The Visigoths were one of the two main branches belonging to the East Germanic tribe better known as “Goths” . The Goths were among the Germanic peoples who upset the late Roman Empire during the Migration Period , following a Visigothic force led by the sack of Rome by Alaric I in 410. After the Western Roman Empire collapsed , the Visigoths played quite an important role with regard to Western European affairs for a long time.


Who were the Visigoths?

It was a Germanic people that inhabited the Iberian Peninsula in 416 and fought the Suevi, Vandals and Alans who had arrived in the peninsula, thus achieving a complete unification of the territory.



The Visigoths lived in Spain for three centuries, dividing into three periods . From 415 to 507 they were developed in Hispania and Gaul , with the capital in Toulouse. After being defeated by the Franks, they settled in Hispania, retaining a small part of Gaul and with a capital that changed places between Barcelona, ​​Seville, Mérida and Toledo.


The second period occurred during the reign of Leovigildo who constituted a Hispano-Gothic kingdom, renouncing a large part of the barbarian traditions . Political and military power remained in the hands of the Tervingian oligarchy .

This third phase marks the political constitution of the Spanish nation, with a Germanic tinge but on the cultural basis inherited from Rome and Catholicism .

Characteristics of the Visigoths

The main characteristics of the Visigoths are the following:

  • They had characteristics similar to a nomadic people .
  • They practiced landlordism and ruralization .
  • Its economy was quite closed.
  • Most of the settlers accepted Christianity .
  • They had social divisions and polygamy was accepted among the nobles.
  • They arose from Gothic groups that had invaded the Roman Empire.

Where they come from

The Visigoths came from central Europe . With the fall of the Roman Empire before the Germans or barbarians, they broke into Roman territories, as was the case in Spain.

Geographic location

They settled in a part of France and the Iberian Peninsula .  During the Germanic invasions, which lasted for much of the High Middle Ages , they occupied populations in Gaul , Gallaecia and Hispania , in their different stages.

How the Visigoths lived

The Visigoths usually lived in villages and their houses were very simple, they carried out activities related to agriculture , livestock and herding . They also dedicated themselves to the manufacture of objects with precious stones and metals , such as gold.

Political and social organization

The Visigoths had their kingdom divided into five different provinces , which were known as ducats . They were ruled by a king and each duchy was led by a duke respectively. Within society, there were nobles and the church who were the only masters of land and wealth, and then there were peasants who worked those lands in exchange for food, and who also had to pay taxes to the nobles.

They also had two very important institutions, the Aula Regia and the Councils . The Aula Regia was made up of a group of magnates very close to the king and who advised the monarch. The Councils were ecclesiastical institutions and played an important political role.


Their economy was based on livestock and agriculture , they were dedicated to raising horses, calves, cows, steers, sheep, lambs, pigs, pigs, rams and poultry. One of the main activities was the production of wool and skins for the manufacture of fabrics.

The import and export of products was also the basis of their economy as they imported glass, papyrus, spices, jewelry, linen and cotton and exported wines, horses, silver and gold. These commercial activities were the basis for the correct development and supply of the town and the products served them to open commercial routes and the interest of other towns. This economy gradually strengthened, generating improvements in commercial activities.

Art and culture

Its main artistic manifestations are found in architecture and goldsmithing . The arc of horseshoe and walls in the windows were two of the most recognized works of their culture. They were also important and recognized goldsmiths who made different objects with gold and silver , an example of this is the Guarrazar treasure that was found on a farm and consisted of several crowns and crosses made of solid gold and precious stones.


The Visigoths decided to adopt the Latin language for all their official documents . They used the Germanic language , which is a group of Indo- European languages that are spoken mainly in the Germanic peoples and derived from the Proto-Germanic language.

List of Visigoth kings

The kings who reigned the Visigothic empire depending on the place were the following:

The kingdom of Tolosa

  • Ataulfo ​​(410-415)
  • Sigerian (415)
  • Walia (415-418)
  • Turismundo (451-453)
  • Eurico (453-466)
  • Alaric II (484-507)

The Visigothic Arian kingdom

  • Gesaleico (507-510)
  • Amalarico (510-526)
  • Theudis (534-548)
  • Teudiselo (548-549)
  • Agila I (549-555)
  • Atanagildo (555-567)
  • Liuva I (567-568)
  • Leovigildo (568-586)

The Visigothic catholic kingdom

  • Recaredo I (586-601)
  • Liuva II (601-603)
  • Witerico (603-610)
  • Gundemarro (610-612)
  • Sisebuto (612-621)
  • Suínthila (621-631)
  • Chintila (636-639)
  • Tulga (639-642)

How they differ from the Goths

The Goths were a tribe on the other side of the eastern frontier known to the Romans as Barbarian or Germanic and of Indo-European origin . Its origin is probably in Götaland. The Visigoths also called as Western Goths, were a small Germanic people who managed to penetrate the late Roman Empire and were the western branch of the Goth peoples. Their differences were mainly due to the location of both towns.

Importance of the Visigoths

They were important because they left behind a large number of names of Germanic origin that spread from the early days of the reconquest to the present day. But its greatest importance was at the political level , because with them the episcopate was imposed and the first political nation of Spain took shape. The Latin and Christian cultures were united and their laws remained.

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