Liuvigild was declared co-king with his brother
Liuva Ion the throne of the Visigoths after a short period of anarchy which followed the death of King Athanagild, who was a brother of them both. Both were Arian Christians. Liuva, who was favored by the Visigoth nobles, came to rule the Visigothic lands north of the Pyrenees, while Liuvigild ruled in Hispania.
Liuvigild was married twice: first to Theodosia, who bore him the sons
Hermenegildand Reccared, and after her death to Athanagild's widow Goisvintha.
In 572 or 573 Liuva died and Liuvigild began his sole reign of the reunited Visigothic territories by seizing Córdoba from the
Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines had recently answered Athanagild's call for help by establishing a stretch of Byzantine territory in the southeast of the Iberian peninsula. Liuvigild also ousted the Germanic Suevifrom their strongholds at León and Zamora, thus enlarging his kingdom to the north and west as well, but for another generation the eastern Roman emperor retained a base in southeastern Spain, which retained its old Roman name of Hispania Baetica.
Though constantly at war with the Byzantines in southern Hispania, Liuvigild accepted the administration of the Byzantine Empire, adopted its pomp and ceremony, and imitated its coinage.
The Visigoths were still a military aristocracy and kings had to be formally ratified by the nobility. Visigoths and their Ibero-Roman subjects were still separated by religion and by distinct law codes. Liuvigild modified the old
Code of Euricwhich governed the Goths and created his own Codex Revisus.
Liuvigild further secured a peaceful succession, a perennial Visigothic issue, by associating his two sons,
Hermenegildand Reccared, with himself in the kingly office and placing certain regions under their regencies. Hermenegild, the elder, was married to Inguthis, daughter of the Frankish King Sigibert I.
In 582 Liuvigild captured
Mérida, which had been under the political control of its popular Catholic bishop Masonasince the early 570s. Masona was soon after exiled for three years, possibly in the context of the rebellion of Hermenegild.
Hermenegild had converted to Catholic Christianity, persuaded by his Frankish wife and
Leander, bishop of Seville. When his father, who considered this conversion treason, insisted on appointing Arians as bishops, Baeticain 583 revolted under the leadership of Hermenegild, who was supported by the Catholic bishops. When the Byzantines failed to aid the revolt, Liuvigild besieged and took Seville and banished his son to Valencia, where he was murdered by Liuvigild's agents. Hermenegild was later canonized as Saint Hermenegild by Sixtus IV at the urging of Philip II of Spain. Leander of Seville was also banished and later canonized as a saint. Ingunthis was delivered to the Eastern Emperor Tiberius II Constantineand was last heard of in Africa. These events are described in vivid details by Pope Gregory the Great.("Dialogi", III, 31). After this rebellion, Liuvigild reportedly demanded that his Roman subjects convert to Arianism.
Liuvigild went on to subdue the Basques. In the north Liuvigild took advantage of internecine friction among
Suebifactions in dispute over a succession and, in 584, he defeated the Suebic kingdom of Galicia and added the kingdom of Galicia to his crowns. By the end of his reign, only the Basque lands and two small territories of the Byzantine Empire made up the non-Visigothic parts of Iberia.
Liuvigild's last year was troubled by open war with the Franks along his northernmost borders. But overall, Liuvigild was one of the more effective Visigothic kings of Hispania, the restorer of Visigothic unity, ruling from his capital newly established at Toledo, where he settled toward the end of his reign. (From this, the Iberian Visigothic monarchy is sometimes called the "Kingdom of Toledo".) The capital at Toledo, established in the previous reign, marked the first move inland of a center of culture from the
Mediterraneancoast or the southern Tartessus.
The Visigoths in Hispania considered themselves the heirs of western Roman imperial power, not its enemies. Until Liuvigild's reign, the Visigoths minted
coins that imitated the imperial coinage of Byzantiumwhich circulated from Byzantine possessions in Baetica. From the reign of Liuvigild onwards, however, the Visigothic kingdom issued coarse coinage of its own designs. While facing the rebellion in southern Hispania, Liuvigild struck an issue of tremisses with a cross on steps on the reverse, a design that had been introduced for the very first time on Byzantine solidi by emperor Tiberius II (578-582).
City-oriented Ibero-Roman culture continued to erode during Liuvigild's reign. There evolved in Visigothic Hispania the new post-Imperial pattern of regional and local overlordship based upon regional dukes ("duces"), who were military leaders, and lords of smaller districts or territories called counts ("comes"). A similar evolution was taking place in Italy and, more slowly, in the east as well. The new ducal administrations tended to coincide with the old Roman provinces; the territories of the counts with the old cities and their small hinterlands.
He was succeeded by his second son
Reccared, who had converted to Catholicism in 589 and brought religious and political between the Visigoths and their subjects.
* E. A. Thompson, "The Goths in Spain" (1969).
* [http://family-of-man.com/CatalogEnglish/Europe/Ancient_Europe/visigoths.html Visigothic kingdoms]
* [http://libro.uca.edu/payne1/payne1.htm Stanley G. Payne, "History of Spain and Portugal"] : Chapter 1
* [http://8.1911encyclopedia.org/L/LE/LEOVIGILD.htm "Encyclopedia Britannica" 1911:] Leovigild
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07276a.htm "Catholic Encyclopedia":] St. Hermengild
*Edward Gibbon, [http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/g/gibbon/edward/g43d/chapter37.html "History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire"] , Chapter 37.
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