Marriage, gender, and the politics of "unity" in Visigothic Spain
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This dissertation’s thesis is that the marital rhetoric and gendered imagery of late classical, Christian political discourse appear in narrative, conciliar, and legal texts produced in Visigothic Spain between 579 and 654 A.D. for the purpose of expressing conflict, rather than “unity.” This thesis opposes views of the Visigothic kingdom as a model of successful Christian unification by showing how the male-authored, Spanish sources - far from being silent on religio-political conflicts - use marriage, women, and wealth as metaphors in disputes over orthodoxy and status. These early medieval texts suggest a new paradigm of Christian “unity” in which Jews function as the “enemy,” and in so doing, establish a political model decidedly different from that of late antiquity. Examples of this political model appear in the Third and Fourth Councils of Toledo (589 and 633 A.D.), which are published here for the first time in Latin-English translation. Despite the historical significance of the Visigothic sources in the Spanish and broader contexts, little attention has been paid to late classical marital rhetoric and gendered imagery in them as evidence of conflicts. Understanding the purpose of these rhetorical strategies helps us to perceive how the paradigm of Christian “unity” masked deep conflicts over status, orthodoxy, and wealth - conflicts that persisted until a new invading force appeared to challenge Visigothic power in 711 A.D.