If Muslims didn't conquer Spain would the Franks have?

Apr 2017
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If the armies of Islam didn't conquer spain (for whatever reason), would the Franks have absorbed it instead? Before the Islamic conquest the Byzantine empire had retaken southern Spain but with the loss of north Africa they wouldn't be able to hold this. If the Franks did absorb the Visigoth kingdom how would this be divided with Charlemagne's successors (presuming it still plays out this way)? Would it be part of west francia or its own kingdom/s?
 

deaf tuner

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Oct 2013
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It's without taking into account Aquitaine. At the Arab conquest of Spain, Aquitaine was independent from Franks (671 AD) and it fought and Franks and Arabs.

It did defeated Arabs more than once, and it was conquered by Franks only after the Franks (allied with Aquitaine) defeated the Arabs.

Aquitaine not being forced to fight on two fronts (the premise of OP = no Arab conquest of Iberia), it's debatable if Franks would have conquered Aquitaine, and if, how costly would that have been for them.

Spain would have come only after that. It's even more debatable if they would have conquered Iberia.

______
BTW, "Chanson de Roland": he died trapped by Vascons (= Basques). 50 years before, it was Loup 1er, duc of Vasconie and Aquitaine the first independent Aquitaine Duke ....
 
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Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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The Franks had long been interested in Spain. There were at least two Frankish invasions of Spain circa 530 and 540. There was another war between the Franks and Visigoths in the 580s. I don't know much about the seventh century, but in the time of Charlemagne the Franks regularly campaigned in northeastern Spain, generally expanding Frankish control. Given the collapse of the Visigoths in the eighth century, if the Muslims had not filled that vacuum, the Franks probably would have.
 
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johnincornwall

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Nov 2010
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The Franks had long been interested in Spain. There were at least two Frankish invasions of Spain circa 530 and 540. There was another war between the Franks and Visigoths in the 580s. I don't know much about the seventh century, but in the time of Charlemagne the Franks regularly campaigned in northeastern Spain, generally expanding Frankish control. Given the collapse of the Visigoths in the eighth century, if the Muslims had not filled that vacuum, the Franks probably would have.
Following (and also before)Charlemagne's bloody nose in the Pyrenees and the subsequent establishment of the Spanish March, it brought a dgree of stability to the whole frontier.

The bizarre exception to this is Pamplona (later known as Navarra as the state). The relationship between the Franks and their 'partidarios' in Pamplona on the one hand and the Muslims (formely Visigoths) of Tudela/Zaragoza/the Ebro valley and theirs on the other - let alone the Vascones in the mountains and down to Gascony and the Emirate of Cordoba at the other extreme, was immensely complicated throughout the later 8th and 9th centuries. It was a strange area ruled alternately by either party - who were also intermarried and related of course with occasional hostilities

The emergence of the independent kingdom of Pamplona and then the extreme power of the Caliphate in the early 10th C, together with the fragmentation of Frankish power, saw an end to that very long Frankish influence Chlodio speaks of.

Until of course, the Camino de Santiago and various ruling dynastical changes, brought massive immigration of 'Francos' with the business and pilgrims!
 
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johnincornwall

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If the armies of Islam didn't conquer spain (for whatever reason), would the Franks have absorbed it instead? Before the Islamic conquest the Byzantine empire had retaken southern Spain but with the loss of north Africa they wouldn't be able to hold this. If the Franks did absorb the Visigoth kingdom how would this be divided with Charlemagne's successors (presuming it still plays out this way)? Would it be part of west francia or its own kingdom/s?
Whilst also taking into account Chlodio's post above, the Visigothic kingdom was, on the face of it, a big old unit, as we might say. Not only politically rivalled with the Franks but also interlinked, intermarried, inter-allied at times. Both these peoples tended to have outstanding strong kings and others not so - it;s not an easy gig uniting such differing units (each was formed from amalgamations of tribes and clans) - you need extreme politics and extreme violence at times. Examples of this might be Clovis v Alaric II at Vouille. Clovis was a very clever, brutal ruthless man. He started pressing against Visigothic lands in the Vouille campaign but it was also part of a very cunning plan. He ensured the Ostrogoths (who he couldn't match) were tied up by the Eastern Empire and also probably generated unrest and rebellion in the Ebro and Barcelona areas, ensuring the Visigoths had to send troops and maintain them in that direction.

Furthermore he wouldn't have done this when Euric was king of the Visigoths, before Alaric II, as he had a very strong army and was capable leader - as were the kings before - Theodoric I and I and of course Walia, whio destroyed the Alans and Silingian Vandals in Spain. Alaric was decadent and lazy and despite warnnings from his own nobles and even a letter from Theodoric the Great, neglected to maintain his army in a fit state to face the strengthening Franks. Although the Visigoths were ultimately (probably not immediately) translate southwest toward Hispania as main kingdom, once the Ostrogoths were freed up most of Clovis's gains were eliminated pdq.

So whilst tribes, clans and isolated pockets of different tribes amalgamated all the time in this era, I can't see a scenario where the Franks would 'absorb' the Visigoths. There were too many nobles and factions in the Visigoths - if you 'cut off the head' - which is what happened to the Alans and Suevos (both absorbed elsewhere) - there were plenty of people to step in without letting the Franks in the door - in fact that was always one of their main problems - too many rebel nobles

Probably the strongest of them was Leovigildo, who really re-united the Visigoths under the Toledo-based kingdom and eliminated rebel rivals, Vascones (for a while), Swabians and made a start on the Empire - although he modelled his systems of governance on them

Later kings were strong but seemingly by increasing laws and brutality - notably Chindasvinto, Wamba, Ervigio, Egica - oppressing rival nobles, hispano-romans and jews alike. But it was game changer like the arab empire that changed things. They knew they were coming - but it was right in the middle of another civil war and the invaders were shipped and aided by disaffected Visigoths from their Ceuta base

Once the head was cut off (Roderic/Rodrigo) the 'beast' didn't really know what to do with a rebl king in the north (Agila II). It was certainly unable to form it's 80-100,000 paper troops to action - too busy looking after their own interests - so the kingdom was basically divided up between the Visigothic nobles and the berbers invading, with the Omeya state governor/emir in Cordoba etc.


______
BTW, "Chanson de Roland": he died trapped by Vascons (= Basques). 50 years before, it was Loup 1er, duc of Vasconie and Aquitaine the first independent Aquitaine Duke ....

Probably Vascones, but.....................................

Who killed Roland? 15th August 778

Charlemagne's defeat in the Pyrenees
 
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johnincornwall

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You and me are just as entitled to speculate about Roland as every historian, having read what is available. The links between Pamplona (walls destroyed by Charlemagne) and the Vascones and people of the mountains (Navarra's population was spilitting into two types in this period- plain and mountain) were thinner but they were there.

I don't think it's possible that Pamplona-based elements, less still Cordoba-based elements, could circumvent Roland's column and get ahead/intercept part of it with such limited communications. Those same units wouldn't have easily known their way around the forests at all.

Yet - an army leaving Pamplona is visible for miles around from certain points in the mountains. And any army passing through is a pain in the neck, lets face it. If you study the Carlist wars, Zumalacarregui used similar tactics in the high impenetrable mountains. Surely it was just a hit and run effort by the mountain dwellers - be they Vascones and/or earlier long-standing residents. Out of the deep forest, attacking the column on a thin track in a deep ravine. And - as per sources - gone by the time part of Charlemagne's main force could return on hearing the sounds of battle (maybe even horns)

That said - it must be said we still don't know if Roland and Charlemagne really followed the same route out at all - communications and supply may have forced that (it was October). But if it was forced on them - the ambush was hardly a shock surely? Bad expedition, but we live and learn
 
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deaf tuner

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Oct 2013
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You and me are just as entitled to speculate about Roland as every historian, having read what is available. The links between Pamplona (walls destroyed by Charlemagne) and the Vascones and people of the mountains (Navarra's population was spilitting into two types in this period- plain and mountain) were thinner but they were there.

I don't think it's possible that Pamplona-based elements, less still Cordoba-based elements, could circumvent Roland's column and get ahead/intercept part of it with such limited communications. Those same units wouldn't have easily known their way around the forests at all.

Yet - an army leaving Pamplona is visible for miles around from certain points in the mountains. And any army passing through is a pain in the neck, lets face it. If you study the Carlist wars, Zumalacarregui used similar tactics in the high impenetrable mountains. Surely it was just a hit and run effort by the mountain dwellers - be they Vascones and/or earlier long-standing residents. Out of the deep forest, attacking the column on a thin track in a deep ravine. And - as per sources - gone by the time part of Charlemagne's main force could return on hearing the sounds of battle (maybe even horns)

That said - it must be said we still don't know if Roland and Charlemagne really followed the same route out at all - communications and supply may have forced that (it was October). But if it was forced on them - the ambush was hardly a shock surely? Bad expedition, but we live and learn
Thank You (I suppose it's linked to my previous post).

Again, it wasn't about what exactly happened in the Charlemagne's campaign in Iberia, just a simple reminder, linking if You prefer, merely a remainder of a factor that (IMHO) is often ignored: the Aquitaine-Vasconie (Southeastern France).

In my opinion, on the premises of the OP, Aquitaine is gaining a much bigger role, as (as I said in a previous post) there's the probability Aquitaine wouldn't have been eliminated, not that easily without the Arab pressure from South.

There's the possibility Aquitaine would have been stronger, encompassing the South of Pyrenees/North of Spain, which would have made them a more solid "barrier" against the expansion of Franck southward.

Of course, that's a speculation, based in how I interpret the period.
 
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johnincornwall

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Nov 2010
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Charlemange's campaign in Iberia sort of reminds me of Varus's legions in Teutoberg forest. Bit of a mess really. No wonder his biographers weren't allowed to talk about it.

Of course it's possible that Roland's force was tiny, or just a group of riders, blown up into Romance 400 years later
 
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