex; and invited the governor of Mauritania to come over, in person,
and complete the reduction of the country. Hereupon Muza landed at Gibraltar with a prodigious number of fresh troops; and an arrangement was made, by which Abdalaziz, Muza's son, was appointed to conquer all the provinces lying on the Mediterranean; another general was ordered to march into those parts which bordered on the ocean; and Muza himself, with his lieutenant Tarick, undertook the conquest of the midland counties. This plan was imme. diately carried into execution; and though the inhabitants of the respective provinces and cities defended themselves with extraordinary gallantry, the infidels soon triumphed in every part, and Spain was effectually subjugated to their authority. The inhabitants of Arragon, Navarre, and Catalonia chose for the most part to retire into France; and the poor remains of the
Visigoths were obliged to take refuge among the mountains of Burgos, Biscay, and Asturias, from the vengeance of their implacable enemies.
From the Sul version of the Gothic Monarchy, to the
Union of all the Spanish Kingdoms, except Portis gal, under Ferdinand and Isabella.
ordered to attend the caliph, Walid, at Damascus; and the government of Spain was left to Abdalaziz, who undertook to make a survey of the whole kingdom, that the administration of justice might be regulated, the collection of the revenues facilitated, and the value of the Moorish conquest be ascertained. Accordingly, he made himself perfectly acquainted with the general state of affairs; and he is reported to have behaved with great kindness and affability to the inhabitants. The dilapidated cities were, by his order, cleansed and repaired; new fortresses were erected in various parts; and measures were taken for the restoration of a free intercourse between the several provinces.
Abdalaziz fixed the seat of his government at Seville, and espoused Egilona, the widow of king Roderic, whom he caused to be treated with all the marks of duty and submission that were due to her former dignity : but, on his attempting, privately, to throw off his allegiance to the caliph, he was assassinated by some of his own officers ; and one Ayud, a man of known courage Vol. XV.
į and experience, was placed at the head of affairs
till further orders should be received from Da.
After Ayud had held the reins of government for a few months, he was ordered to resign them into the hands of Alalor, who appears to have acted with great justice both toward his royal employer and the people. Having perceived that many errors and abuses had been committed under his predecessors, he assembled his princi. pal officers; upbraided them with their oppressions; and compelled them to make restitution to all the Christians whom, in their uncurbed plenitude of power, they had wantonly pillaged. He then ordered a general review of the army, and resolved upon reducing all the territories which the Goihs had recently possessed in France. Accordingly, he made an irruption into that country with the flower of his troops, and struck such terror into the inhabitants that the cities of Elna, Carcassone, Ayde, Beziers, Narbonne,and Nimes, successively opened their gates, and the whole province was reduced in the
space of a few weeks: but whilst the Moorish governor triumphed in the success of this expedition, and permittedhis victorious troops to go into winter quarters, a circumstance transpired, in the Asturias, which threatened to arrest the progress
of the infidels, and to rouse the Spanish na. tion from their inactivity.
Don Pelagio, a prince of the royal A. D.
blood, had remained in the mountainous 718.
parts of the country for about six years without making any attempt against the destroyers of his nation: but, at the expiration of that time, the companions of his misfortunes in