Chindasuinth

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Chindasuinth
King of the Visigoths
Chindasuinth.jpg
Chindasuinth as portrayed, holding the law, in the tenth-century Codex Vigilanus.
Reign 642–653
Predecessor Tulga
Successor Recceswinth
Wife Recciberga
Born c. 563
Died 653
Burial Monastery of San Román de Hornija
Religion Christian (Nicene)

Chindasuinth[1] (Gothic: Kinþaswinþs; c. 563 – 653) was Visigothic King of Hispania, from 642 until his death. He succeeded Tulga, from whom he usurped the throne in a coup; he was "officially" elected by the nobles and anointed by the bishops 30 April 642.

Despite his great age (he was already 79 years old), a veteran of the Leovigild campaigns and the religious rebellions after conversions from Arianism were forced, his great energy and force of character made the clergy and noblesse to submit. Somewhat famously, he cemented his control by preempting a revolt: he executed at one time over 200 Goths of the most noble families and 500 more of the petty nobility. This in accompaniment with many banishments and confiscations of property. All of this before any rebellion and without any investigation or trial or, for that matter, actual belief that a revolt was pending.

The Seventh Council of Toledo, held 16 October 646, consented to and backed his actions, toughening the punishments applied to those who rose against the sovereign and extending them even to members of the clergy who supported them.

Smothering all opposition, he lent the realm a peace and order not before known. To continue this, he had his son Recceswinth, at the urging of Braulio of Zaragoza, crowned co-king 20 January 649, and attempted to establish, as many before had, a hereditary monarchy. His associate-son was from this date until his death the true ruler of the Visigoths, in name of his father until 653, the date of the old man's passing.

Despite his implacable politics, Chindasuinth is recorded in ecclesiastical annals as a great benefactor of the church, donating many lands and bestowing privileges. He improved the public estates with the confiscated goods of the dispossessed nobility and through improved taxation methods. In the military arena, he undertook campaigns against rebellious Basques and Lusitanians.

A tremissis bearing a contemporary image of Chindasuinth.

As a legislator, he promulgated many laws dealing with civil matters. With the assistance of Braulio, bishop of Zaragoza, he began the elaboration of a territorial code of law to cover both the Gothic population and the Hispano-Roman. That work, the Liber Iudiciorum, would be promulgated, in a rough form, in his second year.[2] It underwent refinement throughout the rest of his reign and was finished by his son in 654. In 643 or 644 it superseded both the Breviary of Alaric used by the natives and the Code of Leovigild used by the Goths.

According to Edward Gibbon, during his reign, Muslim raiders began harrying Iberia: "As early as the time of Othman (644–656), their piratical squadrons had ravaged the coast of Andalusia".[3] However, this interpretation poses a problem difficult to surmount: the Muslim Rashiduns were still struggling to conquest Tripolitania in present-day Libya. Chindasuinth spent the last years of his life, as so many mediaeval monarchs did, in acts of piety for the sake of his immortal soul. He financed St. Fructuosus to build the monastery of San Román de Hornija, by the Douro, with the intention to make it his burial too and where his remains rest next to those of his wife, Recciberga. Nevertheless, Eugene II, bishop of Toledo, provided one judgment on the life of this king in writing the following epitaph:

I, Chindasuinth, ever the friend of evil deeds: committer of crimes Chindaswinth I, impious, obscene, ugly and wicked; not seeking the best, valuing the worst.[4]

Sources[edit]

  • Collins, Roger. Visigothic Spain, 409–711. Blackwell Publishing, 2004.
  • King, P. D. "King Chindasvind and the First Territorial Law-code of the Visiogothic Kingdom." Visigothic Spain: New Approaches. ed. Edward James. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980. pp 131–157.
  • Thompson, E. A.. The Goths in Spain. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Also spelled Chindaswinth, Chindaswind, Chindasuinto, Chindasvindo, or Khindaswinth; in Latin, Chintasvintus
  2. ^ King, 157.
  3. ^ Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906), vol. IX, Chpt. LI, section V.
  4. ^ Translation from Peter Heather, The Goths (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), p. 290

External links[edit]

  • Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 51 (from the University of Adelaide)
  • Visigothic Law Code: text. The preface was written in 1908, and should be read with reservations. Look at Book VI: Concerning Crimes and Tortures, under Title III: Concerning Abortion, the seventh article, which is not "ancient law", as so many others, but the words of Flavius Chintasvintus Rex
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Tulga
King of the Visigoths
641–653
with Recceswinth (649–653)
Succeeded by
Recceswinth