SURVIVAL CHALLENGE LEVEL 5: THE VISIGOTHIC EMPIRE

The Visigoths! How crazy can you get? Forced baptisms, scalpings, amputations, and a primitive secret police as well. No wonder Iberian Jews were generally well-disposed to the Muslim invaders–after the Visighoths, how bad could they be? (Turns out, pretty good, btw). So the Survival Skill used by the Jews managed to get them past the last horrible century after Reccared’s conversion in 589, but was that the only solution? Were there long term effects that could not be anticipated? What does the Visigothic experience have to say about contemporary survival strategies?

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Introduction

Sephardic Jewry is one of the oldest Jewish ethnic groups around–even 500 years after their exile from the Iberian peninsula, they still hold fast to their cultural origins in Spain and Portugal. They faced incredible persecution under the Visigothic Empire, and were it not for the Muslim Invasion of 711, it is hard to imagine how a Jewish community could have continued to exist on the western edge of Europe.

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