30 June 2019

Swedes and the Reconquista

What could the Swedes possibly have to do with the Reconquest of Iberia from the Moorish Hordes who invaded through Gibraltar in AD 711? Well, pour yourself an adult beverage, pull up a chair, and I'll tell you.

At the time the Saracens descended on what is  now Spain it was occupied by the Visigothic Kingdom under King Roderick. And who were the Visigoths? They were Swedes with a severe case of wanderlust. 

The Goths originated in southern Sweden, from the area where the historic provinces of Gotland, Östergötland, and Västergötland (whence my grandmother came) are situated. During the Folkvandring (wandering of peoples = Migration Period) they got itchy feet and took off in a generally southeasterly direction, ending up in the Pannonian Plain (see the map, below).

There, they split into two major bands the Ostrogoths (Eastern Goths) and Visigoths (Western Goths), which has nothing to do with Östergötland, and Västergötland! Some of the Ostrogoths crossed the Black Sea into Anatolia. Others, and the Visigoths, wandered back westward into the main part of Europe.

In AD 410, the Visigoths, under their King, Alaric I, sacked Rome, where, in AD 493, the Ostrogoths under Theoderic would establish the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy. 

Having despoiled the Eternal City, the Visigoths moved on into Hispania. Here, they defeated the Vandals and the Suebi and established their own Kingdom.

Originally converted to the Arian heresy by Ulfilas, they accepted Nicene Christology around AD 589, under King  Reccared I, thus becoming the first Swedes to become Catholic!

So, in AD 711, when the jihad invaded the Iberian Peninsula, it was largely controlled by Swedes, 400 plus years removed from Sweden!

Don Pelayo
However, the Peninsula was not totally conquered. A Visigothic nobleman, Pelayo (Latin, Pelagius; Asturian, Pelayu) led refugees into the mountains of Asturias. In AD 718 or 722 he defeated the Moors in the Battle of Covadonga, thus beginning the Reconquista which 774 (or 778) years later, under the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, would finally expel the last of the jihadis from  Spain

And, that's how the Swedes started the Reconquista!

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