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Saint Hermenegild
Triunfo de san hermenegildo herrera el joven.jpeg
El Triunfo de San Hermenegildo by Francisco Herrera the Younger (1654)
BornToletum, Visigothic Kingdom
Diedc. 13 April 585
Hispalis, Hispania
Venerated inCatholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
FeastApril 13
Attributesaxe, crown, sword, and cross [1]
PatronageSeville, Spain

Saint Hermenegild or Ermengild (died 13 April 585; Spanish: San Hermenegildo; Latin: Hermenegildus, from Gothic *Airmana-gild, "immense tribute"), was the son of king Liuvigild of the Visigothic Kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula and southern France. He fell out with his father in 579, then revolted the following year. During his rebellion, he converted from Arianism to Chalcedonian Christianity. Hermenegild was defeated in 584 and exiled.[2] His death was later celebrated as a martyrdom due to the influence of Pope Gregory I's Dialogues, in which he portrayed Hermenegild as a "Catholic martyr rebelling against the tyranny of an Arian father."[3]

Marriage to Ingund[edit]

Hermenegild was the eldest son of Liuvigild and his first wife.[4] He was a brother of Reccared I and brought up an Arian. Liuvigild made his sons co-regents.[5]

The Baptism of Saint Hermenegild, attributed to Guercino, 17th century

In 579, he married Ingund, the daughter of the Frankish King Sigebert I of Austrasia who was a Chalcedonian Christian. Her mother was the Visigoth princess Brunhilda of Austrasia. The twelve-year-old Ingund was pressured by Hermenegild's stepmother Goiswintha to abjure her beliefs, but she stayed firm in her faith.[6]

Liuvigild sent Hermenegild to the south to govern on his behalf. There, he came under the influence of Leander of Seville, the older brother of Isidore of Seville. Hermenegild was converted to Chalcedonian Christianity. His family demanded for him to return to Arianism, but he refused.

Around then, he led a revolt against Liuvigild. Contemporary accounts attribute that to politics, rather than primarily religious differences.[7] He asked for the aid of the Byzantine Empire, but it was occupied with defending itself from territorial incursions by the Sasanian Empire.[8] For a time, Hermenegild had the support of the Suebi, who had been defeated by Liuvigild in 579, but he forced them to capitulate once again in 583.[5]

Hermenegild fled to Seville and when it fell to a siege in 584, he went to Córdoba. After Liuvigild paid 30,000 pieces of gold, the Byzantines withdrew and took Ingund and her son with them.[5]

Hermenegild sought sanctuary in a church. Liuvigild would not violate the sanctuary. He sent Reccared inside to speak with Hermenegild and to offer peace. That was accepted, and peace was made for some time.[4]

Imprisonment and death[edit]

Goiswintha, however, brought about another alienation within the family. Hermenegild was imprisoned in Tarragona or Toledo. During his captivity in the tower of Seville, an Arian bishop was sent to Hermenegild for Easter but he would not accept the Eucharist from him.[9] King Liuvigild ordered him beheaded; he was executed on 13 April 585.[4]

He had one son by his wife named Athanagild after his matrilineal great-grandfather king Athanagild. They both tried to seek refuge in Constantinople after his execution, but it was refused while they were already in Sicily. She then returned to the Frankish Kingdom, where her son remained under her and her mother's custody.


According to the 9th-century Chronicle of Alfonso III, Erwig was the son of Ardabast, who had journeyed from the Byzantine Empire to Hispania during the time of Chindasuinth, and married Chindasuinth's niece Goda.[10] Ardabast (or Artavasdos), was probably an Armenian or Persian Christian exile in Constantinople or in Byzantine Africa. In Hispania he was made a count.[11]

17th-century Spanish genealogist Luis Bartolomé de Salazar y Castro gave Ardabast's father as Athanagild, the son of Saint Hermenegild and Ingund, and his mother as Flavia Juliana, a daughter of Peter Augustus and niece of the Emperor Maurice.[12] This imperial connection is disputed by Christian Settipani, who says that the only source for Athanagild's marriage to Flavia Julia is José Pellicer, who he claims to be a forger.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stracke, Richard (2015-10-20). "Saint Hermenegild: The Iconography". Christian Iconography.
  2. ^ Heather, Peter (1998). The Goths. Wiley. pp. 280–282. ISBN 978-0-631-20932-4.
  3. ^ Markus, Robert Austin (9 October 1997). Gregory the Great and His World. Cambridge University Press. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-521-58608-5.
  4. ^ a b c Kirsch, Johann Peter. "Saint Hermengild." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 28 Jan. 2013
  5. ^ a b c Frassetto, Michael (2003). Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe: Society in Transformation. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-57607-263-9.
  6. ^ Gregory of Tours translated by Lewis Thorpe, History of the Franks (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974,) page 302
  7. ^ "Hermenegild the Goth." Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon
  8. ^ Butler Alban. The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saint, Volume 4 by the Revereand Alban Butler, D & J Sadlier and Company, 1864
  9. ^ "Lives of the Saints: For Every Day of the Year" edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O.Cist, Ph.D., New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., (1955)
  10. ^ Collins, Visigothic Spain, 102.
  11. ^ Livermore, Twilight of the Goths, 76.
  12. ^ Luis de Salazar y Castro, Historia Genealógica de la Casa de Lara (Madrid, 1696) vol. I, p. 45.
  13. ^ Christian Settipani, Les ancêtres de Charlemagne, p. 431.


External links[edit]