Divisions by sect among Christians have been a pervasive feature of Christian history. Long before there were the more well-known divisions between Catholics, Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox, there was the prominent division in late antiquity between the Catholics and the Arians. The latter designation refers to the followers of the teachings of Arius. In summary, the difference between the two groups pertained to the doctrine of the Trinity, specifically the relationship between the persons of the Father and the Son. Whereas Catholicism and most Christian groups today hold the Father and Son to be co-eternal and co-substantial, the followers of Arius asserted that the Son was inferior to the Father and created at some point in time (cf. here).
Among those who embraced Arianism were Germanic peoples such as the Goths and the Vandals, the latter of whom crossed the Rhine in the early fifth century CE and eventually moved into parts of Spain (in particular the Baetica region of the south). An etymology for the Arabic term 'al-Andalus,' which refers to Muslim-ruled Spain, is that the word is a corruption of the term Wandalia (i.e. 'Vandal-land'), which itself refers to the period of Vandal settlement in Spain. The bulk of the Vandals, however, subsequently crossed into the regions of North Africa controlled by the Western Roman Empire, eventually capturing the city of Carthage in 439 CE and ending Western Roman authority over most of the lands that had constituted the traditional 'Africa' province of the empire. The establishment of a Vandal kingdom in North Africa under their leader Gaiseric (/Genseric) made the Vandals an important force in the Mediterranean region, especially as the Africa region had been an important source of grain for Rome. Gaiseric's rule proved to be especially long-lasting, as he outlived the de facto fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE. Besides the territories in North Africa, Gaiseric added the Mediterranean islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and the Balearic islands to his domain.
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