C. Rodríguez Alonso (ed.), Las historias de los Godos, Vandalos y Suevos de Isidoro de Sevilla, León, Centro de Estudios e Investigación San Isidoro - Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad de León, 1975.
Isidore’s Historia Gothorum, Wandalorum et Sueuorum (CPL 1204), referred to by Braulius of Saragoza as De origine Gothorum et regno Sueuorum et etiam Vandalorum historia (renot. 31-32 Martín) is known today from a dozen manuscripts prior to 1300. The last editor distinguished two different versions of the text: a short version, and a longer one. The best and older manuscript of the short version is Paris, BnF, Lat. 4873 (XII, northern France from a model in Visigothic script), ff. 81va-86ra. The best manuscript of the longer version is Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Phillipps 1885 (before 846, Verona), ff. 2v-21v, 22v-29r, which preserves the Carolingian edition of the text.
Even if the overall structure is the same, the shorter version is distinct from the longer. Their differences are not simply a matter of variants: both transmit a few exclusive episodes; the contents of some episodes preserved by both versions differ considerably; both have a different beginning for the Historia Gothorum and for the Historia Wandalorum, and the Historia Gothorum a different ending (the short version ends with Sisebutus’ death in 621, while the longer version concludes with the time of Suinthila, in 626). In 1893, Theodor Mommsen resumed Faustino Arévalo’s conclusions to argue that none of these versions were Isidore’s. Both would depend on his work, already completed in Suinthila’s time: the shorter would have been a mutilated and reshaped ‘edition’ of Isidore’s text, produced after the fall of king Suinthila; the longer would have been an interpolated text of his work. The last editor, C. Rodríguez Alonso (1975), resumed Hertzberg thesis (1874), who defended that there had been two different and successive editions of the same text, both written by Isidore, being the shorter version older than the longer. Rodríguez Alonso complemented this thesis with new arguments: Isidore wrote a first version of his text after Sisebutus’ death; he rewrote it in a longer account, during Suinthila’s reign, responding to the king’s victories over the last Byzantine troops in Spain. Besides, Rodríguez Alonso also verified that these two versions sometimes used different sources for the same event (a phenomenon difficult to explain if the text of the shorter version simply represented a mutilated version of the longer), and that the longer version often corrected the shorter one (a detail better explained if that version was later than this). Recently, R. Collins has suggested that the shorter version of Isidore’s Historiae might be identifiable with Maximus of Zaragoza’s otherwise lost historiola (Isid. uir. 33 Codoñer). This would explain the different sources sometimes used by the text; the different bias of its account; sometimes, the different views of the same event; and the lack of an explicit authorship of this ‘version’ in all manuscripts which have transmitted it. The longer version of the text, on the contrary, according to Collins, is Isidore’s own text, who resumed and adapted Maximus’ work in the time of Suinthila.
In fact, the problem can be even more complicated. Circulating in Spain, there is also evidence of a third ‘mixed’ version of Isidore’s Historiae, with a text that is, in a large part, the same as the longer one, sharing, however, with the shorter version a great number of variants and common episodes. The best manuscripts transmitting this version were all copied in the XIII century (Madrid, Biblioteca Histórica Marqués de Valdecilla, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 134 [XIIImed, Toledo on a model from Santa-Cruz of Coimbra], ff. 53ra-57rb, 58ra-59rb; Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, 1513, [1210-1220, Toledo (?)], ff. 24ra-38rb = Pelagius’ Liber chronicorum; Madrid, Biblioteca de la Real Academia de la Historia, 9/4922, Part I (ff. 1-98v) [1232-1233, León or Nájera], ff. 12r-24v = Chronicle of Nájera). However, the most ancient, even if indirect, evidences we have of the use of this mixed version can already be found in the Mozarabic chronicles, from the mid-VIII century. In fact, these evidences are the older testimonies of the use of Isidore’s Histories, in any of its versions. Mommsen and Rodríguez Alonso thought that this mixed version derived from a single contaminated model, which transmitted the longer version of Isidore’s text with several marginalia taken from the shorter. Basing most of his conclusions on the textual transmission of Isidore’s Chronicle (in most of the manuscripts Isidore’s Historiae were copied with the Chronicle alongside), J. C. Martín suggested another hypothesis: Isidore himself would have also produced this mixed text shortly before he had his work finished. It would have been a sort of working text, between the shorter and the longer versions.
Isidore’s Historiae, in any of its versions, are in fact a set of three short concatenated texts about the passage of the Goths, Vandals and Sueves through Spain, eventually substituting the Romans in the region. Goths and Sueves established there, until the latter had been defeated by the former and the Suevic kingdom fallen into Visigothic domain; after a short presence in Spain, the Vandals had also been expelled by the Goths, crossed the strait of Gibraltar and settled in northern Africa. Hence, Isidore’s text sought to provide seventh-century Spain with a readable abbreviated memory of those post-Empire times, and with an interpretation of the Visigoths as the Romans’ rightful heirs in all Spain, and of its king as an independent monarch, playing in Toledo the role of the Byzantine emperor.
A short resumé about the history of the Goths, referred to as Recapitulatio or sometimes De laude Gothorum, has also circulated with Isidore’s Histories, in their longer and mixed versions, usually after the Historia Gothorum. This resumé was used by the Liber Glossarum and has also circulated alone in three Carolingian manuscripts of the VIII-IX century, in two of them with Isidore’s De laude Spaniae alongside. In Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Phillipps 1885, ff. 1r-2v, before the Historia Gothorum, Isidore’s De laude Spaniae was also copied (as it was the Recapitulatio, just after the Historia Gothorum). This is the sole manuscript where these texts occurred together. However, because this is also the older testimony of Isidore’s longer version, Rodríguez Alonso considered that the De laude Spaniae, the Historia Gothorum and the Recapitulatio formed a set, already designed by Isidore, to be copied together before the Historiae Wandalorum et Sueuorum. [R. Furtado]