The Romans built a fortress on the high ground of the Capuchins, near to the River Onyar above the modern city, and called it Gerunda. Following the Roman withdrawal, in the 5th century CE, the Visigoths ruled here until the Berbers invaded from North Africa.
The people known as Berbers or Moors (of mixed Arab and black African descent) from the kingdom of Maure on the north west coast of Africa, were originally Pagan but later converted to Islam. They invaded Iberia in 711 CE across the Straits of Gibraltar, and conquered the lands held by the Visigoths, placing most of modern Portugal and Spain under Islamic rule within eight years, and converting most of the local inhabitants, although they were tolerant to all other religions, and did not force conversion. It was they who named the land Andalusia (Al Andalus) and in return they acquired their name from the Greek for black, mauros.
There was a fluid three sided situation for many years between the house of Cordoba, the Muslims and the Franks under Charlemagne, each side taking and retaking cities on the peninsular. Gerona became a city in the 11th century.
During the 12th century one of the most important Kabbalistic schools grew up in the large Jewish community of Gerona, however in 1492 all Jews were expelled from Catalonia by the ruling Catholics.
A Christian army under Alphonso pushed the Berbers out of the area of the Algarve by 1249, forming the kingdom of Portugal and Algarve. In the southern area of Granada the Moors held out until, during the 15th century following a Catholic invasion of the peninsular, forced conversion to Christianity, under threat of torture or death, caused mass migrations amongst the Muslims and Jews.
The joining together of the houses of Aragon and Castile, by marriage, formed a united Catholic Spain, and subsequently led to the institution of the Spanish Inquisition in 1480. The Inquisition attacked all Muslims, Jews and so called heretics who rejected the Catholic faith, grouped under the title “alumbras,” the Illuminati, and was the start of mass executions and persecutions across Europe.
Gerona came under siege for seven months by the French during the Napoleonic wars, and finally succumbed in 1809, holding the city until 1813.