Roderick rŏdˈərĭk [key], d. 711?, last Visigothic king in Spain (710–711?). After the death of King Witiza, a group of nobles chose Roderick, duke of Baetica, as successor to the king. Having defeated Witiza's son, Roderick established himself on the throne. Little is actually known of his reign, but innumerable legends have developed around it. Most of the legends involve one Julian, governor of Ceuta, who—either for political motives or because his daughter had been violated by Roderick—joined the family of Witiza in requesting the help of the North African Muslims to overthrow Roderick. In any event, the Muslims under Tarik ibn Ziyad crossed (711) the Strait of Gibraltar, and Roderick, campaigning in the north against the Franks and the Basques, hastened south only to be defeated (711) by Tarik near Medina Sidonia. Roderick was probably killed in the battle, but according to some, he continued to resist the Muslim conquest of Spain until he was slain in 713. The colorful legends about this “last of the Goths” gained a permanent place in Spanish literature and passed into English writing, most notably in the works of Washington Irving, Robert Southey, and Walter Savage Landor.

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