Suebic Kingdom of Galicia

Suebic Kingdom of Galicia

The Suebic Kingdom of Galicia was the first kingdom to separate from the Roman Empire and mint coins. Located in Gallaecia and northern Lusitania, it was established at 410 and lasted until 584 after a century of slow decline. Smaller than the Ostrogothic kingdom of Italy or the Visigothic kingdom in Hispania, it never reached major political relevance. After the kingdom of the Suebi was conquered by the Visigoths in 585, Braulio of Zaragoza depicted the region as "the edge of the west in an illiterate country where naught is heard but the sound of gales".

The historiography of the Suebic Galicia was long marginalised in Spanish culture; it was left to a German scholar to write the first connected history of the Suebi in Galicia, as writer-historian Xoán Bernárdez Vilar has pointed out. []

ettlement and integration

The Germanic invaders settled mainly in the areas of Braga (Bracara Augusta), Porto (Portus Cale), Lugo (Lucus Augusta) and Astorga (Asturica Augusta). Bracara Augusta, the modern city of Braga and former capital of Roman Gallaecia, became the capital of the Suebi. Another Germanic group that accompanied the Suebi and settled in Gallaecia were the Buri. They settled in the region between the rivers Cávado and Homem, in the area know as Terras de Bouro (Lands of the Buri). [Domingos Maria da Silva, "Os Búrios", Terras de Bouro, Câmara Municipal de Terras de Bouro, 2006. (in Portuguese)]

As the Suebi quickly adopted the local Hispano-Roman language, few traces were left of their Germanic tongue. Some influence on the Galician language and Portuguese language remained, like "lawerka" for Portuguese and Galician "laverca" (synonym of "cotovia" - lark).

Pagan kingdom

In 438 Hermeric ratified the peace with the Hispano-Roman local population and, weary of fighting, abdicated in favour of his son Rechila.

The irruption of Visigoths in the Iberian Peninsula from 416 sent from Aquitania by the Emperor of the West to fight the Vandals and the Alans resulted into an ephemeral expansion of the Suebi Kingdom: at its heyday Suebic Gallaecia extended as far as Mérida or Seville.

In 448, Rechila died, leaving the crown to his son Rechiarius who had converted to Roman Catholicism circa 447. In 456, Rechiar died after being defeated by the Visigothic king Theodoric II, and the Suebic glory began to fade. The Suebic kingdom became cornered in the hostile northwest, and political division arose across the river Minius (Minho or Miño) with two different kings ruling in both sides of the river.

The Suebi remained most pagan and their subjects Priscillianist until an Arian missionary named Ajax, sent by the Visigothic king Theodoric II at the request of the Suebic unifier Remismund, in 466 converted them and established a lasting Arian church which dominated the people until the conversion to Catholicism in the 560s.

Conversion to Catholicism

The conversion of the Suebi to Catholicism is presented very differently in the primary records. The only contemporary record, the minutes of the First Council of Braga—which met on 1 May 561—state explicitly that the synod was held at the orders of a king named Ariamir. While his Catholicism is not in doubt, that he was the first Catholic monarch of the Suebes since Rechiar has been contested on the grounds that he is not explicitly stated to have been.Thompson, 86.] He was, however, the first to hold a Catholic synod. The "Historia Suevorum" of Isidore of Seville states that a king named Theodemar brought about the conversion of his people from Arianism with the help of the missionary Martin of Dumio. [Ferreiro, 198 n8.] According to the Frankish historian Gregory of Tours on the other hand, an otherwise unknown sovereign named Chararic, having heard of Martin of Tours, promised to accept the beliefs of the saint if only his son would be cured of leprosy. Through the relics and intercession of Saint Martin the son was healed; Chararic and the entire royal household converted to the Nicene faith.Thompson, 83.] Finally, the Suebic conversion is ascribed, not to a Suebe, but to a Visigoth by John of Biclarum, who puts their conversion alongside that of the Goths, occurring under Reccared I in 587–589.

Most scholars have attempted to meld these stories. It has been alleged that Chararic and Theodemir must have been successors of Ariamir, since Ariamir was the first Suebic monarch to lift the ban on Catholic synods; Isidore therefore gets the chronology wrong. [Thompson, 87.] [Ferreiro, 199.] Reinhart suggested that Chararic was converted first through the relics of Saint Martin and that Theodemir was converted later through the preaching of Martin of Dumio. Dahn equated Chararic with Theodemir, even saying that the latter was the name he took upon baptism. It has also been suggested that Theodemir and Ariamir were the same person and the son of Chararic. In the opinion of some historians, Chararic is nothing more than an error on the part of Gregory of Tours and never existed. [Thompson, 88.] If, as Gregory relates, Martin of Dumio died about the year 580 and had been bishop for about thirty years, then the conversion of Chararic must have occurred around 550 at the latest. Finally, Ferreiro believes the conversion of the Suevi was progressive and stepwise and that Chararic's public conversion was only followed by the lifting of a ban on Catholic synods in the reign of his successor, which would have been Ariamir; Theodemir was responsible for beginning a persecution of the Arians in his kingdom to root out their heresy. [Ferreiro, 207.]

Twilight of the kingdom

In 569 Theodemir called the First Council of Lugo, [Ferreiro, 199 n11.] which dealt with Arianism, whereas the council of Braga in 561 had dealt with Priscillianism.

In 570 the Arian king of the Visigoths, Leovigild, made his first attack on the Suebi. Between 572 and 574, Leovigild invaded the valley of the Douro, pushing the Suebi northwards. In 575 the Suebic king, Miro, made a peace treaty with Leovigild, but in 583 he supported the rebellion of the Catholic Gothic prince Hermenegild and was overthrown. The kingdom could not survive Leovigild's response. First Andeca in 585 and then Malaric were defeated and the Suevic kingdom was no more.

List of Galician Suebic monarchs

*Hermeric, c. 409–438
*Heremigarius, 427–429, leader in Lusitania
*Rechila, 438–448
*Rechiar, 448–456
*Aioulf, 456–457, foreigner, possibly appointee of the Visigoths
*Maldras, 456–460, in opposition to Framta after 457
*Framta, 457, in opposition to Maldras
*Richimund, 457–464, successor of Framta
*Frumar, 460–464, successor of Maldras
*Remismund, 464–469, succeeded Frumar, reunited the Suebi
*"Period of obscurity"
**Hermeneric fl. c. 485
**Veremund fl. 535
**Theodemund fl. 6th century
*Chararic, after c.550–558/559, existence sometimes doubted
*Ariamir, 558/559–561/566
*Theodemar, 561/566–570
*Miro, 570–583
*Eboric, 583–584, deposed and put in a monastery by Andeca
*Andeca, 584–585, deposed and put in a monastery by Leovigild
*Malaric, 585, opposed Leovigild and defeated


*Arias, Jorge C. [ "Identity and Interactions: The Suevi and the Hispano-Romans."] University of Virginia: Spring 2007.
*Ferreiro, Alberto. [ "Braga and Tours: Some Observations on Gregory's "De virtutibus sancti Martini"."] "Journal of Early Christian Studies". 3 (1995), p. 195–210.
* Lopez Carreira, A. "O Reino de Galiza". A Nosa Terra, Vigo, 1998
* Lopez Carreira, A. "O Reino medieval de Galicia". A Nosa Terra, Vigo, 2005
*Thompson, E. A. "The Conversion of the Spanish Suevi to Catholicism." "Visigothic Spain: New Approaches". ed. Edward James. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980. ISBN 0-19-922543-1.


External links

* [ The Chronicle of Hydatius] is the main source for the history of the suevi in Galicia and Portugal up to 468.
* [ Medieval Galician anthroponomy]
* [ Minutes of the Councils of Braga and Toledo] , in "Collectio Hispana Gallica Augustodunensis"
* [ Orosius' "Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri VII"]

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