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Department Seminar and New Perspectives: Damián Fernández

Tuesday, May 23
3:30-5:00 p.m.
McKenzie 375

Rebellion, Political Culture, and State-Building in Post-Roman Hispania

The end of the western Roman empire in the fifth century led to fragmented processes of state building. In the Iberian Peninsula and southern France, Roman and Visigothic elites crafted a new state, known in modern times as the Visigothic kingdom, until the Arab conquest in the early eighth century. My current project demonstrates how practices and ideas created a unique political culture in the aftermath of empire in this region. While earlier studies have discussed these questions as a matter of traditions or identities (Roman, Christian, Gothic or “Germanic”), my project analyzes how a seemingly endemic problem of rebellion and royal succession shaped the political culture of the kingdom. I argue that political and intellectual elites discussed rebellion and its consequences to shape the boundaries of state power, to limit kingly authority, and to redefine the political community in the aftermath of empire. 

Damián Fernández is Associate Professor of History at Northern Illinois University. He has published on the social, political, and economic history of the Iberian Peninsula in late antiquity, including Aristocrats and Statehood in Western Iberia, 300-600 CE (UPenn Press, 2017). He is currently co-authoring a translation and commentary of the Visigothic Code (Liber Iudiciorum) and writing a monograph on rebellion and political culture in post-imperial Hispania.