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By Kenneth Baxter Wolf

From the viewpoint of the Hispano-Romans, the Visigoths who invaded Spain within the mid-fifth century have been heretical barbarians. yet Leovigild's army luck and Reccared's conversion to Catholic Christianity ended in extra confident checks of the Gothic position in Iberian background. John of Biclaro (c.590) and Isidore of Seville (c.625) authored histories that projected the Gothic achievements again directly to their doubtful beginnings, remodeling them from antagonists of the Roman Empire to protagonists of a brand new, self sufficient Chistianity in Spain.

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64 The capital of the Arab province of Ifriqiya, located in modern Tunisia. 65 Chr754 91. 66 Chr754 57. Barkai did not take this into account when hypothesizing, on the basis of the accuracy of the transliterations, that the author of the Chronicle of 754 knew Arabic. Barkai, p. 21. indd 34 23/02/2011 10:17 AN ANDALUSIAN CHRONICLER AND THE MUSLIMS 35 that his interests were more political than religious. But then we would be hard pressed to explain the careful attention that he, following the lead of John of Biclaro, devoted to ecclesiastical matters in Spain that predated the Muslim invasion.

42 Chr754 67. Cf Chr741 40. 43 Chr754 78. 44 Chr754 75. 45 Both Barkai (p. 22) and Collins (Arab Conquest, pp. indd 31 23/02/2011 10:17 32 CONQUERORS AND CHRONICLERS Here a comparison with the Chronicle of 741 – the author of which apparently utilized the same source for Arab events in the east as the chronicler of 754 – is instructive. The earlier chronicle is quite explicit, though brief, about the religious identity of the invaders. 49 Only once in the seven times that his name appears is it linked to the word propheta, and then without any explanation.

16 The author probably had in mind similar transgressions on the part of Moses (Numbers 20:11–13) or Herod (Acts 12:21–3). 17 Chr754 5. indd 26 23/02/2011 10:17 AN ANDALUSIAN CHRONICLER AND THE MUSLIMS 27 The chronicle then proceeds to describe the Arab incursions into imperial territory, implicitly identifying them with the rats of Heraclius’ dream. The Saracens rebelled … and appropriated for themselves Syria, Arabia, and Mesopotamia, more through the trickery than through the power of their leader Muhammad.

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