Saturday 25 August 2018

Visigothic Kingdom of Europe - Catholic Kingdom of Toledo

Visigothic King Liuvigild, was an effective military leader and consolidated Visigothic power in Spain. Liuvigild campaigned against the Romans in the south in the 570s and he took back Cordova after another revolt. By the end of his reign, Liuvigild had united the entire Iberian peninsula, including the Suebic Kingdom which he conquered in 585 during a Suebi civil war that ensued after the death of King Miro.

Church of Santa Maria de Lara

On becoming King of Visigoths, Liuvigild's son Reccared I (586–601) converted from Arian Kingdom to Chalcedonian Christianity. He then  then oversaw the Third Council of Toledo in 589, where he announced his faith in the Nicene creed and denounced Arian. He adopted the name Flavius, the family name of the Constantinian dynasty, and styled himself as the successor to the Roman emperors.

Conversion of Reccared to Chalcedonian Christianity, painted by Muñoz Degrain.

Reccared's son Liuva II became king in 601, but was deposed by the Visigothic noble Witteric (603–610), ending the short-lived dynasty. There were various Visigothic Kings between 610 and 631, and this period saw constant regicide. These Kings also worked on religious legislature, especially King Sisebut (612–621), who passed several harsh laws against Jews and forced many Jews to convert to Christianity.

Visigothic Noble Witteric

The Fourth council of Toledo, held during the brief reign of Sisinand in 633, excommunicated and exiled the king, replacing him with Chintila (636–639). The church councils were now the most powerful institution in the Visigothic state. A coup took place and Chintila was deposed in 639, and King Tulga took his place; he was also deposed in the third year of his reign and the council elected the noble Chindasuinth as king.

Painting of Chintila in the Museo del Prado.

The reigns of Visigothic King Chindasuinth and his son Recceswinth saw the compilation of the most important Visigothic law book, the Liber Iudiciorum (completed in 654).  The code included old laws by past kings, such as Alaric II in his Breviarium Alarici, and Leovigild, but many were also new laws. The code was based almost wholly on Roman law, with some influence of Germanic law in rare cases. Among the eliminated old laws were the harsh laws against Jews.

Visigothic King Chindasuinth

Visigothic King Chindasuinth(642–653) strengthened the monarchy at the expense of the nobility, he executed some 700 nobles, forced dignitaries to swear oaths, and in the seventh council of Toledo laid down his right to excommunicate clergy who acted against the government. His successor Reccesuinth (653–672) held another council of Toledo, which reduced sentences for treason and affirmed the power of the councils to elect kings.

Detail of a votive crown from Visigothic Spain

Following Reccesuinth, King Wamba (672–680) was elected king. He had to deal with initial revolts in Tarraconensis, and because of this, he felt a need to reform the army. He passed a law declaring all dukes, counts and other military leaders, as well as bishops, had to come to the aid of the kingdom once danger became known or risk harsh punishment. Wamba was eventually deposed in a bloodless coup.

The Election of Wamba as King, by Francisco de Paula Van Halen

Visigothic King Ervig (680–687) held further church councils of Toledo and repealed the previous harsh laws of earlier King Wamba, though he still made provisions for the army. Ervig had his son-in-law Egica made king. Despite a rebellion by the bishop of Toledo, the 16th council, held in 693, denounced the bishop's revolt.

Statue of King Wamba in Madrid 

The 17th council of Toledo in 694 passed harsh laws against the Jews, citing a conspiracy, and many were enslaved, especially those who had converted from Christianity. Egica also raised his son Wittiza as coruler in 698. Not much is known about his reign, but a period of civil war quickly ensued between his sons (Achila and Ardo) and King Roderic, who had seized Toledo. The Eighteenth Council of Toledo was the last of the councils of Toledo held in Visigothic Spain before the Moorish conquest in 711.

Remains of the basilica of Reccopolis.
Follow me on Blogarama