Date of Award

Spring 4-8-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Alex Novikoff

Second Advisor

Ruth Dunnell

Abstract

After the fall of the Roman Empire in the late fifth century CE, the Visigoths conquered the Iberian peninsula and became a ruling minority. Roughly one hundred years into their rule, they converted to Catholicism and began to incorporate Christian adversus Iudaeos rhetoric into Book 12 of the Liber Iudiciorum, a book of legislation pertaining to Jewish citizens in Visigothic Iberia. This project involves a close, language-based analysis of Book 12 and compares it to legislation for Jews in Byzantium. A comparative and in-depth analysis of the Liber Iudiciorum provides insight to processes of identity affirmation and maintenance among late-antique Christians. Also, to a certain degree, the contents of Book 12 and the types of laws contained therein can provide a basis for conjecture about everyday life for Iberian Jews under Visigothic rule, about which little is known at present. In this paper, I argue that it is both possible and useful to analyze Book 12 as a cultural, and not only a political and legal, source. By incorporating specific tropes and styles of adversus Iudaeos rhetoric in their legislative language, the Visigoths asserted their identity as Catholic rulers in their attempt to become part of the majority instead of the minority. By allowing religious rhetoric and prejudice to shape their legislation to an unprecedented extent, the Visigoths introduced a new type of Christian leadership, one that exemplified and relied on an unshakable union between Church and state. This paper will demonstrate the tactics used to establish Jews as a living testament to Christian dominance.

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