Septimania was the western region of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that passed under the control of the Visigoths in 462, when Septimania was ceded to their king, Theodoric II. Under the Visigoths it was known as simply Gallia or Narbonensis. It corresponded roughly with the modern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon. It passed briefly to the Emirate of Córdoba in the eighth century before its conquest by the Franks, who by the end of the ninth century termed it Gothia or the Gothic March (Marca Gothica).
Septimania was a march of the Carolingian Empire and then West Francia down to the thirteenth century, though it was culturally and politically separate from northern France and the central royal government. The region was under the influence of the people from Toulouse, Provence, and ancient Catalonia. It was part of the cultural and linguistic region named Occitania that was finally brought within the control of the French kings in the early 13th century as a result of the Albigensian Crusade after which it came under French governors. From the end of the thirteenth century it was known as Languedoc and its history is tied up with that of France.
The name “Septimania” may derive from part of the Roman name of the city of Béziers, Colonia Julia Septimanorum Beaterrae, which in turn alludes to the settlement of veterans of the Roman VII Legion in the city. Another possible derivation of the name is in reference to the seven cities (civitates) of the territory: Béziers, Elne, Agde, Narbonne, Lodève, Maguelonne, and Nîmes. Septimania extended to a line half-way between the Mediterranean and the Garonne River in the northwest; in the east the Rhône separated it from Provence; and to the south its boundary was formed by the Pyrenees.
There are times in history when a new discovery creates a firestorm of interest, like the discovery of the lost tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen. Other time a historical breakthrough is a fizzle, greeted with indifference. Such was the undeserved fate of the discovery of the Jewish Kingdom of Septimania. This medieval kingdom in southern France arose in the eighth century, thriving for 140 years under the rule of six extraordinarily competent Jewish kings. The story of Septimania was unearthed roughly forty years ago by Professor Arthur J. Zuckerman, by dint of extraordinary research into medieval documents written in French, German, Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin. His book, published by Columbia University Press, promptly vanished into the black hole of dry academia, a true pity, for the astounding tale of Septimania deserves to be widely known, particularly in the Jewish community.
First things first. What was Septimania, and where in the world was it? Septimania. was a large land located in the French Midi, nestled just north of the Pyrenees, and given its name because veterans of the Roman Seventh Legion (Septimanii) settled there when they retired.
We are regaled from time to time with accounts of obscure Jewish communities in odd, unexpected places, like China or India or Afghanistan. But the only thing of interest about them is simply that they exist, or existed. The Jewish Kingdom of Septimania was nothing like that. It was quite large, encompassing the major cities of Narbonne, Toulouse, and Carcassonne, and it did a lot more than merely exist. It played a major role in the history of medieval France.
How on earth did it get there, and how could it have arisen, this Jewish kingdom nestled between hostile Catholic Franks to the north and hostile Islamic Moors to the south? Obviously, therein lies quite a tale.
For reasons lost to history, Septimania had a large Jewish population, particularly in the seaport city of Narbonne. When Pepin III, king of the Franks, decided to try to drive the Moors out of southern France and Spain, he found himself balked by the powerful walls of Narbonne which, after seven futile years of siege, he simply could not penetrate. Nor could he starve out Narbonne, for it was a seaport, being resupplied quite easily, since Pepin had no navy. He was getting desperate, out of money and facing catastrophic defeat, when he had a brilliant idea. He would offer the Jews of Narbonne 50,000 marks-an enormous sum, if they would contrive to open the gates of Narbonne for just a few minutes so his army could storm in. How could they refuse? Everyone knows how much the Jews love money.
They refused. The risk was far too high. If they failed, the Moors would massacre them, and from the point of view of the Moors, with good reason.
Shocked at their refusal, he re-thought the situation, then made them a second offer. Instead of money, he offered them Septimania-all of it–as an independent Jewish kingdom, with its own Jewish king and own Jewish army, in return for opening the gates. This time they accepted the risk. It was a Godfather-like offer they simply could not refuse. The Moors had never secured oaths of allegiance from the Jews, never even thinking about it, but in that era, this meant that the Jews of Narbonne were free to act in their own interests. The gates were opened. Narbonne fell. Pepin kept his word.
Now the Jews had their kingdom, but no king. Pepin had placed a very unusual condition on his offer. Whoever the Jews selected as their king had to be a direct lineal descendant of King David! Why? They would find out later, but they really didn’t care. This was precisely who they would want in any case. There was no such man in Septimania, so they sent to Babylonia for their king, because Babylonia at the time was the heart of Judaism with its great academies of learning at Sura and Pumbeditha. Many there claimed descent from David. Thus they got their king, and what a king they got!
His name was Natronai ben Zabinai, a Persian name. He was a scholar of such renown that he had been elected Exilarch in his twenties, an unheard-of youthful age. The Exilarch was considered in essence to be King of the Jews in Exile; his word and his decisions were law. Natronai spoke eight languages fluently. He had an eidetic memory, bringing the entire Babylonian Talmud to the West entirely from memory.
Something astonishing happened. He was proclaimed the long-awaited, long-tarried Messiah! King, yes, because they had made him king, but Messiah? Why? What was that all about?
It had been precisely 700 years since the Temple in Jerusalem had fallen to the Romans. Since then, countless prophecies, gleaned from scholarly readings of the Torah, proclaimed that the Jewish people had been punished by God for their sins by the destruction of the Temple, and that precisely 700 years later the Messiah would arrive to establish God’s kingdom on earth. Now, miraculously, out of the blue, comes word from the West that a Jewish kingdom has suddenly materialized out of nowhere, awaiting its king, awaiting the Messiah. The prophecies were fulfilled! A Jewish Kingdom was here! The Messiah was here! Exactly as prophecied!
That well might be, but Natronai had other pressing earthly concerns to deal with. Upon arriving in Septimania he immediately was faced with overwhelming demands-promulgating laws, levying taxes, establishing courts, raising an army-all the requirements of governance, all needing immediate imposition. Then, like a thunderbolt, came a message from King Charles, the successor of his father, Pepin III. As a part of the agreement to create Septimania, it was understand that, under the feudal system of the time, Natronai–who now took the Hebrew name of Machir-would give oaths of allegiance to the King of the Franks. King Charles requested that Machir marry his aunt Alda. A request from the King of the Franks was a command.
All now came clear. So this was why Pepin had required that the King of Septimania be a direct descendant of King David! The problem for Pepin, and for his son, King Charles, was that Pepin had usurped the throne of the Franks from the Merovingians, and thus there was no royal blood in their veins. This they desperately needed in order to establish the legitimacy of their dynasty. By this marriage of Alda to Machir, who was a direct lineal descendant of King David, they would not only have royal blood in the veins of their descendants, but the most royal blood possible, the blood of David himself!
But how could such a marriage take place? Alda was Catholic, and no Catholic priest would marry her to a Jew unless the Jew converted, which of course Machir absolutely could not do. On the other hand, no rabbi would marry Machir to a gentile unless she converted. An unsolvable dilemma? Apparently not, for marry they did, and had a legitimate son through whom Jewish blood now was intermingled with that of the Carolingian kings of France. How was this possible? History is silent. There was a way that perhaps it could be accomplished, based on the customs of the time. Whether in fact this way was used is purely speculative.
King Charles now called upon Machir to participate with him in his great campaign to drive the Moors from northern Spain. Have I mentioned that King Charles is better known as Charlemagne? No, I have not. But this is who he was, which means that Charlemagne had a Jewish uncle, and the Jewish kings of Septimania were related by blood to the Carolingian kings of France.
Machir proved to be an exceptional warrior-king, fighting with Charlemagne and in the process increasing the boundaries of Septimania fourfold, making it a true power in its own right. His successes doubtless were largely the result of his being hailed as Messiah by his Jewish subjects who fought valiantly following his Lion of Judah banner from victory to victory until in the year 793 Machir fell in battle in an insignificant skirmish on the banks of the River Weser in Pannoni.
Machir’s successor-kings played significant roles in the subsequent history of France, the borders of Septimania waxing and waning depending on the vagaries of combat and alliances. After 140 years, the Jewish Kingdom of Septimania disappeared when the last king of the Machiri dynasty died without a male heir.
Machir Theodoric in about 747 after the death of his wife Alda (married 729-30 AD) went to Scotland to aid the Kingdom of Strathclyde which was ruled by Davidic Jewish Catholic Kings who were related to Machir. He was known in the later Strathclyde king-lists as Tewdar or Teudebir and as St Machar in Aberdeen were he founded a Jewish synagogue which would later become the church of St Machar. Machar Tewdar married Princess Dunlaith a daughter of Israel the Red (Idwal Rotri) son of King Beli of Strathclyde. King Beli was a direct male line descendant of the Babylonian Exilarch Nathan II through his ancestor Nathan Todros the Judiarch of the Gewisse.
Israel the Red (Idwal Rotri) married Johanna a daughter of Ywrch (Arik/Erech) ap Cadwaladr of Gwynedd and Affadda of Brittany. Affadda was the daughter of King Alain Hir of Brittany and his wife Johanna the sister of Ahunai of the Holy Land. Machir and Dunlaith had a son Daniel Chuna (Dynwal/ Dumnagual/ Cynan /Demrost)[b.747]King of Strathclyde and Brittany. He married Princess Mahallt (Matilda) of Mide a daughter of King Conchobar of Midi and Princess Land of Ailech. Princess Land was the granddaughter of Princess Ailbine an aunt of King Makhir Todros of Septimania. Daniel Chuna was the father of Eugain or Erbin King of Strathclyde, Iago (Jacob) of Gwynedd, Gradlon Flam of Brittany and King Budic III Mor of Britanny. Jacob was the father of Atala (Ethyl) who married Israel I Guriad ha Makhiri a son of Theodoric II Nehemiah [b.730-d.790] the second King of Septimania. Many of the Royal Houses of traditional Davidic Descent sought to strengthen their Davidic status by intermarrying with the family of Ahunai, Judah Zakkai and Makhir.
Machir defeated King Angus of Picts and Scots in 750. While Machir was absent from Septimania in 750 Narbonne was once again attacked by the Muslims and occupied. They are said to have tortured Machir’s youngest son Gilbert (Guibelin /Gui Alberic /Yakar)by crucifying him. Gilbert survived his ordeal and went on to become the Count of Rouergue. Machir returned to France in 752 to join King Pepin in the seige of Narbonne. In 759 Pepin would elevate Machir from being the Duke of Septimania to being an anointed King of Septimania. He would die or abdicate around 765 AD and was succeeded by his son Theodoric Nehemiah as Davidic King of Septimania. Machir with his second wife Dunlaith had a daughter Dunne (b.755 Septimania)and Bertrada (Bertha)(b.760). In 768 Charlemagne, on succeeding his father, confirmed the Carolingian alliance with King Theodoric II Nehemiah (Deitrich Namon/ Aumery le Chetif) of Septimania [r.765- 775 as King of Septimania]the son of King Theodoric I Machir[r.739-759 as Duke of Septimania, King of Strathclyde r.747-752, r.759-765 as King of Septimania]. Zuckerman and others confuse the father and son who are both known as Theodoric, Theuderic and Thierry. This second Jewish King was to be the Conqueror and King of Calalus in America as well the Ruler of Saxony (as King Theodoric or Deitrich of Saxony) and Bavaria (as Duke Namon of Bavaria).
It would seem that Makhir’s grandfather Ahunai of the Holy Land (Hernaut de Beauland)came to the West after his father-in-law the warrior Exilarch Heman ben Shallum was killed. Heman was the Exilarch of the Jews who had become Muslims outwardly. He was martyred around 660 AD. It is said that the Jews of Pumbedita proclaimed him the Messiah in 645 AD and he was known as the Messiah of Pumbedita.
It would seem that Heman’s father Shallum and his uncle Nehemiah were Jewish warrior princes of the royal house of King David that tried at different times to reestablish the Jewish kingdom of Mahoza. After Shallum led one such uprising against the Persians they sold him and his family into slavery to Muslims who forceably converted them. They were to use their outwardly Muslim status to champion the rights of the Jewish people both those who remained openly Jewish ruled by the family of their cousin Bostanoi and those Jews who outwardly became Muslims. Heman was known to the Muslims as Abdullah ibn Saba. Saba alludes to the Saba River where the Jewish authorities and the heads of the Acadamies fled after the fall of the Jewish kingdom of Mahoza. These Jewish scholars from the Saba river were known as the Saboraim and Heman was considered to be their protector. Heman supported the Caliph Ali as he was Jewish according to Rabbinic halakhah as Ali’s mother Fatima bint Asad was the daughter of Zahna the sister of the Jewish Exilarchs Mar Haniniah and Mar Hushiel. Thus the Caliph Ali was a close relative of Heman and the Exilarch family.
Ahunai was a descendant of Bostanoi the Exilarch and he married the daughter of Heman who was known as Imma Bilhah Bat Heman or Mabile Ermenjart (which developed into Ermengarde). Ahunai’s father Abu Aharon (Garin)was also known as Ha-Aluf (Welf/Wolf /Lupus)and seems to be the Warrior Leader of the Jews of Aquitaine in the late 7th century. His son Eudes (Mar Judah Zakkai)succeeded him as the leader of Aquitaine Jewry and to be the Ruler of Aquitaine under Merovingian overlordship. He later allied himself with Charles Martel in the fight against Ummayad Islam.
Jewish sources speak of Machir as the son of a Babylonian Exilarch Judah. Natronai was the son of Habibai ben Natronai. This older Natronai is also known as Norbert of Aquitaine. He is the famous Natronai of legend who settled in France. His grandson Natronai was born in France and returned to Babylon to study and he eventually became the Exilarch in the 770’s. Habibi (Abu ha Nasi) married Ruth of Aquitaine (Rodolinde)the sister of Eudes (Judah Zakkai). Thus Natronai was the cousin of Makhir. The older Natronai (Norbert) ben Nehemiah married Berthe a sister of Ahunai of the Holy Land. Habibi (Abu ha Nasi) was also known as Naissi after the Jewish princely title of Nasi. Uthman or Othman of Narbonne was possibly the older brother of Natronai or possibly Natronai himself. The Franks knew Othman of Narbonne as Manuza which is a variant of his Jewish name of Manasseh (Menashshe). The name of Manasses was found later in the family descended from Makhir Theodoric King of Septimania in the 9th century.
In the Sefer ha-Kabbalah, written by Abraham ibn Daud in 1161 it says:
“Then King Charles sent to the King of Baghdad [Caliph] requesting that he dispatch one of his Jews of the seed of royalty of the House of David. He hearkened and sent him one from there, a magnate and sage, Rabbi Makhir by name. And [Charles] settled him in Narbonne, the capital city, and planted him there, and gave him a great possession there at the time he captured it from the Ishmaelites [Arabs]. And he [Makhir] took to wife a woman from among the magnates of the town; …and the King made him a nobleman and designed, out of love for [Makhir], good statutes for the benefit of all the Jews dwelling in the city, as is written and sealed in a Latin charter; and the seal of the King therein [bears] his name Carolus; and it is in their possession at the present time. The Prince Makhir became chieftain there. He and his descendants were close with the King and all his descendants.” The King Charles mentioned here was Charles Martel not Charlemagne as claimed by others.
These Warrior Davidic Princes in the early Medieval period were prized by Jews, Christians and Muslims as their leaders because of their descent from King David. It would seem that these Davidic Princes were flexible with the outward form of their religion while maintaining their own mystical Jewish (or Jewish -Catholic)traditions in secret. Beginning in the 10th century, influenced by the Mandaen Gnostics, European society became increasingly anti-Jewish and the descendants of these families began to hide their Jewish origins and many of then embraced Catholicism. However these Davidic and Jewish origins are to be found in the genealogies, legends, and documents if one has eyes to see. It would seem in many cases that the genealogies and documents have been tampered with in order to hide these origins and to link these families to Merovingian origins rather than Davidic origins as the anti-Jewishness of European society increased. Even today there is a reluctance to acknowledge the place of these Jewish Princes in the history of Europe. The descendants of these Davidic Princes were responsible for much of the flowering of Jewish and Catholic mysticism throughout the Medieval period.
One of the biggest obstacles to accepting the Jewish identity of Theodoric has been his connection to Frankish nobles before 768. When one understands that Machir Theodoric’s family had been in southern France for four generations this removes that difficulty. While Zuckerman’s research was groundbreaking his linking of Machir to Natronai and confusing the Theodoric of 768 with his father Machir has somewhat confused those researching this dynasty. Jewish sources before Zuckerman wrote his book referred to the father of Machir as the Exilarch Judah, it was Zuckerman’s speculation that Natronai and Machir were the same person.
- Name: Theodoric I of Autun
- Sex: M
- Birth: ABT 730 in Autun, Saone-et-Loire, Bourgogne, France
- Death: 793 in Narbonne, France
“My Hamelin and Ancient Heritage”
Contact: Brent Kelly
Name: Theodoric I DE AUTUN 1
Name: Thierry AUTON
Name: Makhir Natronai ben HABIBI
Birth: ABT 730 in Autun, Saone-et-Loire, Bourgogne, France
Death: 793 in Narbonne, France
The authors relied mainly on the theories of Jewish researcher Arthur Zuckerman, who constructed the thesis that in the eighth century, the Carolingian monarchs permitted the establishment of a Jewish prince in southern France, then known as Septimania, now referred as the Languedoc, with its capital at Narbonne. Zuckerman based his theory on an appendix to a fourteenth century work titled Sepher ha Kabbalah , according to which:
Then King Charles sent to the King of Baghdad [Caliph] requesting that he dispatch one of his Jews of the seed of royalty of the House of David. He hearkened and sent him one from there, a magnate and sage, Rabbi Makhir by name. And [Charles] settled him in Narbonne, the capital city, and planted him there, and gave him a great possession there at the time he captured it from the Ishmaelites [Arabs]. And he [Makhir] took to wife a woman from among the magnates of the town; *…* and the King made him a nobleman and designed, out of love for [Makhir], good statutes for the benefit of all the Jews dwelling in the city, as is written and sealed in a Latin charter; and the seal of the King therein [bears] his name Carolus; and it is in their possession at the present time. The Prince Makhir became chieftain there. He and his descendants were close [inter-related] with the King and all his descendants.
Zuckerman maintains that this Makhir would then have assumed the Christian name of Theodoric, and married Alda, daughter of Charles Martel. The authors contend however, that Theodoric is also recognized by scholars as being also of Merovingian descent. He was known as Aymery in the romances, and was the father of Guillem de Gellone, about whom there were at least six major epic poems composed before the era of the crusades, including Willehalm, by Wolfram von Eschenbach, the most famous of the mediaeval Grail chroniclers
However, Dr. Zuckerman’s thesis has not been reviewed without some skepticism in historical journals. As Nathaniel Taylor has indicated, Zuckerman’s primary sources were late manuscripts. Nevertheless, the legend became quite common, and, true or not, could have founded the basis of the Grail legends. In 1165-66 Benjamin of Tudela, a famous Jewish traveler and chronicler, reported that in Narbonne there are “sages, magnates and princes at the head of whom is… a remnant of the House of David as stated in his family tree.” And, according to Taylor:
…the legend of Charlemagne’s installation of the dynasty, and of associated grants of privileges, follows a literary pattern which was extremely common in this erea in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. To embellish and mythologize the past, and particularly to invent connections to Charlemagne, was a frequent subterfuge of the area’s monastic communities, but it appears also to have been true of other social groups – including the Jews. We cannot now determine the validity of the Davidic origins of the Jewish dynasty of Narbonne – or even its continuity, or the names of individual nesiim [Jewish leaders]- before the eleventh century.” (Saint William, King David, and Makhir )
The name “Machir,” comes from Genesis 50:23, used by R. Machir, in Iraq, and Narbonne, France; 8th-9th century. Theodoric I of Septimania was received by Charlemagne and was given the title “King of the Jews”. His ancestry is possibly one of the greatest lineages of antiquity. Theodoric, claimed (or others do for him) descent not only from the Merovingian Kings, but lineal descent from King David himself. Both the king and the Pope acknowledged this pedigree. Also called Makhir Natronai ben Habibi the Resh Galuta. Exilarch of Narbonne in Septimania. Also called Rabbi Makir ha-David. Also called Dietrich. He was born circa 720 in Babylonia, Persian Empire. He was the son of Habibai beni David (David Descent Tradition). He married Alda des Francs, daughter of Carolus Martellus, dux Francorum and Chrothais , a concubine, before 740. Count in 742. “The evidence is sketchy and muddled at this distance, but a persistant account of Theodoric I has it that he was the Jewish Exilarch in Narbonne, and that he succeeded in establishing a regionally autonomous Jewish-led state around Narbonne. Makhir has been identified as being Makhir Natronai, Resh Galuta in Baghdad, ousted from that position by a cousin in 771. If true, it would be a matter of considerable interest; the Baghdad Exilarchs were reputed to be lineal descendents of the ancient Hebrew King David.What is fairly clear is that Septimania achieved an independent position in this era by some means or other, with the status of a Duchy or even possibly a Kingdom.”9 He was living between 771 and 793.7 He was sent by Haroun Al-Rashid, Calif of Baghdad to Charlemagne, King of the West at his request, who wanted to establish in Europe a middle class based on a Jewish nucleus between 786 and 793.2,10 He died before 804.
Father: Thierry D’AUTUN b: ABT 705
Mother: Rolinde D’AQUITAINE
Marriage 1 Aldane of AUSTRASIA b: BEF 724 in Heristal, Liege, Belgium
Redburh of WESSEX b: ABT 788
Bertha D’AUTUN b: BET 750 AND 755 in Autun, Saone-et-Loire, Bourgogne, France
St. Guilhem DE GELLONE b: 755 in Toulouse, Haute-Garonne, Midi-Pyrenees, France
Title: Royalty for Commoners-Stuart-2nd & 3rd edition-GPC
Author: Roderick W. Stuart
Publication: 3rd Ed., 1998
Page: pg. 326-41
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Septimania was the western region of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that passed under the control of the Visigothic kingdom in 462, when Septimania was ceded to Theodoric II, king of the Visigoths. It corresponded roughly with the modern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon.
The name derives from part of the Roman name of the city of Béziers, Colonia Julia Septimanorum Beaterrae, which in turn alludes to the settlement of veterans of the Roman VII Legion in the city. Another possible origin of the name is a reference to the seven towns of the territory: today’s Elne, Agde, Narbonne, Lodève, Béziers, Maguelonne and Nîmes. Septimania extended to a line half-way between the Mediterranean Sea and the Garonne River in the northwest; in the east the Rhône separated it from Provence; to the south its boundary was formed by the Pyrénées.
1 Visigoths and Franks
2 Moorish rule
3 Frankish reconquest
4 Name-change controversy
5 References in popular culture
6 External links
Visigoths and Franks
507: The Frankish king Clovis defeated the Visigoths in the Battle of Vouillé. Afterwards, the child-king Amalaric was carried for safety into the Iberian Peninsula. Aquitania passed into the hands of the Franks, and Septimania, with other Visigothic territories in Gaul, was ruled by Amalaric’s maternal grandfather, Theodoric the Great.
509: Theodoric the Great created the first kingdom of Septimania, retaining its traditional capital at Narbonne. He appointed as his regent an Ostrogothic nobleman named Theudis.
522: The young Amalaric was proclaimed king.
526: Theodoric died. Amalaric assumed full royal power in the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania, relinquishing Provence to his cousin Athalaric. He married Clotilda, daughter of Clovis, but found, as other royal husbands of Merovingian princesses found, that the entanglement brought on him the penalty of a Frankish invasion.
531: Amalaric lost his life in the Frankish invasion, and Arian Visigothic Septimania was the last part of Gaul to remain in Visigothic hands.
534 Prince Theudebert son of Theuderic of Austrasia (Merovingian Frankish not Gothic) invaded Septimania in concert with Prince Gunthar son of King Chlothar. Gunthar stopped at Rodez and did not invade Septimania. Theudebert took and held the country as far as Beziers and Carbiriers from which he took the woman Deuteria as a wife. Theudebert and his half brother Childebert invaded Spain as far as Saragossa 534-538. At some point soon after this, the Visigoths regained the territory they had lost in Theudebert’s invasion.
586 Merovingian King of Burgundy Guntram raised a force to invade Septimania as a prelude to conquest of Spain. His forces plundered from Nimes to Carcassonne (where the Frankish Count Terentiolus of Limoges was killed) but were unable to take the walled cities. Visigothic Prince Recared came in response from Spain to Narbonne and as far as Nimes and invaded nearby Frankish terrotories as far as Tolosa for plunder and to punish the Franks for the invasion (Gregory of Tours Book VIII 30-31 and 38). Frankish rebel Dukes Desiderius and Austrovald at that time in control of Tolosa raised an army and attacked Carcassonne. Desiderius was defeated and killed and Austrovald retreated with his for Tolosa (Gregory of Tours Book VIII 44).
587 Septimania came under Catholic Rule in 587 with the conversion of Recared, who had become the King of the Visigoths in 586 with his father, Leovigild’s death. At that time Arian Bishop Athaloc and Counts Granista and Wildigern revolted against Recared in Septimania but were defeated (Gregory of Tours Book IX 15 and John of Biclar) Most of the Christian population of the province were already Catholic and Arian Christians largely converted with the death of Athaloc soon after Recared’s converstion.
589 Merovingian King of Burgundy Guntram again tried to invade Septimania sending Austrovald to Carcassonne and Boso and Antestius to other cities. King Recared sent General Claudius who defeated the Franks and preserved the territory of Septimania under Visigothic Rule.
The Moors, under Al-Samh ibn Malik the governor-general of al-Andalus swept up the Iberian peninsula.
The Moors over-ran Septimania.
720: Al-Samh set up his capital at Narbonne, which the Moors called Arbuna. He offered the still largely Arian inhabitants generous terms.
Al-Samh quickly pacified the other cities. With Narbonne secure, and equally important, its port, for the Arab mariners were masters now of the Western Mediterranean, he swiftly subdued the largely unresisting cities, still controlled by their Visigoth counts: taking Alet and Béziers, Agde, Lodève, Maguelonne and Nîmes .
721: By now Al-Samh was reinforced and ready to lay siege to Toulouse, a possession that would open up Aquitaine to him on the same terms as Septimania. But his plans were overthrown in the disastrous Battle of Toulouse (721), with immense losses, in which al-Samh was so seriously wounded that he soon died at Narbonne.
720’s: Arab forces soundly based in Narbonne and easily resupplied by sea, struck eastwards.
725: Arab raid on Autun.
731: The Berber wali of Narbonne and the region of Cerdanya, Uthman ibn Naissa, called “Munuza” by the Franks, who was recently linked by marriage to duke Eudes of Aquitaine, revolted against Córdoba, and was defeated and killed.
732 October: An Islamic invasion force made up primarily of Berber and Arab cavalry under Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi encountered Charles Martel and his veteran Frankish army between Tours and Poitiers and was defeated, and Abd er-Rahman was killed, at what the majority of historians consider the macrohistorical “Battle of Tours” that stopped the Moorish advance.
732: The Franks took the territory round Toulouse. Charles Martel directed his attention to Narbonne.
737: Charles Martel destroyed Arles, Avignon, and Nimes, but unsuccessfully attacked Narbonne, which was defended by its Goths, and Jews under the command of its governor Yusuf, ‘Abd er-Rahman’s heir. Having crushed the relief force at the River Berre, he left Narbonne isolated.
around 747: The government of the Septimania region (and the Upper Mark, from the Pyrénées to the river Ebro) was given to Aumar ben Aumar.
752: The Gothic counts of Nimes, Melguelh, Agde and Beziers refused allegiance to the emir at Cordoba and declared their loyalty to the Frankish king. The count of Nimes, Ansemund, had some authority over the remaining counts. The Gothic counts and the Franks then began to besiege Narbonne, where Miló was probably the count (as succesor of the count Gilbert), but Narbonne resisted.
754: An anti-Frank reaction, led by Ermeniard, killed Ansemund, but the uprising was without success and Radulf was designated new count by the Frankish court.
About 755: Abd al-Rahman ben Uqba replaced Aumar ben Aumar.
759: Charles Martel’s son, Pippin the Younger bessiged Narbonne, which capitulated. The county was granted to Miló, who was the Gothic count in Muslim times.
760: The Franks took the region of Roussillon.
767: After the fight against Waifred of Aquitaine, Albi, Rouergue, Gévaudan, and the city of Toulouse were conquered.
777: The wali of Barcelona, Sulayman al-Arabi, and the wali of Huesca, Abu Taur, offered their submission to Charlemagne and also the submission of Husayn, wali of Zaragoza.
778: Charlemagne invaded the Upper Mark. Husayn refused allegiance and Charlemagne had to retreat.
778 August 15: In the Pyrenees, the Basques defeated Charlemagne’s forces in the Roncesvalles
Charlemagne found Septimania and the borderlands so devastated and depopulated by warfare, with the inhabitants hiding among the mountains, that he made grants of land that were some of the earliest identifiable fiefs to Visigothic and other refugees. He also founded several monasteries in Septimania, around which the people gathered for protection. Beyond Septimania to the south Charlemagne established the Hispanic Marches in the borderlands of his empire. Septimania passed to Louis, king in Aquitaine, but it was governed by Frankish margraves and then dukes (from 817) of Septimania.
826: The Frankish noble Bernat of Septimania (also, Bernat of Gothia) became ruler of Septimania and the Hispanic Marches and ruled them until 832. His career characterized the turbulent 9th century in Septimania. His appointment as Count of Barcelona in 826 occasioned a general uprising of the Catalan lords at this intrusion of Frankish power. For suppressing Berenguer of Toulouse and the Catalans, Louis the Pious rewarded Bernat with a series of counties, which roughly delimit 9th century Septimania: Narbonne, Béziers, Agde, Magalona, Nimes and Uzés.
843: Bernard rose against Charles the Bald.
844: He was apprehended at Toulouse and beheaded.
Septimania became known as Gothia after the reign of Charlemagne. It retained these two names while it was ruled by the counts of Toulouse during early part of the Middle Ages, but the southern part became more familiar as Roussillon and the west became known as Foix, and the name “Gothia” (along with the older name “Septimania”) faded away during the 10th century, except as a traditional designation as the region fractured into smaller feudal entities, which sometimes retained Carolingian titles, but lost their Carolingian character, as the culture of Septimania evolved into the culture of Languedoc.
The name was used because the area was populated by a higher concentration of Goths than in surrounding regions. The rulers of this area, when joined with several counties, were titled the Marquesses of Gothia (and, also, the Dukes of Septimania).
After being elected head of the Languedoc-Roussillon region in 2004, Georges Frêche launched the idea of changing the name of the region to the ancient name of Septimania, or Septimanie in French. The Regional Council started to use this name widely, without a mandate from the people. There was stauch opposition from some citizens, notably from Catalanists in Roussillon (“North Catalonia”) who felt that the new name culturally excluded them from the region.
Those in favour of the change say that the modern region of Languedoc-Roussillon corresponds to neither ancient Languedoc or ancient Roussillon exactly, and that it is a clunky name.
Those against the change say that the modern region does not correspond exactly to ancient Septimania, and that it sounds like “septicaemia”. They call supporters “septimaniacs”.
In September 2005, this opposition led to Georges Frêche giving up his idea, and cutting almost all use of the name. He declared that he still believed in it but could not go ahead without a mandate.
References in popular culture
The area of Septimania started showing up in popular culture after the publication of the 1982 pseudohistorical book Holy Blood Holy Grail and the later fame around the related 2003 bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code. This resulted in Septimania being mentioned on television “debunking” documentaries such as the 2006 Da Vinci Declassified on The Learning Channel.
In Holy Blood Holy Grail, the claim was made that as part of the territory disputes around Septimania in the 8th century, a small Jewish kingdom was established by Charles Martel’s son Pippin the Younger, as a way of tipping the power balance in the embattled city of Narbonne. According to the book, a pact was made to this effect in 759, and when the Jewish population rose up in 768 and evicted the Muslim controllers, Pippin kept his part of the bargain and established an official Jewish principality. It was to owe allegiance to Pippin (called “Pepin” in the book), but otherwise maintain independence. The installed ruler was allegedly a man named Aymery, who, when received into the ranks of Frankish nobility, took the name Theodoric, or Thierry. The man’s origin was uncertain, with the book claiming that he was possibly of Merovingian descent, or may have been a native of Baghdad who was descended from Babylonian Jews during the Babylonian captivity. The Merovingian claim was important to the book, since the actual Merovingian dynasty had been destroyed in 679, when King Dagobert II had been assassinated, though the book claimed that his son had been rescued and transported to the home of his mother, in the Septimania region, in the village that is now known as Rennes-le-Chateau.
The book further stated that Theodoric was recognized by both Pepin and the caliph of Baghdad as “the seed of the royal house of David”, and married a woman named Alda, who was an aunt to Charlemagne. The region was endowed with estates “held in freehold from the Carolingian monarchs” and was granted tracts of Church land as well, against the wishes of Pope Stephen III. Theodoric ruled the principality, and this crown was later given to his son, William of Gellone, whose bloodline later produced the Dukes of Aquitaine.
The reason for the book’s claims, was an attempt to prove a blood link between the House of David and Frankish royalty, specifically the Merovingians, as a way of showing that the Merovingians were the descendants of a bloodline starting with the child of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. However, it was later shown that many of the medieval documents which the book’s authors had relied upon for research, were actually forgeries which had been produced as part of the Priory of Sion hoax.
Archibald R. Lewis, “The Development of Southern French and Catalan Society, 718-1050”
Ian Meadows, “The Arabs in Occitania”