The People of Gibraltar

2020 - Once upon a time in Islamic Gibraltar - Part 52

Enrique Gozalbes Cravioto (2011)
A professor of Ancient History, Enrique Gozalbes (1957-2018), was born in Tetuan.  One of his many articles is El Comes Iulianus (Conde Julián de Ceuta), entre la historia y la literatura. His arguments about the identity of this often-mentioned character - much of it dismissed as myth – is given a good going over. 

As regards the quotes below - translated into English by me – I must point out that although they are taken from his work as published in 2011 in Al Qantir 11, they are the result of having picked and chosen only those paragraphs that are of interest to me. If anybody really wants to understand why Gozalbes arrives at his final conclusions they must read his article in its entirety. The paragraph headings are mine.

Enrique Gozalbes Cravioto 

Introduction - El “Comes” Iulianus
In 710 A.D. an expedition to Tarifa led by Tarif (Tarif ibn Malik Abu Zara) served as an advance raid to the eventual Arab-Berber conquest of Hispania. Running parallel or even as part of this event, a variety of different Arabic sources and Christian texts mention the existence of a “Comes” Iulianus, who had first resisted and then collaborated with the Arabs in the events that lead up to the conquest. p3

Notes: According to the author “Comes” Iulianus is the name by which Julian was known by the Visigoths. It is by no means a commonplace to find this name in either Islamic or Christian medieval literature. 

What is known about the “Comes” Iulianus - Count Julian of Castilian writings, or the Yulyan of Arabic sources - is complicated by the fact that he is described within profiles that do not coincide within the various available documents. . . In the final analysis and within the context of (historical) human dramas, Julian the bad in Ceuta, serves as a counterpoint to Guzman the good in Tarifa . . . p3

Chronicles and Romances – A Visigothic Julian
Generally, until the second half of the nineteenth century Spanish historiography had few doubts about the Visigothic character of Count Julian. These studies were mainly based on the interpretation of Christian sources that pointed decisively towards a particular point of view. The oldest example that comments on this topic is the Albeldense Chronicle of 883 AD. P6

Notes: As far as I can make out the following is what this Chronicle had to say on the subject:

. . . en España, a causa de los hijos de Vitiza (Witiza) surge entre los godos un enfrentamiento que da lugar a disputas, de manera que una parte de ellos ansiaba ver el reino destruido; incluso por favor y enredo de ellos entraron los sarracenos en España.

Gozalbes continues:

Introduction of Julian by medieval Christian historians
In the Rotense version of the Crónica de Alfonso III, all responsibility for the betrayal of Witiza's children is attributed: "Anno regni illius tertio ob causam fraudis filiorum Vitizani (Witiza) Sarrazeni (the Muslims) ingressi sunt Spaniam"

The first appearance of Iulianus (Julian) in Christian historiography occurred in the . . . “Chronica Gothorum Pseudo-Isidoriana” . . . the anonymous Mozarab introduces the character of Iulianus into the story for the first time, in Latin, as the representative on earth of African Tingitana, (north-west province) and whose daughter Oliba (Florinda) would have been deceived by King Geticus (Witiza). It means that in the oldest Christian version Witiza and not Rodrigo was the author of the fatal events that would lead to the "loss of Spain".

The most curious thing about the above story is that . . . it is directly inspired by Livy’s story of the rape of Lucretia by Tarquin the Proud (early BC-late AD) which resulted in the end of the monarchy in Rome. P7

Tarquin and Lucretia (Titian)

Notes: The Chronica Gothorum Pseudo-Isidoriana includes a lengthy dialogue between Witiza and his acolytes culminating in his asking Julian to visit him while in Hispalis (Seville). He then tricked his wife and daughter into believing that Julian would like them to come to Seville as well. It ends as follows:

Ocupado Julián en los placeres de la comida y la bebida, Gético (Witiza) retuvo y gozó de aquella durante muchos días . . .

Perhaps also worth mentioning the following description which Gozalbes slipped into his introduction

Traditional Muslim cities were traditionally filled with places that were called La Cava, the name Julian's daughter – as her name was simply that of a prostitute in Arabic. P3

Although of course, several medieval accounts refer to her by the more complimentary name of Florinda. The Pseudo-Isidoriana’s  Oliba, is possibly a unique reference to what some believe to be Julian’s daughter’s real name. 

I have also noticed that although most historians understandably dismiss as a myth Rodrigo’s rape of Julian’s daughter, not all that many suggest a decent alternative. Jeffrey Gorsky in Exiles in Sepharad : The Jewish Millennium in Spain comes up with this one.

According to legend Julian the Goth, governor of Ceuta incited the invasion in order to avenge the rape of his daughter by Roderick. More likely, Julian used the invasion to advance his own claims to the Visigoth throne.

A sensible sounding suggestion that doesn’t ring true for a variety f reasons.

Gozalbes continues to develop the suggestion that Julian – whoever he might have been – was a powerful entity in Visigothic politics – so much so that:

Witiza’s sons and Count Requila
(Witiza's sons). . . decided to leave the court as well as Spain and visited that part of Barbary called Mauritania Tingitana that was subject to the Goths. At the time, the government employed a count named Requila, who was, as I understand it, a lieutenant of Count Julian. He was a powerful individual who was also governor of that part of Spain that lay close to the Straits of Gibraltar, a very short distance away from Africa. P9 

Julian according to José Antonio Conde
. . . the first historical work to cover the history of the Arabic conquest of Spain, was written by José Antonio Conde, (where) the very existence of Iulianus (Julian) is dealt with in very ethereal manner - the brief description begins with the words “It is said that”, and simply describes an unnamed Julian as the "main Christian of Tangier".  p11

Notes: A footnote in volume one of his history reveals what Conde actually thought of this “main Christian of Tangier” - if not concerning the man then the reasons for his role in the conquest of Spain.

Debió ser esta ofensa la de los amores del Rey Don Rodrigo con la Caba (Cava), hija del Conde Julian . . . Los nombres de la Caba, de su doncella Alifa, y toda la seria de este cuento descubre que fue ficción morisca, fundada en las hablillas y canciones vulgares que corrían entre Moros y Cristianos. P25. 

Gozalbes then tackles Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, Bishop of Toledo (1209-1247) and the author of De rebus Hispaniae from which he gives the following quote:

Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada
Justino II (Eastern Roman emperor from 565 to 574) no pudo contrarrestar como convenía a las fuerzas de Leovigildo (Vizigothic King from from 568 to 586). Empezó con esto la España Transfretana (across the Straits) a enumerarse entre los Estados del Reino de los godos . . . y se mantuvo en su poder por espacio de ciento quarenta años, hasta que juntamente con los demás Reynos de España fue infeliz presa de la furia mahometana. P11

Imaginary portrait of Leovigildo – (1854 - Juan de Barroeta – Museo del Prado)

Next Gozalbes comments on the 10th century al-andalus historian, Ibn Al-Qutiyya’s description of Julian.

Ibn Al-Qutiyya - Julian the merchant
Al-Qutiyyaa explains that the cause of the invasion of Tariq into al-Andalus after the intervention of Julian who he considers a simple Christian merchant acting between Spain and North Africa, in particular Tangiers. 

“He (Julian) often took fine horses and falcons to Roderick. The wife of this merchant died leaving him a beautiful daughter. Roderick then ordered him to go to Africa but he (Julian) excused himself on the grounds that after his wife’s death he had nobody who might be able to look after his daughter. Rodrigo invited her to his palace, noticed her, thought she was beautiful - and raped her. P12

Notes: A wonderfully succinct last sentence, if ever there was one.
Gozalbes continues with a quote from the mid 9th century Islamic writer Abd-al-Hakam’s description of Julian in his History of Egypt, North Africa and Spain. 

Julian the Governor
“The Straits that separated (Tangiers) from al-Andalus (the Straits of Gibraltar) was under the command of an infidel called Julian who was the governor of Ceuta and of a city near the Straits called al-Jadra was near Tangier. Julian recognised the authority of Roderick, the King of al-Andalus.” P14

Notes: Considerably later in his article Gozalbes reconciles the fact that the city named Al-Jadra – would usually be associated with Algeciras was in fact “proxima a tánger” in this particular instance.

Nuestra tesis es que en la costa norte de Marruecos existía otra ciudad apodada al-Hadra, que con toda probabilidad es la que los textos árabes confunden con Algeciras. . . . . . p33

He then repeats the same thing again in his conclusion adding an un-referenced detail about a fortress:

La al-Hadra que se menciona, confundida más adelante con la propia Algeciras, era el nombre de una fortaleza ubicada en Tánger. P34

Curiously, a 19th century translation of Al-Hakam’s History by John Harris Jones does not mention the fortress but agrees that wherever this place was, it was not Algeciras.

“The governor of the straits between this district and Andalus, was a foreigner called llyan, (Julian) Lord of Septa. (Ceuta) He was also the governor of a town called Alchadra, situated on the same side of the straits of Andalus as Tangier.”

Gozalbes continues:
The above means that the oldest extant Arabic chronicle to mention Julian, fails to mention the 710 expedition against Tarifa, recognises Julian as governor of both Ceuta and another city called A-Jadra (“la Green”) near Tangier. . . and that Julian was under the authority of Rodrigo  
Byzantine or Berber – The Mozarabic Chronicles
Fundamentally, it would be the Dutch scholar Reinhart Dozy (1820-1883) who would introduce a new perspective – Julian as Byzantine governor of Ceuta. The Dutch Arabist tried to reconcile Arabic sources, of which he was a magnificently knowledgeable, with those of the great erudite Romanist Theodore Mommsen

Notes: The work by Mommsen was based on an important document now referred to a la Crónica  Mozárabe de 754, the word “Mozarab” meaning a Christian living under Muslim rule. 

My feeling is that the reason why Dozy adopted this view – one might really call it guess-work - is that neither he nor numerous other historians who have followed him, could accept the idea that the Visigoths would have been able to sustain any kind of control over Mauritania Tingitana – the old Roman Province in the north-western part of North Africa. They simply did not have the resources to do so.

A very different slant that solves the problem, for example, was suggested by the Spanish Arabist Francisco Codera y Zaidín (1836-1917). Julian, he suggested, was not a Visigoth but a Berber and that his real name was Urban or Olban. He uses Ibn Khaldun as his main source:

“Besides their kingdom of Andalus the Goths had settlements beyond the sea, so that when Musa arrived in Africa, they were in possession of large tracts of land along its northern shore. . . Now in that part of the country which is now called Jebal Ghomarah (the mountains of Gomera) there was a king of the Berbers named llyan (Julian), who acknowledged himself a subject of the Gothic monarchs, obeyed their sway, and followed their religion. . .”

Gozalbes continues:

In general historians have adopted the events of the Visigothic civil-war to explain the events introducing Julian impartially without discussing whether he actually existed or not nor where his authority was derived from. 

Another Arabist, Joaquín Vallvé highlighted the fact that Julian was first mentioned by al-Waqidi and insisted that the distinct Arabic references actually confused the Straits between Ceuta and Algeciras with Cadiz, applying events that occurred in Cadiz to those of Ceuta. 

Notes: Al-Waqidi was another 9th century Islamic historian. If what he says is correct, it would throw most of what is accepted as the historical events leading to the conquest of Iberia into chaos. Luckily, there is a large body of near contemporaries – too many to quote - who considered him to be both a fraud and a liar.

Nevertheless, Vallvé concluded that:

“Don Julián era señor o gobernador de Cádiz y como tal dominaba toda la costa española del estrecho de Gibraltar, y de que era de origen, dato que confirma la genealogía de tres descendientes suyos avecindados en Córdoba”.p22/23

Notes: See my section on Ahmad ibn-Jabir Al-Baladhuri in which Baron de Slade quotes Ibn Khaldun naming three of these:

Abou Soleiman-Aïou, hijo de El-Hakem, hijo de Abd-Allah, hijo de Meka-Bitro [Pedro], hijo de Ilian (Julian), era de origen godo.

Enrique Gozalbes, however, gives them somewhat different names based on a different source – Ibn Al-Farabi (c872-c950). 

Julian’s son was called Balcayas . . . his grandson was called Abdallah, which confirms his Arabic conversion, and his grandson was Sulaiman, who in turn had two sons Ayub y Ahmad. P30.

Abu Nasr Al-Farabi

Gozalbes continues:

According to (the Spanish historian Luis A. García Moreno b1950), literary sources - and in particular a very controversial one dated 685 – point towards a Ceuta that was Byzantine up to the 7th century. 

From then on, the author (Garci Moreno) attempts to reconcile the two “traditions” suggesting that it is very probable that given the advance of the Arabs, the last (Byzantine) military tribune – a certain Urbano - decided to submit himself to the authority of the king of Toledo with which he would be able to collaborate in the defence of the Straits. p23

As such, the above “Comes” which was the title by which he was known by the Goths – had been put in charge of the defence of the Straits, and once he had achieved this as well as control over the port in the Bay of Algeciras he had received the title of “Comes Iulianus” (from Iulia Traducta), as the controller of both shores (of the Straits). p23 

Enrique Gozalbes Cravioto’s conclusion:

To summarise . . . who Count Julian's was remains uncertain . . . in our view his name was not Urban, nor did it derive from Iulia Traducta. On the contrary, I believe very firmly in the Arab tradition that claims that his proper name was Iulianus . . . his main centre of authority or residence appears to be around Septem (Ceuta), the place from which the final invasion began.

As regards Rodrigo’s relationship with Julian’s daughter this affair appears to be a legend which was probably introduced from Egypt. Given the above explanation which I believe to be the most likely, one can then decide on how to further interpret them. 

Notes: W I must admit that I am still not at all sure as to who exactly Julian was or what made him decide to take the decision to side with those who were theoretically his enemies. 

As far as I can make out just about every medieval document, be it Arabic or Christian that mentions Julian, make it quite clear that without his prodding the invasion might never have taken place at all. The Islamic leader in north Africa at the time was Musa ibn Nusayr who for all his military gifts would never have moved without the authority of his boss Al-Walid I, who was by all accounts an ultra-cautious individual who would probably never have taken the risk of attempting such a seemingly difficult task of invading another continent without considerable evidence that it would be a success – and it was Julian, through Musa that supplied him with that evidence.

And yet I still haven’t a clue as to who exactly this catalyst for the conquest of Iberia might have been – a Berber leader or a Byzantine tribune, a Visigothic overlord under the rule of Toledo, King Roderick’s military right hand-man, the importer of fine horses and falcons from Africa for royal use, the governor of Ceuta, “Algeciras” or Tangiers or perhaps all three as well as that of Cadiz, a common merchant or an important supplier of ships . . . who was he?

You pays your money and you takes your choice. Gozalbes paid . . . and took his.

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