Pre-Romanesque architecture in Asturias is framed between the years 711 and 910, the period of the rise, extension and disappearance of the kingdom of Asturias.
In the 5th century, the Goths, a Christianized tribe of Eastern Germanic origin, arrived in the Iberian peninsula after the fall of the Roman empire, and dominated most of the territory, attempting to continue Roman order by the so-called Ordo Gothorum. In the year 710, the Visigothic king Wittiza died, and instead of being succeeded by the eldest of his three sons, Agila, the throne was usurped by the duke of Baetica, Roderic. The young heir sought support to recover the throne, and apart from local backing, he approached the Muslim Kingdom in northern Africa. Tarik, the caliph of Damascus governor in Tangier, received permission to offer his army and disembark in Spain, ready to face the Visigothic army of King Roderic.On July 19, 711, the battle of Guadalete took place near Gibraltar, where supporters of Witiza's heir, backed by Tarik's Muslim army, killed King Roderic and destroyed the Visigothic army. Tarik and his troops then took advantage of their military superiority, and marched on the Visigothic capital, Toledo, taking it almost without opposition.According to the chronicles, Asturian mercenaries, who had already been recruited by the Romans for their courage and fighting spirit, fought alongside King Roderic. These warriors, together with the rest of the retreating Gothic army, sought refuge in the mountains of Asturias, where they also tried to safeguard some of the sacred relics from Toledo cathedral, the most important of which was the Holy Ark, containing a large number of relics from Jerusalem. The kingdom of Asturias arose exactly seven years later, in 718, when the Astur tribes, rallied in assembly, decided to appoint Pelayo as their leader, a person of uncertain origin, since for some chroniclers he was a Visigothic nobleman who fled from the Muslim conquerors and for others he was an indigenous nobleman associated with the Visigothic kingdom. Whatever the case, Pelayo joined the local tribes and the refuged Visigoths under his command, with the intention of progressively restoring Gothic Order, based on the kingdom of Toledo's political model.The kingdom of Asturias disappeared with King Alfonso III, who died in December of the year 910. In barely two hundred years, the 12 kings of the dynasty founded by Pelayo were to gradually recover territory from the Muslims (León, Galicia and Castile), a process which finally required the court to be moved south, to León, for its strategic position in the struggle that culminated 800 years after it had started (1492) with the taking ofGranada and the expulsion of the last Arabic king from the Iberian Peninsula. The symbol of the flag of Asturias, a golden cross (significantly called "La Victoria"), and a blue background with the Latin motto Hoc signo, tvetvr pivs, Hoc signo vincitvr inimicvs (With this sign the pious is protected, With this sign you shall defeat the enemy), sums up the unified character that Christianity gave the armed struggle.Asturian Pre-Romanesque is a singular feature in all Spain, which, while combining elements from other styles (Visigothic, Mozarabic and local traditions), created and developed its own personality and characteristics, reaching a considerable level of refinement, not only as regards construction, but also in terms of decoration and gold ornamentation. This last aspect can be seen in such relevant works as the Cross of the Angels, the Victory Cross, the agate Box (housed in the Holy Chamber of Oviedo Cathedral), the Reliquary in Astorga Cathedral and the Cross of Santiago. As court architecture, the situation of Pre-Romanesque monuments followed in the wake of the various locations of the kingdom's capital; from its original site in Cangas de Onís (Eastern Asturias), through Pravia (west of the central coast), to its final location in Oviedo, the region's geographical centre. As regards its evolution, from its appearance, Asturian Pre-Romanesque followed a "stylistic sequence closely associated with the kingdom's political evolution, its stages clearly outlined". Five stages are distinguished; a first period (737–791) belonging to the reigns of the kings Fáfila, Alfonso I, Fruela I, Aurelio, Silo, Mauregato and Vermudo I. A second stage comprises the reign of Alfonso II (791–842), entering a stage of stylistic definition, and third comprises the reigns of Ramiro I (842–850) and Ordoño I (850–866); a fourth belongs to the reign of Alfonso III (866–910) and a fifth and last which coincides with the transfer of the court to León, the disappearance of the kingdom of Asturias, and simultaneously, of Asturian Pre-Romanesque.