The “Christianisation” of the Iberian Peninsula
: an archaeological and historical consideration of Christian space creation by late Roman and Visigothic elites from the fourth to the eighth century CE

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This thesis sheds new light on the Christianisation of the Iberian Peninsula. Christianisation as a whole has been much-studied, and the same is true of Iberian Christianity. The majority of the available textual and material evidence, however, has been interpreted under the assumption that bishops were the key drivers of this process.

This obscures the reality of the situation. As I show in this thesis, when taken on its own, the evidence paints a different picture – one which was much more complex, of a society which was brimming with a variety of different elite groups who were jostling for spiritual and social pre-eminence alongside one another, rather than having all been dominated by episcopal figures and hierarchies.

The roles of these various other elites have not been thoroughly explored in scholarship to date. This thesis addresses this gap. It provides an updated perspective on who these elites were in both the late Roman and in the Visigothic periods, and the various forms of evidence we can use to illuminate the process by which they created Christian spaces in late antique Iberia. In doing so, it illuminates their role in the Christianisation of Iberia’s topography.

The thesis explores this evidence by synthesising archaeological, architectural, epigraphic, artistic, epistolary, legal, ecclesiastical, and hagiographic evidence in order to examine three discernible types of Christian spaces created by these elites: first, Christian space creation in aristocratic villas, then elite church foundation, and finally, elite monasticism and monastic spaces. By the time these spaces have been explored, it is clear that all three were intimately connected to Iberia’s lay aristocratic, royal, monastic, and clerical elites.
Date of Award16 Jun 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorCarlos Augusto Ribeiro Machado (Supervisor)

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 9 March 2028

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