Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Legacy of Liuvigild

Liuvigild on one of his campaigns
detail from an ivory reliquary, 11th c.
Liuvigild was mentioned yesterday as the Visigothic King in the Iberian peninsula who killed his own son, Hermengild, after the son was converted from Arian Christianity to Roman Catholic Christianity. Liuvigild then exiled Bishop Leander of Seville who was responsible for converting Hermengild and preaching against Arianism.

Sounds pretty harsh. There's always at least one other side to a story, however.

Liuvigild ruled Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula) and Septimania (a territory in what is now southern France, on the Mediterranean). He was born about 525. He first came to the throne in 568, when his brother, King Liuva I, named Liuvigild co-king and heir. At his brother's death in 571/2, he became sole ruler, and set about to make sure all the Iberian Peninsula was united, a goal he largely accomplished by 577.

One of his acts as king was to revise the Codex Euricianus ["Code of Euric"], a set of laws designed before 480 by King Euric of the Visigoths. The earlier version stratified society between Goths and non-Goths. Liuvigild's version, called the Codex Revisus ["Revised Code"], gave equal rights to both the Visigoths under his rule and the conquered Hispano-Roman population.

He was married twice. His first wife, Theodosia, bore him two sons, Hermengild and Reccared. After her death, he married the widow of Athanagild, who had been king before Liuva and Liuvigild. Reccared became his father's favorite; Liuvigild even founded a city which he named after Reccared: Recopolis.

Liuvigild also minted a new coin, based on a Roman design. The Visigoths, by virtue of moving into and taking over much of the Roman Empire, considered themselves its heirs. Liuvigild struck a coin with a design that resembled one that had just been produced by the Byzantine Emperor Tiberius II.

Liuvigild died in 586. He was succeeded by Reccared.

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